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Riparian plant communities are found near permanent or seasonal water sources such as ponds, fresh-water marshes, coastal brackish marshes, rivers, streams and creeks. These lovely biomes often contain Sycamore trees, whose single or multiple trunks and twisted branches arch gracefully.  A variety of trees, grasses, grass-like sedges and rushes, and colorful aromatic shrubs can be found in these habitats. 



Generally moist all winter and dry to semidry throughout summer. Rich organic soil with no added fertilizers, but plenty of rain winter-spring and occasional irrigation summer-fall will do in the home garden. A backyard pond can be designed to mimic natural conditions and will provide a drink, bath, food and cover for a surprising number of birds and other wildlife.



Hiking trails in Los Angeles often meander near streams. The Palos Verdes Peninsula, Santa Monica Mountains and Verdugo Mountains behind Glendale/Burbank all have canyons lined with Sycamores beside rocky winter-wet/summer-dry creek-beds. 


Although most natural marshes have been greatly altered in Los Angeles, here are some which have been restored and mimic the natural biodiversity of their forbearers: Ballona Freshwater Marsh located southwest of the intersection of Lincoln and Jefferson Boulevards, Madrona Marsh Preserve in the city of Torrance, Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve, the Los Angeles River, and Malibu Creek State Park's Saltwater Marsh. (see links below)


A water feature is the most important component of any wildlife habitat! 

The sound of water will attract birds such as the striking Cedar Waxwings shown above. They appear in winter, often in large flocks looking for places to bathe and feed. Dragonflies will hunt for small insects as well. To best attract wildlife, the plant community surrounding a pond or fountain, as in nature, is best comprised of one or more large bushes or trees that provide cover, and smaller shrubs and grasses at water's edge. 

I Sept Skimmer calendar LP.jpg


Coast Live Oak (left) and White Alder (right) offer cover, lookout sites, nesting habitat and food such as insects and seeds for Bushtits, Western Scrub Jays, House Wrens, Red-tailed hawks, Fox Squirrels and Dark-eyed Juncos. On the forest floor lizards hunt for insects between rocks and bacteria decompose leaf litter.   


IF YOU PLANT IT --------------->


  1. Yerba Mansa                                       (Anemopsis californica) 

  2. California Dutchman's Pipe Vine (Aristolochia californica)

  3. Narrowleaf Milkweed                               (Asclepias fascicularis)

  4. Showy milkweed                                           (Asclepias speciosa)

  5. Mulefat                                                           (Baccharis salicifolia)

  6. Clustered Field Sedge                              (Carex praegracilis)

  7. Seeps Monkey Flower                              (Erythranthe guttatus) 

  8. Douglas Iris                                                            (Iris douglasiana)

  9. Common Rush                                         (Juncus patens 'Occidental Blue') 

  10. Scarlet Monkey flower                                   (Mimulus cardinalis)

  11. Deer Grass                          (Muhlenbergia rigens)

  12. Sycamore Tree                                     (Arctostaphylos glauca)

  13. Golden currant                                             (Ribes aureum)

  14. Evergreen or Catalina Currant                           (Ribes viburnifolium)

  15. Pink-flowering Currant                                (Ribes sanguinium glutinosum)

  16. Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry                    (Ribes speciosa)

  17. Blue or Mexican Elderberry                      (Sambucus nigra)

  18. Hummingbird Sage                                      (Salvia spathacea)

  19. Blue-eyed Grass                                       (Sisyrinchium bellum)

  20. Yellow-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium californicum)

  21. Wild grape                                                           (Vitis californica)

  22. Giant Chain Fern                                 (Woodwardia fimbriata)                       

  1.  Insects consuming its nectar attract Pacific Tree Frogs and birds

  2. Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly larva host plant; Small insects consume nectar

