Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is a national park in the United States. Straddling the border of California and Nevada, located east of the Sierra Nevada, the park protects the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert and contains a diverse desert environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, valleys and mountains. It is the largest national park in the lower 48 states and has declared an International Biosphere Reserve. Approximately 91% of the park is a wilderness area. It is the hottest and lowest of the parks in the United States. The second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in Badwater Basin, the park is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include creosote bush, bighorn sheep and the Death Valley pupfish, several short-lived boom towns sprang up during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to mine gold and silver. The only long-term profitable ore to be mined was borax, which was transported out of the valley with twenty-mule teams, the valley became the subject of books, radio programs, television series, and movies.
Tourism blossomed in the 1920s, when resorts were built around Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Monument was declared in 1933 and the park was substantially expanded and became a national park in 1994. The natural environment of the area has been shaped largely by its geology, the valley itself is actually a graben. The oldest rocks are metamorphosed and at least 1.7 billion years old. Ancient, shallow seas deposited marine sediments until rifting opened the Pacific Ocean, additional sedimentation occurred until a subduction zone formed off the coast. This uplifted the region out of the sea and created a line of volcanoes, the crust started to pull apart, creating the current Basin and Range landform. Valleys filled with sediment and, during the wet times of glacial periods, with lakes, in 2013, Death Valley National Park was designated as a dark sky park by the International Dark-Sky Association. There are two valleys in the park, Death Valley and Panamint Valley. Both of these valleys were formed within the last few million years, the result of this shearing action is additional extension in the central part of Death Valley which causes a slight widening and more subsidence there.
Uplift of surrounding mountain ranges and subsidence of the floor are both occurring. The uplift on the Black Mountains is so fast that the fans there are small
Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park is a United States national park that consists of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of the U. S. state of California, in the Pacific Ocean. Although the islands are close to the shore of densely populated Southern California, the park covers 249,561 acres of which 79,019 acres are owned by the federal government. The Nature Conservancy owns and manages 76% of Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park is home to a wide variety of significant natural and cultural resources. It was designated a U. S. National Monument on April 26,1938, and it was promoted to a National Park on March 5,1980. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary encompasses the waters six nautical miles around Channel Islands National Park, the Channel Islands were originally discovered in 1542 by the explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. In 1938 the Santa Barbara and Anacapa islands were designated a national monument, San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands were combined with the monument in 1980 to form modern-day Channel Islands National Park.
On January 28,1969 an oil rig belonging to Union Oil experienced a blow-out 6 miles off the coast of California, the resulting spill was, at the time, the largest oil spill to occur in United States territorial waters. Following the spill, tides carried the oil onto the beaches of the Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Rosa and this spill had a large impact on native wildlife of the Channel Islands. Much of the seabird population was affected, with over an estimated 3,600 avians killed. Meanwhile, seals and other sea life died and washed ashore on both the islands and the mainland and this spill is the third largest oil spill in the United States, only surpassed by the Deepwater Horizon and the Exxon Valdez oil spills. It resulted in a 34,000 acres expansion of the Department of the Interior buffer zone in the channel, the islands within the park extend along the Southern California coast from Point Conception near Santa Barbara to San Pedro, a neighborhood of Los Angeles. Park headquarters and the Robert J.
Lagomarsino Visitor Center are located in the city of Ventura, only three mammals are endemic to the islands, one of which is the deer mouse which is known to carry the sin nombre hantavirus. The spotted skunk and Channel Islands fox are endemic, the island fence lizard is endemic to the Channel Islands. One hundred and forty-five of these species are unique to the islands, Marine life ranges from microscopic plankton to the endangered blue whale, the largest animal on earth. Archeological and cultural resources span a period of more than 10,000 years, the average annual visitation to the parks mainland visitor center was around 300,000 in the period from 2007 to 2016, with 364,807 visiting in 2016. The visitor center is located in the Ventura Harbor Village, the visitor center contains several exhibits that provide information regarding all five islands, native vegetation, marine life and cultural history. Also, visitors can enjoy a film, free of charge. The visitor center is open day, except Thanksgiving and Christmas, from 8, 30AM–5
Trout is the common name for a number of species of freshwater fish belonging to the genera Oncorhynchus and Salvelinus, all of the subfamily Salmoninae of the family Salmonidae. The word trout is used as part of the name of some fish such as Cynoscion nebulosus. Trout are closely related to salmon and char, species termed salmon, a rainbow trout that spends time in the ocean is called a steelhead. Arctic char and brook trout are part of the char family, Trout are an important food source for humans and wildlife including brown bears, birds of prey such as eagles, and other animals. They are classified as oily fish, these colors and patterns form as camouflage, based on the surroundings, and will change as the fish moves to different habitats. In general trout that are about to breed have extremely intense coloration and they can look like an entirely different fish outside of spawning season. It is virtually impossible to define a color pattern as belonging to a specific breed, however, in general, wild fish are claimed to have more vivid colors.
