The Botany Laboratory provides plant identification services, noxious weed distribution information, and biological support data to the county agricultural Commissioners offices, the general public, CDFA programs and various other State and Federal agencies. These activities function to help prevent the introduction and spread of serious weed pests and to identify host plants of insects, plant diseases, and plant parasitic nematodes. Plant identification is an integral part of weed pest exclusion, detection, control, and eradication. It is also important to other units of the Department, such as the Animal Health & Food Safety Services, Inspection Services and to County departments of agriculture, which require prompt and accurate botanical information in pursuit of their goals.Seventy-five percent of the counties submit 90% or more of their plant specimens to the Botany Laboratory/Herbarium CDA for identification or confirmation. The ability of the laboratory to assist field programs promptly and accurately has aided in pinpointing the distribution of the major weed pests in the State. Between 1997 and the present, the Botany Laboratory averaged approximately 3000 plant identifications per year for CDFA clients and named an additional 700+ specimens per year for other agencies or individuals.
The Herbarium (CDA) contains approximately 50,000 specimens and has an active specimen exchange program with State, National and International herbaria. These specimens form the basis for ensuring accurate identification of plants new to or currently growing in California. Field investigations are also an essential part of the program; not only to collect specimens, duplicates of which form the nucleus of the exchange program and populate the collection itself, but also to evaluate such things as the environmental conditions influencing the presence of new or existing plant populations. The Herbarium has accessioned approximately 20,000 specimens since 1997. The Herbarium is also a member of the Consortium of California Herbaria. This organization is housed at the University of California at Berkeley Herbarium (UC/JEPS) and maintains a searchable database of California herbarium specimen data. The data are available to be searched here: http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/consortium/. The search results interface also includes a mapping function. Currently approx. 90% of the herbarium's California specimens have been databased and are searchable via the Consortium; this includes all the specimens of California weeds held in the collection. In total the Consortium database includes nearly two million searchable records of California plant locations.