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California Plant Families: West of the Sierran Crest and Deserts

Articles: California Plant Families: West of the Sierran Crest and Deserts

Glenn Keator, a knowledgeable advocate for the use of California natives in gardens, has written several books of value on the subject. In his latest, Keator notes that California has about 172 native and naturalized vascular plant families. (There are, of course, many more plant families present within the state, because of the seemingly endless stream of plants imported from other regions of the world.)

Keator focuses on the plant families found within the California Floristic Province, which includes the coastal region from southwestern Oregon to northwestern Baja California, plus California’s Central Valley. He targets fifty families that represent more than eighty-five percent of California’s flora, and another twenty families that help to define the state’s vegetation. He includes several desert families, such as Cactaceae and Crassulaceae, but defers to other references for detailed information on them.

The Introduction provides an overview of the book and timely comments on the ongoing revision of botanical names, due to advances in DNA analysis. The Key to California Plant Families uses a plant’s physical characteristics to identify its family. Once the key points yo...

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