logo Calflora Observation Download Help

Data Dictionary

The Observation Download Application provides a way to download a set of plant observations from the the Calflora online database in a form that is readily assimilable by another database or spreadsheet.

Searching and Downloading

    Enter some selection criteria (for instance, County = "Del Norte" and Native Status = "non-native"), and press the Search button. The first 750 records that match the criteria will appear in a table at the bottom of the page. If more than 750 records match, only the first 750 will be displayed, and to see all matching records, you will need to download the result set. To download, choose an Output Format other than "Table" (for instance, "CSV" to go into Excel, or "Tab delimited"), and press the Download File button.

    To see the results in Google Earth, do a search, choose "KML" as the value of Output Format, and press the Download File button.

    Lines and Polygons: Most records include a point location. Some records also have an associated line or polygon.

    To search for records that only have a point, and not a line or a polygon, set Geometry to point.

    To search for records that have a line, set Geometry to line.

    To search for records that have a polygon, set Geometry to polygon.

    To search for all records, set Geometry to any.

    To download matching records as a point shapefile, set Output Format to Shapefile: point. To download matching records as a polygon shapefile, set Output Format to Shapefile: polygon, and similarly to get a line shapefile.

    Shapefiles suffer from the limitation that an attribute name cannot be longer than ten characters. When you extract a shapefile with this application, attribute names are deliberately shortened, The meaning of the shortened names is explained in this Shapefile Data Dictionary.

    It is possible to download a GeoJSON file containg a mix of feature types; in other words, points lines and polygons. To get records including any available geometries in the form of GeoJSON, set Geometry to any and Output Format to GeoJSON. However, GIS products like Quantum GIS do not really accept GeoJSON files containing heterogenus feature types; if the file contains multiple feature types, QGIS will ask which one you want to load.

    Geometry is not included in the various flat file formats (CSV).

    If you are looking for a specific plant, note that the Scientific Name and Common Name fields are typeahead enabled -- type in part of the name, and then choose the exact name from a drop down list. If you choose a full scientific name, the search will also look for synonyms of that name. If you choose just a genus name, the search will not look for synonyms, but instead look for all scientific names that begin with that genus.

    There is a maximum of 50K records per download. If you need more than this, try chopping the state up into regions by latitude or by county.


    You can download the data through various views (column sets). Use the Column Set selector above the results table to choose a predefined view, and/or use customize to modify a predefined view.

    Current predefined views include:

    Basic Data
    Only core data fields.

    Weed Data
    Core fields plus weed specific fields.

    Weed Data Export
    A short list of fields including Management Status.


Suggested Citation

Calflora: Information on California plants for education, research and conservation.
[web application]. 2019. Berkeley, California: The Calflora Database [a non-profit organization].
Available: //www.calflora.org/ (Accessed: Jun 13, 2019).

Hints for Using the Application
  • Generating a shapefile on the server requires a lot of server resources. If you set Output Format to Shapefile: ..., and the results include a large number of records, the download may fail. If this happens, choose a different Output Format, and convert the results to a shapefile on your own computer after the download. If you need to download polygons or lines, try downloading as GeoJSON, and use Quantum GIS to do the conversion.

  • If the results you are getting are too dense (too many points), you can impose a grid on the results to thin them out. If you set Grid Cell Size to "30 arc seconds", the results will contain at most one record per grid cell, where the side of a grid cell is 1/120 of a degree.

  • It is not possible to get unpublished records from this application, for security reasons. Please contact support if you need to download unpublished records.