Vegetation composed of broad-leaved evergreen shrubs, bushes, and small trees, often forming dense thickets. Chaparral is found in regions with a Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The name is applied mainly to the coastal and inland mountain vegetation of southwestern North America. Chaparral vegetation becomes extremely dry by late summer. The fires that commonly occur during this period are necessary for the germination of many shrub seeds, and they clear away dense ground cover, thus maintaining the shrubby growth form of the vegetation by preventing the spread of trees. New chaparral growth provides good grazing for domestic livestock, and chaparral vegetation also is valuable for watershed protection in areas with steep, easily eroded slopes.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on chaparral, visit Britannica.com.
Seen & Heard
What made you look up chaparral? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.