logo Calflora What Grows Here? Help
Updated May 1, 2019
What Grows Here? is a Calflora web application which shows what plants have been observed growing near a particular location in California.

There is also a What Grows Here Wizard to help find a particular location.
If you have any questions about using this application, please contact Calflora support.

Move to the part of the state you are interested in, zoom in a few times, and press . A list of plants found in the area shown on the map will appear, divided up by lifeform. To see all of the annual herbs, press

Annual Herb

To see exactly where a particular plant was observed, press the record count for that plant, choose an icon and press display points.

Open Criteria to constrain which plants are returned, and to control the output.

Open PLANT FILTER to select, for instance, only natives, or only plants on a particular list.

Open RESULTS to change the sort order or to select a different presentation format.

Open POINTS panel to put points on the map for all of the matching plants.

Open AREA panel to specify the search area more precisely. Press DRAW A POLYGON to specify an exact geographical search space.

To find all plants in a particular park, press LAYERS at the top of the page, choose Protected Areas (CPAD), and then click . inside one of the parks or forests that appear on the map. The name of the selected area will appear just above:
Andrew Molera State Park (CDPR) .
Then check
in selected background area

Scientific Name
Typeahead enabled. Enter a full scientific name or just the genus.

Full family name, case insensitive. For instance ERICACEAE.

Plant List
Choose an existing general purpose list, or define your own special purpose list.

native, non-native, rare (according to CNPS), invasive (according to Cal-IPC)

Annual, Perennial, Biennial

Grass-like, Herb, Shrub, Tree, Vine, Fern

Bloom month
e.g. February, for plants likely to be blooming in February

Low water tolerant

Shade tolerant

Commercially available (according to CNPLX)


How the results are presented.

simple One plant on each line. Click on the scientific name to see a detail panel with photos and a link to the Calflora Taxon Report for this plant.
photo An expanded, illustrated plant list format, with plant attributes, three photos and the bloom time icon. Click on the scientific name to see the Calflora Taxon Report for this plant.
text The results in tab delimited format, suitable for copying into a spreadsheet. (To get this data into Excell, copy it from the What Grows Here? page, and then use 'Paste / Special' in Excell.)

Order by
How the results are sorted -- Scientific Name or Record count. If you sort by Record count, plants with the most occurrences are listed first.

Group by Lifeform
When this is checked, the results are separated into seven lists, one for each lifeform, so that you can choose which lifeforms you want to see. Press the button in front of the name of a lifeform to see all of the plants.

Annual Herb
Perennial Herb

Location Quality
of records considered in the search, relative to the complete set of records in Calflora.

any includes checklists for huge areas.
MEDIUM includes checklists for small areas.
HIGH includes only precise points.

Minimum record count
The number of records of each plant that must be found for the plant to be included in search results. Asking for a count of greater than one is a technique for eliminating singleton or unconfirmed observations.


in map area
If checked, the search is limited to the area shown on the map.

in selected background area
This control appears when there is a Map Layers layer selected, such as Watershed or Protected Area (CPAD). If checked, the search is limited to the selected background polygon.

Press this to open a panel where you can enter or edit a polygon on the map. Press , then click on the map to enter three or more vertices.

in polygon
This control appears if there is a polygon defined, either because you just drew a polygon, restored a previously saved polygon, or if a polygon came into the application from URL parameters. If checked, the search is limited to the area of the polygon.

(This option is only available if you are logged into Calflora as a contributor.)
Press this to open a panel where you can save the polygon you just drew by name, or restore a polygon you saved in a previous session.

To save a new polygon, enter a name, and press .

To see and edit all of the polygons you have saved, use the Shape Editor application.


To view the locations of a plant in the result list on the map, you have a choice of various colored icons. The default icon is a blue point:
A palette is a set of plant - icon assignments. As you choose icons to display various plants, you are implicitly making a custom palette. Custom palettes can be saved and used again. You can also choose one of three predefined palletes:

NATIVE A convenience palette for displaying observations differentiated by nativity.

Press display next to native, and the application will read points for all native plants in the result list, and show them on the map using a blue point icon.

Press display next to non-native, and the application will show points of non-native plants using a red point icon.