Trout have fins entirely without spines, and all of them have an adipose fin along the back. The pelvic fins sit well back on the body, on side of the anus. The swim bladder is connected to the esophagus, allowing for gulping or rapid expulsion of air, unlike many other physostome fish, trout do not use their bladder as an auxiliary device for oxygen uptake, relying solely on their gills. There are many species, and even more populations, that are isolated from each other, the trout found in the eastern United States are a good example of this. Lake trout, like brook trout, belong to the char genus, Lake trout inhabit many of the larger lakes in North America, and live much longer than rainbow trout, which have an average maximum lifespan of 7 years. Lake trout can live many decades, and can grow to more than 30 kilograms, Trout are usually found in cool, clear streams and lakes, although many of the species have anadromous strains as well. Young trout are referred to as troutlet, troutling or fry and they are distributed naturally throughout North America, northern Asia and Europe.
Several species of trout were introduced to Australia and New Zealand by amateur fishing enthusiasts in the 19th century, the introduced species included brown trout from England and rainbow trout from California. The rainbow trout were a strain, generally accepted as coming from Sonoma Creek. The rainbow trout of New Zealand still show the tendency to run up rivers in winter to spawn. In Australia the rainbow trout was introduced in 1894 from New Zealand and is a popular gamefish in recreational angling
Sierra Nevada (U.S.)
The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the Western United States, between the Central Valley of California and the Basin and Range Province. The vast majority of the lies in the state of California. The Sierra runs 400 miles north-to-south, and is approximately 70 miles across east-to-west, the Sierra is home to three national parks, twenty wilderness areas, and two national monuments. These areas include Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks, the character of the range is shaped by its geology and ecology. More than one hundred years ago during the Nevadan orogeny. The range started to uplift four M. A. ago, the uplift caused a wide range of elevations and climates in the Sierra Nevada, which are reflected by the presence of five life zones. Uplift continues due to faulting caused by forces, creating spectacular fault block escarpments along the eastern edge of the southern Sierra. The Sierra Nevada has a significant history, the California Gold Rush occurred in the western foothills from 1848 through 1855.
Due to inaccessibility, the range was not fully explored until 1912, the Sierra Nevada lies in Central and Eastern California, with a very small but historically important spur extending into Nevada. West-to-east, the Sierra Nevadas elevation increases gradually from 1,000 feet in the Central Valley to an height of about 10,500 feet at its crest only 50–75 miles to the east. The east slope forms the steep Sierra Escarpment, unlike its surroundings, the range receives a substantial amount of snowfall and precipitation due to orographic lift. The Sierra Nevada stretches from the Susan River and Fredonyer Pass in the north to Tehachapi Pass in the south and it is bounded on the west by Californias Central Valley and on the east by the Basin and Range Province. The geographical boundary between the Sierra and the Cascades is virtually indistinguishable, with the Fredonyer Pass designation being traditional, physiographically, the Sierra is a section of the Cascade-Sierra Mountains province, which in turn is part of the larger Pacific Mountain System physiographic division.
The range is drained on its western slope by the Central Valley watershed, the northern third of the western Sierra is part of the Sacramento River watershed, and the middle third is drained by the San Joaquin River. The eastern slope watershed of the Sierra is much narrower, its rivers flow out into the endorheic Great Basin of eastern California and western Nevada. Although none of the eastern rivers reach the sea, many of the streams from Mono Lake southwards are diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct which provides water to Southern California, the height of the mountains in the Sierra Nevada increases gradually from north to south. Between Fredonyer Pass and Lake Tahoe, the range from 5,000 feet to more than 9,000 feet. The crest near Lake Tahoe is roughly 9,000 feet high, farther south, the highest peak in Yosemite National Park is Mount Lyell
One of three species in the genus Cathartes of the family Cathartidae, the turkey vulture ranges from southern Canada to the southernmost tip of South America. It inhabits a variety of open and semi-open areas, including forests, pastures. Like all New World vultures, it is not closely related to the Old World vultures of Europe, the two groups strongly resemble each other because of convergent evolution, natural selection often leads to similar body plans in animals that adapt independently to the same conditions. The turkey vulture is a scavenger and feeds almost exclusively on carrion and it finds its food using its keen eyes and sense of smell, flying low enough to detect the gases produced by the beginnings of the process of decay in dead animals. In flight, it uses thermals to move through the air and it roosts in large community groups. Lacking a syrinx—the vocal organ of birds—its only vocalizations are grunts or low hisses and it nests in caves, hollow trees, or thickets. Each year it generally raises two chicks, which it feeds by regurgitation and it has very few natural predators.
