This site currently contains photographs of 2,509
taxa of native and introduced Southern California plants. This represents about 60% of
all the flora of Southern California, and new species are being added
more or less continuously. I am now in the infinitely slow process
of redoing the entire site to include where available whole plant
photographs and other photographs of specific diagnostic features.
About 300 pages are now in this new format. I am by no means satisfied
with all of the photographs that are in the site now, but one of the
great things about websites is that they are not static, and when
you acquire a better picture it's easy to substitute it. So I will
be looking to re-photograph many species in the coming years. Also,
in some cases, I have included species for which I have only non-floral
photos, and when I take pictures of the blooms I will add or substitute
As much as is possible, I have tried to be consistent
with the latest published version of the Jepson Manual (Third printing
with corrections, 1996). I know that many taxonomic changes are in
the works (some Hemizonia to Deinandra for example), and I am now in the process of changing the names as they will appear in the 2nd edition of the Manual. The current scheduled
publication date is 2010. I have also endeavored to introduce some
consistency in the usage of common names, even where that does not
exactly correspond to the names others have used. A good example would
again be the Hemizonias, some of which have been called tarweeds and
some tarplants. This attempt to be consistent has not always been
successful, and indeed is probably not all that important.
The author names that have been added to all the pages
can be referenced here.
I have also added photos of some of the cultivated
plants that occasionally are found having escaped from gardens or
having become naturalized near human habitations. Our temperate
climate here in southern California allows many species from tropical
and subtropical areas to thrive more or less year round, and people
have taken advantage of that in planting their gardens and yards.
If you are interested in garden flowers, I suggest you look at Dr.
Barbara Collins' excellent website which is located at http://www.clunet.edu/gf/index.htm.
I should say a word about native vs. non-native plants.
I am not a purist when it comes to introduced species. I
happen to like weeds. Many of them have beautiful blooms. Therefore
I am including flowering non-native species because sometimes those
are the ones that are most frequently seen by people on their local
rambles. So long as the plants are basically naturalized and
living in a more or less wild environment, I do not draw distinctions
between them and so-called "native" species. I will
however indicate where such non-native species originally derive from.
A further note about weeds concerns the large number
of plant species that somewhat incorrectly include the word 'weed'
in their name. Of course, there is no definitive botanical meaning
of 'weed' and they are usually described as being plants that are
growing where they are not supposed to or anywhere you don't want
them to, but the sense I have of them is that they are exotic, invasive
and aggressive plants that tend to inhabit disturbed areas rather
than wildlands. I have always been aware that there are plants
called 'weeds' that are not in any real sense weeds, and that this
can create a false impression, but until I went through my list of
encountered plants with this in mind, I had no idea there were so
many. The following are some of our native plants whose names
include the word 'weed': tarweed, deerweed, telegraph weed, doveweed,
arrowweed, locoweed or rattleweed, sneezeweed, bindweed, hawkweed,
snakeweed or matchweed, burroweed, chinchweed, milkweed, coast weed,
pickleweed, butterweed, horseweed, gumweed, cudweed, seepweed or inkweed,
ragweed, smartweed, spikeweed, vinegarweed, rattlesnakeweed, cottonweed
and stinkweed. I don't know how this trend developed, but I
wish it hadn't and I sometimes try to fight it by substituting 'plant'
for 'weed', but usually I just go along with the familiar name. It
has been suggested to me that many plants named as 'weeds' were called
that by farmers and ranchers for whom it was not where the plants
evolved that was important but rather that they were intrusive and
unwanted, and I think there may be validity in this assertion.
plant names, I have often been struck by their almost poetic nature.
Birds' names are certainly based more on descriptions and physical
characteristics such as color, and perhaps only fish have some names
that are seemingly just made up out of whole cloth, and I wonder what
it is about plants that has evoked these kinds of naming traditions
and conventions. To give you some idea of what I mean, I here
list some common names that have intrigued me. Where these names
came from is another subject that I may someday delve into, but not
right now. Consider the following: baby blue eyes, beardtongue, bird's
beak, bishop's cap, blackeyed susan, blazing star, bleeding hearts,
blue dicks, blue-eyed mary, brass buttons, bride's bonnet, brown bells,
bugseed, burning bush, butter-and-eggs, butterweed, chinese houses,
cow parsnip, cream cups, dead man's fingers, dusty maidens, ear drops,
fairy duster, fairy lantern, farewell-to-spring, foxglove, frost mat,
frying pans, goldfields, gold nuggets, gravel ghost, hound's tongue,
indian warrior, ithuriel's spear, jacob's ladder, johnny jump up,
labrador tea, ladies thumb, lambs' quarters, languid ladies, lilac
sunbonnets, liveforever, meadowfoam, milkmaids, miner's lettuce, monkshood,
mountain misery, mulefat, mule's ears, old man's whiskers, our lord's
candle, paintbrush, pennyroyal, pretty face, purple mat, pussy paws,
ranger's buttons, rat's tails, red maids, scarlet pimpernel, shooting
star, skullcap, sky pilot, smoke tree, snake's head, spanish needle,
steer's head, sun cups, tidy tips, tinker's penny, turkish rugging,
virgin's bower, whisker brush, whispering bells, windmills, winterfat,
witch's hair, woody bottlewasher, woolen-breeches, and yellow-frocks.
There's just something about plants that
evokes names that are whimsical and out of the ordinary. For
more detailed information about plant names, I refer you to my other
Plant Names: Latin Name Meanings and Derivations.
A further note about common names: A plant may
be called by one name in one locality and by another elsewhere. There
are no official common names that are recognized by everyone as there are for instance for birds. For
this reason I have also listed the species in my site by their Latin
names which are more generally and widely accepted. One organization
which is attempting to standardize common names for many California
plants is Calflora.org, whose excellent and informative website is to
be found at: www.calflora.org/species/index.html.
While I don't always agree with the names they have chosen to
use, I heartily applaud their efforts, and I have frequently deferred
to their common names.
The habitat, blooming period and other botanical information
included here was extracted mainly from the Jepson Manual and
from Philip Munz, A Flora of Southern California, and A
California Flora and Supplement, with some additional information
from my favorite field book Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains
by Milt McAuley, and from the excellent books of Dr. Barbara Collins,
Beecher Crampton's Grasses in California, Nancy Dale's Flowering
Plants of the Santa Monica Mountains, Roxana Ferris's book on
Death Valley flora, Jon Mark Stewart's two books on the wildflowers
of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, and Milt Stark's book on Antelope
Valley flora. As far as possible, the scientific names used
in this site are in accord with those in the latest published edition
of the Jepson Manual. When the 2nd edition is published there will
be many name changes, and in the meantime anyone interested in the
new names may go this website: Index
to Names Superseded since the Jepson Manual.
One final caveat: I am not a professional botanist
and do not guarantee the correct identification of these photographs.
Where I have been able to key out species, I have done so to
the best of my meager ability, but I have not always had the opportunity
to do that. I have in most cases relied on those identifications
made by professional botanists in the field, but even they may sometimes
be in error. If anyone has any doubts about a particular identification, please feel free to contact me at: email@example.com.