Elfin forest

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For specific places called "Elfin Forest", see Elfin Forest (disambiguation).
See also: Pygmy forest

Elfin forest is a nickname given to several similar dwarfed plants ecosystems, mainly in coastal Temperate Californian and montane Tropical regions, that are host to communities of dwarfed and tiny plants, insects, and rodents.


In Northern California, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is home to an elfin forest with Cupressus pigmaea and Cupressus sargentii, which is partially within a section of the Zayante Sandhill Area.

On the Central Coast of California on the southeastern shore of Morro Bay, Los Osos contains the Elfin Forest Natural Area, about 90 acres (360,000 m2) in size.[1][2]

Higher up on Cuesta Ridge the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County manages the San Luis Obispo Elfin Forest of dwarf Cupressus.

Given that chaparral areas can be waterlogged in the winter, and arid and nearly desert-like in the summer, native plants in these dry elfin forest areas have adapted accordingly, and are generally much shorter, smaller, and compact than related plants elsewhere. Diminutive plants commonly found in Californian elfin forests include Portulacaceae such as Mount Hood pussypaws (Cistanthe umbellata) and Alkali heath (Frankenia salina), and species of Aeonium and Bird's-foot trefoil (Lotus). Even trees and shrubs, such as Cypress (Cupressus), Oak (Quercus), and Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) rarely grow more than 20 ft (7 m) tall in these plant communities. California Elfin forests fauna includes the California Kangaroo Rat.


High-altitude tropical locations in the cloud forest region, such as Saba in the Netherlands Antilles, contain mossy wet elfin forests due to the high-altitude mist.

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