Plant Communities – Episode 1 – Grasslands
Originally authored by Richard Hanes and Chet Blackburn
Grasslands occur in the Sacramento Valley and into the foothills (Foothill Woodland habitat) and is composed of a sea of grass that may have scattered individual trees or islands of trees. Prior to settlement the grasses were dominated by native perennial bunchgrasses. Within the last century these have been replaced by such non-native annual species as Wild Oat (Avena fatua), Soft Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), Smooth Brome (Bromus inermis), Ripgut Grass (Bromus diandrus), and Foxtail Fescue (Vulpia myuros). Annuals sprout each year from seeds produced the previous year. Growth is rapid and by early summer most annuals have died. Some of the more common wildflowers include Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menziesii), Purple Owl’s Clover (Castilleja exserta), Common Madia (Madia elegans), California Goldfields (Lasthenia californica), Prettyface (Triteleia ixioides), meadow foams (Limnanthes), popcorn flowers (Plagiobothrys and Cryptantha), fiddlenecks (Amsinckia), buttercups (Ranunculus), poppies (Eschscholzia), paintbrushes (Castilleja and others in Scrophulariaceae), and lupines (Lupinus). By definition, there are not many trees, but there are occasional Valley Oaks (Quercus lobata), pines (Pinus) and a few others.