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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - August 23, 2009

From: San Luis Obispo, CA
Region: California
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Finding pictures in the Image Gallery from San Luis Obispo CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How can I select a picture when I don't know the photographer or anything else, just the name of the plant?

ANSWER:

Before we begin to give you a tutorial on using our Native Plant Database and Image Gallery, one caution: This database will include only flowers native to North America. Even if you see a flower blooming everywhere, if you don't find it in our database, it is most likely not native, and we will have no information on it. Granted, we do not claim to have every single plant native to North America in our database, but we're trying. 

To find a flower to use as an example, we selected the California state flower, Eschscholzia californica (California poppy). The quickest and easiest way to find pictures of this is to go to our Image Gallery. In the box at the very top of the page "scientific or common name" you can type in California poppy or Eschscholzia californica. In this case, we would definitely go for the common name. As you type, the search engine will find matches, you can click on the right one and then on the "GO" box. In this instance, you will get a list with two species,  Eschscholzia californica (California poppy) and Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana (California poppy). Click on either scientific name in that list, and it will take you to a page of pictures of that plant. Sometimes we only have two or three pictures, sometimes we have none. If we have no pictures, you can Google on the common or scientific game, and usually find websites with information about the plant and pictures, or click on "Images" on the Google page for that plant. Using the common name (it's so much easier to spell) we got this page of pictures of the California poppy. 

Another way, a little more cumbersome, to identify a flower you have seen growing, but don't even know the name of, is to go to our Native Plant Database. Go down the page to "Combination Search." Select  California (or whatever state you saw it in), "herb" (herbaceous blooming plant) under Habit, every color you saw it appearing in, and the month you saw it blooming. We cheated and went to our webpage for California Poppy and noted the bloom colors (yellow, orange) and months of bloom (February to October). Then, click on "Submit Combination Search" and you'll get a list, with thumbnail pictures, of every flowering plant fitting those descriptions. Unfortunately, we gave it too many characteristics and got 335 hits. Your best bet is to list just the month in which you have seen the flower blooming. And remember, natives only!

 

 

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