Native plant identification key for the
The purpose of this key is to provide a relatively easy way to key out native
plant species on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Palos Verdes Peninsula, California
To use the key, identify the basic life-form or life-habit of the plant you're
interested in and click that link below. Once you are on its web page, you
will be provided choices describing very basic attributes of the plant, such
as its size, the shape and arrangement of its leaves, leaf color, and perhaps
scent or whether it retains flower clusters all year round (even dried-up).
In some cases, you may be provided with half a dozen choices: Be sure to read
all of them and choose the one that seems best to describe your specimen.
Hopefully, you should be able to identify your plant without too many
decisions. Once you think you have a plausible choice, you can then click on
that species' name to get a much more detailed description of the plant to
help you affirm or reject your identification. The species' web page also
contains links to its Calflora taxon report, photographs in the Calphotos
archive, and to the detailed description of the species, genus, and family in
the Jepson Manual.
If you cannot make a positive identification, go back and try another choice
from the list. If you still cannot make an identification, it is possible
that you are looking at an introduced exotic species, perhaps an escapee from
someone's garden or an invasive species (such as black mustard, fennel, ice
plant, red-eyed wattle acacia, Peruvian pepper tree, or Aleppo pine or many,
many others). This key only contains species native to the Palos Verdes
Succulents: Plants with fleshy, often
liquid-saturated leaves and/or stems. These features can be found in a
variety of life forms, including annual herbaceous plants, vines, shrubs, and
trees, as well as cacti.
Trees: Woody plants usually with one
(rarely two) main stems or trunks, with branching off from this. With strong
and centralized wood support, trees can attain much larger size than any other
life-form, though some trees can be smaller than some shrubs.
Shrubs: Woody plants with several stems
branching off from their bases or very close to them. Without strong and
centralized trunks, shrubs rarely can get taller than 5 or 6 m. Some smaller
shrubs, called subshrubs, are woody only in the lower parts of their stems,
the upper parts being herbaceous and soft.
Vines: Plants with a climbing or
trailing habit, often with twining tendrils to help them clasp other plants or
objects. Vines can be woody: These are sometimes called lianas. They can
also be herbaceous, even annual.
Herbaceous plants: Plants that do not produce wood and, so, are
relatively soft and tender. Lacking the mechanical support of wood, they
can't grow too tall. Graminoids (grasses, sedges, and rushes) are mostly
herbaceous plants with linear, parallel-veined leaves that form sheaths
("stems") and then diverge as blades. Flowering herbs with broad leaves
(non-graminoid) are called forbs. Non-flowering herbs that reproduce with
spores not seeds are ferns. This section of the key is not yet complete.
Estimated time for completion: Summer 2012.
First placed on web: 07/29/11
Last revised: 08/10/11
Christine M. Rodrigue, Ph.D., Department of Geography, California State
Long Beach, CA 90840-1101
The development of this key was partially funded through the Geoscience
Diversity Enhancement Program (Award #0703798) and through a course of
re-assigned time provided by the CSULB Scholarly and Creative Activities
Committee. Thanks also to the students in sections of biogeography,
introductory physical geography, GDEP, and LSAMP for "test-driving" various
editions of this key.