What Grows Here – how to use CalFlora’s search

CalFlora’s What Grows Here is a great piece of software that anyone can use. They also have a mobile app, so you can quickly and easily add plants as you observe them in the field, on a hike, or in your own backyard. The more data that gets added, the better the tool becomes for everyone else!

CalFlora – What Grows Here

This is one of our favorite tools to use, especially for an area we might be a bit unfamiliar with. It is actually a pretty powerful tool as well, so here we will just focus on our favorite features:

(Navigate to CalFlora What Grows Here)

How To Select A Specific Area & Use The “Draw A Polygon Feature”

An often overlooked feature, the draw a polygon, or drop a point, feature is fantastic. Most people know about choosing by county or city, but I prefer to draw the area I will be working.

To start, you select the option “I will pick a location on a map”, and then you choose the county you are going to begin. Don’t worry, you can fine-tune this later. Hit “go”


Once on the What Grows Here page, you click the arrow next to “criteria”, and this expands the menu.

From there, click on “Area” to expand down the menu. Then click “draw a polygon”

Hit start drawing, and you can just use your mouse to click points on the map. When done, hit “stop drawing”.

Then hit “Search”, and you will get a list of all the plants found inside what you just drew.


To change the vertices of your polygon you can simply return to the draw polygon area, and hit “edit shape”. You can then drag and re-draw if you need.

You’ll now have a list of plants, sorted by growth form, that you can use to see what is in the area you want to survey.  You can click on any of the plants to get more information, photos, rank, etc.


To get the location of where each species has been found, you follow these steps:

Click the “# of records” for the plant you want.  In this case below for Aliciella ripleyi, you click “11 records”:

To display the points, hit the orange link.  It will display the points as blue dots.  If you want to change the blue dots to something else, click on the icon itself to change the color/shape of the points.

Here you can choose a different style for the points:

Once you hit display, you will see the points on the map.  You can click each point to get more information about the collection, who made it, when, and the error on the GPS location.


Using the Plant Filter

This is another great feature, as it allows you to search by plant status (rank, native or not, etc).  Just remember to hit search after you choose your fields.

Search by Family or Genus

Yet another feature I use all the time, you can search by family or genus, to narrow down the list.  Just type in “Monardella” or “Eriogonum”, or even “Malperia”, and then hit search.

As you start typing, you will see the list starts to narrow down and auto-fill with suggestions for you.  You can type as little or as much as you would like


The Fast Google Search

The last, and maybe fastest way, to use CalFlora, should you just want to do a quick spelling check, is to search google “Calflora + Monardella vinimea” and it will bring you right to that page at the top of the search.  Try it with “CalFlora + Artemisia californica” or Eriastrum, and so on.