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California native plants that tolerate serpentine soils.

Kruckeberg estimates that serpentine regions of California represent only about 1% of the land surface but have about 10% of the endemic species.
For those of you that have soil with serpentine in it you have probably noticed that some plants hate you. The plants fail to thrive. They rot off at the base. They are variegated when they are supposed to be green.

Serpentine soils are usually not pure blue serpentine. They are usually adobe like with serpentine rocks here and there. Sometimes that look like red rock with some blue in it. Jade is a form of serpentine.

One of the few ways that you can keep nasty weeds out of serpentine areas is to limit the fertility.So if you have a hillside of serpentine, plant serpentine tolerant plants and do not amend the soil, nor fertilize. (Huenneke, Laura Foster, et. al, 1990)
Serpentine soils west of New Irdia - grid24_12
In extreme conditions, where the serpentine soils are all serpentine, there is very limited plant life.
Arctostaphylos glauca, Arctostaphylos pungens, Quercus durata, and Coulter pine on serpentine soil  - grid24_12
In the areas where the serpentine has broken down a little, serpentine tolerant and endemic plants can grow. Serpentine tolerant plants can handle excess Magnesium, Nickel, and Iron, and low Calcium. Here is Leather Oak and Big Berried Manzanita
Even serpentine tolerant plants have a great deal of trouble in raw serpentine. - grid24_12
Notice the little mangy looking manzanita in the corner. Even serpentine tolerant plants have trouble in raw serpentine.
Notice there is very little undergrowth under the Coulter Pines and manzanitas. - grid24_12
Plants that can tolerate serpentine do fairly well, others do not. Thus there are only a few species like Coulter Pine in photo. Even the weeds have problems. It's not all bad.
This was compiled from our observations, Kruckenberg's "California Serpentines", Safford, Vieras and Harrison, "Serpentine Endemism in the California Flora: A database of Serpentine Affinity". the "Consortium of California Herbaria", and several serpentine plant list of different serpentine soil areas.
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Edited on Jan 04, 2014. Authors:
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