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California Native Plant Society

Santa Clara Valley Chapter

Gardening With Natives

Where to Buy Native Plants

Here are sources for California native plants in the Bay Area and beyond:
Call before visiting nurseries. All cities are located in California, USA. Also see the California Native Plant Link Exchange for additional sources for native plants.

NURSERIES AND SEED SOURCES

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Annie's Annuals & Perennials 740 Market Ave.
Richmond, CA 94801
(510) 215-3301
Retail and mail order nursery with a large section dedicated to native plants.
Bay Natives 10 Cargo Way
San Francisco 94124
(415) 287-6755
Wholesale and retail nursery with a wide selection of rare and endemic Bay Area native plants as well as choice species from across the state.
Berkeley Horticultural Nursery 1310 McGee Avenue
Berkeley 94703
(510) 526-4704
Retail with one section devoted to natives.
California Flora Nursery PO Box 3, Somers and D Street
Fulton 95439
(707) 528 8813
Uncommon perennials, Mediterranean and California natives. Both wholesale and retail. Call for open hours.
Capital Wholesale Nursery 2938 Everdale Drive
San Jose, CA 95148
(408) 239-0589
Uncommon perennials, Mediterranean and California natives. Both wholesale and retail
Central Coast Wilds 336 A Golf Club Drive
Santa Cruz 95060
(831) 459-0656
California native seeds, plants, revegetation, consulting, and habitat restoration for professionals and home gardeners.
East Bay Wilds Native Plant Nursery 28th Ave at Foothill Blvd
Fruitvale District of Oakland
510-409-5858
Call for hours. Native plants plus demonstration garden.
Grassroots Ecology Native Nursery Foothills Park
Palo Alto
650-949-3158
A wholesale nursery growing local native stock. Open to professionals by appointment.
Larner Seeds PO Box 407
235 Grove Road
Bolinas 94971
(415) 868-9407
Mail order seeds and California native wildflowers, perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees. Demonstration garden. Retail plants at the nursery from October through July.
Las Pilitas Nursery 3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453
(805) 438-5992 
Mail order and on-site nursery. Planning tool gives you an instant native plant list for your ZIP Code, soil type, sun/shade exposure, wide variety plant purchases available. Deer problems link. Extensive native plants lists.
Linda Vista Native Plants San Jose.
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By appointment. Occasional public sales announced to their email list.
Mission Blue Nursery 1 Mountain Flora Parkway
Brisbane, CA 940056
(415) 467-6631
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Quarterly and by-appointment sales. Mission Blue Nursery grows plants entirely from seeds and cuttings collected on San Bruno Mountain.
Mostly Natives Nursery 54 B Street, Unit D
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
(415) 663-8835
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Wholesale and retail coastal natives and drought-tolerant plants. Call for open hours.
Native Here Nursery 101 Golf Course Drive in Tilden Regional Park
Berkeley 94708
(510) 549-0211
Alameda and Contra Costa County natives. Nursery is operated by East Bay CNPS for East Bay Regional Parks District. Tuesday noon-3pm, Friday 9am-noon, Saturday 10am-1pm.
Native Revival Nursery (831) 684-1811 Online-only. Wholesale and retail seeds and plants, contract collection and growing, revegetation and restoration. 
Oaktown Native Plant Nursery 702 Channing Way
Berkeley, CA
(510) 387-9744
Retail and wholesale. Offers contract growing for restoration and large landscaping projects.
Our City Forest 1000 Spring St.
San Jose, CA 95110
(408)785-2302
Retail
Pacific Coast Seed 533 Hawthorne Place
Livermore 94550
(925) 373-4417 or (800) 733-3462
Wholesale or through local nurseries. Wildflower and grass seeds.
Payless Nursery 2927 S. King Road
San Jose 95122
(4080 274-7815
This independent nursery devotes a section to a varied selection of native trees, shrubs and perennials. Address your native plant questions to Wanda Olson.
Rana Creek Nursery 7480 Williams Ranch Road
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 659-3820
Native grass seed production and four-acre native plant nursery. Wholesale only. Revegetation, seed, container, and bare root plants.
Regional Parks Botanic Garden Southpark Drive and Wildcat Canyon Road in Tilden Regional Park
Berkeley 94708
(510) 841-8732
Retail plants on Thursday 10am-noon. Seed is available in Visitor Center in fall and winter. April Spring Plant Sale.
San Diego Chapter, California Native Plant Society seed store

Contact Form
San Diego, CA

Sells California native seeds primarily from Southern California in small quantities for home and demonstration gardens
Seedhunt PO Box 96
Freedom 95019
Mail order annual and perennial seed with hard to find selections and about one-third native
Sierra Azul Nursery & Gardens 2660 East Lake Avenue (Highway 152)
Watsonville 95076
(831) 763 0939
Mediterranean, native, and water-conserving plants for California displayed in demonstration gardens as well as the nursery.
S&S Seeds P.O. Box 1275
Carpinteria, CA 93014
(805) 684-0436
Wholesale seeds, with $150 minimum order. 
SummerWinds Nursery 725 San Antonio Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 493-5136
Retail. There are several locations, but the Palo Alto store has the best selection of natives. Ask for Judith for assistance.
Suncrest Nurseries, Inc 400 Casserly Road
Watsonville 95076
(831) 728-2595
Wholesale only. See website for retail outlets. Develops new and unusual coastal plants with some natives.
Tree of Life Nursery PO Box 635
33201 Ortega Highway
San Juan Capistrano 92693
(949) 728-0685
Wholesale and retail. Contract collects and grows. Round House Plant Store has plants and books for home gardener.
Watershed Nursery 601 A Canal Blvd.
Richmond, CA 94804
(510) 234-22225
Retail native plants. Contract collects and grows.
Yerba Buena Nursery 12511 San Mateo Rd. (Hwy 92)
Half Moon Bay
(650) 851-1668
Retail native plants with some seed. 

NATIVE PLANT SALES


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Strybing Arboretum Arboretum and Botanical Gardens Golden Gate Park, 9th Ave at Lincoln Way, San Francisco (415) 661-1316 Saturday sales with one for natives in the autumn.
University of California Berkeley Botanical Garden 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley (510) 642-3343 Autumn sale with some natives that are hard to find.
University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum Empire Grade at Western Drive, Santa Cruz (831) 427-2998 Joint sale with CNPS Santa Cruz Chapter in April.

ONLINE SOURCES & RESOURCES


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California Gardens   Extensive list of California native plants. Pictures and plant descriptions. Ojai, California e-business.
California Native Grass Association   Information packets, seed sources, workshops, website resources. Primary focus is grassland restoration, but resource list is broader.
El Nativo Growers Inc (626) 969-8449 Good source of information on natives in the landscape. Wholesale only.
The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants Inc. 10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley 91352 (818) 768-1802 Promotes and restores landscapes and habitats, propagates and sells native plants and educates about native plants. Sells native seeds in quantity.

Local Perennial Native Grasses

by Sally Casey, April 1999

Full Sun Grasses
 
Scientific Name Common Name Blooms Comments
 
Danthonia californica California Wild Oat Grass Apr - June To 40", generally 2½' to 3'
Danthonia californica americana Hairy California Wild Oat Grass Apr - May Shorter than species; hairy sheath
Festuca idahoensis Blue Bunch Grass Apr - June To 40"; generally lower; open panicle
Festuca rubra Red Fescue May - June To 40"; open panicle
Hordeum brachyantherum Meadow Barley Apr - June To 28"; inflorescence a spike
Koeleria macrantha June Grass Apr - June To 24"; inflorescence an interrupted spike
Melica californica Western Melica Mar - June To 52"; generally 3'; dies down in summer
Nessella cernua Nodding Needle Grass Apr - May To 3'; inflorescence more delicate than N. pulchra
Nesella pulchra Purple Needle Grass Mar - June To 40"; generally 2½' to 3'
Poa secunda secunda Pine Bluegrass Feb - May To 40"; generally 24"
 
