Las Pilitas Nursery

California Native Plants are all we grow!

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3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453

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

California Coastal Strand

see also Habitats

Annual precipitation:

high moisture, summer-fall salt levels high, 15-35 inches

Common Animals

Clams, Plovers, Sandpipers, Sea Gulls, Surfers

Common Plants

Sand Verbena (Abronia spp.), Sand Bur (Ambrosia chamissonis), Low Saltbushes (Atriplex spp.), Rye Grass (Elymus mollis), Bush Lupines (Lupinus arboreus and L. chamissonis), Mock Heather (Ericameria ericoides), Coastal Sagewort (Artemisia pycnocephala)

Soil and climate notes:

This plant community has high sodium sand, high sodium silt, wind w/salt spray.

The Coastal Strand plant community hugs the immediate coast of California. If you can feel the salt spray, you are probably in the Coastal Strand plant community.

California sand dunes contain many unique plants

If you can feel the sea breeze but never experience wet salt spray (feels and tastes like a salt water spray) you're probably in the Coastal Sage Scrub plant community. These two communities are adjacent to each other in many areas, but it is usually hard to tell where one leaves off and the other starts. Wind- exposed areas can have many Coastal Strand plants, while wind- protected areas can have many Coastal Sage Scrub plants.

Many coastal bluffs are covered with Coastal Strand plants because of salt spray; some are a hundred or more feet above the tide. We've seen knolls a mile or two back from the breakers that were partially covered with either Coastal Prairie or Coastal Strand plants.

If there is enough winter rain to mitigate the salt and the soil is more like clay, not sand, you can have a Coastal Prairie instead of a Coastal Strand plant community.

Some generalizations that may help describe the different plant communities:

Direct salt spray, almost always in sand dunes or beaches=Coastal Strand

salt spray along immediate coast, and/or shallow or possibly serpentine soils, but seasonally wet, due to heavier soil, =Coastal Prairie

little salt spray and shrubs =Coastal Sage Scrub

The Coastal Strand plant community has been invaded in many parts of the state with nasty plants like Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana), Iceplant (Carpobrotus edulis) or European Beach Grass (Ammophila arenaria).


A list of California native plants that grow in the Coastal Strand plant community.

An example of Coastal strand and foredunes.

Coastal bluff in Bodega, Sonoma County.