This paper presents a method of distilling a climate-specific design approach from the adaptive qualities of native plant communities. The method is demonstrated through the analysis of plants native to Southern California and an application of a selected adaptation to the design of a simulated reference building on a site in Los Angeles. Climate data was analyzed in GIS to select representative plant communities for the reference site based on a comparison of microclimate conditions. The climate analysis concluded that desert plant communities were most applicable to the design for the reference site. Field research was conducted to catalog the physiological traits of species prominent in desert plant communities. The natural response cycles of desert plants were studied in biological texts. CAM photosynthesis was the specific adaptive behavior that was applied to the reference building and analyzed through psychrometric study and energy simulation.