Flora of Cal Poly Pomona

In addition to its buildings, landscaping, parking lots, and agricultural fields, Cal Poly is home to native habitats. The Voorhis Ecological Reserve in the northwest part of campus contains 31 ha of coastal sage scrub and oak woodland. Further south is 122 ha of walnut woodland interspersed with grazed annual grassland.

Cal Poly is situated in the middle of the San José Hills and is part of a wildlife corridor that connects the San Gabriel and Santa Ana mountains. Much of the San José Hills is now developed, and the natural areas of Cal Poly and the adjacent Buzzard Peak natural area constitute one of the largest remaining undeveloped regions. This area has been designated a Significant Ecological Area by Los Angeles County, and portions are regarded as significant by the California Department of Fish and Game. Floristically, the campus is located in the transition between the floras of the Transverse Ranges and Peninsular Ranges to the north and south, the coastal plain to the west, and the inland valleys to the east.

Plant collection has taken place at Cal Poly Pomona for the entire history of the University, and a mimeographed species list (now lost) existed at the end of the 1970s, but an organized study of the flora and vegetation began following the wildfire of August, 1981, which burned the northern part of the ecological reserve. A species list and vegetational study were published in 1990. A second wildfire, in late July of 1989, burned virtually the entire Voorhis Reserve. The current public species list, based on collections before and after the fire, was last updated in August 2012. It contains 261 species, but not all have voucher collections to document them.

As a student in this class, you will contribute to the ongoing project to document and study the flora of Cal Poly Pomona, and at the same time learn modern techniques of floristic research. The project involves organization and cataloguing of the existing collections, making new collections, preparing, identifying, and cataloguing them, updating the species list and its nomenclature, and comparing the flora with adjacent areas and with Cal Poly in previous years. If you have a continuing interest in the project, you may be able to participate in future quarters also, and receive directed study units.