Natural Plant Communities

The character of local plant communities is closely related to their elevation above sea level. Higher elevations are cooler and more moist than lower elevations, supporting plants that can tolerate cold but require more water. Understanding how plant communities naturally develop can be helpful in deciding what to plant in your garden. It can also help you design a garden that is in harmony with the proportions and color palette of your surroundings. See the descriptions below the map for more information about local native plant communities.

Click on the map to see a larger version of it on a separate page.Elevation

Moist Petran (Ponderosa) Forest
A combination of ponderosa pines, Douglas-fir, and aspens found in ravines, on north-facing slopes, or above 7,500’ as around Hart Prairie.
Montane Meadows
Shallow, grassy basins—often dotted with shrubs—between 7,000—8,000’ as in broad reaches of Sinclair Wash as well as in Cheshire and Fort Valley.
Dry Petran (Ponderosa) Forest
Typical of most of the Flagstaff area between 6,500’ and 8,000’. Very tall ponderosa pines with long needles and dark gray or rust-colored trunks, among  grassy openings that become green and lush during the rainy season.
Moist areas around seeps and springs sustain leafy plants including monkeyflowers and checkermallow. Though rare, seeps and springs in neighborhoods such as Equestrian Estates and along Pumphouse Wash in Kachina Village are dotted around the Flagstaff area .
Ephemeral Riparian
Although there are no permanent streams in the Flagstaff community, moisture-adapted communities of plants develop where moisture lingers along the tributaries and main stems of the Rio de Flag and Walnut Creek. Wandering drainage channels can create similar conditions in gardens.
Shady Canyons
Shadowy canyons with leafy deciduous shrubs and trees, shade-loving flowers, ponderosa pines, and Douglas-fir develop on north-facing slopes along the Rio de Flag and Walnut Canyon drainages.
Found where southern exposures on very steep slopes receive intense solar radiation and summer’s effective precipitation is reduced dramatically. Chaparral shrubs have small, specially-adapted leaves such as those of silk tassel and mountain mahogany. Steep areas below Mount Elden support patches of chaparral.
Great Basin Conifer (Pinyon-Juniper) Woodland
A rolling landscape below 6,500’ with widely-spaced junipers and pinyon pines, rabbitbrush, snakeweed, and grasses. Great Basin Conifer Woodland is most common in parts of Timberline, Doney Park, and Winona.
Plains and Great Basin Grasslands
Windswept, sunny, level grasslands below 6,500’, with bunchgrasses, low-growing forbs and a few shrubs. Grasslands are pale green and wispy in early spring, become darker and more dense during the summer rainy season, and fade to light brown and pale gold the rest of the year. Common to the east and north, around Winona, Doney Park, and Sunset Crater.