STATUS A convenience palette for displaying observations differentiated by status: rare, native, non-native or invasive.
LIFEFORM A convenience palette for displaying observations differentiated by lifeform.
custom For any plant shown in the results, press the record count, select a colored icon to use for that plant and press display points. The application will read points for that plant in the selected area and show them on the map using the selected icon.

The application keeps a list of all of the plant - icon assignments you make in this way. To see this list, press Plants with Icons:

: By going through the process of assigning icons to plants, you are defining a custom palette, and can use it again. If you move to a different area on the map and press , the points for all plants with icons will be read for the new area and displayed on the map.

Use the Palette Again: To save the current palette (your list of plant - icon assignments), press My Palettes.

  • Enter a name into the
      Save the current palette as:
    text box, and press .

  • During a subsequent session with this application, you can select it from the
      Use a previously saved palette
    drop down. Then press , and points for all the plants in the palette will be read and displayed on the map.

When you save a palette in this way, you own it and are the only one who can change it. However, other people can use it if you give it to them in a URL as described above. See the EXAMPLES below.


Click on an icon
to see details of that observation:







Proximity of various invasive plants
in the Santa Monica Mountains
indicated by colored icons:


Find a Location in California:
Enter the name of a place in California you are interested in. You will see a list of all matching place names statewide, along with the county for each one. When you choose one of the matching place names, the map will jump there and open an InfoWindow over the exact location.


Check this box to see elevation, climate and soil factors of the current map cursor location .

Observation Hotline
Once you have search results, press this link to run an equivalent search in the Hotline application. Where What Grows Here? can show a summary of plants in an area, Hotline can show all observation records in the same area. This works for a selected background area (eg. a park), or for a user defined search polygon.

Planting Guide
Once you have search results, press this link to see commercially available native plants compatible with the elevation, climate and soil factors of the current map cursor location .

Map Layers
When you choose a background layer such as Watersheds, the application will report the name of the watershed where the map cursor is located. Click on the various watersheds to see their names.

If the Precipitation background layer is showing, click on the map to see average annual precipitation at that point . If the Nitrogen Deposition background layer is showing, click on the map to see kilograms of nitrogen per hectare per year at that point.

(See also About Layers.)

Super Planning Watershed:
Tassajara Hot Springs 3309.6003
What Grows Here? on Mobile
When you use What Grows Here? on a mobile device with a narrow screen, all of the controls at the top of the page collapse to the left. The map appears on top of the other controls. Use the map to choose your location and zoom level, and then touch MAP to get it out of the way so that you can see the plants.

Because of the screen width, only one photo per plant is shown.

If you want to see the plants in one long list (instead of grouped by lifeform), open RESULTS and uncheck Group by Lifeform.

Viewing your search in the field:

Once you have done a search, and set up the screen just the way you want it (eg. with the map not showing, and the plants appearing in one long list), press again so that your choices wil be included in the URL. Now you need to arrange for your search to be easily findable later when you are in the field.

Using Chrome on an Android device, there are three ways to save your search. Touch the Chrome options menu icon in the upper right.

  1. Touch the star to bookmark the current URL.
  2. Or, touch Share... and then Gmail to email the URL to yourself.
  3. Or, touch Add to Home screen and then give your search a name, such as Plants in Van Damme SP. A new icon will appear on your home screen. When you touch the icon, you will go right back to your search in Chrome.
Chrome will cache the plant photos. At some point when you have good connectivity, scroll through all the photos to give the browser a chance to cache them -- then they will be available when you go back to this search later.

Example Searches
Commercially available, low water tolerant native grasses in the Paso Robles area. A plant is included in the results only if there are at least two records of the plant in the search area. (To find commercially available low water native grasses appropriate for your area, start with this search, and move the location.)

All plants in Andrew Molera State Park, Monterey County. A plant is included in the results only if there are at least two records of the plant in the search area.

Native plants in the Santa Lucia Hydrologic Area (including Big Sur and Andrew Molera State Park). This search looks for records with MEDIUM or better location quality, and includes plants in the results if there are at least three records in the search area. The format is set to photo, so that the results appear as an illustrated plant list.

