The plants of Daley Ranch are classic coastal sage scrub / soft chaparral, oak woodlands and riparian habitats. Those terms might mean a little more to a botanist or ecologist, but to the rest of us, the plants you'll see at Daley Ranch are those that have evolved with the terrain and climate of a semi-arid ecosystem.

Here in the inland valleys of San Diego County, the plants get almost endless sunshine, but not a lot of precipitation (only about 12 inches, on average, per year). Our native plants also have to deal with the fact that that whole foot of rain isn't evenly distributed throughout the year; our "rainy season" runs from October through February.

Chaparral plants grow very deep root systems, in order to locate water far below the surface of the soil. Many species have also developed other strategies to reduce the effects of herbivory or desiccation (drying) from hot summer breezes. For example, next time you're strolling along a trail in the Ranch, reach out and carefully stroke the leaves of a black sage, Cleveland sage or white sage (Salvia melifera, Salvia clevelandii and Salvia apiana, respectively), or a California sagebrush (Artemisia californica). Those strong fragrances are chemical compounds that probably taste pretty strong, too. Other plants have developed light-reflecting and breeze-dissipating structures like fine hairs on their leaves, so that the leaves don't get overheated or dried out from convection currents. Still other plants simply have no-nonsense defensive structures like thorns -- which do nothing to help with the immediate objectives of growth and reproduction, but sure do discourage animals (and people) from messing with them!
Take a look at some of the photos Rob Mustard has taken of plants growing throughout Daley Ranch; click the link to the Plant Photo Album in the sub-menu at right. To get a lot more information about the native plants of Southern California, have a look at a variety of external references by clicking the link below.
Care to download a copy of James Dillane's latest Plants of Daley Ranch checklist? Click the download button!

Plants of Daley Ranch

2010 Checklist
What's your favorite reference for the Plants of Southern California? Sibley's? Audubon? Peterson's? Any good iPod/iPhone/iPad or Android apps you want to share? Do you use a pocket guide? Please let me know what you use -- I'll add it to the list!