Plant Guide

Welcome to the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve Plant Guide


The Reserve is home to more than 400 species of plants in nine plant communities. Many rare and sensitive plants are rooted in this region. Continued protection is critical to ensure that future generations can enjoy this Reserve’s incredible biodiversity. We hope this plant guide adds to your experience and deepens your understanding of the Reserve.

Much of the information in this guide is written for the untrained botanist – teachers, docents, students and casual visitors. However we hope the information will be of interest to the botanist as well. To this end, we have included links to more sophisticated botanical resources and information on recent taxonomic changes, as well as references for the information we give.

In addition to plant profiles prepared by the author, Nature Collective volunteer Lea Corkidi developed profiles for common phacelia, Hooker’s evening primrose, and our three species of sea lavender; board member Linda Jones provided much of the material for pride of Madeira and fennel. Wonderful photographs were contributed by Denise Stillinger, Barbara Wallach, Mark Jenne, Margaret Fillius, Doug Gibson, Al Butler, David Checkley, Janie DeCelles, Janine Free, Linda Jones, Tom Manders, Jayne Leslie, George Bredehoft; Kristin Markell, Paul Worthington, Joe DeWolf, Jo Quinn, Jennifer Bright and Herb Knufken; credits for specific images are given on the photo pages.

There is the possibility of errors on this website. These may range from misspellings and typos to malfunctioning links to factual errors and out-of-date information. Please contact us at the address below so that we may make the appropriate corrections. Always, we welcome relevant information on any plant that helps establish its personality and its role in the world.

Thank you for visiting! We hope you learn… 


Elizabeth Venrick and David Varner

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Our sources range from authoritative books and reviewed scientific publications to newspaper articles and blogs.


Find descriptions of terms or words found in within the plant guide.


This web-based plant guide is the result of collaboration by numerous individuals.

San Elijo Lagoon Reserve Plant List

Download the List of documented plants occurring in San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve.