CNPS.ORG Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants - 7th edition interface
v7-18mar 3-19-18
Status: Getting Started - Wed, Oct. 20, 2021 11:44 ET c

Getting Started

The Online Inventory, published quarterly, contains the most up-to-date rare plant information from CNPS. This page has been provided to help users who are new to the online version of the Inventory. Additional information is provided in the FAQ. For more help, feel free to contact us. (updated 12-10-09)


Inventory Home Page
Search results
Visitors to the Inventory are often seeking information for one or more specific species. Searching for one species at a time is simple and straightforward, especially if you know the scientific name.

On the Inventory Home Page, first locate the "Quick Search Form" (arrow 1). Then type in the full name or the genus, and click the "Search" button. The Inventory will display a list of records that contain the words you typed. The species you want should be found near the top of the list. Click on its "open" icon (arrow 2), and you will be shown the full record for that species.

(Arrows 5 and 6 will be described later.)

To search for more than one species at a time, consult the FAQ.


Checkbox and Preset search
Other users want to generate lists of species based on criteria, such as county, blooming month, habitat, or CNPS rarity status. The easiest and most accurate way for new users to generate lists of species is by using the "Checkbox and Preset search" page, which can be accessed via the side menu on the Inventory Home Page.

There are two ways to use Checkbox and Preset search. One way is to click directly on the link for a particular criterion (e.g., State listed, arrow 3). The Inventory will display a list of all rare species in California that meet that single criterion. The second way is to use the page as a "web form": combine criteria by selecting from the checkboxes, pull-down menus, and fill-in boxes, and then click the "submit" button (arrow 4).

Additional search options are provided on the "Query Builder" page, but that topic is beyond the scope of our "Getting Started" introduction. For information about the Query Builder, consult its help section, or see the FAQ.


bottom of a species record page
Plant Press
As you look up individual species or groups of species, you can copy them to a private area called the "Plant Press" (analagous to the "shopping cart" of online commerce). From the search results, you can add names to the Plant Press by first marking the "save" checkboxes (arrow 5, "Search results," above), and then clicking the button marked "ADD checked items to Plant Press" (arrow 6). From an individual species record, you can add that species by clicking on the Plant Press icon located in the bottom menu bar (arrow 7).

The Plant Press listing is similar in format to a regular search listing; it displays only the scientific and common names, botanical family, and CNPS list status. However, the Plant Press has a menu (arrow 8) that allows you to display other sets of fields, in effect producing "Status and Rarity," "Location," and "Ecological" reports.

Each time you visit the Inventory, you are given a new Plant Press, which you can use for one hour. Additional report formatting options are provided on the "Query Builder", page, mentioned above.


  • Is it a rare plant? The CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants includes only plants that CNPS currently regards as meeting its rarity criteria. For information about the rating and review process, visit the web pages of the CNPS Rare Plant Program.
    For information about common plants, you can explore the "Looking for common plants?" link in the side menu on the Inventory Home Page.
  • Are you are searching by common name? Common names can vary widely according to local usage, therefore, we may be using a different common name than the one you are familiar with. For an index of the common names used by the Inventory, click the "Common Names" link in the side menu on the Inventory Home Page.
  • Is your spelling correct, or has the scientific name changed? Incorrect spelling, particularly of the genus, may sabotage your search effort. If you suspect that the name for the plant has changed, and that the Inventory is using a newer (or older) scientific name than you are, you might want to consult the synonym facilities at other sites, such as Jepson Interchange or CalFlora.

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