Calflora Update: December 2008This is an update on what Calflora
accomplished in 2008 and what we are planning for 2009.
- Assemble the broadest possible collection of information about California's
- Make the collection accessible to the widest possible audience
Calflora Accomplishments in 2008
The Bay Area Early Detection Network is a collaborative
partnership of regional land managers and invasive species experts.
The BAEDN coordinates Early Detection and Rapid Response to
infestations of invasive plants,
proactively dealing with new outbreaks before
they can grow into large and costly environmental threats.
Working with NRCS...
NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service),
a part of the USDA,
offers technical assistance to
private land owners and managers
concerning the conservation of
soil, water, and other natural resources.
The VegGuide is a tool for finding plant alternatives
based on specific NRCS land conservation practices for
a particular MLRA (Major Land Resource Area).
It provides lists of alternative plants, as well
as seed and planting recommendations.
In 2007 NRCS California
hired Calflora to make
a web application out of the database form of
the VegGuide, called the eVegGuide.
The application makes plant recommendations for a
variety of conservation practices, taking into account
soil type, rainfall, etc.. Many of the recommended
plants are California natives.
In 2008 we added these features:
For 300 plants, users can follow the link to a USDA PLANTS
Plant Profile page where ethnobotanical uses are discussed.
Direct link from Final Plant Report to
-- showing local availability of native plants.
MLRAs and CRAs available in
What Grows Here
as a geographical theme. Makes it possible to find
all wild plants that have been observed in one of these areas.
Final Plant Report available as RTF(MS Word)
Working with the California Native Plant Society...
CNPS Inventory Database:
Twice in 2008, CNPS
furnished Calflora with latest Inventory Database of
rare plants. Calflora uses this data
- as a list of scientific names currently
accepted by CNPS, and
- as location data at the quad level for rare plants.
Working with the California Department of Fish and Game...
Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program:
Calflora's collection of observation data received
a huge boost last fall in the form of four datasets
from the DFG Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program
and the CNPS Vegetation Program, covering Suisun marsh,
the Delta area, Sierra Foothills North, and Western
The four datasets contain 3000 relatively small polygons,
and an inventory of plants within each polygon.
There are 49,000 observations total.
This kind of data is very useful to an application such
as What Grows Here.
Users who point WGH at one of the areas covered by the Vegetation Program
will now see a much more complete list of plants.
Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB):
Twice in 2008, Calflora received data from CNDDB on the
locations of rare plants at the quad level.
New Web Technology.
2008 was the year of discovering the Google Web Toolkit
with the Google Maps API. Using these fantastic tools,
we have added a Name Wizard to the
species search page,
which offers typeahead of 30,000 scientific names
and thereby greatly reduces the risk of spelling mistakes.
(There is also typeahead for common names.)
We also developed a new
Plant Observation Entry
where all of the necessary data fits on a single page.
In the previous version of this application,
georeferencing was a big stumbling block for many people,
as it involved transfering coordinates from a
map or other web application.
The new version features an integrated Google Map --
by finding where you were when you saw the plant
on this map, you automatically georeference your observation.
We redesigned the table structure used to store
observation data so that
- there is one table for single observations,
and another for location checklists
- there is room for interesting new fields like
percent cover (found typically in weed data
and vegetation data) and natural status
(wild or planted)
- infrastructure is now in place to accept
annotations of observations (for instance, questioning
the identification of the plant)
- access is much faster
Mean Ultramafic Affinity.
Thanks to Hugh Safford's contribution,
Calflora now shows which plants have an
affinity to serpentine soil.
It is also searchable on the
species search page.
What Grows Here?
What Grows Here (WGH) is a Calflora project
introduced in 2007
emphasizes what plants have been observed growing near a particular place.
Through this interface, users can pick a place in Calfornia by any of several
different approaches (eg. by town, zip code, watershed, park etc.). Results are
displayed in a list (with or without photos), and as points on a relief map.
- Interesting uses of WGH
- The East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has a page announcing upcoming field trips in which they include links to relevant WGH pages.
We hope that more chapters will reference WGH in this way.
Also, if you go on one of these field trips and
can identify a plant that was not on the WGH list,
we really hope you will add your observation to the database.
- The Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District
has added links to WGH for several watersheds
in the district. For instance, here is
(WGH shows 520 plants, many courtesy of Darlene LaMont.)
Gold Ridge takes stewardship of these watersheds
seriously, and the WGH links will
help acquaint the public with the floristic diversity
of the area.
- Try it out To use the application as a wizard, begin here: What Grows Here?. (Begin
by choosing what here is going to mean -- for instance, in or near a
town, within a zip code, in the watershed of a particular creek, etc.)
- Rewrite What Grows Here using GWT / Google Maps?
The technology is great, and the map interface is
familiar to many users.
(The Show Observations feature of the new
Plant Observation Entry page is a preview of what
this could be like.)
- Develop a Location Checklist Entry application
along the lines of the new Plant Observation Entry application.
This application would make it possible to realize
a long-cherished goal: to show users places to see
California native plants, including not only good
wildflower walks but also public gardens (where
natives are planted).
- Reach out to individual botanists
Calflora is a stage upon which the work of various botanists,
historical and current, appears.
Calflora is actively assembling a picture of California's flora.
In the last several years,
the contributions of local botanists in diverse areas
of the state
have made a huge difference to the overall picture.
By providing more attractive and easy-to-use
Plant Observation Entry pages,
we hope to increase the participation of such botanists.
- More Data...
If you have used What Grows Here in
an area that is covered by the recent
DFG Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program data
(example, Big Chico Creek),
then you have seen what an incredible asset it is.
Within the covered areas, WGH shows a compelling picture
of plant diversity. We hope to receive
several more datasets from the DFG Vegetation Program
in the coming year, and perhaps some from the CNPS
Vegetation Program as well.
There are also several large infusions of weed data
in the pipeline,
and we are activley seeking other high quality datasets.
- More Geographical Themes (polygon sets) on What Grows Here
Subject to availability. Soil, climate, ecoregions,
Jepson Manual bioregions would add valuable perspectives.
- Reach out to CNPS Chapters, Resource Conservation Districts and stewardship groups
We want to work with these groups to find the
best way to acquaint the public with
the floristic diversity of California,
watershed by watershed
(for instance, links to What Grows Here).
If you have a good idea in this regard, please
get in touch.
Contact UsWe're always eager to hear your ideas about Calflora.
You can write to us by email, or send us U.S.
The Calflora Database
1700 Shattuck Ave. #198