Transverse and Peninsular Ranges

Pyrola dentata and Pyrola aphylla growing in relatively mesic microhabitat conditions in the San Gorgonio wilderness. Photo credit: Thomas Stoughton (RSABG)

Much of southern California is arid, with seasonal monsoonal rain. Pockets of relatively mesic habitat occur in the mountain ranges adjacent arid lowlands. Montane forests trap ocean fog or monsoonal precipitation, providing conditions suitable for northern temperate plants such as Pyrola dentata and P. aphylla. Although less common, P. picta also occurs in southern California, growing in forested canyons near ephemeral streams or springs. In contrast to the conifer-dominated forests that P. picta species occur in at higher latitudes, the habitat in southern California is predominantly mixed conifer and oak. Pyrola aphylla is often found associated with Quercus chrysolepis and other Quercus species (presumably via a physical connection to a mycorrhizal fungus intermediate). If you find P. aphylla or P. dentata on your walk through the forest, you may also find Chimaphila menziesii growing nearby.

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