News,  Applications,  and Technical Notes
News Updated Feburary 10, 2015    
2015 February 10 Clarification: each Calflora contributor should use their own account. details
2015 January 13 Botanizing with Calflora
a workshop at the CNPS Conservation Conference
2014 November   Observer Pro 2.0.7 (the latest Android phone app) released details
2014 October   Weed Manager: Resources, Applications, and Techniques
    a description of each Weed Manager application now available
2014 October   Plant Observation Entry v. 3.27 released details
2013 December Calflora on social media:   Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn details
2013 November  Groups and Comments:
    email notification of group activity and comments on your records

Searching for Plants
What Grows Here?
What Grows Here? can display an thorough plant list for a chosen area of the state in several formats. Select the area by moving and zooming the map, or draw a polygon, or choose a polygon from a background layer, such as the boundary of a State Park.

WGH provides some interesting ways to visualize plant data -- for instance, displaying the locations of several plants on the map at the same time, using a different icon for each plant.

The What Grows Here? Wizard is available to help find a location in California. Starting from the wizard, you will end up in the map application.



Icons and Palettes
To view the locations of a plant on the map, you have a choice of various colored icons. The default icon is a blue point:

A palette is a set of plant - icon assignments. As you choose icons to display various plants in the results, you are implicitly making a custom palette. Custom palettes can be saved and used again. Here is an example:

Favorite North Coast plants:

EXPLORE the locations of these plants relative to one another, starting in Fort Bragg.

Advanced Search for Plants
This application provides for combinations of search criteria not available from the regular Search for Plants, such as:
  • Does USDA PLANTS recognize the name?
  • Are photos available on CalPhotos, or not?
  • Can it tolerate a soil pH of 4.0?
  • Does it bloom in January?

This application can show a list of plants in a two-photo format (similar to the Illustrated Plant List), or in a simple format, or as plain text.

Castilleja miniata ssp. elata
Siskiyou indian paintbrush
© 2009 lara hartley

Calflora Mobile Search for Plants
a smart phone application for looking up wild plants by name or characteristics.

Searching for Observations

Observation Hotline
to search for observations with the help of a Google Map. This application shows contributed photos when they are available.

It is possible to limit the geographical extent of the search to
  • the visible map area
  • a drawn search polygon (the same as What Grows Here?)
  • the boundary of a background polygon, such as a park
  • a county (check Tools / Advanced Form)


Ceanothus gregii var. perplexans, cupped leaf ceanothus, San Diego Co. © 2011 Sherie Hubble

Other Data Sources: In addition to showing records contributed directly to Calflora, Observation Hotline can also show specimen records from the Consortium of California Herbaria, and observation records with photos from iNaturalist.


Recent native plant observations with photos:
Native Plant Observation Hotline

Erisimum capitatum,
Santa Clara Co.
© 2012 Guy Riddle

Watching weeds:
Bay Area Weeds Observation Hotline
Southern California Weeds Observation Hotline

Places to View California Native Plants
to browse through all available checklists on a map.

Press illustrated version for a printable version of a checklist -- two photos of each plant -- suitable for use as a field guide.

Here is the application showing checklists for most California State Parks. (Many thanks to Mona Robison and Paul Veisze for making this possible.)
Map Background Layers
The various mapping applications can show a number of background layers, or polygon sets.

Latest additions include Warm Season, December Low, July High, July Low, Warm Season, and Temperature Range (all derived from data from the Prism Climate Group) and various soil factors (eg. Salinity) from the NRCS SSURGO database.


With the Annual Precipitation layer showing, click on the map to see the annual preciptation at that point.

Annual precipitation: 31 inches

Entering Observations
Smart Phone Applications
for Android and Apple devices.
ANDROID IPHONE and other Apple devices
Get the Observer Pro app from Google Play
(search for "Calflora")
Get the Observer app from iTunes (search for "Calflora")
  • v. 2.0.48 released April, 2014

  • v. 2.0.71 released November, 2014
    • Much better polygon and line drawing
    • Plant detail page
    • View historical records
    • Make new assessments of historical records
  • v. 1.2.1 released August, 2013

    Detailed Instructions


  • About the app

    Calflora Observer Pro Users Google Community
    (discussion and tips about how to use the app)

    Full Documentation

    Related Topics:

    An external GPS device is highly recommended for increasing accuracy. See this article:
    Using an External Bluetooth GPS Receiver with a Smartphone or Tablet

    Calflora Field Methods

    Define your own plant lists for use in the smart phone applications.

    Plant Observation Entry
    to view, enter or edit a plant observation record.

    Photos can be uploaded directly from your computer to become part of your observation record.

    If your photo is already on the web (e.g. on a web photo service like Flickr or Picasa, or on your own website), you can add the URL of the photo to an observation record.

    Photo-to-observation File Upload
    to transform photos of plants into observation reports. If a photo is geotagged, the software will pick up the location; otherwise, you can set the location on a map when you edit the record in Plant Observation Entry.
    Mentzelia laevicaulis, Giant Blazing Star, near Susanville © 2011 Orrin Winton
    Checklist Entry
    to enter a checklist (many plants observed at one location).

    Adding Lines and Polygons
    The entry applications include the ability to add a line or polygon to a record. Use it to describe the spatial extent of an plant population, or the area covered by a survey or checklist.

    For example, Jerry Baker added this polygon to describe the extent of a patch of Astragalus Brauntonii, Baunton's milk vetch, in Los Angeles Co. (This screen shot is from the Plant Distribution application. Note the blue point showing through, which is a previous record of the same plant.)

    Observation Upload
    to upload an entire dataset directly into the database.

    Copy and paste from a spreadsheet, or upload a shapefile. During the process, you assign fields in the dataset being uploaded to fields in the Calflora database.


    When you upload a shapefile, the server will take it apart and return the data to this application. Then you assign the attributes from the shapefile to database fields.

    Plant Information
    Taxon Report
    2014 April: The Taxon Report page has a new map, which indicates plant presence by means of points and quads (instead of by colored counties). The map shows elevation in colors inspired by a classic USGS map.

    Mouse over the map to see county names, and click on the map to see all records from that county in Observation Hotline.

    From the Taxon Report page, there are prominent links to Example: the page for Eriophyllum confertiflorum (golden yarrow).

    Plant Characteristics and Associations
    This page shows what other organisms are associated with a plant, both beneficial and pest. Data about native bees and other beneficial insects (which plants they favor) are from the XERCES SOCIETY.

    This page also shows the climate and soil tolerances of a plant (the conditions under which the plant will grow). Press the Location Suitability link on this page to match plant tolerances with the climate and soil factors of a particular location.

    From the Taxon Report page for a particular plant, press the Plant Characteristics link in the center.

    You can also use What Grows Here? or Advanced Search to look for plants associated with, for instance,bees.



    Eriogonum umbellatum, sulphur buckwheat

    Artemisia californica, coastal sage brush

    Metallic green sweat bee
    © 2007 Gary McDonald

    Plant Distribution
    shows the statewide distribution of a plant as a variable cell size grid, or as points.

    From the Taxon Report page for a particular plant, press the Distribution Grid link.

    The cells are colored to make a heat map, indicating where a particular plant has been observed the most. For instance, this page for Rhamnus ilicifolia, hollyleaf redberry.


    This application can show shape data (lines and polygons) when available. The grid is an interesting way to bring point data and shape data together on the same map, at whatever scale.

    Here is an example polygon for a weed in Marin Co.:

    Cytisus scoparius (scotch broom)
    in Corte Madera
    (Marin County Open Space District)

    From the Tools menu, click to see plant distribution in Google Earth.

    Bloom Period
    is shown on over 9,000+ Taxon Report pages. (See this note for more about bloom period and the sources of the data.) For example, see this page for Madia elegans.

    An illustrated plant list can also show bloom period, and sort by the bloom start month.

    The Advanced Search for Plants application supports searching by a bloom month; for instance, plants that bloom during June.

    Madia elegans, common Madia
    2011-8-31 Lassen Co.
    © 2011 Orrin Winton
    November, 2013: The elevation values of all observation records were updated, in meters, by referencing the point location against a digital elevation model.

    Also, whenever you edit an observation record in Plant Observation Entry, and change the point location, you can see the elevation of the new location immediately by pressing lookup elevation. The application will also update the elevation value automatically when you save the record. The elevation value comes from the Google Maps Elevation API.

    Accurate elevation values can be important in predicting where a plant will grow.

    The elevation range of each plant was recently derived by analyzing the elevation values of observations of that plant. The elevation range in meters is reported on the Plant Characteristics page.

    Contributor Services
    Comment on Observations
    There is a comment system for observations. If you are registered as a contributor, you can add a comment on any observation record.

