Evolving in a harsh coastal area, the plants of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are a hardy bunch. The park's Mediterranean climate-with mild, wet winters and extended, dry summers-encourage plants to adapt to long seasons without rain. Golden Gate is located in the center of the California Floristic Province, one of only five regions in the world with this kind of Mediterranean climate, which are home to high floral diversity and unique assemblages rivaled only by the equatorial rainforests.
Golden Gate's habitats are dominated by evergreen shrubs and patchy grasslands (commonly referred to as coastal scrub and coastal prairie). Coastal scrub plants are usually low-growing, thick-leaved shrubs with a variety of adaptations for temperature regulation and water retention. Coastal species are also able to tolerate wind pruning, salt spray, and thin soils. In addition to coastal scrub and prairie, Golden Gate National Recreation Area supports wetland habitat and several forest types including redwood and mixed evergreen forest, oak woodlands and riparian forests.