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Books and Media

Floras and Checklists

Felger, Richard S. "Flora of the Gran Desierto and Rio Colorado Delta." University of Arizona Press. 2001

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.

Baldwin, Bruce G. et al. (eds.) "The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California.University of Calfornia Press. 2012.
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.

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.

Shreve, Forrest and Ira L.Wiggins. "Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert." Stanford University Press. 1975.

Turner, Raymond M., Janice Emily Bowers, and Tony L. Burgess. "Sonoran Desert Plants: An Ecological Atlas." University of Arizona Press. 2005. 

Wiggins, Ira L. "Flora of Baja California." Stanford University Press. 1980.

Field Guides

Dale, Nancy. "Flowering Plants of the Santa Monica Mountains.Capra Press. 1986 
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

Felger, Richard S., Matthew Brian Johnson and Francis Wilson. "The Trees of Sonora, Mexico." Oxford University Press. 2001.

Fillius, Margaret L. "Native Plants Torrey Pines State Reserve and Nearby San Diego County Locations, 3rd Edition." Fillius Interests. 2010.
Covers 300 species of California native plants from the San Diego area. Multiple photographs and scans of each species for different aspects. Color index. Index by common and scientific name.  

Stephen Ingram. "Cacti, Agaves and Yuccas of California and Nevada." Cachuma Press. 2008

Jaeger, Edmund C.Desert WildflowersStanford University Press (1941) PaperbackThough 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.

Lightner, James. "San Diego County Native Plants; 3rd Edition."  San Diego Flora. 2011
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 Store

Roberts, Norman C. "Baja California Plant Field Guide." Natural History Publishing Co. 1989
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.

Spellenberg, Richard. "Sonoran Desert Wildflowers: A Field Guide to the Common Wildflowers of the Sonoran Desert. Including Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Saguaro National Park, Organ Pipe National Monument, Ironwood Forest National Monument and the Sonoran Portion of Joshua Tree National Park." Falcon. 2002

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.  
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).

Benson, Lyman. "The Cacti of the United States and Canada." Stanford University Press. 1983

Benson, Lyman. "The Native Cacti of California." Stanford University Press. 1988

Mabberley, D. J. "The Plant Book." Cambridge University Press. 3rd edition, 2008 
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!

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

Simpson, Michael G. "Plant Systematics." Second Edition. Academic Press. 2010