Partial Sun - Shade Grasses
 
Scientific Name Common Name Blooms Comments
 
Bromus carinatus California Brome Annual - Biennial Mar - July 40" - 48"; open panicle
Elymus californicus California Bottle Brush Grass May - July To 80"; generally 6'
Melica imperfecta Small Flowered Melica Mar - June To 44"; generally 24" - 30"; inflorescence open
Melica torreyana Torrey's Melica Mar - July To 40"; generally lower, spreading; inflorescence strict
Muhlenbergia rigens Deergrass June - Sept Leaves to 2½' to 3'; spiked inflorescence to 5'; dramatic
 
Shade Grasses
 
Scientific Name Common Name Blooms Comments
 
Bromus laevipes Woodland Brome Grass May - July To 3'; generally lower; inflorescence folded hand
Deschampsia elongata Slender Hair Grass May - July Low tuft, inflorescence to 40", generally lower
Festuca californica California Fescue Mar - May 3' +; open panicle
Festuca occidentalis Western Fescue Apr - July To 40"; generally lower; open panicle
Hierochloe occidentalis California Vanilla Grass Jan - May To 36"; generally lower
Melica geyeri Geyer's Onion Grass Mar - July To 80"; generally 4'; bulbous base
Melica subulata Alaska Onion Grass Mar - July To 48"; bulbous base
Trisetum canescens Tall Trisetum May - Aug To 32"
 
With one exception (Muhlenbergia rigens), all of the above grasses are found between Route 280 and Skyline. Muhlenbergia rigens grows from Monterey County south, in the central valley, the foothills of and in the Sierra Nevada mountains east to Texas and into Mexico.

CULTURE: Plant 4" or gallon can size in late fall just before the rains. Use compost (but no fertilizer) as a mulch. March is the second-best planting time.

SOURCES: Most of the common names and blooming periods are taken from Thomas' Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California; heights are from Munz' A California Flora; modified heights are my local observations.

Gardening with Natives Resources and Handouts

lesser goldfinches California fuchsia

Here are links to some of our popular handouts.  Free to download.

Butterfly Gardening

calscape.org: CNPS database of native plants and associated butterflies and moths (both host and nectar plants). Searchable.

California Plants as Resources for Lepidoptera: a document that lists many moth and butterfly species and their host & nectar plants

BUTTERFLY GARDENING: SELECTED REFERENCES

Arbuckle, Nancy and Cedric Crocker (eds.). 1991. How to Attract Hummingbirds and Butterflies. Ortho Books.

Caldwell, Jeff. Notes on Larval Food Plants of Some Bay Area Butterflies. 3pp.-xeroxed

Garth, John S. and J.W. Tilden. 1986. California Butterflies. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Stewart, Bob. 1997. Common Butterflies of California. Point Reyes Station, CA: West Coast Lady Press.

Stokes, Donald, Lillian Stokes and Ernest Williams. 1991. The Butterfly Book: An Easy Guide to Butterfly Gardening, Identification, and Behavior. Little, Brown and Company.

Tekulsky, Mathew. 1985. The Butterfly Garden. Boston: The Harvard Common Press.

Xerces Society/Smithsonian Institution. 1990. Butterfly Gardening. Sierra Club Books.

Locally Native Trees for Landscaping

Locally Native Trees to Plant at Your School or Home

By Jeff Caldwell

With the possible exception of the coast redwood and white alder, most of our locally native trees deserve to be cultivated more often in the San Francisco Bay area. Many are beautiful and easy to grow--they are well adapted to our climate and soils. Native trees offer special values for wildlife as well.

Big-leaf maple is a very attractive species, and also fast growing--it deserves a place in more landscapes.

The gray pine is a quite ornamental tree in cultivation and more drought tolerant and more resistant to air pollution than most pines.

Contrary to general opinion, the valley oak and coast live oak, two beautiful heritage species, grow fairly quickly and are easy to cultivate. While ancient trees which grew to maturity under summer dry conditions may resent irrigation, young oaks adapt to garden watering. Indeed, under garden conditions seedling oaks may reach 25 feet in ten years--they actually grow faster than many commonly planted trees! Our native oaks deserve to be planted far more often than they are; happily, they are becoming more popular.

