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see also Habitats

California Alpine Fell Fields


30-40 inches

Common Animals:

Butterflies, Salamanders, Bighorn Sheep, Marmot (a California Woodchuck), Pika, and the politician of the group, the long-tailed weasel

Common Plants

Alumroot, Heuchera spp., Penstemons, Penstemon heterodoxus, P. rydbergii, Buckwheat, Eriogonum spp.,

Soil and climate notes:

Shallow soils with exposed rocks is the common soil.

In California the Alpine Fell- Fields plant community exists on the tops of mountains, and a few really high (10000 ft.) valleys. With the exception of Mt. Pinos and Mt. San Gorgonia this plant community is almost all on northern California peaks. It's too cold and windy for trees here. Below the Alpine Fell -Fields is the Subalpine Forest plant community where there are trees, but they're really bent, twisted and beat up. The Alpine Fell-Fields is a wonderful place to hike to and use rolls of film. In August when it's 100F and smoggy down below, it's 75F and beautiful up here. Unless there's a repeater near by, these spots are usually a 2 hour plus hike from the nearest dirt road. We usually drive for 5 hours to get there, hike in for 2 hours and spend one hour taking pictures and panting (9000 ft+, 3000m) and then spending the 6 hours getting home (it always takes half as long getting out of this place, as it's all downhill). Leave at 6am and get home at 8 pm is normal for this plant community, even if you stay in the nearest motel.

The plants from the Alpine Fell-Fields plant community end up being ok garden plants as long as the drainage is good. They really like full, cool coastal sun or high filtered shade inland and regular water during the summer. They prefer drier, colder conditions in the fall and winter as they live under a blanket of snow for months. The plants in the Alpine Fell-Fields are all very low, compact herbaceous perennials growing amongst rocks.

A list of California native plants that grow in the Alpine Fell-Fields plant community.

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Edited on Dec 23, 2012. Authors:
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