Bay Nature magazineFall 2002


Book Review: Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California

October 1, 2002

by the Rare Plant Scientific Advisory Committee; David P. Tibor, Convening Editor

California Native Plant Society, 2001

388 pages, $29.95

According to the California Native Plant Society (CNPS), approximately 6,300 native flowering plants, ferns and allies, and gymnosperms grace California, along with about 750 mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. This is more than found in the northeastern U.S. and Canada combined, an area 10 times the size of California. More than a third of these natives are endemics—that is, restricted to a particular California location or habitat. Consequently, we have a “special responsibility—protecting a large number of species that occur nowhere else in the world.” The sheer size of this volume—weighing in at three pounds—illustrates the challenge. The book profiles each plant, giving details on blooming period, habitat, life form, distribution, category of conservation concern, etc. A sobering chapter uses statistics to compare this edition’s findings with those of five earlier versions (1974 through 1994), tracing both the increasing botanical understanding of California natives and the sharp acceleration of native plant declines. In this 2001 edition, CNPS finds that “16 percent of California’s natives are either exceedingly rare or seriously endangered.”

About the Author