The California nutmeg is an unusual conifer and not difficult to grow, though a bit slow. Its needles are extremely sharp, so it should not be planted near a path.

Our California laurel becomes a stately tree. It is slow growing, but well-situated specimens are a fine gift to future generations.

The coast redwood is met with often enough in cultivation locally, some say too often. It would be refreshing to see it mixed more often in man-made landscapes with its proven companions in the natural landscape, especially Douglas fir, tanbark oak and California laurel. Other possible redwood companions include big-leaf maple, white alder, coast live oak, interior live oak, California nutmeg, black cottonwood, and madrone.

Many people long to grow the madrone, one of the world's most beautiful broadleaf evergreen trees. It has not proven easy to cultivate, but if you like a gardening challenge, try this treasure!

Two of our native trees regarded as "ugly ducklings" deserve to be mentioned here especially for those who garden with wildlife in mind.

The California buckeye has lovely structure, interesting fruits, spectacular flowers, exquisite spring foliage--but a decided off-season as the deciduous leaves turn brown in the summer; it is the first to drop its leaves. Its flowers are despised by some because their pollen is somewhat toxic to the non-native honeybee, but no flowers have more value to butterflies. In bloom this tree may be festooned with butterflies; we have seen seven species nectaring on one tree simultaneously! The tiger swallowtail, mourning cloak, California sister, California tortoiseshell, spring azure and many others visit this tree. It is easy to grow.

The blue elderberry is considered too coarse and "common" by many gardeners, but the summer fruits attract a wider range of birds than any other tree. Songbirds favor it highly for food and nesting. It is easy to grow and very fast. A stump-sprouter, it is amenable to pruning, which may help keep it presentable.

 


Native Trees of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties

Aceraceae (Maple Family)
Acer macrophyllum big-leaf maple
Acer negundo var. californicum box elder
Betulaceae (Birch Family)
Alnus rhombifolia white alder
Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)
Sambucus mexicana blue elderberry
Ericaceae (Heath Family)
Arbutus menziesii Pacific madrone
Fagaceae (Oak Family)
Lithocarpus densiflorus tanbark oak
Quercus agrifolia coast live oak
Quercus chrysolepis canyon live oak
Quercus douglasii blue oak
Quercus garryana Oregon white oak
Quercus kelloggii California black oak
Quercus lobata valley oak
Quercus wislizeni interior live oak
Hippocastanaceae (Buckeye Family)
Aesculus californica California buckeye
Lauraceae (Laurel Family)
Umbellularia californica California laurel
Oleaceae (Olive Family)
Fraxinus dipetala flowering ash
Fraxinus latifolia Oregon ash
Pinaceae (Pine Family)
Pinus attenuata knobcone pine
Pinus ponderosa Pacific ponderosa pine
Pinus sabiniana gray pine
Pseudotsuga menziesii Douglas fir
Platanaceae (Sycamore Family)
Platanus racemosa Western sycamore
Salicaceae (Willow Family)
Populus fremontii ssp. fremontii Fremont cottonwood
Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa black cottonwood
Salix laevigata red willow
Salix lasiolepis arroyo willow
Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra shining willow
Taxaceae (Yew Family)
Torreya californica California nutmeg
Taxodiaceae (Bald Cypress Family)
Sequoia sempervirens redwood

 


References:

Ferris, Roxana S. 1968. Native Shrubs of the San Francisco Bay Region. University of California Press.
Hickman, James C. (ed.). 1993. The Jepson Manual Higher Plants of California. University of California Press.
Metcalf, Woodbridge. 1959. Native Trees of the San Francisco Bay Region. University of California Press.
Sharsmith, Helen K. 1982. Flora of the Mount Hamilton Range of California. California Native Plant Society.
Thomas, John Hunter. 1961. Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. Stanford University Press.

Prepared by Jeff Caldwell (revised 2/98)

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