More Info.

The below resources offer additional information on native plants of San Diego County.  Copy the highlighted links to your browser and explore the noted sites.

Photographic Identification of Plants

Visual identification of plants is particularly difficult when taxa are part of large groups of similar plants.  The San Diego Plant Atlas, published by the Botany Department of the San Diego Natural History Museum, now provides an essential online search resource to aid in identification.  Enter a plant’s scientific name to view multiple photographs of the taxon for which the identification has been verified by the Museum’s curator of botany.

Perhaps the largest database of botanic photographs is maintained by Calflora, using photos taken by knowledgable volunteers across the state including San Diego County.  Calflora is a rich and accessible website that allows users to see much more information about plant distribution than can be provided by a local source.

Photographs shown on Calflora can also be accessed from Calphotos, the state-wide photo-database maintained by the University of California at Berkeley.

Plant Taxonomy and Scientific Names

The leading authority on plant taxonomy in California is the Jepson Project, a collaborative effort of botanists managed by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley.  The Jepson Project publishes a comprehensive flora of all naturally occurring plants in the state, online and as a physical book.

The Flora of North America is an even larger, nationwide project to catalogue naturally occurring plants.  The Flora of North America includes detailed scientific analysis of plant families across a wider geographic area than the Jepson Manual.  It is particularly useful for San Diego County given the county’s geographic connection to other states of the American Southwest.

The Botany Department of the San Diego Natural History Museum periodically updates a checklist of the county’s plants, incorporating recent taxonomic changes accepted by professional botanists and adding plants newly discovered in the region.

Local and Regional Sites with Excellent Content

One of the leading experts on the botany of Southern California is Tom Chester, a retired CalTech physicist who has been hiking in natural areas for decades, cataloguing plants on trails and studying complex botanic problems.  Mr. Chester’s website is a vast trove of information.

Another marvelous website is provided by Professor Wayne Armstrong of Palomar College.  Prof. Armstrong has been teaching botany for decades and has written scores of fascinating articles about local plants and the natural world generally.

Local hikers and experts on the Anza-Borrego Desert, Carla and Fred, maintain an informative website with excellent plant-photography detailing their hikes throughout the Anza-Borrego region.

Native Plant Nurseries with Expert Advice

Native West Plant nursery, a wholesale nursery in Imperial Beach offers for sale an extensive inventory of native plants.  Native West’s staff includes a number of experts in the field, and the nursery takes care to source plants from wilderness areas and raises thousands of plants from locally obtained seeds. Learn more about their open-to-the-public plant sale events on their website.

Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano, in Orange County just a few miles north of San Diego County, offers for sale a beautiful inventory of native plants sourced from a wide area of the state as well as northern Mexico.  The nursery has an eclectic shop with attractive related merchandise and attractive grounds featuring colorful native plants.

Favorite Parks to See Native Plants, which have Interpretive Visitor Centers

The Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve in Imperial Beach includes a visitor center and hiking trails through the salt-marsh and dune environment.

Cabrillo National Monument at the southern tip of Point Loma includes a visitor center and hiking trails through coastal sage scrub habitiat, along coastal bluffs, and into tide pools.

Torrey Pines State Reserve at the northern end of La Jolla includes a visitor center and hiking trails through Torrey Pine forest, coastal sage scrub, by the massive cliffs of Torrey Pines headland, and around the Los Penasquitos Lagoon.

The San Elijo Lagoon, located between Solana Beach and Encinitas and emptying into the ocean at Cardiff Beach, includes a visitor center and a number of trails on the edges of wetland habitat.

Mission Trails Regional Park is a large natural public area located between the cities of San Diego and Santee.  The San Diego River intersects the park.  The park includes a visitor center and a number of trails through various habitats.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park includes more than 600,000 acres and dominates the northeastern quarter of San Diego County.  The park headquarters in Borrego Springs includes a visitor center.  There are dozens of trails around the park encompassing a variety of desert-, desert-transition, and montane habitats.

Information about the desert park can also be obtained from the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, which operates a store in Borrego Springs.