The alpine zone of the White Mountains of California, defined as non-forested areas above 3500 m, includes 163 native species of vascular plants in an area of 106 km2. No invasive species have become well established. Nearly two-thirds of the native species occur in just seven families, led by the Asteraceae with 30 species. Six genera have five or more species, led by Carex with 14 species. Life forms of the flora are heavily dominated by broad-leaved herbaceous perennials (53%), followed in importance by graminoid perennials (22%) and mats and cushions (11%). Woody shrubs, chamaephytes (low subshrubs), and annuals are relatively few in number, and those species present are generally more characteristic of lower elevation communities. Fellfields form the characteristic habitat for 41% of the flora, while moist meadows and open slopes habitats characterize 24 and 22% of the flora, respectively. Only 31% of the flora is restricted in the White Mountains to the alpine zone, while nearly a third of the alpine flora has a range extending to lower elevations of the montane or cold desert zones below 2900 m. The alpine flora of the White Mountains shares over 70% of its species with the Sierra Nevada. Only three species are endemic to the alpine zone of the White Mountains: Draba californica, D. monoensis, and Potentilla morefieldii.
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Vol. 55 • No. 3