By Fred Roberts, Rare Plant Botanist
People join CNPS for many different reasons. Some members are there for the field trips, others for gardening advice, some are to learn more about California’s diverse flora. Others are there for rare plant science or conservation. If like me, you are in this last set, you probably know all about the online CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California (Inventory). The Inventory is the official widely recognized list of sensitive California plants along with some information on ecology and general information on distribution.
If you are an expert on San Diego plants, and have been in the game for a while, you will remember when the experts would meet on rare occasions in advance of a new printed edition of the Inventory. The room would be abuzz with rare plant gossip. These were the heady days when you almost couldn’t look anywhere without realizing some species worthy of conservation status had totally been overlooked.
Today, of course, the printed Inventory is a thing of the past and we have an online version. I do miss those rooms full of lively botanists exchanging data. However, there are advantages to the new system. A widerrange of botanists can participate. Updates can be done frequently, many times a year vs. once a decade. You can check out the Inventory right now from the comfort of your phone/iPad/computer. Just type www.cnps.org/cnps/rareplants/inventory into your browser. You can catch the latest news, read up on the history of the Inventory, the status review process, and the ranking system. And of course, you can search the online Inventory for your favorite rare plant.