California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

September 2010

Collecting and Cleaning Seed

Matt Teel

At first glance, not much appears to be happening in the native garden in late summer. Aside from the blooms of California Fuchsia, Goldenrod, and perhaps a Clarkia or two, most plants have finished up their show and appear to be in stasis, lying dormant in anticipation of the fall rains.

Your garden is not as dormant as it appears - most of those plants that have finished up their spring show are quietly producing as many seeds as their stores of water and nutrients can muster. It’s this time of year when a gardener has the opportunity to harvest some of that bounty to populate their garden the following year.

When to collect

Every plant has its own time table for when its seeds are ripe. Many, if not most native plants’ seeds are ready to harvest between June and October. Depending on the type of plant and the type of fruit produced, there are varying signs to look for to tell if the seed is ready to be harvested.

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Greening Your Garden – Literally!

Arvind Kumar

You want to do the right thing for the environment by planting water-wise native plants in the garden, but you also want the garden to look appealing during the long, dry California summer. No matter the season, we humans like our gardens to look green. The color green evokes lushness, fecundity, life. How can one make California gardens stay green through the summer sustainably, without relying on an endless supply of water?

Through a careful selection of plants, it is possible to design a summer-green native plant garden. Among California’s dizzying array of native plants, there are many that stay green through summer naturally. Here is a short list of suggestions, from perennial to groundcover to shrub, vine, and tree.

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California Coffeeberry

Vivian Mazur, Inverness Garden Club 

On a recent hike on Inverness Ridge in Marin County, we came across a particularly large and handsome coffeeberry adorned with fruits in all stages of ripeness—from green to red to black. I was reminded of what an attractive plant the California coffeeberry is and how often it is overlooked as a garden subject.

It is a member of the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae) as is its cousin, ceanothus. Its botanical name used to be Rhamnus californica but was recently changed toFrangula californica. However, nurseries are more likely to know it by its former name. The common name, ‘coffeeberry’, comes from the appearance of the ripe berries and not their edibility, though several species of birds and small mammals relish the fruit.

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Have Space, Dirt, Water - Now What?

Nancy Heuler, MLA

Creating a home garden with California native plants can be fun and rewarding, while bringing wildlife and an authentic sense of place to your garden.  Also, including certain drought-adapted plant communities can result in water savings and lawn replacement has become a growing trend throughout the state.  But once the lawn is gone, then what?  Here is a crash course in garden design. The same principles can be used with any design, but with locally adapted California natives, we pay special attention to appropriate soils, watering regimes and plant communities.  

First analyze the existing site: Determine if the soil texture from a 4”-6” depth is sand, silt, or clay or a combination.(Loam is an equal combination of all three.) If a moist sample sticks together when squeezed, it contains more clay; if it falls apart, it contains more sand. Soil texture affects drainage rates, water needs, oxygen availability and fertility. To determine the drainage rate, dig a hole, fill it with water and see how long it takes to drain. Clay takes longer to drain, while sand drains fastest. On a diagram, note slopes, views that could be screened, borrowed or framed, shade/sun patterns as they change throughout the year, human uses and circulation requirements, legal setbacks and codes, and existing trees to keep. If near wildland, the landscap e elements will have to conform to local fire codes (e.g. flammable invasive vs. fire-resistant non-invasive plant species, spacing guidelines, fire-resistant structures) and irrigated ‘defensible space’ may need to be part of the design. 
Here are some non-plant elements to consider...

CNPS Chapter Plant Sale Calendar  

Is there a CNPS Chapter plant sale near you this autumn? CNPS Board Member and volunteer Arvind Kumar compiled a calendar of plant sales for easy viewing. Start planning your spring and summer garden by attending a fall plant sale found here

Fall Workshops

For full details and registration for all workshops go to
Reduced or fee waivers are available for students and under-employed people. Please go to for more information or to apply.

Mojave Desert Rare Plant Treasure Hunt and Training 
Oct 9, 2010
Instructors: Amber Swanson and Joshua Tree National Park Staff 
Joshua Tree National Park

CNPS and Joshua Tree National Park staff will offer free training to people who are interested in leading teams to search for rare plants. The next scheduled training will be offered in the Mojave Desert on Saturday, Oct 9th, from 9:30 am to 5 pm at Joshua Tree National Park. Go to the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt webpage or check out the latest from our Mojave coordinator, Amber Swanson, in her Treasure Hunt blog. If you are interested in participating in the Treasure Hunt or you have questions, email us at

Negotiation Skills for Environmental Problem Solving 
Nov 17-19, 2010
Instructor: Jim Nelson with special guests
Sacramento area

Three days of classroom exercises and case studies. Environmental negotiations are often more complex than other negotiations due to their technical complexity, regulatory complexity, interest from many parties, and often, the emotional nature of the parties.. This workshop presents basic negotiation concepts (e.g., Fisher and Ury’s, “Getting to Yes” series) and specific environmental issue applications. Negotiation simulations and role playing are used to provide a fun and safe way to learn negotiation principles. In addition, everyone is encouraged prepare for upcoming (real life) negotiations during this course. This course emphasizes using principled negotiation approaches. The attendees are taught to recognize commonly encountered tactics and shown produc tive responses. Guest presenters will provide examples of successful negotiations. The skills taught in this class help many reduce anxiety about negotiating while helping to achieve successful outcomes. Course materials provide useful tools for future negotiations. CNPS Members: $395; Non-Members: $420 
Plant Taxonomy Teacher Training 
Nov 20-21, 2010
Instructor: Dr. Glenn Keator
Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park, Berkeley

This course is for people interested in teaching a plant taxonomy course at the junior college or extended education level. Potential teachers should be familiar with California flora and its plant families and have taken one or more semesters of Plant Taxonomy or Systematics. We will not be teaching plant taxonomy in this course but will teach how to teach a course using the syllabus provided by Dr. Glenn Keator. Cost includes lunch. CNPS Members: $100; Non-Members $125 



Chapter Events
A Sampling from Around the State 

Saturday, Octber 2, 9:00 AM - noon
Maidu Medicine Walk
Meet at Horseshoe Lake (Parking area E) in Upper Bidwell Park at 9 am. Wear hiking shoes and bring water. We will finish at noon. About 30 of the plants that the local Maidu Indians used for medicine, food, and crafts will be shown and discussed. Leader: Wes Dempsey, for further information call (530) 342-2293.  

Bristlecone Chapter

Wednesday, October 6, 7:00 PM 
Creosote Ring Subchapter Program: CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Presentation

Presented by Amber Swanson, Botanist and CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Program Coordinator. Meet at the Maturango Museum, 100 W. Las Flores, Ridgecrest. The first season of the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt has been highly successful. Participants in Mojave Desert hunts have made over 20 field trips, logged more than 550 volunteer hours and found 34 separate rare plant species. This totals to over 195 historic and new occurrences that have been updated and documented on BLM land, about 150 of which are new occurrences. Come and learn more about this year’s results, next year’s goals and how you can be involved!

Sunday, October 17, 9:00 AM- 1:00
CNPS Highway Clean-Up
Meet at the intersection of Highway 395 and Pine Creek Rd., west of 395, at 9:00 AM. We will try to be done by 1:00 PM. For more information contact leader Scott Hetzler at (760) 873-8392.

Shasta Chapter

Saturday, October 9, 9 AM
Field trip , Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Join member David Ledger for a fieldtrip to Mill Creek trail in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. This will be a moderately difficult 6-mile roundtrip hike at about the 1,500-foot elevation, with approximately 15 creek crossings that require agility. Hike under a mixed conifer canopy and see such species as goatsbeard, five-fingered fern, chain fern, California spikenard, smilax, blackfruit dogwood, mock orange, and more. Bring lunch, water and adequate hiking footwear. Meet in Redding at 9 AM at the back side of City Hall (Parkview Avenue side), 777 Cypress Avenue. Call David at (530) 355-9442 for details.

