Seedling pine R. Thomas
Chiricahua National Monument has a great variety of trees and shrubs. Growing at elevations from around 5000 to over 7000 feet, the habitat transitions from lowland desert scrub to upper elevation pine-fir forests. The prominant species include manzanita, Arizona Sycamore, alligator juniper, oaks, pines, Arizona cypress, madrone, and acacia. Mesquite and acacia occur at lower elevations, intermixed with the grasslands and other "desert" plants, such as agave and rabbitbrush. Cottonwoods, sycamores, and willows are found in the canyon bottoms, where a narrow riparian corridor forms along the ephemeral streams. As the elevation rises, the species change to a more pine and oak dominated, mature forest. The apache pine, douglas fir and ponderosa pines tower above, while oaks, manzita and bunchgrasses grow sparsely in the shaded forest floor. Pinyons are most common at the highest elevations, with juniper, cypress and a variety of shrubs.
Many of these species provide food for the wildlife that lives here. Berries, acorns and pine-nuts are staple foods for many birds, and for mammals of all sizes - from squirrels to bears. Large trees provide nesting sites for birds, as well as den sites for small mammals. Shrubs growing closer to the ground provide browse for deer and cover for small animals such as mice and rats. The structure and resources that trees and shrubs provide are vital habitat components for a majority of the animals that inhabit the monument.