Skip to content

Habitat Highlight: Coastal Sage Scrub

Known as one of the world’s biodiversity “hot spots,” the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks are home to many important natural habitats. Across the Landmarks, visitors will find coastal sage scrub, a rare and biologically rich habitat that is native to coastal Southern California.

This Mediterranean-type of habitat is found primarily in dry, foggy areas along the coast, inland foothills and canyons. The Landmarks are actually one of the largest areas in California containing this type of habitat. Those who have explored have probably already seen this unique environment.

Coastal sage scrub is an entire ecosystem consisting of a wide variety of plants, insects, mammals and birds, many of which are rare and rely on this particular habitat to survive. ​Within this habitat, you’ll encounter an array of plant species, including the aromatic California sagebrush, goldenbush, coastal prickly pear cactus and black sage. Birdwatching enthusiasts can look for species like the California thrasher, cactus wren and the endangered coastal California gnatcatcher.

Most of the coastal sage scrub habitats throughout the Landmarks are healthy and relatively undisturbed, however, that does not mean the Irvine Ranch Conservancy (IRC) is not remaining vigilant. These habitats can be threatened by invasive, non-native species, wildfires and urbanization. IRC, along with its partners OC Parks, City of Irvine and the City of Newport Beach, have been continuously working to preserve these vital habitats that are native to Orange County, ensuring their protection for future generations to come.