Physical care of the collection and updating of identifications and taxonomy are perpetual tasks in the department. In order to improve access to the information our collection holds, we continue to work on getting it into computer-usable form. All San Diego County and Baja California specimens are completely databased while staff and volunteers continue to database the remainder of the collection. In order to provide mapping tools, specimens must have a latitude and longitude included in the data. All specimens that come in the door through the Plant Atlas project already have a locality description and latitude and longitude in the data. Many of the historic specimens only have a written locality description, and we are working hard to georeference historic specimens from San Diego County and Baja California. In order to increase the potential use of our collections, the SD Herbarium of the Botany Department is a participant in the Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH) and organizer/home of the Baja California Botanical Consortium (BCBC).

The Botany Department is responsible for the creation of the San Diego County Plant Atlas Project and the BajaFlora project. Both of these projects, unique in their own way, have led to an increase in our knowledge base in both of these regions and have resulted in numerous tools that are available to the public. One of these tools, the Checklist of the Vascular Plants of San Diego County, continues to be updated online.

San Diego County Plant Atlas Project

From the time this project began in 2002 to the present, the department’s hundreds of volunteer parabotanists have collected plant vouchers across the county to scientifically document its floristic diversity. As a result of our growing collection combined with data from our historic collections, we can offer numerous resources to the public on our website. Useful for land management, scientific, conservation and educational purposes, the website offers mapping, database searches, photographic images and digital scans.


The BajaFlora project brings together the available floristic data on the plants of the Baja peninsula, Mexico. The data is presented in narrative, photographic, and geographic (mapping) forms. Dr. Jon Rebman, Curator of Botany, has begun work on major efforts to document the plants of the two states of Baja California. As part of his research, he has updated, expanded and completely rewritten the 1989 book by Norman Roberts, Baja California Plant Field guide, to be published in early 2012.

Checklist of the Vascular Plants of San Diego County

As our knowledge of the county grows, we continue to update the Checklist of the Vascular Plants of San Diego County (here referred to as simply the “Checklist”). Currently in print, the fourth edition of the Checklist catalogs all native and naturalized vascular plants known to occur in San Diego County, California, U.S.A. (Note that "naturalized" refers to non-native plants that grow, persist, and reproduce in natural, non-cultivated habitats.) This online version also incorporates updates, corrections, and additions made since the publication of the print version. A list of these corrections is included as an appendix on this site.


The algae collection at the SD Herbarium contains approximately 5000 specimens representing 1500-2000 species. The vast majority of the collection comes from 1880-1960. These early collections include a fair number of early specimens from Daniel Cleveland's collection, and there is even a species named after Cleveland (Ozophora clevelandii). About half of the museum's collection is composed of the Scripps algae collection which was donated to the museum in the 1990s. Work is now underway to database the entire algal collection. We have already databased the San Diego specimens and created an online Synoptic Collection with scans of the representative species.

Climate Change

The Museum’s Botany Department was awarded a grant from the Blasker Rose-Miah Fund of the San Diego Foundation to conduct local climate-change research using botanical data. Specifically, the research focused on studying the flowering time of historic herbarium specimens to determine indicator species that may show a measurable response to changes in the local climate.