David Magney's Flora of Ventura County

Botanical Collecting History


The Botanical Collecting History is a study of who collected plants, and when, in Ventura County.   This page discusses the the collecting history of vascular plants within the geographic boundaries of Ventura County, California.

The Chumash and the Oak Grove People/Milling Stone Culture were the first humans to notice and pay attention to what plants where growing in Ventura County.   However, the early human cultures did not approach floristics or the study of botany in the same way scientists do now.   Their knowledge was gathered and passed on to subsequent generations verbally.   Most of that knowledge has been lost, which is a shame.

European scientists, through the work of Carl Linnaeus, developed a nomenclatural system of nameing plants, in Latin, so that other scientists would know what the other person was talking about.   This nomenclatural system evolved over the years and an International Code of Botanical Nomenclature was established, which is periodically updated.   Basically, this Code provides the ground rules as to how a name is applied to a taxon, requiring that the name of each species of plant have three parts, a genus, a species, and the author (person or persons who formally described the species), known as a binomial (two names) or scientific name.   Fritillaria ojaiensis A. Davidson is an example of a binomial botanical name.   Subspecies and varieties have a third name attached after the species name, and is referred to as a trinomial.   Astragalus pycnostachyus var. lanosissimus (Rydb.) Munz is an example of a trinomial.   The author's name in parenthises indicates that the name has been revised for some reason, with Philip Munz renaming it.

Before European scientists arrived in California, botanical names had not been assigned, as they had not been formally (scientifically) described for all those species occurring only in California.   Some of the California and West Coast species where collected and subsequently described as early as the 1700s, but the first actual plants to be collected from Ventura County did not occur until 1861 when William H. Brewer conducted his survey of California.   Brewer started collecting plants in Ventura County in March of 1861.   His collections included:   Cryptantha muricata, Galium porrigens var. porrigens, Isomera arborea, Plantago erecta, Plantago insularis, Umbellularia californica, and Urtica urens.

Botanists have visited, and collected from, Ventura County since the late 1800s after Brewer.   Extensive collecting was performed in the 1890s by the Dudley and Lamb team, followed by extensive collecting by Harvey M. Hall starting in 1901.   The next period of important collecting was during the vegetation mapping efforts of the Weislander team in the mid-1930s, headed by A. Weislander with hundreds of collections by his team members: Sowder, Gifford, Nordstrom, and Simontacchi.   Notable botanical collectors of the Ventura County flora included (generally listed in chronological order):   William H. Brewer, Stephan Farnam Peckham, Marcus E. Jones, M.K. Curran, H. Twining, T.S. Brandegee, Anstruther Davidson, Herman E. Hasse, L.G. Yates, Nora Pettibone and Frank W. Hubby, William R. Dudley, Frank Haines Lamb, Joseph Burtt Davy, Benjamin Cobb, Harvey M. Hall, K. Brandegee, Blanche Trask, Alice Eastwood, Adolph Daniel Edward (A.D.E.) Elmer, Joseph Grinnell, LeRoy R. Abrams and Ernest Alexander McGregor, Willis L. Jepson, John Gill Lemmon, Frances Holzwart and Freda Detmers, FrankW. Peirson, Thomas Craig, Philip A. Munz, David D. Keck, Carl B. Wolf, Lyman Benson, Barton W. Evermann, Mary F. Spencer, Ernest C. Twisselmann, Herbert L. Mason, A.E. Weislander, J.E. Sowder, A.D. Gifford, A. Simontacchi, G.T. Nordstrom, Olive Day Thacher; Edith A. Purer, J. Grinnell, Edwin R. Chandler, Peter H. Raven, John Thomas Howell, Reid Moran, Henry M. Pollard, Clifton F. Smith, J.R. (Bob) Haller, L.E. Allen, Glenn Keator, J.C. Roos, E.R. (Jim) Blakley, Dennis E. Breedlove, M.A. Piehl, Ira W. Clokey and E.G. Anderson, Daniel Axelrod, Carl B. Wolf, Peter Kamb, Francis Chisaki, W. Wisura, H.S. Yates, Roxana S. Ferris, Rimo Bacigalupi, Dr. Barton W. Evermann, Richard Zembal, Jon C. Keeley, Richard A. Burgess, Kathy Harper, Alan C. Sanders, Dieter H. Wilken (UCSB, now with SBBG), and Steve Boyd.   Others who have botanized and collected in Ventura County include:   T.W. Minthorn, V.E. Volker, T.C. Fuller, U.N. Bullard, J.E. Harrison, Rebecca Null (from UCSB), Peter Henrikson, Jennifer Fairfax, Tom Murphey and Julie Vanderweir (UCSB), B.C. Miller, Julie P. Broughton, John Storrer, Anuja Parikh and Dean Capralis (UCSB), and John Dittes (CHSU).

