Finding your plant

•     If you know the name (common or scientific) of the plant you are looking for, go to the index, which is divided into several parts.  Notice that trees, ferns and belly flowers have their own sections.  Select the part that fits your search, then click on the name to go to the page that covers that plant and its close relatives.  

•     If you do not know the name, go to the “Search by Color” menu, and select the page that most closely matches the flower color.  Find the closest match, then click on the photo.  This takes you to the page that includes that plant, plus its close relatives.  If the plant is extremely small, check the “belly flowers” section.

•     Click the back button on your browser to return to the search page.

The search pages are organized by family (in alphabetical order of the family’s scientific name) and then by genus (in alphabetical order of the genus’ scientific name).  In this way, similar flowers are shown close to each other.  The main plant pages cover closely related plants, so that finding a reasonably close match in the Search by Color pages should get you to the right page.

Color can be tricky. Pink merges imperceptibly into lavender and pinkish-purple which in turn merges imperceptibly into bluish-purple and then blue. Deciding where to put flowers that fall into the pinkish-purple to bluish-purple part of the spectrum is unavoidably subjective. In some cases flowers with slightly differing colors are kept together so as to keep closely related plants on the same search page.  If in doubt, look on both the blue and pink search pages.  The main plant pages generally cover several closely related plants so that finding a reasonably close match in the Search by Color pages should get you to the right page.

Devices: this site is designed for a large screen, and works well with laptops and tablets (landscape orientation).  Cell phone users can access this site best in portrait mode, although some features are disabled to allow for the smaller screen size.

Common Names

The common names used on this site largely follow those used in Matthews & Mitchell’s The Plants of Monterey County – an Illustrated Field Key and Yeager & Mitchell’s Monterey County Wildflowers – a Field Guide.  While other common names are certainly used for many of the plants, it is hoped that consistency in usage will reduce ambiguity.  Although ambiguity may be creative in certain situations, this is not one of them.

Flower Sizes

The individual flower pages give an indication of the size of the flower.  These can only be a rough guide as individual flowers vary in size, even on the same plant. The key used is as follows, the diameter for individual flowers, the height or length for clusters:

  • Very small   < ¼ inch  /  6.25 mm
  • Small             ¼ – ½ inch  /  6.25 –12.5 mm
  • Medium        ½–  1 inch   /  12.5 – 25 mm
  • Large             > 1 inch  /  25 mm
  • Small cluster     < 2 inches  /  5 cm
  • Medium cluster 2 – 4 inches  /  5 –  10 cm
  • Large cluster      > 4 inches  /  10 cm
Habitat and bloom time

Most plants have a clear preference for a particular kind of habitat.  Like people, some are choosier than others.  For each plant, we describe the kind of habitat where it may be found.  Some like it dry, others like it damp, some like sandy soil, coastal or otherwise, some like heavy clay, some even prefer serpentine.  Of course, a plant will not always be found even where the conditions are right.  However, it is unlikely to be found unless the conditions are right. 

Similarly, bloom times listed for each plant are a guide for Monterey county, but not an exact depiction.  Conditions of sun, moisture and temperature will alter the timing.  When very near the coast, the months shown become less reliable.  

Rare & Endangered Plants

Where a plant is on the CNPS Rare & Endangered Plant Inventory, it is given a ranking.  This has 2 elements, the first representing the degree of rarity or endangerment and the second representing the degree of threat.

Rare Plant Ranks

1a – Plants presumed extirpated in California; rare or extinct elsewhere

1b – Plants rare, threatened or endangered in California and elsewhere

2a – Plants presumed extirpated in California; more common elsewhere

2b – Plants rare, threatened or endangered in California; more common elsewhere

3   – Review List, more information needed

4   – Watch list; plants of limited distribution