Each plant description starts with a brief overview and then describes the plant in detail, focusing on various aspects. The different icons represent the various aspects.
From a Plant or Photo Page, a click on any of the icons will open the description window on the left side of the screen and position the text to the corresponding section.
The opening paragraph gives a general description of the plant, its size, and any special characteristics.
The leaf characteristics described here are shape, color, size, surface texture, hairiness, and smell. It may also describe how foliage changes through the seasons or throughout the life of the plant.
Stems and Leaves
Some plants have sections that describe the stems, trunk, or bark, in addition to the leaves.
Trunk and Needles
For conifers, such as pines, you see information about the trunk and the needles (leaves).
All of the flowering plants have descriptions of the flowers and the inflorescence, and when they are in bloom. The individual flower parts are also described if they are visible.
We briefly describe the type and appearance of the fruits, such as cherries, acorns, pea pods, grass grains, and sunflower seeds.
Conifers do not have flowers or fruits. The reproductive function is provided by the cones. This section has descriptions of both male and female cones.
Ferns do not have flowers or fruits, either. This section describes the fronds (leaves) and the reproductive parts, called sporangia.
This section describes the plant communities, the terrain, and the elevations where a plant can be found.
This section describes in what geographic regions the plant is found. The button at the beginning of the section takes you to a map of California that highlights those regions.
Individual geographic regions in California can also be viewed on a map by clicking on their names in the text.
Here, we indicate what related species also grow in the San Gabriel Mountains, including species not covered by this interpretive guide. We often describe how to distinguish those related species from one another.
Sometimes, unrelated but similar-looking plants can cause confusion. In that case, we discuss the differences in a Similar Species section.
In the Garden
Many of the plants can be used quite nicely in a native plant garden. This section describes briefly how the plant may fit into your garden,
and lists some basic information:
what the sun requirements are,
what the summer water needs are,
if it has specific soil requirements, and
whether it can be used under oak trees.
For more garden information, please see Gardening with Natives.
For Birds and
If you are interested in attracting birds or butterflies to your garden, or if you want to find out about how certain birds and butterflies use the plants, these sections will be helpful.
We have included information on how the plants respond to fires and whether they contribute to the spread and after-effects of fire, where we had such data available. For more information about this section, please see Effects of Fire.
About the Names
The Names icon will take you to the Name Changes and the Meaning of the Name sections.
The botanical names of some plants, or in some cases their family relationships, have changed over the years, in response to new scientific understanding. As a result, the names in this interpretive guide may be different from some older references. In this section, we indicate the name changes that have taken place in the last 30 years or so.
Meaning of the Name
To help you understand the botanical names and remember them more easily, the final section under this icon indicates the meanings of the names, based on their (usually) Latin or Greek roots.
New Name Changes
Name changes that occurred since the publication of the Jepson Manual (1993), or changes that are expected in the near future, are mentioned here.
The Meaning of the Name information follows in the last section.