Thursday , October  21, 7:00 PM
Chapter Program Meeting
Join us for an evening with long-time Shasta CNPS member Wayne Steffes and his great photographs of the natural resources, unique features, and wildflowers of the north state! Wayne regularly hikes in Lassen National Park and on the many trails in the Redding/Red Bluff area, and has presented us with spectacular photographs in the past few years. Meet at our new time and location: 7 PM at the Shasta College Health Science & University Programs building in downtown Redding, 1400 Market Street, Community Room 8220 (clock tower building at the north end of the Market Street Promenade; enter on south side of building).

Saturday, October 30, 9:00 AM

Field Trip, Shasta Divide
This will be a moderately difficult four-mile hike along a ridge separating Whiskeytown Lake and Old Shasta. The trail offers fantastic views of Whiskeytown Lake, Trinity Alps, the Cascade range and the Sacramento Valley as it meanders through mixed conifers with groves of low-elevation sugar pine and ponderosa pine. Some parts of this three-hour hike are steep and require agility and balance. Meet in the south parking lot behind City Hall on Parkview Avenue at 9 AM. For more information, call David Ledger at (530) 355-9442.

Sacramento Valley Chapter

Sunday,  October 10, 9:00 AM-Noon 
CNPS/Audubon Joint Outing
Audubon Sanctuary The Quotable Naturalist Leader: Aldo Leopold, Donald Culross Peattie, E.O. Wilson… the list of inspirational natural history writers is very long. Bring some of your favorite quotes to share as we check out the flora and fauna of Bobelaine in the early fall. The leisurely walk will begin at 9:00 am, but you are encouraged to meet at 8:35 for carpooling at the Bel Air shopping center on Arena Blvd. Directions: From Sacramento take I-5 north to Arena Blvd., go west (left) over the freeway. Take the first left, Duckhorn Rd., and then turn right into the parking lot. We will meet on the north side of the parking lot between Wells Fargo and Golden 1. Or you can meet the group in the Bobelaine parking lot at 9. Take highway 99 north toward Yuba City; about 2 miles north of the Feather River bridge turn right on Laurel Ave. Follow Laurel to the dead end at the Bobelaine parking lot. This is a joint trip with the Sacramento Chapter of the Audubon Society. Bri ng binoculars if you have them. This walk is over mostly level terrain and is good for beginning as well as more experienced birders and plant enthusiasts. Contact: John Huls 284-7021,

Orange County Chapter
Thursday, October 21, 7:00-9:00 PM 
Indulging Our Senses in the Native Garden  
One of California's leading experts on native plant gardening, Carol Bornstein, will highlight California native plants that stimulate our tactile, audio, olfactory and even gustatory pleasure points. Carol co-authored California Native Plants for the Garden and was horticulturalist at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden for 28 years. Free. Interest group tables at 7:00, main program at 7:30. The Duck Club, 5 Riparian View, Irvine, CA 92612. 

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


Photo Credits
  • Matt Teel, Eriophyllum confertiflorum seeds during cleaning
  • Arvind Kumar, Showy Island Snapdragon
  • Stacey Flowerdew, Coffeeberry
  • Nancy Heuler, front yard design elements
  • Jim Andre, Mountain Scene
  • Jim Nelson, Workshop Class
  • Amber Swanson, Sclerocactus johnsonii
  • Stacey Flowerdew, Iris hybrid

  • Matt Teel, Arvind Kumar, Vivian Mazur, Nancy Heuler, Betsey Landis, Laura Camp, Caroline Longstreth, Josie Crawford, Amber Swanson, Stacey Flowerdew, Tara Hansen, and Mark Naftzger.
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