Coastal sage scrub is characterized by low-growing aromatic, and drought-deciduous shrubs adapted to the semi-arid Mediterranean climate of the coastal lowlands. The community is sometimes called "soft chaparral" due to the predominance of soft, drought-deciduous leaves in contrast to the hard, waxy-cuticled leaves on sclerophyllous plants of California's chaparral communities.
Characteristic shrubs and subshrubs include:
Larger shrubs include: T
Herbaceous plants, grasses, and in some locales, cacti and succulents, are also part of the flora. Hesperoyucca whipplei, colloquially known as Chaparral Yucca, is commonplace throughout the climate zone.
The coastal sage scrub plant community is divided into three geographical subtypes — northern coastal scrub, southern coastal scrub, and maritime succulent scrub.