Who can contribute observations?
Anyone who is registered as a Calflora contributor, and who can reliably identify the plants they are observing.
I contribute observations anonymously?
No. Calflora is an online library of plant information. All information
must have a source to be listed in references.
do my observations go?
Observations are converted into appropriate formats and stored in
How do I get my observations back?
When you want to see all of the observations you have contributed,
go to the
My Observations application, and press .
To download your observations in various flat file formats
go to the
Download application, and search for observations with
your name as the observer.
Are contributed observations reviewed?
Incoming observations are reviewed by Calflora staff to ensure no
gross error; however, correctness of identification is NOT reviewed.
The reliability of the observation is entirely the responsibility
of the contributor. Calflora now has an annotation system to allow
for peer review of observations.
do I register to contribute Plant Observations?
register as a Calflora contributor
My Calflora page).
The contributor registration form asks for
certain information about your background and
experience with plants.
Once you have completed the contributor registration process,
you may contribute observations.
Bring up the
Plant Observation Entry application,
and press .
Field names written in green are required.
For an explanation of any field, click on the name of that field.
To choose a plant, go to the Scientific Name field,
and type the first three letters. A typeahead name finder is enabled
for over 30,000 California plant names. Choose your plant from
the list of matching plant names that appears below the field.
There is also a typeahead name finder for common names.
If you are not sure what the plant is, enter unknown
in the Scientific Name field.
Choose a location on the map.
The map starts outside Fresno. Drag the map
to get close to the area of your observation, then zoom in.
(If you change to the "Satellite" view, you may be able
to identify certain trees, rock formations, or buildings
to help find your exact location.)
Open Point Location
and press .
Your next simple click on the map will become the
location of the record.
At the top right of the page above the map,
there is a Map Layers
control, which lets you choose which background layer
is shown on the map. Certain layers, such as the
California Protected Areas Database,
may help you to pick the correct location for your observation.
Press Add a photo
to attach one or more photos to your observation record.
You can upload photos to Calflora directly from your computer --
or, if your photo is already on the web at another location,
you can simply paste in the URL of the photo.
When you have filled in as many fields you can,
press . Your observation will
be written to the database.
If you set Access by others to published,
the record will be immediately available to other Calflora users.
To enter plants one-by-one, press
Add One Plant,
and use the typeahead name finder
for either scientific or common names.
To paste in a list of plants, press
Add a List of Plants.
This application is used to enter
a checklist (or floristic survey, or botanical inventory)
of plants growing wild at a discrete location.
It can also be used to enter places
where native plants have been planted, such as a
native plant garden
To search for surveys and checklists,
Survey / Checklist Search application.
How do I indicate whether or not there is public access
to the location?
The entry applications have a field called Access,
indicating whether or not the public can visit this site.
Please set the value of this field accurately,
so that people who might like to visit a place are
properly forewarned. There is a choice of three values:
The public may visit this site, subject to business hours
and/or seasonal restrictions. A fee may be required (eg. at a State Park).
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.
Can I add photographs to my observations?
You can upload photos directly to Calflora,
as part of an observation record.
Or, if you have put your photos of the plant
somewhere on the web (somewhere stable),
you can associate the URL of those photos
with an observation record. To do so, press
Add a photo
URL: the web address of your photo.
This could be a on your own website, or on a public
Credit: the year the photo was taken,
and the name of the photographer. If you are not the
photographer, please get permission from the photographer
before adding the photo.
Caption: an explanation of the photo.
The presumption is that the photo was actually
taken at the location described in the observation.
How can I add a photo to an existing observation record, uploading
the photo directly from my computer?
Go to the
My Observations application, and find the record.
Click on the ID of the record, and then press edit.
Check Upload a file from your computer.
Then press and
select the file. Then press
-- you will see a message about the photo
When it is done, a small version of the photo will appear.
Click on the photo to change the caption or the credit.
If the photo is not right, press DELETE to get rid of it.
At this point, you have changed the observation record
by adding a photo attachment.
