Region Header Links Book conifers

The diversity exists here because of the interactions of a variety of factors that have remained “consistent” for millions of years. Northwest California is a museum of sorts, hiding relicts of epochs gone by, called paleoendemics, and fostering the growth of new species, called neoendemics, in unusual nooks created by complex climate and soils. These small microclimates, linked with isolation in space and time, create this unique setting. On a grand scale, the area is comfortable for plant growth compared to other areas of the West—there is a moderate climate. It seems that because of this stability, extinctions have been less common in this knot of rivers and mountains. Northwest California is also a meeting ground—having a central location and continuity with other mountain ranges as well as a proximity to the Pacific Ocean. While there are many endemic plants in northwest California, the endemic and relict conifers are of particular interest and importance because there is so much diversity in such a small area. There are 3,540 vascular plant taxa (species, subspecies, and variations) of plants—and as many as 38 species of conifers depending on where one delineates northwest California. This landscape fosters one of the most diverse temperate coniferous forests on earth.





Climate map