Arctostaphylos species in an arbitrary area of the northern Sierra foothills east of Chico. The search area is a user defined polygon.

Common Oaks of Calfornia, starting in the southern Sierras east of Bakersfield. This example illustrates the use of a custom palette (Common Oaks) as a search technique. If you start with this view, then move to a different location and press , the application will load points in the new location for the twelve species of oak included in this custom palette.

Seven widespread Southern California invasive plants, starting in the Santa Monica Mountains. This example shows the use of a custom palette to illustrate the relative ranges of these invasive plants.

Favorite North Coast plants, starting in Fort Bragg. This example shows the use of a custom palette to differentiate between plants that only grow right on the coast, vs. those that prefer the coast ranges.

Q: Is there a way that I can see all points for the matching plants immediately, without having to click through the plants one-by-one?
    A: Yes, here are two ways:

    1. Open the POINTS panel. The default ICON PALETTE is called "NATIVE".
        Press display next to native to see points for all native plants.
        Press display next to non-native to see points for all non-native plants.

    2. Open TOOLS and press the Observation Hotline link. This will run almost the same search on Observation Hotline, and show a point for each matching record.
Q: For one plant in the search results, it says 14 records, but when I ask to see points for that plant, I only see 9. Why is the count different?
    A: This kind of discrepancy usually happens because quad level data is included in the search for plants (for instance, quad level records of rare plants from the CNPS Inventory), but not included when you ask to see points for the plant.
Q: Why would I use this application instead of Observation Hotline or Plant Distribution? What kinds of search is each application best suited for?
    A: Observation Hotline is good for seeing all observations in a relatively small area. It will show the photos attached to each observation.

    Plant Distribution is good for seeing the statewide distribution of a single plant. It is also good for looking at a super close up view of a single record -- it will show lines and polygons if any are available.

    What Grows Here? will show a list of plants in a given area. By the use of colored icons, it is also good for juxtaposing the point distributions of two or more plants.


v. 3.46 May, 2019

The former What Grows Here wizard application is now included in What Grows Here itself. Open LOCATION and type in the name of the place you are looking for.

v. 3.17 October, 2017

v. 3.05 January, 2017

The application has be reconfigured to work on mobile devices.

v. 2.60 August, 2016

Plant lists are ordered by group. "NATIVE" is now the default icon palette, which makes it easier to see points for all matching plants immediately.

v. 2.49 January, 2016

When you select Format = photo, WGH shows three photos for each plant when three photos are available.

v. 2.46 October, 2015

In the PLANT FILTER section, when you select a plant list, a view link appears. Click on this link to see an illustrated version of the plant list.

v. 2.39 August, 2015

  • Group by now divides the result list of plants into sub-lists; Group by LIFEFORM makes a sub-list for each lifeform, and the user can shoose which sublists to open.
  • v. 2.36 July, 2015

  • LOCATION PROFILE has moved to inside of the TOOLS menu. The Scientific Name and Family search criteria have moved into a new PLANT NAMES section.

  • Lifeform: Grass-like plants are now treated as a separate lifeform from herbs.
    Select Lifeform = "Grass-like" to find grasslike plants.
    Select Lifeform = "Herb" to find wildflowers other than grasses.

  • There are three new selection criteria in the PLANT FILTER section: Commercially available (based on information from CNPLX), shade tolerant, and low water tolerant.
  • v. 2.15 December, 2014

  • Once you have search results in What Grows Here?, press Tools / Observation Hotline to run an equivalent search in the Hotline application. Where What Grows Here? can show a summary of plants in an area, Hotline can show all observation records in the same area. This works for a selected background area (eg. a park), or for a user defined search polygon.
  • v. 2.07 September, 2014

  • Open LOCATION PROFILE to see elevation, climate, and soil information about the current location.

  • Search polygons can be saved by name, and re-used in another search explicitly. Open AREA, then SAVED SEARCH POLYGONS.

  • Press Tools / Printable version of this page to get a version of your current search results that prints nicely. If you do not want to print the map, turn the map off before pressing this link.

  • v. 2.0 March, 2013.

    This version was funded by a Conservation Innovation Grant from NRCS California, with matching funds provided by the Calflora Database.

    v. 1.0 October, 2007