Flora of Tejon Ranch

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It is hard to believe that Tejon Ranch, at approximately 270,000 acres and California’s single largest contiguous piece of private land is located just a short, 1-hour drive north of Los Angeles. Situated primarily in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County, Tejon Ranch occupies one of the most interesting and complex areas of ecological convergence in the state: the junction of the San Joaquin Valley, Sierra Nevada, Western Transverse Ranges, and Mojave Desert. Since the 1850’s Tejon has been a working cattle ranch. Prior to 2008, when 90 percent of the ranch was placed under conservation agreements, Tejon Ranch was closed to scientific research. On Tejon, over the past three years RSABG graduate student, Nick Jensen, working in conjunction with the Tejon Ranch Conservancy (http://www.tejonconservancy.org/),  has made nearly 4,000 herbarium collections representing at least one new species (a jewelflower, in the genus Streptanthus), dozens of new populations of rare species, and countless range extensions. A highlight of these collections last year was the discovery of a population of California jewelflower, Caulanthus californicus, an endangered species previously considered extirpated in the San Joaquin Valley, in the Tejon Hills. So far, these collections represent more than 950 taxa, approximately 90% of which are native to California. This means that Tejon Ranch provides habitat for more than 13% of the state’s native plants on just 0.25% of California’s acreage!