SF Plant Finder makes it easy to go native, foster habitat

Sea Thrift is one of SF Plant Finder’s “Super 60.” These plants are common, relatively hardy natives that will create a high quality wildlife habitat in San Francisco.Sea Thrift is one of SF Plant Finder’s “Super 60.” These plants are common, relatively hardy natives that will create a high quality wildlife habitat in San Francisco.

For folks in San Francisco, finding and planting the right types of native plants just got a lot easier, thanks to the new website SF Plant Finder.

The site was created as a resource that is part of the Green Connections project. California’s Strategic Growth Council funds Green Connections, which is a two-year project focused on increasing access to parks, open spaces and the waterfront by improving infrastructure.

SF Plant Finder is a compilation of California natives and Mediterranean-climate exotic plants that thrive in the various habitats found in San Francisco, such as chaparral and dunes. Landscapers can type in an address and receive a list of plants that are adapted for that area’s soil, sun, elevation and climate.

“We have tried to create a tool to consolidate everything we know about where to find local native plants and how to create more sustainable landscapes,” Peter Brastow, senior environmental specialist for the San Francisco Department of Environment, told The San Francisco Chronicle. “Instead of planting the same old miscellaneous ornamentals, if you plant the right species of native plants in the right places, those are much more likely to sustain themselves over time.”

The plants on the site have been selected to promote biodiversity and have been approved by experts on local ecology and horticulture, the San Francisco Department of the Environment, San Francisco Public Works, Urban Forestry Council and other authorities.

“The focus is to not just plant natives, but to create a habitat,” said Amber Hasselbring, executive director of Nature in the City, a land stewardship nonprofit. “Not all green is created equal. The native plants are a lot more suited to the soils here, so you don’t have to amend how your garden for 150 different plant varieties. It’s more sustainable, and it creates a place for hummingbirds and songbirds to move through.”

The site also lists nurseries where the native plants can be purchased.

“It used to be a wild goose chase to find this stuff,” said Patrick Rump, executive director of Literacy for Environmental Justice, an environmental nonprofit. “You might be able to buy them at an annual event … What Plant Finder does is make them more accessible, and it allows people to grow the special plants and build their capacity.”

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