California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

October 2011

Town and Country Resort and Conference Center, San Diego
Workshops and field Trips, Jan 10-11
Conference Sessions Jan 12-14
Public Day, Jan 14

Early registration discounts EXTENDED through Nov 10
Hotel discounts until sold out or through Dec 16
220 speakers, 4 plenary speakers, poster session,
Photography, art, music, poetry

Funds still available for students to attend workshops: Apply now- first come; first served.

Just added: A reception to celebrate the publication of The Jepson Manual, Second Edition!
Wed Jan 11, 7:00- 9:00 pm, Town and Country Resort and Conference Center.

Advance registration for the reception is requested. Please reply here by December 15, 2011.

The Rare Plant and Education Programs Announce a New Volunteer Program, RPTH: Operation Herbarium

The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt is taking on a new project: the “Herbarium Treasure Hunt.” As a winter project, Rare Plant Treasure Hunt volunteers are teaming up with herbaria around the state to search for new occurrences not found in existing shared databases. Volunteers will be given a list of rare plants to search for, document their finds with a digital camera, and search online databases to determine if the site information is already in the CNDDB.

Devil's Claw (Proboscidea althaeifolia) by Amber Swanson

This program is especially great for those times of the year when many of our native plants are dormant, not in fruit or flower, or in the case of annuals, only present in the seed bank. Herbaria are responsible for a great deal of our knowledge about the California flora, and are particularly important in the study of rare plant distributions and abundances. The California flora is documented by millions of herbarium vouchers from 60+ California herbaria, as well as herbaria in other states. As you can imagine, data from over 60 different locations can be extremely difficult to locate. To deal with this issue, The Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH) was created in 2003 to serve as a central source of data on California plant collections. To date, information on about 1.2 million specimens has been compiled in the Consortium, which has proven invaluable in the rare plant status review process. However, information on most specimens that are not indexed in the Consortium is only available by manually searching through the archived specimens themselves.

That’s where Operation Herbarium comes in. This is a great opportunity to meet botanists, gain valuable experience in herbarium and database techniques, and get familiar with rare plant ID before the actual field season begins. Look for a new page with more information to be posted on the CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt website soon. In the meantime, you can contact Danny Slakey ( to get set up with a herbarium and a list of target species. One thing to note is that since most herbaria are only open during normal working hours, this project may only be possible for those with availability during the normal work week. It’s a perfect opportunity for students, retirees, and anyone else with some free time during the week.


Rare Plant Treasure Hunt 2011 Wrap-up

Rare Plant Treasure Hunter, photo by Amber Swanson
As we are wrapping up the 2011 Rare Plant Treasure Hunt (RPTH) year and starting to make plans for next year, we’d like to share some of the program’s accomplishments. The RPTH has two focuses, a concentrated focus on California’s deserts and a general statewide focus.

In 2011, over 170 volunteers have participated in or led over 150 Treasure Hunts to search for rare plants and their hard work has paid off. Over 300 new and previously documented populations of 180 different rare plant species were logged. This was a contribution of about 4000 volunteer hours! These data have been submitted to the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) and the over 900 desert specimens collected have been deposited in California herbaria. Many photos of rare plants taken on treasure hunts were also donated to CalPhotos, an online image database project of UC Berkeley's Biodiversity Sciences Technology group (BSCIT).

Read full 2011 wrap-up here


2011 Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Awards

Calochortus plummerae, photo by Lara Hartley
To recognize our amazing volunteers, the RPTH program awarded prizes to those that have excelled in the categories below.

Individual and Team winners
The 2011 Grand Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Award for most occurrences updated: Don Davis, Treasure Hunter Extraordinaire! He found 42 new and historic rare plant occurrences in the desert and mountains of Southern California.

Read Full Awards announcement


Chapter Events

Various CNPS Chapters
Fall Chapter Plant Sale Calendar

It is late in the fall plant sale season, but some chapters have plant sales scheduled for November. Is your local chapter one of them?

