Plant Communities – Episode 3 – Chaparral

Originally authored by Richard Hanes and Chet Blackburn

This habitat occurs in the areas of the Foothill Woodland, Lower/Upper Conifer Forest, and Subalpine/Alpine habitats. It is composed of dense, often impenetrable thickets of shrubs. At lower elevations, Whiteleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos viscida), Buckbrush (Ceanothus cuneatus), Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), and Western Redbud (Cercis occidentale) may dominate this shrub community. Scrub Oak (Quercus berberidifolia) and a shrubby form of Interior Live Oak (Quercus wislizeni) may dominate other stands. In the confier forests this habitat is primarily associated with burned or disturbed areas. Natural areas do occur that are related to a combination of soil characteristics and climate (e.g., shallow soils, a south aspect, or limited moisture. The more common shrubs are Deerbrush (Ceanothus integerrimus), Bitter Cherry (Prunus emarginata), Tobacco Brush (Ceanothus velutinus), Huckleberry Oak (Quercus vacciniifolia), Bush Chinquapin (Chrysolepis sempervirens), Mountain Whitethorn (Ceanothus cordulatus), and manzanitas (Arctostaphylos).


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