Living Landscape Function Calculator

Online Resource of Plant Functions

Shared with the permission of Timber Press 



About the Data

We thank all users for visiting EMU and using the Living Landscape Function Calculator. The current version is based on the data used in the publishing of The Living Landscape by Timber Press in 2014. As the website matures the databases will be expanded and balanced. For now, there are a few caveats on the data and the results.


We are assuming that the user is using plants within their native range.


The source databases for four regions; Southwest, Midwest and Mountain States, Pacific Northwest and New England are structured, in some minor respects, differently than the two for the Mid-Atlantic and Southwest. This may cause some plants to be ranked differently in these regions.


The Living Landscape Function Calculator (LLFC) is an assessment method that uses characteristics of the plant community to derive an estimate of function. It is a tool to help us simultaneously appreciate how landscapes look and how their interconnected parts create the vital ecosystem services that sustain us.


Each individual plant species has been assigned a value of 0.0 or 1.0 in each one of 20 categories. The value is an indication of function.

All native plants have value to the ecosystem, but each plant is unique in the roles that it plays. Some excel at being host plants for insects, while others are a vital source of berries for birds. In each category a plant has been given a score of 1.0 if it excels or a 0.0 if it does not. The overall score of a plant reflects its full range in both ecological function and landscape or aesthetic function.


In its broadest application, the Living Landscape Function Calculator (LLFC) encompasses a number of plant-based metrics. This score, whether for one plant species in a single category or a total score, is intended only as a guide or indicator of the plant’s function. In future versions of the LLFC, scores will be assigned based on their comparative importance. For example, carbon sequestration may rank above cover for wildlife, and caterpillars above food for wintering birds.  No one plant does it all, but we should strive to make a landscape that sequesters carbon, supports food webs, supports pollinators, and helps manage our watersheds.


Once LLFC scores have been calculated, sites can be ranked by function.

This could be helpful by obtaining a score for an existing site, assessing what scores are low, and then adding plants that would raise those scores.


The data tables are based on the research and experience of Doug Tallamy and Rick Darke, for the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Other researchers with knowledge of the native flora of a particular region have contributed to the data as follows: Amy (Lou) Belk, Southwest; Jane Hartline, Pacific Northwest; Jim McCormac, Midwest and Mountain States; Southeast, Dr. Doug Tallamy and Rick Darke;  With supplemental data from Essential Native Trees and Shrubs by Tony Dove & Ginger Wollridge;

Chris Schorn, New England.


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