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Regional Botany Books

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Recommended Books: Botany

Floras and Checklists | Field Guides | Reference

Floras and Checklists

Gould, Frank W. and Reid Moran.
Grasses of Baja California, Mexico
San Diego Society of Natural History Memoir 12 (1981)
Well illustrated, with excellent keys to grasses, this book is a usful tool north of the border, also.
San Diego Natural History Museum publication

Hickman, James C., ed.
The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California
University of Calfornia Press (1993) Hardcover - 1400 pages
This is the current standard reference book for native and naturalized plants of California, essential for anyone who is serious about identifying plants in this region.
Available from

Shreve, Forrest and Ira L.Wiggins
Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert
Stanford University Press (1975) Hardcover
Available from

Rebman, Jon P., and Simpson, Michael G.
Checklist of the Vascular Plants of San Diego County, 4th edition
San Diego Natural History Museum (2006)
Fully vouchered checklist updated with over 100 additions since previous edition.
Available from the Museum

Wiggins, Ira L.
Flora of Baja California
Stanford University Press (1980) Hardcover
The standard work for the peninsula, this flora is in serious need of revision. Several hundred species are known for Baja California which are not found in this book. Still, it is the only attempt thus far at conquering the vast and varied inventory of plants for this region.
Available from


Field Guides

Dale, Nancy
Flowering Plants of the Santa Monica Mountains
Capra Press (1986) Paperback
While written as a guide to a portion of the transverse ranges north of Los Angeles, the author's selection of many widespread species as subjects for treatment make her book useful in any of the low mountain and foothill areas of southern California. With excellent color photos, discussion of folklore, plant uses, origin of names, this book is a good choice for beginners wishing to learn our wildflowers. Our Canyoneers use this as their main field guide on their hikes.
Available from

Jaeger, Edmund C.
Desert Wildflowers
Stanford University Press (1941) Paperback
Though so old that the plant names used in this book often can no longer be found in newer works, this is still the best and friendliest guide to the plants of the desert. Packed with stories and descriptions that give you just exactly the feature that you'll remember each plant by for the rest of your life.
Available from

Lightner, James
San Diego County Native Plants
San Diego Flora (2006)
Full-color photos of plants from coast to desert show detail, habit, and habitat of San Diego County's plants. An excellent introduction to San Diego's flora.
Available from the Museum

Roberts, Norman C.
Baja California Plant Field Guide
Natural History Publishing Co. (1989) Paperback
Full-color photos and engaging discussions of each species; key to families and essays on geology and phytogeography of the peninsula. A good introduction to the conspicuous plants of the peninsula for visitors of all kinds.
Available from

Wildflower Brochures
There are several fine, full-color brochures with photos of the conspicuous plants of our region, excellent to have along in your pocket or glove compartment when visiting these parks (each is published by a support organization for the individual park):      Wildflowers of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
     Wildflowers of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
     Shrubs of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
     Flowering Plants of Torrey Pines State Reserve
     Flowering Plants of Mission Trails Regional Park
     Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary and Nature Education Center
For vernal pools: Wild by Nature, published by Tecolote Publications, photos by Kathryn Wild and NAS Miramar Natural Resources Department



Arora, David
Mushrooms Demystified: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fleshy Fungi
Ten Speed Press (1986) Paperback
The essential reference for identification of fungi in western North America. Well-illustrated and often humorous, it's delightful to use (though the keys can be frustratingly long).
Available from

Benson, Lyman
The Cacti of the United States and Canada
Stanford University Press (1983) Hardcover - 1044 pages
Available from

Benson, Lyman
The Native Cacti of California
Stanford University Press (1988) Paperback
Available from

California Native Plant Society
Inventory of Rare and Endangered Vascular Plants of California
California Native Plant Society special publication No. 1, 5th edition (1994)
Available from

[The Plant Book] Mabberley, D. J.
The Plant Book
Cambridge University Press (2nd edition, 1997) Hardcover - 800 pages
This is the reference which gives us answers to half the questions that we get in the botany department. For each genus, it tells what family it belongs to. For each family, it gives identifying characteristics, as well as discussions of important or interesting members. It lists common names, odd and interesting facts about various plants. We use this book every day!
Available from

Sawyer, John O. and Todd Keeler-Wolf
A Manual of California Vegetation
California Native Plant Society (1995) Paperback
The most recent and complete work on the plant communities of California.
Available from

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