San Luis Obispo Chapter
Hike to Bell Mountain via the Rinconada Trail
Saturday, November 5th, 9:00 AM

Join us on a hike to Bell Mountain via the Rinconada trail in Los Padres National Forest, passing through oak and gray pine woodland, a diverse chaparral habitat, and serpentine endemics, arriving at Bell Mountain (ridge-top) with 360o views from Paso Robles to Northern Santa Barbara County. Total distance is 5 miles with an elevation gain of 800 feet, and a total hike time of 3.5 hours. For info, call Bill at (805) 459-2103, plants, animals, and the geology of the area will be topics during the hike.  This is a joint hike with the Sierra Club.

North Coast Chapter
Field trip: Looking at Lichens
Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lichens are an overlooked link in our ecosystems. Learn how to focus on them during a day of roadside stops and modest hiking with Tom Carlberg, hopefully in the oak woodlands and Douglas-fir forests in the Horse Mountain-Cold Spring area. If the weather is snowy or stormy at high elevation, we'll explore in the dune forest instead. Meet at 9 a.m. at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata) or arrange another place. Dress for the weather! Bring lunch and water and (important) a hand lens if you have it. For information contact Jenny 444-2553 or Tom 442-0530.

Santa Clara Chapter
Rancho Cañada del Oro (San Jose)
Sunday,  November 6,  9AM – 2PM

Join Steve Rosenthal and Arvind Kumar for a CNPS members-only guided plant identification walk through Rancho Cañada del Oro, one of the newer open space preserves in Santa Clara County. Trails offer spectacular views of the Diablo Range and Mt. Hamilton and go through a variety of native habitats: grassland, oak woodland, sage-chaparral scrub, and riparian. We expect to see many fruiting plants, including toyon, coffeeberry, buckeye, holly-leaved cherry, oaks, bay laurel, madrone, and snowberry. We will start with the Serpentine Loop Trail, switch to the Longwall Canyon Trail, and return via the Mayfair Ranch Trail. The distance covered will be 4.3 miles with 500’ of elevation gain. Heavy rain cancels. Space is limited. RSVP to or (408) 715-7020 to reserve your place and for directions to the meeting place. This walk is open to CNPS members only; memberships are accepted at the trailhead.

Channel Islands Chapter
Fall Color Hike, Lion Canyon, Ventura County Backcountry
Saturday, Nov 19, 9:00 AM

Chapter board members and botanists David Torfeh and Andrea Adams-Morden will lead a leisurely hike up Lion Canyon starting at Middle Lion Campground to see the Fremont and Black Cottonwoods and willows in fall color. The canyon walls contain mixed chaparral and Bigcone Spruce, and are quite picturesque.  Over the years, David Magney has documented a total of 232 vascular plant taxa in Lion Canyon, almost all native species. Meet at the Ojai Park & Ride parking lot at the southeast corner of the intersection of Highway 150 and Highway 33 in Ojai at 9 a.m. It is kitty corner from “Eggs & Things” and the Vons Shopping Center. We will carpool from there. Bring an Adventure Pass if you have one. If not, we will be stopping at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center where you can get one for $5. For more information, call Andrea at (805) 684-8077 or David Torfeh at (805) 647-3325.

East Bay Chapter
Hoffman Marsh and Point Isabel
Saturday, November 26, 9:30 AM

Join Tom and Jane Kelly and Janet Gawthrop as they revisit this popular edge of San Francisco Bay shoreline. We will look for new growth in the restoration area, but focus on the marsh plants with a view to both learning tidal marsh flora and identification of particular species. In case of rain on Saturday morning, we will hold the field trip at the same time on Sunday, November 27. For more information, see this page.


Contributors and Photo Credits


  • Josie Crawford
  • Amber Swanson
  • Danny Slakey
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger


  • Proboscidea althaeifolia, Devil's Claw, List 4.3 - Amber Swanson
  • Treasure Hunter- Amber Swanson
  • Calochortus plummerae - Lara Hartley


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