Native Plant Policy

Policy

The EFCF has adopted a policy to favor the funding of landscaping projects that use native plants and trees.

Rationale

Our community, Elfin Forest, is named for the chaparral-covered hills and oak woodlands known as “elfin forest”, a term long used by biologists. Our community newsletter is aptly named “The Chaparral”. Our community’s logo includes a majestic coast live oak, our signature tree. Historically, the EFCF has funded planting of native oak trees and non-native pepper trees along the roads, trails, and at each intersection on Elfin Forest Rd. While the name California Pepper implies it is a native tree, you may be surprised to learn is actually native to South America, not California.

The EFCF has received numerous comments from local residents about the over-planting of pepper trees and there is concern that they may, by virtue of their numbers, become the signature tree of Elfin Forest. After much consideration, the foundation has decided to develop a native-only policy.

As planned communities have been built in North County and Orange County, developers have incorporated the same, non-native vegetation that contributes to a homogenous, monotonous, biologically and aesthetically invasive landscape. As a result, communities lost the sense of place, and unique native environment of Southern California. Thankfully, Elfin Forest is not a planned community. We therefore have the opportunity to create our own identity and presentation using the unique natural attributes of the area. We strive to create a community that retains its historical and natural identity, and blends into its environment, rather than one that yields to practices that produce indistinguishable urban sprawl. To give some perspective, when the community of Rancho Santa Fe was being developed, may highly valued, huge oaks were transplanted from Elfin Forest to Rancho Santa Fe (San Diego Union article).

Contrary to popular belief, oak trees and other native species can be moderately or even fast-growing when watered occasionally. Many oak trees in Elfin Forest that were planted in the last 5 to 15 years are now providing structure to the landscape and a shady place to linger on a hot day. Planting chaparral plants and native oak trees requires no water to maintain and provides habitat to local wildlife species. They are low maintenance and in times of drought, our landscaping will remain healthy.

The preservation of chaparral and oak woodlands (along with other natural plant communities in our area) and the unique feeling these natural habitats/plants bring are a priority of the EFCF. The foundation is in a unique position to focus on preserving our community character and spirit. Foundation board members will gladly assist applicants in choosing suitable native plants, such as Coast Live Oak and chaparral species for their projects.