My husband Tom, and I were amazed with the mature stands of chaparral on a hike we took last week – the Mishe Mokwa trail in the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area. I think the photos below illustrate how short-sighted the belief is that chaparral is meant to burn. Chaparral does just great when it’s left to do its thing. We estimate that the chaparral on this hike was at least 30 years old, possible older.
Unfortunately, fire is hitting chaparral much more frequently than it used to historically (estimated at every 30 to 60 years, yes, a wide range). And it isn’t helped by the misconception that ‘it needs to burn’. If it burns too frequently it type converts to weeds. And then we don’t get to enjoy this old growth wonder.
For more information:
The California Chaparral Institute, headed up by a good friend of ours, Rick Halsey. has great information about this much misunderstood ecosystem.
Las Pilitas Nursery website for looking up any of these plants and to learn about chaparral plants for your garden
We’ve used our favorite natives in our front yard landscaping – see my prior blog Our Conversion to Low Water Landscaping
When Chaparral and Coastal Sage Scrub Burn – research article
Wonder the difference between chaparral and sage scrub? what I learned in San Diego Natural History Museum classes was helpful: many plants overlap (for ex, sage species occur in both) but sage scrub habitat is composed of mostly 2-3 feet tall plants and more widely spaced, while chaparral plants are taller, closely spaced and generally harder to walk through