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.

Urban development and the stresses of habitat destruction and introduced species have pushed a number of the region's plants to the brink of extinction. Golden Gate National Recreation Area serves as a refuge for over forty-five rare or special status plant species, with at least ten of those listed as federally threatened or endangered. These protected lands are often the last chance to prevent the extinction of these species. Park scientists have been monitoring these plants for over a decade, providing valuable baseline information for species on the brink. Listed species are counted and mapped every one to three years. The resulting data gives insight into the shifts in distribution and population size of these special plants.


Explore Plant life at Golden Gate

  • Grasses in a green field.

    The intact coastal prairies in Golden Gate National Recreation Area are a rare ecological treasure to be enjoyed and protected.

  • Shot looking up at ring of tall redwood trees.
    Trees and Shrubs

    Learn about the different types of forests and scrubland plants found at Golden Gate.

  • Image of yellow and purple wildflowers, with a single golden poppy.

    Discover the colorful flowering plants of Golden Gate.

  • Grassland plants flowering, with the Golden Gate in the background
    Plant Communities

    Plants do not exist in isolation, but rather as part of communities. Learn more on the Pacific Coast Science & Learning Center website.

  • Close up of ice plant flowers.
    Non-native Plants

    The spread of non-native plants represents the most significant threat to the biodiversity of the park.

  • Presidio clarkia
    The Presidio
    Rare and Endangered Plants

    Twelve plants are designated as rare, threatened or endangered...

  • Close up of pink three-petaled trillium flower and its three green leaves.
    Muir Woods Plant Guide

    Check out this comprehensive guide to plants in the Muir Woods area, complete with color illustrations and tips for identification.

  • Golden gate in the background, purple blossoms of native lupine in the foreground.
    Quick Reads

    Browse articles and information summaries about plants at Golden Gate.

  • Close up of green sorel leaves and lichen on a branch.

    Get the latest on plants from the Bay Area Nature & Science Blog.

Last updated: April 29, 2019

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Golden Gate National Recreation Area
201 Fort Mason

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