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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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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 - February 21, 2010

From: Ramona , CA
Region: California
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Plant identification sources for Southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I hike the trails here in Ramona a lot. I want to be able to identify the wildflowers as they bloom. They are beginning to bloom and I am afraid another year will come and go and I won't know the names of the "purple plumplets" or "yellow blommula's" (my own names) again this year. Where do I find out the names of our local flowers?

ANSWER:

First, here is a collection of online sources to help you identify Southern California wildflowers:

California Wildflowers, a database searchable by flower color, common or scientific name or family name is available from the California Academy of Sciences.

From California Lutheran University you will find Wildflowers of Southern California.

Wildflowers and Other Plants of Southern California online and also has applications for interactive guide application for iPhones and iPods.

You can register for free as a personal user to access the Calflora website about California plants.

CalPhotos from University of California-Berkeley has a large collection (>130,000) of photos of plants searchable by common or scientific names. 

Photographs of mostly native Southern California Wildflowers by Guy Bruyea.

Next, here are some titles for books that you can carry with you on your hikes.  The California Native Plant Society lists the following:

Flowering Plants of the Santa Monica Mountains by Nancy Dale

Introduction to California Desert Wildflowers by Philip Munz and others

Introduction to California Spring Wildflowers of the Foothills, Valleys and Coast by Philip Munz and others

Introduction to Shore Wildflowers of California, Oregon, and Washington by Philip Munz

Finally, you can find a list of publications for identifying California plants by choosing 'Plant Identification' from Select by subject and 'California' by Select by region in our Bibliography.

 

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