California Native Plant Link Exchange

SEARCH for Plants
Calfora has a new web application called the Planting Guide, which can help with the process of selecting locally appropriate native plants for a garden or a restoration project. It works for any location in California, and only suggests commercially available plants.

It follows the approach of trying to suggest as few plants as possible, by using climate and soil factors to eliminate plants not suited for the location.

When you are seeing a good plant list, you can email it to yourself, and then forward it to native plant nurseries to find out what they have in stock. Or, paste the list into a spreadsheet, and add your own notes about each plant.

Check out the Calflora NEWS page -- you will find a description of the latest features of various Calflora applications, as well interesting examples of how to use those applications.
    For instance, it explains how you can use the What Grows Here? application to visualize the distribution of several plants -- on the same map at the same time -- by assigning a colored icon to each plant.

Housecleaning: In the last few days, we have gone through nursery listings on CNPLX, and removed those that are apparently no longer in business.There was some sadness in this task, because many wonderful local native plant nurseries have gone away.

We also updated the listings for those nurseries still in business.
And added a few new nurseries selling native plants, such as the

96 species at the moment! Welcome to CNPLX.

Will evergreen huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum (for instance) grow in my garden?

Suppose you have just discovered a beautiful native plant, and found out on CNPLX that you can buy it commercially. The next question might be: will it grow in your garden?

The answer depends in part on the climate and soil factors at that location. Calflora has a Location Suitability application that can help determine if the location of your garden is a good match for a native plant. Here is how to find out, for any particular plant:

© 2008 Zoya Akulova
  • From the CNPLX page for the plant, click on the link to go to the Calflora Location Suitability page.

  • Click on the map to indicate the location of your garden. Scan the third column, "LOCATION VALUES", to see if there are any pink warnings indicating location values outside of the tolerances of the plant.
      If there are warnings, you may want to try a different plant.

    If there are NO warnings, then this plant is compatible with the conditions at your location. As a further sanity check, press
      SEARCH for Vaccinium ovatum in the map area
    to find out if this plant has been reported growing wild, close to your location. If it does grow close by, this is a good sign that it could do well in your yard.

Specific Care for an Evergreen Huckleberry:
Many native plants need special care at first, even if you plant them in a suitable location. Evergreen huckleberry grows prolifically in the understory of redwood forests, but hardly ever has berries in those conditions. The plant is much more likely to have berries when it is growing in forest edge or chaparral conditions. If you want to plant it in your garden and get berries eventually, you may want to emulate these conditions; this means that the plant should get some sun, but be in shade for a significant part of the day, especially in the summer. Then, as with many native shrubs and trees, you will need to baby it along for a couple of years:
  • Plant it in the fall, so that it has the most chance to get rained on during its first year.
  • Give it some water once a week during the summer.
Need help identifying a plant?

If you have one or more photos of the plant, Calflora's Plant ID Help group may help.
There are some very capable plant identifiers who belong to this group.

A few Great Places to view California native plants:
    Fern Canyon area, Humboldt Co.

    Byne-Milliron Forest, Santa Cruz Co.

    Santiago Peak, Orange Co.

    Point Pinole, Contra Costa Co.

      About the Great Places project

      Each Great Place is indicated by a polygon boundary. When you open Great Place page, the software collects all native plant observations within that boundary. On the page, you will see the plants categorized by lifeform; if you open Shrubs for instance, you will see all of the shrubs observed at that place.

      If any of the observations of plants have their own photos, these are included first. If there is any left over space, it is filled up with reference photos of the plant. How many photos you see of each plant depends on how wide your browser window is. To see the most photos per plant, make your browser window take up the whole screen.

CNPLX provides a self-service way for native plant nurseries to make the plants they sell known to the public.

If you work for a native plant nursery, here are a few details about how to utilize this free service:

  • The public wants to know what plants you sell, and CNPLX can help tell them. The easiest way to create and maintain a listing on CNPLX is to put a list of the plants you sell on a single web page, and then either make a contributor account yourself (below), or just write to the editor about it.

  • The plants on your web page can be scanned periodically by CNPLX. This greatly reduces the work that needs to be done when your list changes. (Ideally you only need to maintain the list in one place.) Or, you can edit the listing for your nursery, and paste in a new list of plants whenever it changes.

  • For each plant on your list, a link to your nursery website will appear on the corresponding CNPLX PLANT INFORMATION page (for example, Acer macrophyllum). Each plant-specific link will make your nursery's website more visible on the web.

  • To take advantage of the automatic scanning capability, do not put your plant list into a PDF document. PDFs are almost impossible to scan.

  • Potential customers for a particular plant will be referred to your nursery directly from CNPLX, and also through other services such as Calflora or the NRCS eVegGuide.
Contribute a Reference Website

CNPLX is a growing collection.If you know of a nursery or horticultural website that refers to California native plants by scientific name, you can contribute a link to that site. To add a new reference website to CNPLX, first start a session, then create a contributor account with a valid email address (or if you already have a contributor account, log into it).

