California’s Prairie

Reservoirs of Biodiversity
and Beauty 

As the most iconic section of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, the Meadow Section displays many of the plants found in California’s rich grasslands. The vast majority, some 90%, of the state’s rare and endangered plant species reside in grasslands. This habitat faces threats from development and the invasion of nonnative species such as mustards (Brassica sp.). This has drastically altered fire ecology and species composition in these habitats. 

The remaining grasslands of California are some of the most awe-inspiring places on Earth, especially during a superbloom year.

garden map


What Is a Superbloom?

Almost half the plants native to California are annual species that have short life cycles. Annuals stay dormant as seeds until conditions are just right. Then they quickly grow, flower, set seed, and die. If conditions are perfect (think mild spring weather and lots of winter rain), all the plants may flower at once, creating what is called a superbloom. These superblooms can cover hundreds of square miles and are even visible from space.

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