UC Master Gardeners of Monterey & Santa Cruz Counties
University of California
UC Master Gardeners of Monterey & Santa Cruz Counties

Posts Tagged: habitat gardening

For the birds: California native berries that birds love

California quail. Image credit: H. Vannoy Davis © California Academy of Sciences.
People love berries and so do the birds! 

Each of these is native to California and attracts California thrashers, western bluebirds, American robins, northern flickers, Nuttall's woodpeckers, mockingbirds, cedar waxwings. scrub jays, northern flickers, yellow-rumped warblers and game birds such as wild turkey, pheasant, California quail and grouse. The blue elderberry on this list can be enjoyed by both people and birds! I have seen all of these bird species except grouse and pheasant in my yard; they are part of our area.


Holly-leaved cherry - Tall, dense shrub 

Manzanitas - Multiple species of shrubs or trees   

Toyon (Christmas berry, California holly) - Mounding form to 8 feet 

Wax myrtle - Mounding form to 30 feet 

California coffeeberry (buckthorn)Dense shrub that is easily pruned 


Blue elderberry -

Hollyleaf cherry. Image credit: Beatrice F. Howitt © California Academy of Sciences.
This is edible by humans as well. Has profuse berry clusters and grows quickly to a 15 foot tree 

California wild rose - Mounding form   

California grapes - Climber or woody ground cover 

Fuchsiaflower gooseberry - Mounding growth, has scarlet flowers and thorns 

Poison oak too! - Let the birds plant their own or control it if you prefer

Additional references:

Toyon. Image credit: J. E.(Jed) and Bonnie McClellan © California Academy of Sciences.
California Native Plants that attract birds: http://www.laspilitas.com/bird.htm

Birds and the plants they like: http://theodorepayne.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Birds

Our own blog: Wildlife Friendly Gardens Part I and II

Don't forget to subscribe to our blog so that you receive an email notification when a new post goes up. If you have questions, contact us online, by phone or in person to get answers to your gardening quandaries! 


American Robin. Image credit: Gerald and Buff Corsi © California Academy of Sciences.


Fuchsia flowering gooseberry. Image credit: William R. Hewlett © California Academy of Sciences.
Posted on Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 9:46 AM

California Native Plant Profile: Buckwheat

Sulfur buckwheat recovering after the Angora fire near Lake Tahoe.
Eriogonum is the buckwheat genus, one of the largest in California, with over 125 species. With so many species to choose from, you are sure to find one for your garden!

Native buckwheats come in both annual and perennial forms. They are some of the most popular nectar sources for butterflies and beneficial insects. The flowers last a long time, turning a rusty orange or chocolate brown (depending on the species) when the seed heads develop in the fall, so they add interest to the garden in all seasons. Buckwheats are very drought tolerant and some species can even handle salt spray.

St. Catherine's Lace, giant buckwheat. Photo: © Carol Nickbarg.
All the buckwheats have dense terminal clusters of flowers at the tips of the branches, so what looks like a puffball from a distance is more like a tiny bouquet close up. Most species are evergreen, only losing their leaves in the most severe drought conditions. Leaves are often hairy and light-colored, both adaptations to the warm, dry, Mediterranean climate where buckwheats are found. They grow well on slopes or in borders and bloom from late spring to early summer. There are several species that grow locally, from the widespread shrubby California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), to the grey-leaved coast buckwheat (Eriogonum latifolium), the delicate naked buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum) and the tiny-leaved sea cliff buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium) and the many subspecies within some of these species. Other popular species for home gardens include red buckwheat (Eriogonum grande var. rubescens), which is native to the Channel Islands, sulfur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum), with large yellow flowers, St. Catherine's Lace (Eriogonum giganteum), which forms a shrub of 3-6' tall and 6' wide and saffron buckwheat (Eriogonum crocatum), which is native to Ventura County but does well up here in the Monterey Bay area.

Saffron buckwheat. Photo: © Carol Nickbarg.
Native buckwheats give a huge bang for your native plant buck! They're water-wise, good habitat for wildlife, and low maintenance. Now is the time -- if you've been thinking of experimenting with a native California plant, give buckwheat a try!

In addition to native plant sales, you can find buckwheats at some of the local native plant nurseries. Check out the California Native Plant Society's search engine for where to buy. For more information on buckwheat, here are some good sources: pests, more information on different species of buckwheat, and their use in hedgerows. To see what buckwheat species are found in your area, visit the Calscape website. You can enter map coordinates or a street address to find a list of California plants that are native to your location. May the buckwheat be plentiful in your future garden!

The browning flowers of sea cliff buckwheat. Photo: © Carol Nickbarg.


A honeybee feeding on sea cliff buckwheat. Photo: © Carol Nickbarg.


Posted on Sunday, November 20, 2016 at 4:39 PM
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