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Updated 5/23/2016

Introduction to


Our Goal – Easy plant identification

·         Of most California plants1

·         By almost anyone2.


We give you:

·        A short list of possibilities

·        Lots of pictures

·        Things to look for (ID tips)



Short Plant Lists’s  big trick is to provide you with a short list of possibilities based on something simple that you enter.

·         Today, you can use the Easy Search on the home page to specify what California county you are in, and some basic information about a plant you’re interested in.  Your goal is to enter enough information so that you get back a short list – this often turns out to be easy to do.

·         In the future, you will be able to choose from thousands of customized Short Plant Lists, created by plant experts around the state.  These lists are kept short by focusing on a specific topic such as Wildflowers of Chimney Rock, or “Thistles of Marin County”.

o   Today has about a dozen published lists, and another dozen under construction.

o   Due in Fall 2016, Plant List Entry will allow plant experts around the state to enter their own customized short lists for areas they know a lot about.


Lots of pictures currently has a bit over 50,000 full-size photographs of California plants.

·         Each photo is tied to a specific plant species, subspecies or variety (taxon).

·         Three thumbnail photos are chosen to illustrate each plant in a Plant List.

·         Full size photos are presented in a slideshow, organized by taxon.


Things to look for (ID tips)

In addition to photos, we work hard to provide as many useful ID tips as possible.  These include bloom time, likely habitat, flower color and shape, and customized tips entered by plant experts.  These tips will get to be more and more useful as more plant experts contribute their knowledge.  You will find ID tips several places:

·         Each plant in a Plant List has a paragraph of ID tips.

·         Thumbnails in Plant Lists often have captions, describing key points to notice in the photo.

·         Full scale photos show ID tips.  These may be copies of thumbnail captions, or custom notes entered to describe this photo.


(1) covers about 10,000 California species, subspecies and varieties of trees, shrubs, flowers, ferns and grasses found in the wild.  Some of these plants are difficult to distinguish from similar plants, but most can be readily identified based on locality, pictures and ID hints.

(2) hints and captions are written to be understood by people with no botanical training.  If we want to use a technical term, we describe it first in English, for instance “Daisy petals (ray flowers)”.