Press at the top of the page
to save the record.
Note that photos uploaded to Calflora are shrunk to 1200 x 900, and stored without exif information.
Where will my photographs appear on Calflora?
When you share a photo with Calflora in this way,
whenever your photo appears on Calflora, it will have your name next to it
as the copyright holder.
In My Calflora / Preferences,
you have two options for sharing your photos:
Calflora use only
or CC BY-NC 4.0.
You can delete your photo from Calflora at any time.
Photos associated with an observation can be viewed on
the Calflora Observation Detail page.
For example, here is an
observation of Caladrinia menziesii from Adam Chasey.
CC BY-NC 4.0 appears next to the photo,
which indicates that
the contributor has chosen to share photos according that license.
made a mistake entering an observation, how do I correct it?
To edit an observation you have already entered, first
go to the
My Observations application, and press .
Click on the ID of the observation,
then press edit.
The Plant Observation Entry
will come up, showing the chosen record.
You are already editing the record.
Make any changes, then press .
If necessary, you may also delete an observation you have contributed.
(If you have any questions, please
contact Calflora staff.)
observations are most useful?
There are many different kinds of useful observations, depending
on what goals you are trying to achieve.
Including photos with an observation is most helpful.
not previously known from a county or area.
Documenting new weeds
to an area, especially invasive weeds.
plants previously predicted or reported to occur in an area, but
that currently lack expert documentation or specimens.
Confirming the continuing
presence of plants not observed in the last 25 years in a county/area.
Filling in distribution
'holes' for particular species. For example, California poppy is presumed
to grow in every county of California, however there are still
several counties that have no documented or voucher based records
Can I report negative observation data?
To report negative observation data -- that is,
that you looked for a plant and did not find it --
use Plant Observation Entry (POE),
and choose the Advanced data collection project.
Then enter 0 as the value of Number of Plants.
Note that negative observation data is really only useful
with respect to the area searched, and the date(s)
that the search took place.
Using POE, you can draw a polygon to indicate the area searched.
want to contribute a large set of observations.
If you would like to contribute a large set of observations,
Calflora staff would be happy to work with you directly
can't the system find my species name?
The intention of Calflora is to track plants occurring in the
wild in California, either native or naturalized. Thus, many
horticultural plants are not present in the database.
Also, scientific names of plants do change occasionally.
Calflora attempts to keep track of these changes in the
Plant Name Library (aka synonymy database).
Thus, it should not matter
if you enter a scientific name no longer in current use --
Calflora users should be able to find your observation
via synonomy options available on the Calflora search pages.
If you are entering a plant name in the Plant Observation Entry
application (or entering plant names one-by-one in the
Survey / Checklist Entry application), the scientific name typeahead
feature will check your name against about 12,000 plant names,
and let you know if it is not found (this is a way of reducing
spelling mistakes). However, even if your plant name is not found,
the databse will still accept it.
If you are using the Survey / Checklist Entry application,
and plan to paste in a list of names, you can see
a preview of which names the scanner will find.
Enter your list into the
CNPLX Nomenclature Analyzer. (This is also a good way to
find spelling errors.)
are repeat observations for the same plant in the same area useful?
Observations of the same plant in the same area by various
observers are useful in the sense that, the more observations,
the stronger the evidence of the presence of that plant.
Also, repeat observations of plants that have not been seen in 5 years
or more are a valuable way to reconfirm the continued health and persistence
of a local population.
encountered an error or unexpected result while contributing --
what do I do?
Please contact us with any problems, questions, or
suggestions on the system so that we may improve it for your use.
Please be prepared with the following information, if possible.
What browser and version are you using?
Why kind of computer and operating system?
What did you do immediately prior to the problem?
your name, email, and the date of contribution if possible.
can I identify plants?
Please contribute only observations for plants that you can
comfortably and confidently identify.