The contributor account feaure makes it possible for nursery staff to add and maintain their own listings on CNPLX . However, some nursery listings have already been added by the editor. If you work for a nursery that is already listed, and would like to take over the maintenance of the listing, please write to us.

Have those scientific names changed?. Paste in a list of California plant names, and find out if those names have changed recently (and if so, according to whom). Try it here: Nomenclature Analyzer.
CNPLX is mentioned on other websites! Some examples courtesy of Google.
Search Options. The Search Page now has an option to include photos in search results. (Many thanks to CalPhotos for making these photographs available.)

Other useful options on the search page include

  • show plants which are Cal-IPC listed invasive weeds;
  • show plants which are commercially available;
  • show CNPS listed rare plants; and
  • group plants by lifeform, family, or plant community (with an option to collapse all groups when the page first comes up, showing only the number of plants in each group).

Searching for Plants: Fine Points

In a typical search, you enter some criteria, see a list of matching plants, and click on the scientific name to get to the CNPLX plant information page.

At the bottom of the search page, however, there is a field called Name Linked to, which defaults to CNPLX. If you set the value of that field to one of the larger reference websites, such as the Las Pilitas nursery, then -- when you click on the scientific name on the matching page, you will go directly to a page about the plant on the chosen website! Thus you can use CNPLX as a way of organizing access to these other websites.

Output Format. If you want to take the data home and do something else entirely with it, the search page allows you to specify whether you want the results of your query as an HTML page (the usual way), as XML, or as plain text.

Cultivars. Here is a list of known cultivars of California Native Plants, with some information about their origin. (Are there other plants that should be on this list?)

For example, Arctostaphylos 'Emerald Carpet', whose ancestors include Arctostaphylos uva-ursi and Arctostaphylos nummularia.

Automatic Link Insertion. CNPLX will re-write a webpage, inserting a link to either CNPLX or Calflora wherever it finds the scientific name of a relevant species.

You can use this tool to see another webpage through the lense of either Calflora (species information) or CNPLX (availability), clicking directly on a species name instead of copying and pasting. This ability can also be useful if you are responsible for webpages that contain lists of California species, and would like to give users a direct link to either Calflora or CNPLX.


To use the tool, start here: Insert Links into a Webpage.

To see exactly which plant names are found in a document and why, try the Nomenclature Analyzer.

What plants grow with ...? On the information page for any plant, there is a link to the Plants that Grow with page. This page shows what plants statistically coincide with the chosen plant based on any of several factors, including county, Jepson bioregion, Munz plant community, series, wetland status, and observations (from the Calflora Observation Database). You may limit the search results by specifying a particular County, Lifeform, etc.

For instance, on the information page for madrone, Arbutus menziesii, click on the link

For a plant with a wide range like madrone, you will get the most geographically pertinent answer by specifying a particular county.
Inventory Pages. Some nurseries post their current inventory on the internet periodically. CNPLX makes every attempt to scan these inventory pages in a timely fashion. When available, inventory information is reflected on a species detail page (for instance, Vaccinium ovatum).
    Look for the header
  • Inventory page scan date:
    and the date that the page was last scanned next to a particular nursery:
  • 11/15/2011
Webpage/Document Analysis. CNPLX will analyze a webpage (or text pasted from any document) and add all of the relevant species names it finds into a checklist. See the directions on this page: CHECKLIST.
Cultivars. A cultivar is a selection of one wild species, or a hybrid of two or more wild species. On a species detail page, CNPLX now lists cultivars that are common in the nursery trade. For instance, see Arctostaphylos densiflora. (Here is a list of known cultivars of California Native Plants.)

By having both synonyms and cultivars, CNPLX is able to find many more species names (when scanning nusery webpages) than it could when using only Jepson Manual names.

Synonyms. Scientific names do change. Now, when you search for species by scientific name, you will see matching Jepson Manual names in the first table of results, and matching alternate names in the second table of results. Alternate names preceded by * are considered to be current by one or more nomenclature authority.

On a species detail page, you will see any past synonyms or new names articulated in the upper right. Roll the mouse over a name to see where it came from (XWALK, ICPN, PLANTS, or CNPS). Click on Synonyms to see the status of the name from Calflora.

County Profile pages now have several links to the Calflora Map Viewer. One link shows all observations of manzanita species in the county. Several county profile pages also have links to show local location checklists-- for instance, Marin.
How to contribute a listing. Over the last year, several nursery owners have expressed the desire to edit their own listings. CNPLX now has a contributor account system that will make this possible.

How it works. To add a listing to CNPLX, you need a contributor account. First, start a session. On the next page, press the link to make a new contributor account, and enter a valid email address.

    To contribute a listing for your nursery,
      1) start a session,
      2) on the next page, press the link to log into your existing contributor account, and
      3) press the ADD A SITE link.

