Abstract. The relative effectiveness of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and SPOT multi-spectral data were compared for mapping shrub and meadow vegetation in northern California. Shrub vegetation included evergreen chaparral and deciduous willows and alders. Meadow vegetation included grass-dominated meadows on wet soils and forb-dominated meadows on drier sites. Despite differences in growth forms and species compositions, there was considerable similarity in spectral signatures among vegetation types. Because of greater spectral resolution, TM data were more effective than SPOT data in separating shrubs from meadows, but neither TM nor SPOT data were effective at separating meadow types.