This paper describes plant zonation in a southern California riparian woodland and identifies the factors responsible for the zonation. Of the 25 common trees and shrubs in the Tijuana River Valley, three were numerically dominant: Baccharis salicifolia (Ruiz & Pav.) Pers., Salix lasiolepis Benth., and Salix gooddingii C. R. Ball, here referred to as BASA, SALA, and SAGO, respectively. Adults of these species displayed significant down-slope zonation, with BASA, SALA, and SAGO most abundant in the High, Intermediate, and Low zone, respectively. Among new recruits, SALA and SAGO seedlings displayed zonation similar to that of adults, indicating that the zonation of SALA and SAGO was established at the time of recruitment. In contrast, BASA seedlings were more broadly distributed than adults; they were abundant in all zones, particularly the Low zone where adults were rare, indicating that the zonation of BASA adults was established post recruitment. For SALA and SAGO, the timing of fruiting and timing of water-level decline were the factors producing adult zonation; the two species had nearly non-overlapping periods of seed production, and this led to zonation of their seedlings on the banks as water levels declined. The seedling zonation was then retained in the adults. Because factors affecting recruitment played an important role in their zonation, these two willow species provide a new example of the supply-side influencing community structure. For BASA, whose seedlings were widely distributed, zonation of adults was the result of poor seedling survivorship in the Low zone during the first winter and poor adult survivorship in the Intermediate zone later. Results of this study can help guide future riparian restoration projects in southern California. Based on the prolific natural recruitment and rapid development of dense, native-dominated stands, use of a natural restoration approach where possible is recommended instead of the more common horticultural approach.