Quail Ridge Peninsula; Photo by Frank Maurer
The dramatic topography and varied geologic strata of the Quail Ridge Reserve create a mosaic of grasslands, woodlands, chaparral, and closed canopy oak forests with a rich mixture of trees, shrubs, native grasses, and herbs. This chapter describes the plant communities of the Reserve, and how environmental factors such as soil type, slope, and aspect interact to influence plant distribution across the landscape.

Like all of the California Floristic Province, the Quail Ridge peninsula has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The peninsula lies in a pronounced rain shadow in the Inner Coast Range, with average annual precipitation of about 70 cm (27.4 inches) and summer heat that reaches 40°C (104°F). As in all Mediterranean-climate regions, the woody vegetation is dominated by trees and shrubs with small, leathery leaves that minimize water loss. Most of the herbs are ephemeral spring annuals.

Festuca californica; Photo by Ellen Dean Quail Ridge’s most outstanding botanical feature is its abundance of native perennial bunchgrasses. In most of California’s lowland habitats, exotic annual grasses from the Mediterranean region have displaced the native perennials. Perhaps because of Quail Ridge’s historical isolation from human impacts, and perhaps for other reasons, its vegetation has an unusually high component of native grasses.

Our vegetation map40 is a detailed map of plant communities of Napa County for use in conservation decision-making. We will refer to plant communities as “alliances” and “associations”, using the nomenclature of Sawyer and Keeler-Wolf 37, A Manual of California Vegetation. See Vegetation Classification for more detailed descriptions of alliances and associations, including some that have been newly described. Species nomenclature follows The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California34. A species list for the Reserve is also available.

Photo Credits: Title, Ribes malvaceum (Dan Tolson), Quail Ridge Peninsula (Frank Maurer), Festuca californica (Ellen Dean). For more pictures see: http://elib.cs.berkeley.edu/photos/flora/

This page last updated: March 21, 2011  

Contact: Dr. Virginia Boucher
John Muir Institute of the Environment
109 The Barn, University of California, Davis, CA 95616
Phone: 530-752-6949; email: vlboucher@ucdavis.edu

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