logo Calflora Observation Entry Help
The Observation Entry application lets you enter and edit an observation of a wild plant. To use the application, you need to be registered as a contributor.

To enter a new record, press the button. Click on the map to indicate the location . Type in the first few letters of the scientific name of the plant. After three letters, a list of matching genera will appear. You can choose the genus from the list, and then type in a few letters of the species, or just keep typing.

Choose a plant identification method, which explains how you recognized the plant. Enter an observation date in the form 2014-12-31, or press the today link, or press the calendar link to choose the date from a calendar. The rest of the fields are optional, and explained below. When you are finished, press the button at the top.

If you already have coordinates, check Specify location by coordinates. If you have decimal lat/long coordinates, enter them, and press . If you have UTM coordinates, press UTM Coordinates, enter the Zone, Easting and Northing, and press .  

Line or Polygon:
Press SHAPE at the top to enter a line or polygon describing the extent of the plant population you are reporting. The shape drawing panel opens in the top right of the page. Choose polygon or line, then press . At this point, each click on the map becomes a vertex of the shape you are drawing. (Dragging the map has no effect on the shape.) Press when you are done. Press if you need to add more vertices, or delete vertices, or move vertices.

Press ADD / VIEW PHOTOS to attach a photo "voucher" to your observation record, either by 1. uploading a photo from your computer, or 2. pasting in the URL of your photo already on the web. A description of the process is in FAQ - About Contributing Observations.

The elevation in meters of the point you selected on the map . is automatically filled in on the record whenever you save a record. It is also displayed at the bottom of the page. (Press lookup elevation to find the elevation of the current point immediately.) The elevation value is obtained from the Google Maps Elevation API.

Where to Find Your Records:
Any observation you enter with this application will immediately appear in the My Observations application. If you set Access by other users to public, then other Calflora users will also be able to find and view your observation record with the various search tools.


Scientific Name
The scientific name of the plant observed. Typeahead is enabled -- type the first three letters, then choose the name from the popup list.

This field will accept only the full scientific name of a plant already in the database, or the word unknown. If you have alternate scientific names or other comments, please put them in the Notes field.

If you wish to enter the scientific name of a plant that is not yet in the database (for instance, a new weed), put a * (star) just in front of the plant name, as the first character in the field.


Common Name
The common name of the plant observed. Typeahead is enabled -- type at least three letters, then choose the name from the popup list.


Identification Method
The primary method by which the observed plant was identified.


Observation Date
Date the plant was observed, in the form YYYY-MM-DD. For example, 2009-11-15.

Press today for today's date. Press calendar to choose the date from a calendar.


Natural Status
Was the observed plant planted by a human, or is it growing wild?


The primary habitat type at this location.

  • Forest: Tree-dominated, generally with a closed canopy (e.g., redwood forest, eucalyptus grove)
  • Forest Edge: the edge of a forest, or a clearing within a forest.
  • Open Woodland: Tree-dominated, but with open areas between the trees (e.g., oak woodland)
  • Scrub/Shrubland: Shrub-dominated, with few or no trees (e.g., coastal scrub, chaparral)
  • Grassland / Open Field: Grass-dominated, with few to no shrubs or trees
  • Stream bank / bed: The banks or dried bed of a stream, creek or river
  • Wetland: Herbaceous-plant-dominated, with standing water at least part of the year and wetland indicator plants (e.g., cattails, rushes, pickleweed marsh, vernal pool)
  • Open Water: Pond, lake, river, estuary, etc.
  • Beach / Dune: Generally some open sand (or there would be if not infested with iceplant or European beachgrass)
  • Rocky outcrop / Cliff: A rocky area with sparse soil or no soil.
Areas of major human impact:
  • Agricultural field
  • Roadside / Waste area
  • Park / Recreation area
  • Yard / Garden

The life stage of the plant at time of observation.

  • Seedling / rosette: Young, non-reproductive growth
  • Bolting: When the flowering stalk begins to shoot up in plants with a basal rosette of leaves (thistles or mustards, for example)
  • Flowering: In bud or flower
  • Fruiting: Setting seed or fruit
  • Leafing out: Producing new leaves (for deciduous perennial plants such as tree of heaven)
  • Mature: A perennial plant NOT in one of the above stages
  • Vegetative:
  • Dormant:
  • Dead / skeleton: Dried/dead plant or dormant perennial


Number of Plants
Either an estimated range of the number of plants at this location, or an exact count. If you know the exact count, enter it by clicking in the text area and typing in the value. Otherwise, choose a range from the drop down list.

Special values:

    1: exactly one plant.

    0: no plants; absence.

    1+: at least one plant. This is the default value for older records.

Notes: If you are entering a single observation of a particular species in an area, use this field to indicate how plentiful that species is. So for instance, if you can see 15 other individuals of the same species from where you are standing, choose 11 - 50, or type in the number 15.

