Mariposa Native Plants: Landscaping Suggestions for Mariposa and Surrounding Counties
Foothills (up to 2500 feet elevation):
- These are the plants that MNP recommends for a beginning native plant gardener in the foothills.
The foothill region in Mariposa County is comprised of the western areas, at an elevation up to
approximately 2500 feet. The trees characteristic of the foothills are the Blue Oak
(Quercus douglasii), the Interior Live Oak (Quercus wislizeni), and the Gray or
Foothill Pine (Pinus sabiniana).
After taking an inventory of the plants that you have already, try to figure out how to complement
them. Consider such shrubs and small trees as Buckbrush (Ceanothus cuneatus), Silver Bush
Lupine (Lupinus albifrons), Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia), and Western Redbud
(Cercis occidentalis, in flower early spring in the image at the right). Bees and
butterflies are attracted to aromatic sages such as Black and Cleveland Sage as well as plants
in the aster family, such as sunflowers.
To support the monarch butterfly caterpillars, plant Narrowleaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis,
image at right) and California Milkweed (Asclepias californica). A great plant to consider is
Deergrass (Mullenbergia rigens), a perennial bunch grass that grows waist high and stays green
throughout the summer. For annual flowers and extra color, sow some California Poppy (Eschscholzia
californica) seeds or use a California wildflower mix.
Lower mountains (roughly 2500 to 3500 feet elevation):
- With the possible exceptions of Bush Lupine and Redbud, the foothill plants should do well up to
about 3500 feet elevation.
- Shrubs to consider are Flannel Bush (Fremontodendron californicum, close-up of flowers to
the right), Blue Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana), Rabbitbrush (Chryothamnus nauseosus),
Hollyleaf Redberry (Rhamnus ilicifolia), Fragrant Sumac (Rhus trilobata), and Buckwheat
(Eriogonum californica). Other plants to consider: California and Sierra Coffeeberry
(Rhamnus californica and rubra, respectively), Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii),
and Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides).
- You could try planting a California Bay tree in this region. In the lower mountains, beginning
about 2500 feet, you'll find the beginnings of the ponderosa pine forest. One perennial to
consider here, if you have some wetter locations, is Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa),
another milkweed where Monarchs lay their eggs. Also, try planting the attractive and exotic
(but still California native) Heartleaf Milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia, photo right),
which again supports Monarch Butterfly caterpillars. Another plant to consider here is the Coyote
Mint (Monardella villosa). These are all attractive to pollinators.
- It would be surprising too if you did not already have Whiteleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos viscida)
on your lower mountain landscape. But if not, you could easily establish some. It's a good plant for
wildlife. The genus name, Arctostaphylos, is a latinized version of an ancient Greek compound
arktos (bear) and stafulos (grape cluster), so a cluster of grapes for a bear. A more
attractive plant with the same wildlife benefits is the Common Manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita),
which has large cherry-like berries. Or, if it's available, there is the cultivar, Dr. Hurd Manzanita,
which you can get from a nursery. Bears, foxes, and coyotes eat the berries from these plants. But,
it's not at all a good fire-resistant plant; keep it away from your house! Keep sowing the wildflowers
in the lower mountains, too.
Our plant list on Calscape's webpage: