The Monterey Peninsula has remarkable geographic diversity, ranging from coastal dunes and scrub through valley grassland, coniferous, oak and mixed woodland to chaparral and mountains. This geographic diversity is reflected in the variety of habitats and plant communities. Monterey County is home to over 2,000 species of plants; close on one-third of all of the plant species to be found in California as a whole.
In this website, the term "Monterey Peninsula" is used to cover not only the immediate peninsula but the whole area within about 15 miles of the city of Monterey with occasional forays deeper into Carmel Valley.
This website is designed as a guide to the wildflowers, shrubs and trees to be found in Monterey County. A guide such as this can never be complete but it covers over 900 species and should include all the plants that are most likely to be encountered in Monterey County.
Comments and Corrections
The identification of plants can pose challenges even for the professional botanist, let alone the enthusiastic amateur.
The authors welcome comments or corrections or any suggestions for improving this website. Click here to send an email.
Wildflowers of Garland Ranch - a Field Guide by Michael Mitchell & Rod M Yeager, MD
Wildflowers of Point Lobos State Reserve by Art Muto
An Illustrated Field Key to the Flowering Plants of Monterey County by Mary Ann Matthews
The Jepson Manual, 2nd edition 2012 ed. Bruce G. Baldwin et al
Michael Mitchell is one of the authors of various field guides (published and unpublished) to wildflowers and trees to be found in the various parks managed by the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District. An English lawyer by training and profession, he has retired to the Monterey Peninsula and discovered the joys of its extraordinarily rich flora and fauna. He is a volunteer naturalist with the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District.
Rod Yeager; is the author or co-author of eleven photographic guides to wildflowers of different parts of the Monterey Peninsula as well as a website of the wildflowers of Monterey County (rodyeager.com). A native of Louisiana, he practiced as a cardiovascular surgeon in Shreveport, LA until retirement when he moved to Pebble Beach and began hiking and photographing the flora of Monterey County.
How to use this site:
If you know the name of the plant (common or scientific), search the index and click on the name to find the page devoted to that plant; OR
Go to the page which most closely matches the color (or category) of plant and find the closest match. Click on the name in the list on the right to go to the page devoted to that plant. *
* The individual plant pages normally cover several plants, either related plants or plants that can easily be mistaken for one another. Finding a reasonably close match in the color-coded pages is therefore likely to lead you to the page you need. Double-clicking a picture on the thumbnail pages will NOT take you to the page dealing with the plant in question. You need to double-click the name on the right hand side of the page.
The three letters preceding the name of the plant (shown when you hover your cursor over a particular picture in the thumbnail pages) indicates the family of the plant. Both the photographs and the list are organized by families.
NOTE on BROWSERS - This website was built on a Mac using Google Chrome. It displays better on Google Chrome and may also run faster as well.
The individual flower pages give an indication of the size of the flower. These can only be a guide as individual flowers vary in size, even on the same plant. The key used is as follows:
Very small< 1/4 inch (6.25 mm) in diameter
Small1/4 - 1/2 inch (6.25-12.5 mm) in diameter
Medium1/2 - 1 inch (12.5-25 mm) in diameter
Large> 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter
Where flowers appear in clusters, an approximate size for the cluster is given:
Small cluster< 2 inches (5 cm) in height or length
Medium cluster 2 - 4 inches (5-10 cm) in height or length
Large cluster> 4 inches (10 cm) in height or length
Some of the photographs include a little finger to provide scale. The widest point of the fingernail is precisely 1 cm across.
The locations listed on the individual flower pages are places where one of the authors has seen and photographed the plants or where they know that it has been seen. In most cases the plant, especially the more common ones, will almost certainly be found in other places. Most of the locations will be self-explanatory.
The term "Monterey Dunes" has been used to cover the area immediately adjacent to the coast from Carmel northwards to Marina Dunes. In many cases a particular plant will be found in more than one location, especially from Pebble Beach through Spanish Bay and Asilomar up to Pacific Grove. Where a plant has been found only in one or two specific locations, this has been identified using the following abbreviations:
17:17 Mile Drive (Pebble Beach & Spanish Bay)
A:Asilomar (from Spanish Bay to Pacific Grove)
NPS: The area adjacent to the Naval Postgraduate School up to Sand City
ED:Eolian Dunes (by Sand City)
The term "Big Sur" includes Andrew Molera State Park but does not include anything further south although a few plants are included from more southerly locations.
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