Grassland structure and function

Volume 20 of the series Tasks for vegetation science pp 29-38

Sources of the Naturalized Grasses and Herbs in California Grasslands

  • Herbert G. BakerAffiliated withBotany Department, University of California

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In the Late Cretaceous and Early Tertiary Periods when the angiosperms were increasing in abundance and diversity, the configuration of what is now California was quite different. There was an absence of high mountains and the Central Valley was an arm of the sea. The land surfaces that now constitute the Coast Ranges were a series of islands. The Sierra Nevada consisted of low hills fronting the sea. Through the action of the tectonic plates, portions of the island chain to the west of what later became revealed as the San Andreas fault system were far to the south of their present situation. The sea covered the present Transverse Ranges but was penetrated by the San Gabriel Mountains (Raven and Axelrod 1978).