To document the absence of a plant, set Number of Plants to 0, and draw a polygon describing the area where you searched for the plant.  

The land owner, manager, or steward of the land where the plant is growing, to the best of your knowledge. Before adding observations on private land, please obtain permission from the land owner.


If a specimen was collected, the name of the herbarium where it is stored.


Location Description
A brief description of where the plant is. Please include landmarks and/or directions to the site.


Anything else you would like to report about the plant or the site, such as associated plant species.


Latitude and Longitude
The location of the plant in decimal latitude and longitude, NAD83 datum (WGS84). (This datum is available on most GPS units and used by some recent maps.)


The person(s) who observed the plant. (Before adding observations to Calflora, please obtain the consent of all observers.)


The name of the institution which contributed this record to Calflora, if any. For an individual contributor, the name of the individual, or the name of the organzation with which they are affiliated, or who organized the data collection effort (for instance, Marin Municipal Water District).


Use this field to divide your records up into various collections. Or, simply include search terms in the value of this field that will make it possible to categorize records later. For instance, if this record is part of a particular data collection project, put the name of the project here (e.g. Coastal Mendocino Native Shrubs 2012). Or, put good photo as the value of this field for all of your records that have particularly good photos; then you can find them easily later.


Location Accuracy
An estimate of the accuracy of the location coordinates, expressed as an area in square meters. For instance, if the location accuracy is set to 100 square meters, then the idea is that the real point is somewhere within that 100 square meter area.

When you specify location by picking a point on the map, location accuracy depends on the zoom level of the map when the record is first entered.

When GPS equipment is used to find a point, the location accuracy will depend on the quality of the equipment, conditions at the time the point was taken, as well as any methods employed to correct or verify the coordinates.

To specify location accuracy, press Specify. In the panel that opens, you can choose an accuracy range, such as 100 square meters. Or, you can enter the radius of a circle around the point, and calculate location accuracy as the area of that circle.

    Radius Area
    Square Meters
    Square Meters
    Square Meters

    Area Unit Equivalence
    square feet
    square yards
    square meters
    square feet
    square yards
    square meters


Access by other users

    Can the public visit this site?
    public access The public may visit this site, subject to business hours and/or seasonal restrictions. A fee may be required (eg. at a State Park).
    restricted access It may be possible to visit this site by special arrangement. For many preserves, access is limited to a few pre-arranged, docent-led hikes each year, and/or volunteer work days.
    no access  


UTM Coordinates

    Zone 10 or 11
    Easting 6-digit number such as 251810
    Northing 7-digit number such as 4070743

    When the UTM panel is visible, these three fields show the current center position. To specify a location, enter values into these fields and press the Display button.



    Meridian 21, 27 or 15
    Township for example, 6N or 31S
    (no leading zeros)
    Range for example, 12E or 2W
    Section for example, 17


The elevation at the location of the plant.


Access by other users
Specifies which other uers can see this record.

A public (published) record is viewable by all Calflora users.

An in review (unpublished) record is viewable only by the contributor, unless you explicitly allow certain other users to view it.

Some contributors choose to keep certain records in review until they are confident of the data (eg. plant identification).


Group Association
If you are a member of any groups, then you can associate a record with one of your groups. This feature is to enable a group of people to easily see each other's records while those records are still in review.

    Access Group Association Who can see it
    publicanyall Calflora users
    in reviewnoneonly the contributor
    in reviewGroup ABCall members of Group ABC

Suppose you enter a new record, and set Access by other users to in review (unpublished). Suppose also that you are a member of the CalWeedMapper Contributors group. If you set the group association of the new record to CalWeedMapper Contributors, then other members of this group will be able to view the record.


Web page: About this Location
The URL of a web page with more information about this location. Examples: a page from a photo service like Flickr with pictures of the location; a page from a free hiking site with descriptions of the trails; or, for a restoration site, a page describing the work done at the site.


Web page: Plant List Source
If the plant list came from a web page, the URL of that page.


Gross Area or Area Size
The size of the area where the plants were observered.

If you have defined a polygon, press calculate area to calculate the area of the polygon.

    Area Unit Equivalence
    square feet
    square yards
    square meters
    square feet
    square yards
    square meters

Combo box controls
When you are entering a new record or editing and existing record, click in the text area of a combo box control to bring up a drop-down list box of values. You can choose one of the values from the list. Or, click in the text area again to make the list box disappear, and then type in a value that is not on the list.

Combo boxes are a way to accomodate diverse values for a field, where the values are mostly informational.

So for instance, with the Number of Plants field, if you guess that there are between 11 and 50 plants in the area, then choose the value 11 - 50 from the drop down list. Otherwise, if you counted exactly 23 plants in the area, type in the number 23.

Contributing organizations and individual contributors have a variety of ways of articulating their data. The use of combo boxes allows Calflora to preserve original values as much as possible.