Identifying plants is
a lot like reading books... there are some books that are easy to
read, and some that are hard. Likewise some plants are easy to identify,
and some are more difficult. You generally get better at reading
by tackling progressively harder books, expanding your vocabulary
and learning as you go.
staff is committed to helping you learn more about plants,
but unfortunately we do not have the resources to identify plants.
There are many other resources available to help
expand the number of plants you recognize. If your plant was growing
in the wild, you can try contacting your local chapter of the California
Native Plant Society.
Also, the people who work at native nurseries can
be very helpful in identifying local plants.
There are Calflora users in the
Plant ID Help group
who are willing to try to identify plants from photos.
To get help from this group,
join the group;
make an observation record of the mystery plant with photos;
if you have no idea what it is, put unknown as the scientific name;
associate the observation record with the
Plant ID Help group.
Make an observation record of the plant with photos.
Associate the observation record with the
Early Detection Network group,
so that other members of this group
will easily be able to find your observation.
When will my observation
show up on the maps?
Your observation report will be added to the observation
database table as soon as you save it.
If you set Access by others to
It will be available immediately to other Calflora users in an
Observation Hotline search for the relevant species.
It will be available within two hours in a geographic
Observation Hotline search
(that is, a search where the area is specified geogrphically;
eg. within the map area, or within the bounds of a polygon).
It will appear on the Taxon Report page map for that species
within the week.
do I find out the Latitude, Longitude, or UTM
for the location I was at?
The Plant Observation Entry page has an embedded Google Map.
If you can find where you were when you saw the plant
on this map, just use that location.
On the other hand,
if you used a portable GPS unit when you made the observation, you can enter
the coordinates of your observation as either
latitude / longitude or as UTM.
is 'datum', and why do I need to be aware of it?
A 'datum' is a frame of reference when plotting locations on a globe.
Just as "Hollywood" can be "Hollywood, California"
or "Hollywood, Florida", Latitude / Longitude and UTM can
be in "NAD 1927" or "NAD 1983". Properly defined,
NAD 27 is North American Datum of 1927. A reference point datum
based on the Clarke Ellipsoid of 1866, a fixed position and orientation
were named starting at Meade's Ranch in Kansas. Based upon this
information latitudes and longitudes were calculated for all points
based primarily on triangulation. NAD 1983 is a datum based on the
GRS 80 Ellipsoid, and fixed position and orientation at the center
of the earth. The measurements used in NAD 27 were adjusted- this
time using a computer. This results in a different latitude and
longitude for a location when compared to its NAD 27 values, with
the difference often amounting to hundreds of feet.
Most quality maps with
latitude, longitude, or UTM measurements on them also display which
datum was used. For example, most USGS Maps display the datum in
the lower left hand corner, along with what projection they used
(Projections are methods to display features of the round earth
on flat paper with minimum distortion.)
Most older USGS
maps are NAD 27. Many newer maps and most GPS unit readings are
NAD 83. Using the wrong datum
can cause your location to be off as much as 100 meters (325 feet).
If your precision is much less than this, then choosing the correct
datum is less critical.
I give an imprecise location for rare plants I observe?
Since Calflora is a library, we leave it up to the contributing
author -- you -- to decide what level of precision you want to share.
Some people feel that information increases the vulnerability of
rare plants to vandalism or poaching; others feel that the only
way to protect these species is to know exactly where they are to
protect them and educate the public about them.
You have a wide
range of choice in reporting locations.
Mt. Hamilton, Alameda County
Road, 2.1 miles south of the intersection with Peralta Avenue just
outside the town of Rattlesnake Bluff, under
canopy of lone valley oak
at Lat/Long 39.75, -121.75
at Lat/Long 39.75213441, -121.75042231
For research purposes, the more precise the
location, the better.
populations of plants determined to be especially vulnerable,
Calflora reserves the right to alter the submitted location
to make it deliberately imprecise.
This step has been taken very occasionally
in order to minimize the threat to the
population from the possibility of plant predation.
Calflora - 1700 Shattuck Av #198, Berkeley, CA 94709
- 510 883-3148