Collections made from Anacapa and San Nicolas Islands were mostly by Ralph Hoffmann, E.R. Blakley, and Steve A. Junak, among others.

Most of the collections made in Ventura County were along public roads, with much fewer collections being taken from backcountry trails.   Many of the collection sites from the coastal areas and south half of Ventura County have been eliminated by development or agriculture, or seriously disturbed by various human activities.

While no one has previously written and published a flora covering all of Ventura County, some floras have been published covering portions of the county.   Below is a list of published floras that include some part of Ventura County:

  • Magney, D.L.   1986.   A Flora of Dry Lakes Ridge, Ventura County, California.   (Publication Number 5.)   The Herbarium, Department of Biological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • Smith, C.F.   1998.   A Flora of the Santa Barbara Region, California.   Second Edition.   Santa Barbara Botanic Garden & Capra Press, Santa Barbara, California.
  • Ferren, W.R., Jr., M.H. Capelli, A. Parikh, D.L. Magney, K. Clark, and J.R. Haller.   1990.   Botanical Resources at Emma Wood State Beach and the Ventura River Estuary, California: Inventory and Management.   (Environmental Report No. 15.)   Environmental Research Team, The Herbarium, Department of Biological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • Raven, P.H., H.J. Thompson, and B.A. Prigge.   1986.   Flora of the Santa Monica Mountains, California.   June 1986.   2nd edition.   Southern California Botanists Special Publication No. 2.   University of California - Los Angeles.   Los Angeles, California.

In late October 2011, the first complete checklist of vascular plants of Ventura County was published (electronically) here (found on the Flora page).   This checklist represents the first voucher-based checklist of all the native and naturalized vascular plants occurring within the political boundaries of the County of Ventura, California.   The checklist also includes plants that are reported or expected to occur in the county.   This checklist should be cited as:

  • Magney, D.L.   2011.   Checklist of Vascular Plant Flora of Ventura County, California.   19 October 2011.   David Magney Environmental Consulting, Ojai, California.   Published on www.venturaflora.com.

Acknowledgements.   Many people have helped me over the last 30 years with my research of the flora of Ventura County, from help collecting, identifying, pressing, and providing advise.   These people include:   Wayne Ferren, Jr., Jack Farrell, Rick Burgess, Steve Junak, my daughters Amber and Tiffany, Dieter Wilken, J. Robert Haller, Steve Boyd, Cher (Wellonen) Batchelor, Ken Niessen, Dave Bramlet, Mike Foster, Carl Wishner, Mark Borchert, Nancy Breslin (Bearer of the Vasculum from 1998 to early 2006), Fred Roberts, Mary Meyer, Clifton F. Smith, William Abbott, Bryce Breslin, Jerry Revard, Jay Sullivan, Steve Hoskinson, Richard Sweet, Nancy Eldblom, my mother Shirley Leak, Cary Sterling, Mike Ward, Andy Sanders, David M. Brown, David Torfeh, and my dearest wife Jamie Lynne-Magney.   And, for sure, many more people who's names have escaped my mind for the time being.   I thank you all very much.

This page was created on 22 December 2008 and last updated 30 October 2011.

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