Plants are used to stabilize areas that are prone to erosion, including hillsides. The roots of the plant spread through the soil as the plant grows, grabbing the soil and holding it in place. Plants are more aesthetically pleasing than retaining walls. Woody erosion control plants for California include the California sagebrush, black and purple sage and the Apache plume.
The California sagebrush is an woody evergreen with silver foliage that grows to a height of 5 feet. Multiple branches originate from the base of the plant. The stems are flexible with clusters of needle-like leaves. The flowers are yellow, and in some cases, red. The roots of the plant are fibrous and shallow, according to USDA Forest Service. In nature, the plant thrives in dry soil on floodplains and slopes.
Sages used for erosion control include the Cleveland sage, purple sage, white sage and black sage. The plant is drought-tolerant and found on dry slopes and in pine forests. The shrubs reach a height of approximately 3 feet. Depending on the type of sage, the flowers bloom in blue and white. The leaves of the sages are thin and spear-shaped. White sage is particularly suited for soil stabilization projects because it grows quickly, according to the U.S. National Resource Conservation Service.
The Apache plume is a woody, spreading evergreen that reaches a height of 5 feet. The plant is found in dry washes and on hillsides. Highly drought-tolerant, the Apache plume has a deep tap root that makes transplant difficult. The plant does well when started by seed. The leaves are small, lobed and green, according to the Utah State University Cooperative Extension. The flowers are white and look like roses. The bark turns red as the shrub ages.