In the United States, the vulture receives legal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, the word buzzard is used by North Americans to refer to this bird, yet in the Old World that term refers to members of the genus Buteo. The generic term Cathartes means purifier and is the Latinized form from the Greek kathartēs/καθαρτης, the turkey vulture was first formally described by Linnaeus as Vultur aura in his Systema Naturae in 1758, and characterised as V. fuscogriseus, remigibus nigris, rostro albo. Like other New World vultures, the turkey vulture has a chromosome number of 80. The taxonomic placement of the vulture and the remaining six species of New World vultures has been in flux. Though both are similar in appearance and have similar roles, the New World and Old World vultures evolved from different ancestors in different parts of the world. Some earlier authorities suggested that the New World vultures were more related to storks. More recent authorities maintained their position in the order Falconiformes along with the Old World vultures or place them in their own order.
However, recent genetic studies have made it clear that neither New World nor Old World vultures are close to falcons, there are five subspecies of turkey vulture, C. a. aura is the nominate subspecies. It is found from Mexico south through South America and the Greater Antilles and this subspecies occasionally overlaps its range with other subspecies. It is the smallest of the subspecies but is nearly indistinguishable from C. a. meridionalis in color, C. a. jota, the Chilean turkey vulture, is larger and slightly paler than C. a. ruficollis. The secondary feathers and wing coverts may have gray margins, C. a. meridionalis, the western turkey vulture, is a synonym for C. a. teter
Pseudotsuga menziesii, commonly known as Douglas fir or Douglas-fir, is an evergreen conifer species native to western North America. The common name honors David Douglas, a Scottish botanist and collector who first reported the extraordinary nature, the common name is misleading since it is not a true fir, i. e. not a member of the genus Abies. For this reason the name is written as Douglas-fir. The specific epithet, menziesii, is after Archibald Menzies, a Scottish physician, Menzies first documented the tree on Vancouver Island in 1791. Colloquially, the species is known simply as Doug-fir or as Douglas pine. One Coast Salish name for the tree, used in the Halkomelem language, is lá, one variety, coast Douglas fir, grows in the coastal regions, from west-central British Columbia southward to central California. In Oregon and Washington, its range is continuous from the edge of the Cascades west to the Pacific Coast Ranges. In California, it is found in the Klamath and California Coast Ranges as far south as the Santa Lucia Range, in the Sierra Nevada, it ranges as far south as the Yosemite region.
It occurs from sea level along the coast to 1,800 m above sea level in the mountains of California. Further inland, coast Douglas fir is replaced by another variety, mexican Douglas fir, which ranges as far south as Oaxaca, is often considered a variety of P. menziesii. Coast Douglas fir is currently the second-tallest conifer in the world. Extant coast Douglas fir trees 60–75 m or more in height and 1. 5–2 m in diameter are common in old growth stands, Douglas firs commonly live more than 500 years and occasionally more than 1,000 years. The bark on trees is thin and gray. On mature trees, it is thick and corky, the shoots are brown to olive-green, turning gray-brown with age, though not as smooth as fir shoots, and finely pubescent with short, dark hairs. The buds are a distinctive, conic shape, 4–8 mm long. Unlike the Rocky Mountain Douglas fir, coast Douglas fir foliage has a noticeable sweet fruity-resinous scent, the mature female seed cones are pendulous, 5–8 cm long, 2–3 cm wide when closed, opening to a 4 cm width.
