logo Calflora Search for Plants Help
Updated June 24, 2022
With the Search for Plants application you can search for wild plants that grow in California by a variety of criteria. You can also look up plants through a family name index, a scientific name index, or a common name index. On the left hand side of the page, there are links to the other most popular Calflora web applications.
Basic Use
Choose some criteria (such as native grasses that grow in San Diego County) and press . You will go to the Plant Search Results page, which shows a summary of each matching plant with photos. Click on the scientific name of a plant to see the Taxon Report (full details) about that plant.

Search Criteria

plant name
Enter part of a scientific name, a common name, or a family name to find all of the matching plants.

Open the NAME WIZARD, and type 3 or more characters into the Scientific Name field, and you will see a list of matching plant names. Choose one of the names, and it will appear in the plant name field. Similarly for Common Name.

Choose one or more counties. (To perform location based searches with more precision than just county, use What Grows Here?.)

Annual, Perennial, Biennial

Grass, Herb, Shrub, Tree, Vine, Fern, Moss, Liverwort
Check one or more than one. If you check Grass and Herb, both will be included in the results.

native, non-native, rare (CNPS), invasive (Cal-IPC),
with an affinity to serpentine soil (Safford et al. 2005)

Plant community

more . . .
Press this to see these additional criteria:

elevation below (meters)
Each plant has an elevation range. A plant will be included in the results if either the low end of its range is below the stated value, or the high end of its range is below the stated value.

elevation above (meters)
A plant will be included in the results if either the low end of its elevation range is above the stated value, or the high end of its range is above the stated value.

bloom month
For instance February, for plants likely to be blooming in February

Result Format

result format

No photos

Species names in plain text

View the total number of plants matching the selection criteria.

Count without parent records
View the total number of plants matching the selection criteria, but without parent records. Use this result format for comparing biodiversity counts.

Advanced Search (species attributes)
Choose this option to view and/or download species attibutes for the matching plants.

Parent Records and Plant Counts
A plant name is referred to as a parent when there are recognized subspecies or varieties. So for instance, Frangula californica is considered a parent, because it has several subspecies (... ssp. crassifolia, ... ssp. cuspidata etc.). When you search for a parent name, all subspecies and varieties are included in the search results.

Calflora includes parent records as active species because some observations are identified only to the parent level by the contributor. For instance, suppose that a contributor found a population of Fragula californica in the wild, but they are not sure of which subspecies it is, so they identify it only as Frangula californica in their observation record.

Because parent records are included in search results, the number of plants returned by a particular search may be high. If you want to compare the floristic biodiversity (the number of wild native plants) of one region vs another, you will get a more realistic count if you omit the parent records. Choose the result format Count without parent records for this purpose.

Example Searches

Native ferns with an affinity to serpentine soil, Siskiyou County

Native herbs in the family FABACEAE (nitrogen fixing), San Luis Obispo County

Native shrubs in the Chaparral community likely to be blooming in March

Aristolochia californica, California pipevine
Judy and Barry Breckling
Other Plant Search Applications
What Grows Here? to search for plants based on precise locations (more precise than just county).

Advanced Search for Plants to search for plants by means of many more criteria other than location (for instance, plants associated with native bees).


v 0.76 December 2021

    New lifeforms: Moss and Liverwort.

v 0.61 August, 2015

  • It is now possible to specify Duration separately from Lifeform, so for instance you can search for Annual Grass or Perennial Grass.

  • Lifeform: Grass is now treated as a separate lifeform from Herb. (Plants in the families Poaceae, Juncaceae, and Cyperaceae are considered to be grasses.)