California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

May 2010

The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt, A Growing Success

The Mojave Desert

Amber Swanson

The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt in the Mojave Desert has had many successes this season! We have found new occurrences and updated historic occurrences in the California Natural Diversity Database forover 100 rare plants, including rare cacti, poppies, monkey flowers and desert mallows. One rare plant in particular is Johnson’s pineapple cactus (Sclerocactus johnsonii). Three populations on the plant were found in an area where it had not been documented since 1941!

Our efforts are also making an impact on solar energy site decisions. In a recent field trip to a proposed solar energy site at the El Paso Alluvial Plain near Ridgecrest, volunteers created a list of the flora of the site. This list was then cited by a biologist for the California Energy Commission in his recommendation of a “no build” on this site partially due to the presence of preferred Desert Tortoise food there. 

Through our several field trips volunteers from all over California and the Western U.S. have been able to see thousands of native wildflowers in bloom and gain a greater appreciation of the desert. Throughout the spring and fall seasons this program will continue to yield data valuable for conservation and improved land stewardship. For more information about the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt and photos of rare plants in the Mojave please visit
To become involved in the Mojave portion of this project contact Amber Swanson.

Statewide Recap

Shannon Still 
The statewide Rare Plant Treasure Hunt has been a success in the few months it has been active. Throughout the summer we will be organizing treasure hunt events for groups and individuals.  To date, more than 100 people from 18 teams have been involved in searching for and updating occurrences of rare plants.

Individuals and/or groups from 22 CNPS chapters have been involved in the project. This has included individuals from 11 NGOs or agencies and 35 groups or businesses.

As of the end of April, nearly 50 updated or new occurrences have been submitted to CNDDB. However, many additional forms expected to be submitted in the coming months. So far, 25 new occurrences have been documented, and more than 20 previously-documented occurrences have been revisited.  

The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt will continue through the summer and fall so if you are still interested in becoming involved in the project then please contact us.
For more information please contact

Information on the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Project is available at:

Desert Renewable Energy: In the Right Places

Greg Suba
In an effort to balance the building of industrial-sized energy projects with the conservation of intact wildland ecosystems, State and Federal agencies have begun working on a Natural Communities Conservation / Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP) for California's desert region. Covering nearly 25 million acres, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), will be the largest NCCP/HCP developed to date. The DRECP's goals include:
  • identifying the covered activities and species associated with desert renewable energy projects,
  • developing quantitative conservation goals for target species (desert wildlife and plants) and ecosystem functions, and
  • identifying allowable levels of "take" for target species during the construction and implementation of renewable energy projects across California's desert lands.
Recently enacted legislation has created an in-lieu fee program that will be associated with the mitigation measures identified in the DRECP. The proposed DRECP timeline identifies a draft plan available for environmental review by the end of 2012, and a fully permitted plan completed by the end of 2013.

The map to be used as a starting point for DRECP conservation planning will be an ecoregion assessment map of the Mojave ecoregion developed by The Nature Conservancy. This map is based on the 2006 Landfire vegetation classification map for California. Identifying priority conservation areas using the Landfire map's vegetation classifications will be challenging because of the low-resolution of Landfire's dataset. CNPS and other groups are working to identify and provide high-resolution vegetation community data to agency staff as quickly as possible to improve the quality of information available to conservation planning map technicians and desert planning strategists. CNPS is advocating for both State and Federal regulatory agencies to quickly invest in completing a seamless , up-to-date, high-resolution vegetation map for the Mojave ecoregion to provide the missing vegetation information needed for conservation planning before large-scale desert wind and solar projects are sited and built.
For more background on CNPS Conservation Program actions on desert energy conservation issues, please click here here

Upcoming Plant Science Training Workshops 

Registration and details on CNPS workshops available here.

June 1-3.  Wetlands Plants and Ecosystems. Hopland Field Station, Hopland. Kerry Heise, Geri Hulse-Stephens, Joel Butterworth. Evening presentation followed by two field days interspersed with lab identification exercises. $310 members and $335 non-members. Lodging available at the field station.

June 15-17.  Treasures in an Ancient Landscape: Rare Plants of the Eastern Klamath Ranges. Shasta County. Jim and Julie Nelson. $310 CNPS members and $335 non-members for first evening presentation followed by two field days. 

For more details or to register for these and other workshops visit:


Chapter Events
A Sampling from Around the State

  Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter
Volunteer cleanup of native plant garden in a city park

May 29, 9 am - 4 pm (arrival and length of stay according to your schedule)
Temescal Canyon Park in Pacific Palisades
Volunteer cleanup of badly neglected native plant garden in a city park co-sponsored by L.A. Dept. of Recreation & Parks/West Region Maintenance; Palisades Beautiful and Pacific Palisades Garden Club. Location Address — Temescal Canyon Park in Pacific Palisades; on east side of Temescal Canyon Rd. between PCH and Sunset Blvd.; across from PaliHi athletic field, just south of Bowdoin St. & "Chumash" mural. Parking available nearby along street. Additional event information — Weeding, vine clearing, shrub trimming, litter removal. Family groups are welcome. Bring gloves, drinking water, and snacks. Contact Barbara Marinacci or refer to announcement on for more information.