They are produced in spring, green at first, maturing orange-brown in the autumn 6–7 months later, the seeds are 5–6 mm long and 3–4 mm wide, with a 12–15-mm wing. The male cones are 2–3 cm long, dispersing yellow pollen in spring, in forest conditions, old individuals typically have a narrow, cylindric crown beginning 20–40 m above a branch-free trunk
Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles is managed by the National Park Service and the majority of the park is protected as wilderness. The national park is divided by the formations into East and West Divisions, connected by foot trails. The east side has shade and water, the west has high walls, the rock formations provide for spectacular pinnacles that attract rock climbers. The park features unusual talus caves that house at least thirteen species of bat, Pinnacles is most often visited in spring or fall because of the intense heat during the summer months. Park lands are prime habitat for prairie falcons, and are a site for California condors that have been hatched in captivity. Pinnacles National Monument was established in 1908 by U. S. President Theodore Roosevelt, Pinnacles National Park was created from the former Pinnacles National Monument by legislation passed by Congress in late 2012 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 10,2013. Native Americans in the Pinnacles region comprised the Chalon and Mutsun groups of the Ohlone people and these native people declined with the arrival of the Spanish in the 18th century, who brought novel diseases and changes to the natives way of life.
The last Chalon had died or departed from the area by 1810, from 1810 to 1865, when the first Anglo-American settlers arrived, the Pinnacles region was a wilderness without human use or habitation. The establishment of a Spanish mission at Soledad hastened the areas native depopulation through disease, archaeological surveys have found thirteen sites inhabited by Native Americans, twelve of which post-date the establishment of the missions. One site is believed to be about 2000 years old, by the 1880s the Pinnacles, known as the Palisades, were visited by picnickers from the surrounding communities who would explore the caves and camp. The first account of the Pinnacles region appeared in print in 1881, between 1889 and 1891, newspaper articles shifted from describing excursions to the Palisades to calling them the Pinnacles. Interest in the rose to the point that the Hollister Free Lance sent a reporter to the Pinnacles. Investors came from San Francisco to consider placing a hotel there. In 1894 a post office was established in Bear Valley, since there was at least one other Bear Valley in California, the post office was named Cook after Mrs.
Hains maiden name. In 1924 the post office was renamed Pinnacles, Schuyler Hain was a homesteader who arrived in the Pinnacles area in 1891 from Michigan, following his parents and eight siblings to Bear Valley. White, was a student at Stanford University, and White brought one of his professors to see the Pinnacles in 1893, dr. Gilbert was impressed by the scenery, and his comments inspired Hain to publicize the region. Hain led tours to Bear Valley and through the caves, advocating the preservation of the Pinnacles, Hains efforts resulted in a 1904 visit by Stanford president David Starr Jordan, who contacted Fresno Congressman James C. Jordan and Needham in turn influenced Gifford Pinchot to advocate the establishment of the Pinnacles Forest Reserve to President Theodore Roosevelt, Roosevelt proclaimed the establishment on July 8,1906
Mount Tamalpais is a peak in Marin County, United States, often considered symbolic of Marin County. Much of Mount Tamalpais is protected public lands such as Mount Tamalpais State Park, the Marin Municipal Water District watershed. Mount Tamalpais is the highest peak in the Marin Hills, which are part of the Northern California Coast Ranges, the elevation at the West Peak, its highest point, where a radar dome currently stands, is at about 2,576 feet. It stood over 2,600 feet before the summit was flattened for the dome construction. The East Peak, the second highest peak, is 2,572 feet. The mountain is visible from the city of San Francisco. The majority of the mountain is contained in protected public lands, including Mount Tamalpais State Park, Muir Woods National Monument, and it adjoins the Golden Gate National Recreation Area as well as several Marin County Open Space Preserves. This provides nearly 40 miles of publicly accessible open space. Some of the slopes of Mount Tamalpais fall within several cities and unincorporated communities of Marin County, including Mill Valley, Tamalpais-Homestead Valley, Stinson Beach.
These areas are developed, consisting of mostly low-density single-family homes. In 2004 it was suggested by a team of Penn State geoscientists that a blind thrust fault, like the one caused the infamous Northridge earthquake. This idea was based on the steepness of Mount Tamalpais and of nearby Bolinas Ridge. Major Mount Tamalpais rockforms include serpentine, particularly evident in outcroppings near the summit, a number of serpentine endemic plants grow in the serpentine soils in this part of the mountain. The steep southeastern slopes of Mount Tamalpais drain to Arroyo Corte Madera del Presidio, annual precipitation around Mount Tamalpais varies greatly from around 27. 5–31.5 inches in the drier, eastern foothills to about 59 inches near the Bolinas Ridge, close to the Pacific Ocean. The same fact holds for the steep, south-facing bowl canyon that Muir Woods is located in, as in San Francisco, most of the annual precipitation falls during the winter months. During cold, wet winter storms, the mountain regularly gets some snowfall, sometimes as much as 6 inches overnight, as observed in February 2001, March 2006, and February 2011.
