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Trees of Arboretum West

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Sierra Nevada West

Sierra forests are a diverse mix of trees and shrubs. In the lower elevations deciduous plants lose their leaves in the fall and regrow them the next long growing season. The shorter growing season at higher elevations requires evergreen trees to retain their needles as long as possible. A band at about 4000 ft (1220 m) elevation has the mildest climate and the greatest diversity of plants in the Sierra. The Sierra foothills are dominated by rapid runoff of winter rain and hot, dry summers. Shrubs and trees have adapted with tiny, light-colored, waxy leaves to prevent or reduce water loss. Many sprout from their bases after fires have swept the area. Fire is a major factor in excluding trees, maintaining the chaparral shrub community on the lower foothills. This is reinforced by the high mineral content of the soil along the Mother Lode Fault system of the Foothills.

Common Name Scientific Name
Silver Wormwood Artemesia lucoviciana
Western Dogwood Cornus nuttallii
Incense Cedar Calocedrus decurens
Western Juniper Juiperus occidentalis var. occidentalis
Knobcone Pine Pinus attenuata
Lodgepole Pine Pinus contorta ssp. murrayana
Fremont Cottonwood Populua fremontii spp. fremontii

Sierra Nevada East

Common Name Scientific Name
Chinese Pistache Pistacia chinesis
Pipevine Aristolochia californica
Coyote Brush Baccharis pilularis
Spicebush Calycanthus occidentalis
Dogwood (American) Cornus stolonfera ssp. sercea
McNab Cypress Cupressus macnabiana
Pacific Madrone Arbutus menziesii
Whiteleaf Manzanita Arctaphylos viscida
Redbud Cercis occidentalis
Western Red Bud Cercis occidentalis
Black Oak Quercus kellogii
Blue Oak Quercus douglasii
California Black Oak Quercus kelloggii
Canyon Live Oak/Blue Oak Quercus chrysolepis
Interior Live Oak Quercus wislizenii
Leather Oak Quercus durata
Nuttall's Scrub Oak Quercus dumosa
Valley Oak Quercus lobata
Blue-eyed-grass Sisyrinchum bellum
California Bay Umbellularia californica
Douglas Fir Pseudosuga menziesii
Foothill Pine Pinus sabiniana
Jeffrey Pine Pinus jeffreyi
Knobcone Pine Pinus attantua
Lodgepole Pine Pinus contorta ssp. murrayana
Poderosa Pine Pinus ponderosa
Western Sycamore Plantanus racemosa
Deergrass Muhlenbergia rigens
Purple Needle-grass Nassella pulchra
California Buckwheat Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium
Coffee Fern Pellaea andromedifolia
Columbine Aquilegia formosa
California Blackberry Rubus ursinus
California Rose Rosa californica
Service Berry Amelanchir alnifolia
Toyon Heteromeles arbutifolia
Wood Rose Rosa woodsii var. woodsii


The coastal forests are made possible by generous winter rains and summer fog. These keep the temperature mild and the climate damp. The coastal redwoods are the tallest trees in North America. Some of the more hardy trees such as tan oak, madrone and Kellogg's black oak also occur in the Sierra Nevada between 3000 and 5000 ft (915 to 1525 m).

Common Name Scientific Name
Big Leaf Maple Acer Macrophylum
Coyote Brush/Chararral Broom Baccharis pilularis 'Yerba Buena'
Oregon Alder Alnus rubra
White Alder Alnus rhombifolia
Pacific Madrone Arbutus menziessii
Blue Oak Quercus douglasii
Coast Live Oak Quercus agrifolia
Gary Oak Quercus garryana
California Buckeye Aesculus californica
Black Walnut Juglans hindsii
California Bay Umbellularia californica
Oregon Ash Fraxinus oregona
Bigcone Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga macrocarpa
Coulter Pine Pinus coulteri
Grand Fir Abies grandis
Monterey Pine Pinus radiata
Sitka Spruce Picea sitchensis
Willow Salix ssp.
California Nutmeg Torreya californica
Coast Redwood Sequoia sempervirens
Redwood Sequoia sempervirens
Redwood or "Kenwood" Sequoia sempervirens
California Wild Grape Vitis californica
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