Las Pilitas Nursery

California Native Plants are all we grow!

Blog Contact Us Directions

3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453

Shop For Plants Cart Contents

This website is dedicated to Bert Wilson. His genius continues to inspire us.

Bristlecone Pine Forest


This plant community exists in almost a no mans zone between Owens Valley and Death Valley. In the summer it is a wonderful place with the fattest chipmunks I ever seen. In the winter it can be interesting.

Annual precipitation:


USDA Zone :1

Description of plant community.

A little sand on a mountain of dolomitic lime and you have Bristle cone Pines. pH 6-7, areas of lower pH are where the pines move over granite.

An island in the middle of the desert, this Bristlecone Pine Forest plant community is so beautiful in its two months of glory. The rest of the year it is not friendly. The pH is slightly alkaline to slightly aciditic, rainfall is low (15 inches,), and the dolomitic soils never really get wet except maybe one week in late spring. Humidity is always low, and the lowest temperature recorded was -50F. Snow pack is not reliable and usually light. On north slopes the trees grow on granitic soils and sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) becomes dominant. Patchy is a good description of the area and the plant community, with a few spots of riparian plants, open meadows (the edges are where many of the perennials occur), and with fingers of sagebrush extending into the areas between the widely spaced pines. This is a really nasty place to get caught in with limited shelter in winter.

A few plants that grow here are Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva), sagebrush (Artemisia arbuscula and Artemisia nova), Sierra Penstemon (Penstemon heterodoxus), and Mountain Mint (Monardella odoratissima).