The region sometimes gets hit with strong Pacific storms that may topple trees, and bring hurricane-force winds to exposed, barren areas like the Bolinas Ridge and the summit of Mount Tamalpais. In contrast, the foothills, sheltered from the oceanic breezes and fog, are drier
Napa County, California
Napa County is a county located north of San Pablo Bay in the northern portion of the U. S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 136,484, the county seat is the City of Napa. Napa County was one of the counties of California, created in 1850 at the time of statehood. Parts of the territory were given to Lake County in 1861. Napa County comprises the Napa, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland. It is one of four North Bay counties, in prehistoric times, the valley was inhabited by the Patwin Native Americans, with possible habitation by Wappo tribes in the northwestern foothills. Most villages are thought to have been constructed near the floodplains of watercourses that drain the valley and their food consisted of wild roots, small animals, earthworms and bread made from crushed California buckeye kernels. In winter they would construct huts made of tree branches, in summer they camped near rivers and streams. In winter months, they were clad in wild animal skins.
The maximum prehistoric population is not to have exceeded 5000 persons. In 1776, a fort was erected by the Spanish Governor, Felipe de Neve a short distance northwest of Napa, francis Castro and Father Jose Altimura were the first Europeans to explore the Napa Valley in 1823. When the first white settlers arrived in the early 1830s, there were six tribes in the valley speaking different dialects, the Mayacomos tribe lived in the area where Calistoga was founded. The Callajomans were in the area near where the town of St. Helena now stands, further south, the Kymus dwelt in the middle part of the valley. The Napa and Ulcus tribes occupied part of the area where the City of Napa now exists while the Soscol tribe occupied the portion that now makes up the end of the valley. Many of the native peoples died during an epidemic in 1838. Settlers killed several over claims of cattle theft, during the era between 1836 and 1846, when California was a province of independent Mexico, the following 13 ranchos were granted in Napa County, George C.
Yount was a settler in Napa County and is believed to be the first Anglo-Saxon resident in the county. In 1836 Yount obtained the Mexican grant Rancho Caymus where he built what is said to be the first log house in California, soon afterward, he built a sawmill and grain mill, and was the first person to plant a vineyard in the county
The cougar, commonly known as the mountain lion, panther, or catamount, is a large felid of the subfamily Felinae native to the Americas. Its range, from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes of South America, is the greatest of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, an adaptable, generalist species, the cougar is found in most American habitat types. It is the second-heaviest cat in the New World, after the jaguar and largely solitary by nature, the cougar is properly considered both nocturnal and crepuscular, although there are daytime sightings. The cougar is more related to smaller felines, including the domestic cat, than to any species of subfamily Pantherinae. The cougar is a predator and pursues a wide variety of prey. Primary food sources are ungulates, particularly deer, but livestock and it hunts species as small as insects and rodents. This cat prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, the cougar is territorial and survives at low population densities.
Individual territory sizes depend on terrain and abundance of prey, while large, it is not always the apex predator in its range, yielding to the jaguar, gray wolf, American black bear, and grizzly bear. It is reclusive and mostly avoids people, fatal attacks on humans are rare, but have recently been increasing in North America as more people enter their territories. Intensive hunting following European colonization of the Americas and the human development of cougar habitat has caused populations to drop in most parts of its historical range. In particular, the cougar was extirpated in eastern North America in the beginning of the 20th century, reports of eastern cougars still surface, although it was declared extirpated in 2011. With its vast range across the length of the Americas, P. concolor has dozens of names and various references in the mythology of the indigenous Americans and in contemporary culture. Currently, it is referred to as puma by most scientists, Mountain lion was a term first used in writing in 1858 from the diary of George A.
