Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Flower Finder

(Long version: with usage notes)

[ Flower Finder - Compact version (no usage notes) ]

[ Pre-Prepared Searches ]

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Create a flower search by clicking one of the radio buttons in each of the seven different plant characteristics.
Once you have made your choices click the "Submit Search" button.

What color is the flower?

Doesn't matter (select all).
Flowers that can bloom in more than one color will appear in the search results for each of the their possible colors (although this site may not have pictures that show all of these possibilities.) This can lead to a picture of a yellow flower showing up with the search results for the white flowers. This is by design and is not an error. Similarly, a deliberate overlap in the color designations means both the Red search and the Blue search will show flowers with the intermediate color of purple. Some additional comments about color can be found here.

In each case the "Doesn't matter" choice means that this particular characteristic will not be used in the search. For example, in the color characteristic the "Doesn't matter" choice means that flowers of all colors will be included in the search results. Choose this if you don't know or don't care about the characteristic.

What size is the flower?

Doesn't matter (select all).
Small (less than about 1/4 inch.)
Medium (less than about 3/4 inch.)
Large (greater than 3/4 inch.)
These size groupings are approximate with flowers near the borderlines being included in both size groups for the purpose of the search. For the purpose of this search consider the head of a member of the sunflower family a single flower (more about this.)

Is the flower solitary or clustered ?

Doesn't matter (select both).
Flowers are solitary.
Flowers appear in clusters.
Is the flower on a stalk of its own or is it part of a larger grouping of flowers. It is often easier to correctly determine that a plant has clusters of flowers than solitary flowers. Be cautious when choosing the solitary characteristic since a plant normally displaying clusters may appear solitary if only one flower of the cluster is currently blooming. In many cases where there might be confusion we have set the plant to appear in the results for both types of search.

For the purpose of this search consider the head of a member of the sunflower family a single flower rather than a cluster (more about this.)

Is the flower simply or oddly shaped?

Doesn't matter (select both).
Flowers are simply shaped.
Flowers are oddly shaped.
Here we define simply shaped to mean the flower has a rotational symmetry. This describes flowers with an over-all shape which is round, wheel, tubular, urn, cup, or bell like.

Here we define oddly shaped to mean the flower has a mirror symmetry or no obvious symmetry at all.

Some flowers may look superficially simple but a closer examination would reveal that they actually have a mirror symmetry rather than a rotational symmetry. These borderline cases will appear in the results for both types of search. For the purpose of this search consider the head of a member of the sunflower family a single flower (more about this.)

Show me some examples of this

Is the plant woody or herbaceous?

Doesn't matter (select both).
The plants are herbaceous.
The plants are woody.
The woody plants are trees, shrubs, and some vines. Woody plants are always perennial. A herbaceous plant does not produce woody, persistent tissue and generally dies back at the end of each growing season. Annual plants are always herbaceous. However, herbaceous plants can be either perennial or annual. The first year's growth of a woody plant is often herbaceous.

Is the plant native or non-native?

Doesn't matter (select both).
It is unlikely you will know if a flower is a native or non-native unless you are already familiar with it. Choose "Doesn't matter" if you don't know.

What season does it typically bloom?

Doesn't matter (select all).
Early Spring.
Late Spring.
In Southern California I tend to think of a year as broken into five general overlapping blooming seasons. They are:
Early Spring:
Late Spring:
January to February
February to May
May to July
July to November
November to January
These “Seasons” should be thought of as vague guidelines rather than precise definitions of blooming times. There are many reasons for this vagueness. The dates of a blooming season can shift greatly from year to year depending on weather patterns. Plant habitat plays a big role in determining the time blooming as well. For example, a plant growing on an exposed south face generally begins blooming and finishes much earlier than the same plant growing on a shaded north face. Indeed, plants growing in a riparian area with a dependable water source may bloom year round. If conditions are correct some plants may experience a second blooming season later in the year. Many plants bloom for a relatively brief period of time and consequently one should not expect any given species to be blooming throughout the duration of the season in which it is listed. Finally, we often do not have reliable data about the typical flowering season here in the Santa Monica Mountains. In many cases I have consulted multiple conflicting sources and in the end made an informed best guess of a “typical” blooming season.

The philosophy I have employed here it to be restrictive rather than be expansive in defining the typical blooming season. For example, a plant that generally blooms from May to July I have listed as blooming in Late Spring and have not listed it as blooming in Summer, even though July is also a summer month. Therefore, one needs to keep in mind that any “Late Spring” flower might well be found blooming in early Summer, especially during a cool wet year.

It can be quite slow to open a search result with many plants on it.
The default choice of "Doesn't matter" for all search criteria will match all of the plants on this site and will generate a web page that has over seven hundred pictures on it.

If nothing happens when you click the "Submit Search" button it may be necessary for you to enable JavaScript in your browser.

Note: Firefox seems to display massive web pages with many pictures significantly faster than Internet Explorer (although it can not speed up the downloading of such pages.)

Links to some special Pre-Prepared Searches not available above

Recent Additions



Invasive Weeds

Rare Plants
- The newest plants added during the most recent update cycle.
- Plants added in the last few months.

- Entries from ANF that as yet we have no pictures for.
   (That is, plants we are still looking for. Let us know if you see them.)

- The Grasses (that is, members of family Poaceae).
- The Ferns and related spore-producing plants.

- Problem plants identified for the area (a short list of the worst offenders.)

- Plants of concern, generally those with a CNPS California Rare Plant Rank.

Quick Links to a few of the searches

(in case JavaScript is not enabled in your browser)

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