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Identifying the Mystery Plant

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The Trail Companion

Spring 2000

Theme: San Francisco Bay Area Wildflowers

Identifying the Mystery Plant
An Annotated Guide to Wildflower and Plant Guides for the Bay Area and Beyond



The rest of the books on the list are perhaps more useful as references than as field guides.

Keator, Glenn, PhD., Plants of the East Bay Parks, Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, Roberts Rinehart Publishers, Inc., Niwot, CO, 1994.
This book is nice because it covers trees, shrubs, and flowers, and because it provides more information about the plants than the other field guides. It's a bit bulky for trail use.

The two books below are floras, lists of the plants found in a particular area, rather than guides to plant identification. They include useful information on geology and geography, as well as descriptions of the plant communities.
Sharsmith, Helen K., Flora of the Mount Hamilton Range of California, California Native Plant Society, Berkeley, CA, 1982.
McClintock, Elizabeth, Paul Reeberg, and Walter Knight, A Flora of the San Bruno Mountains, California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA, 1990.

The next two books were Christmas presents, and I haven't had a real chance to use them:
Thomas, John Hunter, Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California: A Manual of the Vascular Plants, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 1961.
Nicely local, although well out-of-date for scientific names of plants (and also for some common names). Quirky organization, but generally useful, with information on geology, geography, plant communities, and an index of place names. Also small enough to toss in a daypack.

Hickman, James C., editor, The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1993.
This book is so big and comprehensive that it will intimidate the casual wildflower fan - it certainly scares me. It covers everything that is native or naturalized in California, from ferns to redwood trees, and from orchids to bunch grasses. Way too big to carry on the trail.

Finally, a couple of books about the natural history of California:
Bakker, Elna, An Island Called California: An Ecological Introduction to Its Natural Communities, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1971.
This book is a classic. It takes you on a tour of the state, from the seashore to the mountains, and from the rivers to the deserts. Everyone who moves into California should be given a copy of this book at the border bug station.

Schoenherr, Allan A., A Natural History of California, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1994.
I've used this book as a reference, to learn more about an area I was traveling to. More detailed, but not as readable as the Bakker book.

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Six Sure-Fire Wildflower Hikes
A Few More Flower Tips
Wildflower and Plant Guides - Web and Electronic Resources

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