Jackson of Colorado. Other names include catamount, mountain screamer, and painter, lexicographers regard painter as a primarily upper-Southern US regional variant on panther. The word panther is used to specifically designate the black panther, a melanistic jaguar or leopard, and the Florida panther. P. concolor holds the Guinness record for the animal with the greatest number of names, Cougar may be borrowed from the archaic Portuguese çuçuarana, the term was originally derived from the Tupi language susuarana, meaning similar to deer. A current form in Brazil is suçuarana and it may be borrowed from the Guaraní language term guaçu ara or guazu ara. Less common Portuguese terms are onça-parda or leão-baio, or unusually non-native puma or leão-da-montanha, people in rural regions often refer to both the cougar and the jaguar as simply gata, and outside of the Amazon, both are colloquially referred to as simply onça by many people
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups are the Cervinae, including the muntjac, the deer and the chital, and the Capreolinae, including the elk, the Western roe deer. Female reindeer, and male deer of all species, grow, in this they differ from permanently horned antelope, which are in the same order, Artiodactyla. The musk deer of Asia and water chevrotain of tropical African and Asian forests are not usually regarded as true deer and form their own families and Tragulidae, respectively. Deer appear in art from Palaeolithic cave paintings onwards, and they have played a role in mythology and their economic importance includes the use of their meat as venison, their skins as soft, strong buckskin, and their antlers as handles for knives. Deer hunting has been a sport since at least the Middle Ages. Deer live in a variety of biomes, ranging from tundra to the tropical rainforest, while often associated with forests, many deer are ecotone species that live in transitional areas between forests and thickets and prairie and savanna.
The majority of deer species inhabit temperate mixed deciduous forest, mountain mixed coniferous forest, tropical seasonal/dry forest. Clearing open areas within forests to some extent may actually benefit deer populations by exposing the understory and allowing the types of grasses, additionally, access to adjacent croplands may benefit deer. However, adequate forest or brush cover must still be provided for populations to grow, fallow deer have been introduced to South Africa. There are species of deer that are highly specialized, and live almost exclusively in mountains, swamps. Some deer have a distribution in both North America and Eurasia. Examples include the caribou that live in Arctic tundra and taiga and moose that inhabit taiga, huemul deer of South Americas Andes fill the ecological niches of the ibex and wild goat, with the fawns behaving more like goat kids. Mountain slope habitats vary from moist coniferous/mixed forested habitats to dry forests with alpine meadows higher up. The foothills and river valleys between the mountain provide a mosaic of cropland and deciduous parklands.
The rare woodland caribou have the most restricted range living at altitudes in the subalpine meadows. Elk and mule deer both migrate between the alpine meadows and lower coniferous forests and tend to be most common in this region, elk inhabit river valley bottomlands, which they share with White-tailed deer. They live in the aspen parklands north of Calgary and Edmonton, the adjacent Great Plains grassland habitats are left to herds of elk, American bison, and pronghorn antelope
Aesculus californica, commonly known as the California buckeye or California horse-chestnut, is a species of buckeye native to California and southwestern Oregon. It is a deciduous shrub or small tree, up to 4–12 m tall, with gray bark often coated with lichens. It typically is multi-trunked, with a crown as broad as it is high, trees are long lived, with an estimated lifespan between 250-280 years. The leaves are green, palmately compound with five leaflets. Each leaflet is 6–17 cm long, with a toothed margin. The leaves are tender and prone to damage from both spring freezing or snow and summer heat and desiccation, the flowers are sweet-scented, white to pale pink, borne on erect panicles 15–20 cm long and 5–8 cm broad. The fruit is a fig-shaped capsule 5–8 cm long, containing a large, orange-brown seed, a. A. californica is widely distributed in California, growing along the central coast and in the lower elevations of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range. Its range extends to the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains in the Rogue Valley in Oregon and it is found growing in a wide range of conditions from crowded, semi-shaded canyon bottoms to dry south-facing slopes and hilltops.
In the coastal ranges north of Big Sur it is found growing alone on slopes, or intermingled with valley oak, Oregon oak, coast live oak, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, A. Local Native American tribes, including the Pomo and Luiseño, the bark and fruits contain the neurotoxic glycoside aesculin, which causes hemolysis of red blood cells. Buckeye makes a good fireboard for a bow drill or hand drill, the nectar of the flowers is toxic to the Asian/European honeybee, so the trees should not be planted near apiaries. When the shoots are small and leaves are new, they are lower in toxins and are grazed by livestock, the flowers are a rich nectar source for many species of butterflies. It is used as a plant for its striking leaf buds, lime green foliage, fragrant white flowers, red-brown foliage in mid to late summer. The tree acts as a binder, which prevents erosion in hilly regions. Callahan F.2005 Kalmiopsis Journal, Vol.12,2005 Plant of the Year, California, University of California Press