  3. Host plant for Monarch larva; Bushtits & ladybugs eat aphids on it

  4. Host plant for Tiger Swallowtail and Monarch butterfly larva

  5. Host plant for Fatal Metalmark Butterfly larva; Seed-eating birds; Butterflies; Bees

  6. House Finches; California Towhee; and a wide variety of other seed-eating birds

  7. Allen’s and Anna’s Hummingbirds;          Bees

  8. Butterflies; Moths; Ground-dwellers seeking shelter

  9. Common Yellow-throat Warblers; Red-winged Blackbirds

  10. Allen’s and Anna’s Hummingbirds; Bees and Butterflies

  11. Host plant of Green Cutworm Moth larva; Finches and other seed-eaters 

  12. Downy Woodpeckers; American and Lesser Goldfinches; Fox Squirrels

  13. California Scrub Jay; Allen’s and Anna’s Hummingbirds; Cedar Waxwings

  14. Host plant for Tailed Copper Butterfly and White-lined Sphinx Moth caterpillars

  15. Host plant for Satyr Comma Butterfly larva; Anna's and Allen's Hummingbirds

  16. Host plant for Tailed Copper Butterfly larva; Allen's and Anna's Hummingbirds

  17. White-lined Sphinx and Polyphemus Moths

  18. Allen’s, Anna’s and occasionally Rufous Hummingbirds

  19. Native flies and Skipper Butterflies; Seed-eating birds

  20. Birds consume seeds; Nectar attracts small insects

  21. Orange-crowned, Townsend's and Common Yellowthroat Warblers

  22. Large fronds provide cover for ground-dwelling wildlife  

Blue Elderberry attract both

White-lined Sphinx moths and their caterpillars (left) and Polyphemus moths. (lower right).

Sweet-smelling Hummingbird Sage attracts Anna's (right) and Allen's hummingbirds, as well as Monarchs and other butterflies.


California native grapes are smaller than wine grapes; perfect for Orange-crowned warblers.




Ballona Wetlands:

Madrona Marsh:

Gardena Willows:

Los Angeles River:  



Las Pilitas  

Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants:  

California Native Plant Society chapters: 

Palos Verdes/South Bay/South Coast   

Santa Monica/Los Angeles



iBird PRO app 

iNaturalist app

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Peterson Field Guides Western Birds  



UC Davis IPM (Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program)


Simple Planting Tips

Theodore Payne Foundation link to Getting Started with Natives:


* Educational websites 

MANHATTAN BEACH                                       

Deep Roots Nursery                                        

207 N. Sepulveda Blvd.


EL SEGUNDO                                      

International Garden Center                          

155 N. Sepulveda Blvd.                      


REDONDO BEACH                                          

South Bay Gardens                                       

2501 Manhattan Beach Blvd.              


SAN PEDRO                                                          

White Point Nature Center                         

EVENTS on website tells monthly sale             

16oo Paseo del Mar (Access via Western Ave.)

310 561-0917 

PALOS VERDES PENINSULA                   

Natural Landscapes                              

Contact Tony Baker 
for appointment:


South Coast Botanic Garden                            

26300 Crenshaw Blvd.


LOS ANGELES                                                             

* Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants                 

10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley

818-768-1802 (days/hours seasonal, call first) 


Grow Native Nursery – Part of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden          

1500 N. College Avenue, Claremont          


Marina del Rey Garden Center                                             

13198 Mindanao Way                      

310 823-5956 

* Matilija Nursery                                               

8225 Waters Road, Moorpark              

805 523-8604 (call for hours)

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA                                         

* Tree of Life Nursery

33201 Ortega Highway

P.O. Box 635
, San Juan Capistrano                   

949-728-0685 (call for retail hours) 

* Las Pilitas Online Nursery                                               

8331 Nelson Way, 

760-749-5930 (Great website!) 


California Native Plant Society (CNPS):

CNPS Local Chapter: 

El Nativo Growers :                          

Native Sons:                                

Moosa Creek Nursery:

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