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About Calflora

Calflora Update: December 2008

This is an update on what Calflora accomplished in 2008 and what we are planning for 2009.

Calflora's Mission

  • Assemble the broadest possible collection of information about California's wild plants
  • Make the collection accessible to the widest possible audience

Calflora Accomplishments in 2008

Working with BAEDN ...

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.

  • The Weed Observation Entry Page allows users to pick location from an integrated Google Map and see nearby locations of the same weed. Other nice features include scientific name typeahead, and a popup calendar.

    Eventually this effort will include the ability to exchange weed data with other organizations in a NAWMA compliant record format.

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:

  • Ethnobotanical links: 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 CNPLX -- 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
    1. as a list of scientific names currently accepted by CNPS, and
    2. 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 Riverside County.

    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 data (example, Delta) 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.

Other Accomplishments

  • 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 application, 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.

  • Database Reorganization. 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?

  • Overview What Grows Here (WGH) is a Calflora project introduced in 2007 which 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 (Sonoma County) has added links to WGH for several watersheds in the district. For instance, here is Salmon Creek. (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.)

2009 Goals

  • 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 Us

We're always eager to hear your ideas about Calflora.

You can write to us by email, or send us U.S. Mail at:

    The Calflora Database
    1700 Shattuck Ave. #198
    Berkeley, CA 94709
Calflora  -  1700 Shattuck Av #198, Berkeley, CA 94709  -  510 528-5426  -  CONTACT