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San Diego Plant Atlas

The San Diego County Plant Atlas project began in 2003 and has increased our knowledge of the flora in San Diego area in ways never imagined. Not only have we added more than 70,000 specimens (and counting) to our collection, but we now have amazing resources available to the general public based on the data from those specimens. This is a volunteer-based project in which members of the public are trained how to collect voucher specimens of native and naturalized plants throughout San Diego County. Over the course of the project, over 300 new county records, 10 new state records, and two new plant taxa have been discovered, all of which account for a considerable increase in the diversity of our local flora.

Some of the numerous ways in which our data is being used include:

  • Distribution (proof of occurrence in given areas)
  • Biogeographic Patterns (trends among plant groups)
  • Species Variability (morphological/phenotypic plasticity)
  • Diversity/Richness (floristic assemblages)
  • Education (online tools)
  • Genetic Data (DNA barcoding, molecular systematics)
  • Improved Taxonomic Understanding (source data for asking/verifying/disputing hypotheses)
  • Climate Change (phenological variation over time)
  • Invasive/Non-native Plant Studies (impacts, naturalized populations)
  • Ecoregion/Habitat Associations (factors causing/limiting distributions)

Tools Available through the Plant Atlas

Some of the most used tools. Be sure to visit the Plant Atlas website to see all the mapping and searching tools available. Start at the home page.


Plant Atlas/Herbarium Database

Users can search the SDNHM Herbarium databases. Plant searches can be done by family, genus, specific epithet, atlas square, locality, and date and the results can be sorted in many different ways. The results of a search can be downloaded to the user’s computer in either MS Excel or MS Word. Each plant on the list can be clicked to start a Google™ image search for that particular plant taxon. Users can search the Plant Atlas database alone, which contains all the specimens collected to date for the project, or only the Herbarium database which contains the historical collection from the 1800s to the present, or both. When searching both, specimens collected as part of the Plant Atlas project, but accessioned into the herbarium, are referenced with their herbarium accession number.

San Diego County Synoptic Collection

This tool allows users to search the database for the plant specimens that represent the synoptic collection for the County. These are the specimens that document the plants that are listed in the San Diego County Checklist of Vascular Plants by Rebman and Simpson. The search produces a list of the specimens that meet the search criteria with and without thumbnails of the scans of the mounted specimens. The thumbnail picture produced in the search is expandable to a higher resolution picture.

Search the Photo Collection

We have a large (more than 10,000 photos) and ever growing photographic database that is searchable. San Diego County specimens can be searched by scientific name, common name, and atlas grid square.

Plant Name Finder

Search the San Diego County Checklist to find a plant name by looking up all or part of a common name, scientific name, or family.


Plant Species on Google Maps

Any number of species can be mapped and overlaid on a map simultaneously. The Atlas Grid system can be turned on for reference and the latitude and longitude will be displayed anywhere that you click on the map.