Plant Encyclopedia

These days you can find a plant dictionary at your finger-tips. There are some terrific internet sites to look up plant photos and types of plants to get an idea of a plant will look like in 3 years and how they might fit in your garden. Here are a few of our favorites. Various searches here let you choose by color, size, taxonomy, name, etc. I find myself using the first four sites all the time and the rest every once in a while. Also, I use these sites for plant identification after a long hike and a 1000 pictures.

  • California Native Plant Link Exchange has a searchable database with photos of California Native Plants. Search their plant encyclopedia by scientific name, common name, county, bio region, elevation, plant community, series, and nativity. This search results feature an electronic checklist that let's you put plants to your checklist, has links to nurseries that sell the plants that you select, has toxicity levels, and lastly has a link once you find plants you want that go with the plant you selected.

  • Calphotos uses a huge plant database collected by UC Berkeley. It has information on California plants. Search by geographic area, plant name, plant community, elevation, life form, and native/non-native. Search returns multiple photos of plants.

  • Calflora has information on wild California plants for conservation, education, and appreciation. Search by area, plant name, plant community, elevation, life form, and native/non-native. Search returns scientific name, common name, plant type, and a photo of the plant.

  • Las Pilitas Nursey has a California native plants searchable database. Search by common name, scientific name, or cultivar. Search returns identification, description, characteristics, a photo, and availability.

  • Probably the best search for Waterwise plants comes from Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation. They have a plant search that includes non-natives, but it let's you search by plant type (tree/bush/annual...), height, color, soil, sun level, bloom season, and returns photos and good descriptions of what makes the plants happy.

  • The Theodore Payne Foundation has a nice native plant library. Each plant has pictures and a very nice description that I have always found to be complete and very useful.

  • Annie's Annuals Nursery has a searchable database with photos, and a browse feature where plants are grouped by color, name, type, a list of favorites, and useful plants. Plant search returns photo, description, water/sun needs, growing zones, availability and the ability to add to a wishlist. The nursery will notify you when the plants you desire are available, if they are not currently.

  • California Academy of Science has an application that let's you search a California wildflower website with photos by color, family name, latin name, or common name.

  • Wikipedia has excellent coverage of some species. Use the search feature to look up plant names and families.

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