Sierra Nevada lower montane forest

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An example of lower montane forest in Yosemite Valley.

The Sierra Nevada lower montane forest is a plant community along a strip along the western and eastern edges of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. This zone is also known as a yellow pine forest. Its elevation range at the northern end is from 1,200–5,500 feet (370–1,680 m), and at the southern end from 2,500–9,000 feet (760–2,740 m).

At the lower elevation of this forest, the hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters of the Mediterranean climate give rise to the lower montane forest zone. The accumulation of several feet of snow during the winter is not uncommon and can stay on the ground for several months. The diversity of tree species found in this zone make this a beautiful and interesting forest to explore. The indicator species for the lower montane forest are the ponderosa pine and the Jeffrey pine: the ponderosa pine generally occurs on the west side of the Sierra, while the Jeffrey pine occurs on the east.[1] The lower montane forests also include trees such as California black oak, sugar pine, incense-cedar, and white fir. The giant sequoia groves of the Sierra Nevada are also found within this biotic zone.[2] Animals that may be found in this zone include the dark-eyed junco, mountain chickadee, western gray squirrel, mule deer, and American black bear.[1] The lower montane forest can be seen in Yosemite Valley and along the Wawona, Hetch Hetchy, and Big Oak Flat Roads.


Giant sequoia in the Mariposa Grove, Yosemite, at approximately 6,400 feet (2,000 m) of elevation

Common lower montane forest species of plants include:[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Schoenherr, Allan A. (1992). A Natural History of California. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06922-6. 
  2. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the National Park Service document "Vegetation Overview, Yosemite National Park".
  3. ^ "Yellow Pine Forest". GeoImages Project. University of California, Berkeley. 
  • Ornduff, R.; Faber, P. M.; Keeler-Wolf, T. (2003). Introduction to California Plant Life (Revised ed.). University of California Press. 
  • "Plants for Yellow Pine Forest". Las Pilitas Nursery.