California has vast landscapes and a huge diversity of plants. Lots of familiar garden plants, like poppies and lupins, grow wild in California’s Sierra Nevada and southern foothills down to the coast. Look out for soft-leaved, white-leaved, black, and purple-leaved sages, too.

Parts of California are also home to the spiky chaparral, a dense, almost impenetrable mix of tough, spiky, evergreen shrubs with a coat of leathery leaves. It was the scrub oak, alias the el chaparro, growing in these thickets that gave its name to chaparreros – or ‘chaps’ – worn to protect the legs when riding through on horseback.

Did you know?

The Amerindians, living with nature, harvested their needs from the desert. New people, imposing on nature, brought new plants, cities, more people, vehicles, roads and water from elsewhere – railroading what went before. In 1994, California established the desert protection act across 7.7 million acres. Today people are restoring the wilderness and employing new, appropriate agricultural techniques.

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