San Diego County Native Plants, 3d edition

Located in the far southwestern corner of the continental United States, San Diego County is renowned for its rich diversity of natural habitats and associated flora and fauna.  The county includes more than 70 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, a chain of mountain ranges with peaks reaching 6,500 feet elevation, and hundreds of thousands of acres of low desert within the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest state park.  More than two-thirds of the county’s land remains in a natural condition, covered by plants native to the region.  San Diego County Native Plants 3d edition is a comprehensive guide to the region’s flora, covering all of the local habitats, providing information on the vast majority of native and naturalized plants, and featuring nearly 2,500 color photographs.  The book is designed to be useful to beginning botanists and professional biologists alike and is commonly used in university courses.


Parry’s California Notebooks, 1849-51

Young Dr. Charles C. Parry, appointed surveyor of Botany and Geology of the Commission for the newly defined U.S.-Mexico Boundary, came to San Diego in 1849 and stayed in California for 20 months, traveling extensively.  His notes along with his letters to the famous New York botanist Dr. John Torrey reveal a great deal about the natural environment at the time, and place Parry at the center of such historical movements as the Gold Rush, the administration of American government in California, the development of roads, ranches and towns, and the marginalization of Indians as the white population surged.  Parry documented his discoveries of dozens of well known native plants including the Torrey Pine, the Parry Pinyon Pine and the Shaw Agave.  He also ventured where few Americans had gone, climbing mountains such as Otay, Cuyamaca Peak, and Palomar.  Parry’s notes of his explorations and his medical and scientific work provide a wonderful picture of the land and its people at the end of the Mexican period and the beginning of California’s journey as a prominent state in the American union.


San Diego County Native Plants in the 1830s

The Collections of Thomas Coulter, Thomas Nuttall, and H.M.S. Sulphur with George Barclay and Richard Hinds

This 54-page article published in booklet form provides historical background and an overview of the San Diego region’s environment in the decade of the 1830s.  It also discusses the visits of four United Kingdom naturalists who discovered many of the area’s best known native plants.

LOS Comer

Land of Sunlight – Contemporary Paintings of San Diego County, Featuring 100 Fine Artists

San Diego County is known for its temperate climate, varied landscapes and history of landscape painting.  In 2007 San Diego Flora published  Land of Sunlight, a 220-page, soft-cover book featuring paintings by 100 living artists of landscapes and seascapes of San Diego County.  The limited edition of 2500 sold out in 2009, and the book is no longer available from San Diego Flora.



James Lightner lives with his family in San Diego.  He received a degree in history and human biology from Stanford University in 1983 and has managed ranchland in San Diego County since 1999.