This plant guide is a result of requests from many NRCS field offices who conduct conservation planning on California’s rangelands. The desire to know which plant species provide a forage base for livestock, was the impetus for this guide. California’s annual grassland and oak woodlands are a vast area of the state, com-promising approximately 14.5 million acres. The area is dominated by a Mediterranean climate with cool wet winters and summer drought. Rains typically begin in middle to late October and continue through April, followed by a summer drought. During the dry season annual plants survive as seed and perennial herbaceous vegetation becomes dormant. The area of the state dominated by the annual grassland vegetation type extends from the Sierra foothills to the east, west to the Pacific coast and from the south coast to just north of Redding in Shasta County. This annual grassland area is dotted with native perennial grasses, forbs and legumes, each providing a unique structural and functional capacity on the landscape. They provide livestock and wildlife forage at various times of the year and with various qualities.
This guide will help the user identify the species and their forage value. It can be used to assist with conservation planning, resource assessments, Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) plant identification, prescribed grazing plan development, and indicators of rangeland health.
The guide covers many areas of the state dominated by annual grasslands and include 9 Major Land Resource Areas (MLRA’s) including the Central California Coastal Valleys (14), Central California Coast Range (15), California Delta (16), Sacramento and San Joaquin Delta (17), Sierra Nevada Foothills (18), Southern California Coastal Plains (19) and Southern California Mountains (20) and to a lesser extent the non-forested portions of the Coastal Redwood Belt (4), and Siskiyou-Trinity (5). Within the grasslands of MLRA 4 and 5 annual grasslands are mixed with perennial grasses, as are coastal portions of MLRA 14 & 15 where sufficient moisture will support native perennial grasses. The plants included in this guide are a mere snapshot of those most dominate throughout the state.
It is by no means a complete list of herbaceous plant species that occur in the state. There are thousands of grasses, forbs and legumes in California. When species occur that aren’t included here, further investigation should occur using any of the various plant guides that cover species of California.
Source: USDA NRCS (uploaded to the fabulous On Pasture website).