    To edit the listing for your nursery,
      1) start a session,
      2) on the next page, press the link to log into your existing contributor account,
      3) go to the PROFILE page for your nursery, and
      4) press the EDIT link in the upper right.
If your nursery is listed on CNPLX but you did not add it, please send an email saying that you would like to take over maintenance of that listing, and include the email address you would like to use to edit the listing.
County Profile pages. Each county now has a profile page which shows local sources of native plants and other relevant information, such as the CNPS chapter that covers the county, and Jepson Bioregions. By clicking on the map, you can navigate from county to county throughout the state.

Local location checklists are also included on the county profile page, when available. Location checklists are no longer cross-referenced on species detail pages.

Before, the policy was to only include nurseries that were willing to provide a species list in some form. Now, county profile pages include nurseries which are reputed to grow or sell some natives, even if we have not been able to obtain a species list.

Added Northwest Native Seed in Prundale. Ron Ratko has an amazing list of seeds he has collected from California and other western states.
A testimonial! Greg Greger of Sierra Seed Supply writes:
    Here are our 2004 seed lists. Thank you for listing our seeds... we have received some business in this way.
Sierra Seed Supply offers 149 species, and is apparently the only supplier of 48 species.
Added Circuit Rider Productions (profile) in Windsor. Interesting plants they sell include Ceanothus parryi and Salix laevigata (red willow).
CNPLX is mentioned in the October 2003 issue of Bay Nature, in Leah Messinger's column.
New Feature: From the query page, you can now categorize by series or categorize by plant community With this feature, you can find out which series or plant communities are represented in a list of plants.
Analysis on
CNPLX has data from 57 nurseries that grow or sell California native plants.
44 are within California, 13 are outside.

1938 species are available (as seed or plants) from at least one nursery.

889 species are available from only one nursery.

452 species are available from at least five nurseries.

Added in Freedom (Monterey Bay). SeedHunt is apparently the only source of 18 species, including Eriogonum nudum var. decurrens (Ben Lomond buckwheat).
Using Checklists
The Jughandle State Reserve Ecological Staircase example checklist page is now on the CNPLX site. This is an excerpt from a brochure distributed by California State Parks about the plants growing in this beautiful spot on the coast in Mendocino Co. (There is eco-tourism in California!)

You can make a similar location checklist page like this:
  • define a checklist;
  • run REPORT;
  • save the resulting page as an HTML file; and
  • email the file to your associates or put it on your website.
  • CNPLX checklists are also useful for shopping. I am now in the process of compiling a list of species to be planted in the fall. When I run REPORT on the checklist, it tells me exactly which nurseries carry each species. Armed with the report, I can pick out the most relevant nurseries and plan a shopping trip.

    Added Anderson Valley Nursery in Boonville. They are apparently the only California supplier of Arctostaphylos columbiana.

    Added Appleton Forest Nursery in Sebastopol. This nursery grows trees from locally collected seed, including 7 species of oak. Other interesting plants available here include Angelica tormentosa and Oemleria cerasiformis (oso berry).

    Neither of these nurseries has their own website.

    New feature: click through from Calflora species detail page.
    Added Tree of Life in San Juan Capistrano from their catalog. They have more than 280 species, and for 45 of those they are the only (to the best of our knowledge) provider. (Tree of Life has a beautiful website, but it does not have a list of species that they sell. To find out what they sell you must buy a catalog for $10.)
    Feedback from Calypteanna.
    KK wrote:
      A suggestion: since you are already able to categorize the results by things like soil, perhaps the categories could be added to the query engine; for example, I'd like to query for all Dudleya species that grow well in clay. Also, it would be nice to give some visual highlight to species that are available from some nursery versus those that are not.
    In the Calflora data, species attributes like habitats and soil are incomplete; that is, not all plants that grow well in clay have clay as a value of soil. There is a potential confusion if you looked for plants with clay as a value of soil, and assumed that any plant not on that list would not grow well in clay.
    Feedback from Calypteanna.
    Greg McCann wrote: would be helpful if the search function accepted commonly used alternate names for species. "Mahonia" for "Berberis" for example. I think the powers-that-be (or at least some of them) want us to use "Berberis" instead of "Mahonia", but a Google search turns up twice as many entries for Mahonia aquifolium as for Berberis aquifolium.
    Scientific name changes are a real problem. Calflora deals with this situation by means of Fred Hrusa's synonym table, but it is not publically available. How about if CNPLX automatically redirected a query for scientific name with 0 matches to Calflora's plant names page?
    Version 1.0 released. Announcement to Calypteanna email list.
    Added Pacific Coast Seed in Livermore from their catalog (wholesale only). They have 158 species, and are apparently the only provider for 19 of those.
    Beta version 0.95. Sent email to 20 nurseries asking for comment.
    At the Calflora reorganization meeting in Berkeley, several people requested links to horticultural information and nursery availability information.


    Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)