South Coast Chapter  
Program Meeting:"Transitioning Flora of the Southern California Salt Marsh Plant Community" with Eric Zahn, Salt Marsh Botanist 
Monday, June 7, 7:30 pm
South Coast Botanic Garden, Palos Verdes Penninsula
Join local coastal ecologist and environmental educator Eric Zahn as we explore the variation, specialization, and diversity of southern California’s coastal plant communities. Due to their degradation and resulting rarity, coastal wetlands are of particular interest to botanists like Eric. His work has been focused on a distinct assemblage of plant species forming the southern California coastal salt marsh plant community, which ranges from its northern extent at Devereux Slough in Goleta (just north of UC Santa Barbara) south to Bahia de San Quentin, in Baja California. This presentation will explore in detail the often overlooked flora of Southern California salt marshes and will address the critical need to conserve the remaining wetlands that support this ecosystem as well as highlight local efforts focused on the research and restoration of southern California salt marsh habitat at Colorado Lagoon and Los Cerritos Wetlands in Long Beach, California.

Program location: South Coast Botanic Garden
26300 Crenshaw Boulevard
Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274 
Milo Baker Chapter  
Field Trip to The Cedars
Saturday, June 5, 9:30 am
Intrigued by the April 2009 issue of Fremontia? Want to see the magnificent beauty of The Cedars? Hidden miles behind locked gates in rural northwest Sonoma County and forming the extreme headwaters of the two main branches of Austin Creek and several tributaries of Wheatfield Fork of the Gualala River, lies a huge massif of ultrmafic (serpentine) rock called The Cedars. It's 2000+ ridges are deeply eroded, forming steep canyon walls, numerous waterfalls and cascades, ephemeral, intermittent and perennial creeks, and fascinating travertine seepages and formations. Massive barrens and talus slopes alternate with old-growth Sargent cypress woodlands, forming an intricate mosaic of vegetation with 7 of its plants found nowhere else in the world, while others have their only Sonoma County populations here. Roger Raiche will lead 20 participants to explore some of this remote area. Bring lunch and water. RSVP with Cindy Tancreto for additional information on where to meet. For more information or other Milo Baker chapter events, please go here.

El Dorado Chapter  
Field Trip to Bassi Falls, Eldorado National Forest
Saturday, June 12, 8 am - 4 pm
Meeting time and location: 8:00 AM, Raley’s parking lot, Placerville, back to Placerville by 4:00 PM. Bassi Falls is located west of Ice House Road and Union Valley Reservoir. A leisurely hike through mixed-conifer forest and open granite outcrops will lead us to a magnificent cascade at 5,500 feet. Along the way we will explore the newly revamped trail system. Expect a wide variety of flowering plants in varied dry, moist and wet environments. We will visit the falls first and leave serious botanizing and the Jepson Manual to the return. Level of Difficulty: Easy. Be sure to bring water, lunch, snacks, hiking boots, hat, sunscreen, and insect repellant. For more information, contact Susan Durham, (530) 626-6736, or view the El Dorado Chapter's field trip page.

Sanhedrin Chapter
Field Trip to Red Mountain and Lost Valley (Cow Mountain)
Sunday, June 13, 8 am
Like Rickabaugh Glade, a few miles farther south in the Mayacmas, Lost Valley is an expansive open area with abundant native forbs & grasses, with a seasonal stream and a vernal-type pool. Lost Valley has been reserved by BLM and is a wonderful place to know because of its great variety of flora, and relative ease of access. Red Mt. has been less explored by local botanists but it contains a variety of soil types, including serpentine. This year presents a particularly interesting challenge to plant nerds because Roger Raiche (creator of the original Rickabaugh plant list) has just thrown out the very distinct possibility that we may be able to locate a small population of a species of Calamagrostis (Reed Grass) that he discovered there over 25 years ago, but never thought to key out. He now believes, as it was found on serpentine, that it likely was Calamagrostis ophitidis. This is a species n ot reported in the Smith & Wheeler Flora of Mendocino County. As it turns out, Kerry Heise has already located C. ophitidison a serpentine site on the Hopland Field Station, a few miles to the south, but if a population can be found on Red Mt., this would be the farthest north this taxon has ever been located by anyone. For carpooling, please meet at the CVS parking lot along Orchard Ave. in Ukiah at 8:00 am. Come prepared with sunscreen, a hat, water, lunch, hand lens, and hiking boots. For more information call Kerry (462-4533)  or Vishnu (467-1341).
Field trip to Plaskett Meadows, Black Butte, Anthony Peak 
Friday to Sunday, June 25, 26, 27, 2010 
Mendocino National Forest 
This botanically rich area of the Mendocino National Forest has delighted many of us in the past, and the camping and camaraderie are a bonus. We’ll camp at Plaskett Meadows on Friday and Saturday nights, and explore the meadows, peaks, and forests for a broad array of plant life, and indulge a short drive to Mendocino Pass and Anthony Peak for yet more plant diversity. An extensive plant list of the area is available. Anyone interested in attending should contact Peter for further details: (707) 829-1183. 

For more information about Sanhedrin chapter events, please visit their event page at:

For Chapter Events in your area, please visit the CNPS Website at


Photo Credits
  • Amber Swanson - Sclerocactus johsonii (Johnsonís bee-hive cactus), CNPS List 2.2; Cymopterus multinervatus (purple-nerve cymopterus), CNPS List 2.2; the desert in bloom near Mojave National Preserve
  • Kerry Heise - Juncus
  • Stacey Flowerdew - Plaskett Meadows in bloom

  • Amber Swanson, Shannon Still, Nick Jensen, Greg Suba, Tara Hansen, Stacey Flowerdew, Mark Naftzger, and countless CNPS volunteers

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