Plant spectral diversity – how plants differentially interact with solar radiation – is an integrator of plant chemical, structural, and taxonomic diversity that can be remotely sensed. We propose to measure spectral diversity as spectral variance, which allows the partitioning of the spectral diversity of a region, called spectral gamma (γ) diversity, into additive alpha (α; within communities) and beta (β; among communities) components. Our method calculates the contributions of individual bands or spectral features to spectral γ-, β-, and α-diversity, as well as the contributions of individual plant communities to spectral diversity. We present two case studies illustrating how our approach can identify 'hotspots’ of spectral α-diversity within a region, and discover spectrally unique areas that contribute strongly to β-diversity. Partitioning spectral diversity and mapping its spatial components has many applications for conservation since high local diversity and distinctiveness in composition are two key criteria used to determine the ecological value of ecosystems.