The California coast stretches 1,000 miles from the Oregon border to Mexico. The naturalized plants that grow in California’s coastal regions number over 650 species. The diversity of plant life changes as the latitude becomes more southerly, warmer and drier. What grows in San Diego is different from what grows in Eureka.
Far Northern California
This region includes Del Norte and Humboldt counties. It is the coldest, wettest part of the California coast. Native plants that thrive in this northern part of the state include yarrow, columbine, California aster, bleeding heart, grand fir, alder, maple, pine, redwood, ash and tan oak trees, beach strawberry, azaleas, manzanita, coast buckwheat, alum root, Douglas iris, hairy honeysuckle, lupine, monkey flowers, violets, succulents and grasses.
This region includes Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties. This region is marked by moderate rainfall and temperatures that rarely fall below freezing. Plants common to this section of the coast include the seaside daisy, Wight’s paintbrush, coast wallflower, sea thrift, Scouler’s polypody fern, sea blush, the succulent coast Dudleya, coast lotus and common muilla.
This region includes the San Francisco Bay Area as far south as Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo County. Rainfall can be sparse, often no more than 20 inches a year, and temperatures normally do not fall to freezing or rise much above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Common coastal plants include California poppies, lupine, redwood trees, hawkbits, California beach aster, ox-eye daisy, horsetail, ferns, pine and redwood trees, California oatgrass, native flowering bulbs, the herb self-heal, buckwheat, sagebrush, coyote bush, yarrow, sand verbena, cordgrass, pickleweed, bullrushes, trillium, redwood sorrel and cattails.
This region includes Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The climate here is relatively dry and warm. Plants commonly found in these coastal counties include poison oak, rattlesnake weed, yarrow, sagebrush, mugwort, horseweed, seaside daisy, cudweed, beach aster, wild heliotrope, sand spurry, quail bush, morning glories, succulents such as Dudleya, wild cucumber, lupine, heath, iris, mints and sages, yellow sand verbena, beach primrose, California fuchsia, California poppy, plantain, thrift, salt grass, buckwheat, dock, miner’s lettuce, blackberries, buttercups, willow trees, figwort, toad-flax, sticky monkey flower, vervain and many more.
This region includes Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. It is the most arid of the California coastal regions and the temperature never drops to freezing. Plants that grow along the southern coast include mallow, buckwheat, yarrow, California poppy, evening primrose, California lilacs, penstemons, sages, coast sunflower, chaparral, river birch, California lilac, Catalina cherry, scrub oaks, coffee berry, Mexican blue palm, Cuyamaca cypress, Mexican palo verde, bishop pine, sycamore, coast live oak, blue elderberry, coral bells, monkey flower, desert rose, currants, grape, morning glories, deer grass, blue-eyed grass and others.