Unveiling the San Francisco Bay Area’s Exceptional Plant Diversity
The San Francisco Bay Area boasts exceptional beauty from its coastlines to mountains. The ecosystems found here promote an amazing array of life forms, making it one of the hotspots of biodiversity in California. With its varied topography and rich geology, it supports a mosaic of habitats including redwood forests, oak woodlands, chaparral, grasslands, and estuaries. Mount Tamalpais, in Marin County, is an epicenter of this wild Bay Area biodiversity and the plants here are celebrated in a new book by Backcountry Press called, Plants of Mount Tamalpais (Including Muir Woods).
Mount Tamalpais is an iconic landmark in the San Francisco Bay Area, featuring a unique geology. The mountain’s rocks date back millions of years and its topography is a result of long-term tectonic activity, coastal erosion, and stream processes. Mount Tamalpais is also renowned for its unique serpentine habitats and soils, which create distinct, specialized plant communities. These habitats are home to various rare and endemic plant species, such as Tamalpais Manzanita, Mount Tamalpais Thistle, Tamalpais Jewelflower, Tamalpais Lessingia, and others.
Plants of Mount Tamalpais
Robert Steers, the book’s author, has spent over a decade documenting and studying the plants on and around Mount Tamalpais. “This is an amazing mountain and setting that is truly inspiring. If you already appreciate Mt Tamalpais for its natural beauty, wait till you see the diversity of plant life. I am so excited to see this book in people’s hands so that they, too, can grow in their understanding of the unique flora here and increase their appreciation of this special place.”
This book is the 14th title from Backcountry Press, a small publisher focused on the human connection to the natural world. Based in Humboldt County, founders Allison Poklemba and Michael Kauffmann are excited to broaden their reach with this book. “We have historically produced books for use closer to our home on the very North Coast of California. This book appealed to us as it has the potential to help the literally millions of annual visitors to Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods better understand the rich biodiversity of these special places.” says Poklemba.
Explore Mt. Tam’s Plant Life
With titles that focus on getting folks outside and engaged with the natural world, they are recommending several hikes on which to take this new book to discover the unique plants of Mount Tamalpais. For instance, the Steep Ravine Trail, a beautiful hike through a shaded canyon filled with towering redwoods, lush ferns, and wildflowers, is a favorite among nature lovers. Along this trail you will experience a cool, wet forest at the start of the canyon near Pan Toll and then wind-swept coastal bluffs where the trail ends on Hwy 1 above the ocean.
Muir Woods National Monument offers another spectacular redwood forest hike that will not disappoint. In this old-growth redwood forest, there are unique species rarely seen on the mountain, like Anemone, Baneberry, Oregon Grape, and Western Burning Bush.
Near the top of the mountain, another popular area with numerous trail options is Rock Springs. The various trails in this area take visitors through a range of ecosystems, including grasslands, chaparral, and forests. Serpentine soils that harbor wildflowers are common here as are breathtaking views of San Francisco and the rugged Pacific Ocean.
On the Bay-side of Mt Tamalpais, there are several, level-terrain hikes great for casual botanizing that circumnavigate Phoenix Lake, Lake Lagunitas, and Bon Tempe Lake. Or, if one wants to feel the burn in their legs, there are many trails that advance up the mountain-side where you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the county, baylands, and beyond. Of course, the view from the top of East Peak is world-class. All along these trails, you will encounter plant species and habitats represented in this field guide.
Mount Tamalpais showcases the geological and ecological diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area, providing visitors with an opportunity to explore its unique plants, stunning landscapes, and beautiful hiking trails. By appreciating the region’s rich biodiversity, we can contribute to its conservation and preservation for generations to come. Plants of Mount Tamalpais is available now at BackcountryPress.com.