logo Calflora Observation Hotline   HELP
The Observation Hotline application lets you search for georeferenced observations of wild plants and see them on a map. It also show photos associated with observations.

For help using this application, please contact Calflora support.
To use the application, click on the map in an area of interest , zoom in, and press . If you want to qualify what observations are returned, enter some criteria, such as Status (native or not) = "native".

Geographical Extent:

    in map area

to limit the search to the current map area.

Or, press DRAW A POLYGON to specify an exact geographical search space.
To find all records in a particular park, press Map Layers at the top of the page, choose Region / Protected Area (CPAD), and then click inside one of the parks or forests that appear on the map. The name of the selected area will appear on the left at the top of the map:
    36.2709, -121.8315         Andrew Molera State Park (CDPR)
Then check
    in selected area
(For more information about background layers, see Layer Help.)
The results appear simultaneously as points on the map and in a table below the map.
On the map,
    indicates a simple point;
    indicates a checklist;
    indicates a line or polygon; and
    indicates a quad (for certain plants in certain areas, only quad-level data is available).
If you click on a point on the map, an InfoWindow opens at the point, the table scrolls down to the corresponding record, and the record ID is highlighted. If you click on a record ID in the table, an InfoWindow opens at the corresponding map point, and a short menu opens up under the record ID.
    detail; Open the detail page for this record, including all photos and any comments that may have been made by other users on this record.

    editor; Open Plant Observation Entry on this record.

    location-closeup: Open the Plant Distribution application showing a close up view of the record location. It will show the polygon associated with this record, if there is one, and any nearby observations of the same plant.

This application can show at most 2500 observation simultaneously. If a particular search produces more, the application will only show the first 2500.

Choosing Which Columns to Display:
To show results in a table, the application comes with several predefined column sets, such as Basic Data and Weed Data. You can also make up a custom column set: open customize, and choose the columns you want.


Scientific Name: Typeahead enabled. Type the first few letters of the plant you are looking for, and then choose it from the list. Typeahead also works with Common Name.

When are alternate scientific names included in a search? When you specify a complete scientific name, such as Frangula californica ssp. tomentella, the search results will also include alternate names of that plant, if they are equivalent. So for instance, a search for Frangula californica ssp. tomentella will include records of Rhamnus tomentella.

(To see exactly which plant names are included for any particular plant, go to the Taxon Report for the plant, and look at the list of Alternate Names in the Name Status section. See Name Status Help for an explanation of how Calflora tracks accepted and alternate names.)

A plant name is referred to as a parent when there are recognized subspecies or varieties. So for instance, Frangula californica is a parent, because it has several subspecies (Frangula californica ssp. crassifolia etc.). When you search for a parent name, all subspecies and varieties are included in the search results. Any alternate names of the parent are also included in the search results, as well as any alternate names of its subspecies and varieties.

Plant List: To limit your search to certain specific plants, choose a plant list. Look for already defined plant lists with the Plant List Definition application, or define your own. Click on the view link to see an illustrated version of the plant list.

Other Data Sources: By default, a search from this application will only consider records contributed directly to Calflora. Open OTHER SOURCES to include data from other sources including the Consortium of California Herbaria and/or iNaturalist. (Note that Consortium records do not have photos, and iNaturalist records almost always have photos.)

Photos: Choose "records with photos" if you only want to see records that have photos. Some records have more than one photo, and only the first one is shown in the results -- press detail to see all of the photos for an observation.

Natural Status = "wild": This is an implied search criterion. This application only shows records of plants growing wild.

For additional search criteria, open TOOLS and check Advanced Form.

Start Date, End Date: Use one, or the other, or both of these criteria to bracket the Observation Date of records you are interested in. Dates are entered in the format YYYY-MM-DD so that February 20, 2017 is written as 2017-2-20. If you enter 2017-2-20 as the end date, the result will include records that were entered on or before 2017-2-20. If you put the same date in both Start Date and End Date, the results will only include records entered on that date.

Source: The source organization responsible for collecting the record.

Location: Some observation records have useful information in the Location Description field. Enter a short phrase to find any records that contain that phrase in the Location Description field.


Phenology: Some contributors specify the phenology (for instance, "Flowering") of the plant when they enter a record. Use this criterion to find records with a certain phenology.

include surveys/checklists: By default, survey and checklist records are not included in the results. Check this box if you do want them to be included.

History Filter: This criterion has two options:
    "all records"   and   "only the most recent"
The "only the most recent" option is relevant when there may be multiple records concerning the condition of a single population on different dates. When this option has been chosen, a single record (the most recent) will be returned for each population, even if there are many records describing that population.

When this option has been chosen, two columns appear at the beginning of the result set: Root and Most Recent. When historical information is available about a population, the Root record will be the oldest, and the Most Recent record will be the newest. Click on either one to view it in Plant Observation Entry.

When historical information is not available about a population, the record ID appears in the Root column. (When there is only one record of a population, that record is both the earliest and the most recent.) In this way, the record number in the Root column serves as a unique identifier of a population.
Open TOOLS / Symbology to control which colored icons are used to represent points on the map. If a polygon is available for a particular observation, it can be displayed in a color that matches the icon. There are two themes available: Plant Name and Management Status.

The Plant Name Theme

Once this theme is selected, open Plants with Icons and press . Enter the name of a plant, choose an icon, and press accept. For instance, you might pick the red square icon to represent Rubus armeniacus.

Here is an example showing eight weeds recently mapped by Marin County Parks in the Roy's Redwoods Open Space Preserve:

If you choose the large white square as an icon for a plant, then no icon will be displayed on the map.

Once you have assigned colored icons to particular plants, you can save your choices as color scheme, and use it again later.

The Management Status Theme
You can view observations acording to their management status using the following icons:

Searching within a Background Polygon: There are many background map layers available. If you select one of the following layers, you can search within the selected background polygon:
    Protected Area (CPAD)
    Jepson Bioregion
    CNPS Chapter
    Zip Code
    USGS Quadrangle
in selected area

2018 September v 3.40 The Symbology control is available under TOOLS.

2016 August This application will only work with search polygons that have fewer than 3,000 vertices.

    If you have a search polygon with more than 3,000 vertices, consider trying to simplify it, or use another approach such as searching in more than one county.

2016 July When you define a custom column set, it is stored in browser memory, and will be used the next time you use this application from the same browser,

    You can now specify more than one county as search criteria.

2015 October When you select a plant list, a view link appears. Click on this link to see an illustrated version of the plant list.

2015 June History Filter included as a selection criterion.

2014 June Map Layers has a new look: open Climate to find a particular climate layer, such as Warm Months. Open Region to find a region layer, such as Watershed.