    From My Calflora / Comments, you can look up all the comments you have made, or all the comments others have made about your observations.

    Informed comments can be a helpful source of feedback to the person responsible for an observation. For legacy observation data (where the observer is no longer accessible), comments can also help Calflora volunteers and staff to get erroneous records out of the way.
    Customize your Calflora Experience
    From My Calflora / Preferences, you can specify your own center point for observations. This becomes the starting point for various applications, including Plant Observation Entry, My Observations, and Observation Hotline. (If you haven't specified a center point, these applications start near Fresno.)

    If you belong to groups, you can specify a default group for all of your new observations.

    It is also an option to ask for email notifications when there is new activity in one of your groups, or when there are new comments about your records.

    Jepsonia paryi, Parry's jepsonia, near Flores Peak, Orange Co. © 2011 Ron Vanderhoff
    My Observations
    to review, edit and publish your observations.

    Plant List Definition
    to define your own plant lists to be used in the Observer and Observer Pro smart phone applications, and in search applications.

    Certain special purpose plant lists (BAEDN Priority Weeds, Cal-IPC Priority Weeds) are available for all users.

    Cut and paste a list of plant names from anywhere. Accepts older scientific names, and resolves them to current Calflora names.

    Press illustrated version for a printable version of a list -- two photos for each plant.

    Observation Download
    to search for and download observations in a variety of formats.

    Shapefiles are available as an Output Format. Choose from Shapefile: point, Shapefile: line, or Shapefile: polygon.


    Search for records of a particular plant, set Output Format = KML and press Download File to view the results in Google Earth. If there are any lines or polygons in the results, you will be able to see them in Google Earth.

    Example: Saccharum ravennae (ravennagrass) including lines and polygons from UC Davis McLaughlin Reserve.


    Technical Notes

    2013 April 26:
    Version 1.2.0 of the Calflora iPhone app is available on the iTunes store, thanks to the efforts of developer Rey Felipe and other Calflora team members.

    2012 January:
    Most Taxon Report pages have a link in the bottom right called Jepson eFlora which goes directly to the Jepson eFlora page for that plant. For example, Linanthus pungens.

    2011 October:
    Calflora has incorporated the Jepson Manual 2 scientific names into the Plant Name Library. Search for what has become of particular plant names with the Name Status application.

    See also Web Applications for Invasives

    For instance, how are plants that used to be in the genus Elytrigia treated in the new Jepson Manual?

    Lewisia redidiva var. minor
    Bitter root
    © 2005 lara hartley
    Silene laciniata ssp. laciniata, cardinal catchfly, San Luis Obispo Co. © 2012 Terrence Gosliner

    More News  
    2014 April  The Taxon Report page: a new map details
    2014 February  Plant Characteristics:
        + climate and soil factors; location suitability
    2013 November Elevation values updated on all observation records details
    2013 October  Climate and soil background layers in various map applications details
    2013 August  The Calflora iPhone application version 1.2.1 is available details
    2013 June  Calflora Data Models: the design of the system details
    2013 May  Recording the absence of a plant details
    2013 March  What Grows Here? 2.0 released
    2013 January  Training: Field Methods using Calflora Tools
    Northern CA Botanists 2013 Symposium, Chico

    2012 December A crosswalk from TJM2 names to USDA PLANTS names, and vice-versa details
    2012 November Lines and polygons can be added and edited
    from Plant Observation Entry and Checklist Entry.
    2012 October   Cynthia Powell, new GIS Project Manager at Calflora
    2012 August   Best Plants, Best Practices 1.0 released details
    2012 August   Dan Gluesenkamp, new Executive Director of CNPS details
    2012 June   Bloom period available on 9,000+ Taxon Report pages details
    2012 May   Training: Methods of Collecting and Assimilating Invasive Species Data
    Central Coast Invasive Species Action Network, San Luis Obispo
    2012 March  Training: Emerging Botanical Field Methods
    Chico State Herbarium
    2012 January  Calflora at the CNPS Conservation Conference, San Diego
    2011 November   150 new State Park checklists details
    2011 October   Cynthia Powell, Cal-IPC: 137,000 records! details
    2011 October   Cal-IPC releases CalWeedMapper details
    2011 September   NRCS eVegGuide 2.0 released details
    2011 July   Dan Gluesenkamp, new Executive Director of Calflora
    2010 December CNPS releases Online Inventory 8th Edition,
    developed by Calflora with the CNPS Inventory team