California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

July 2012
Adding to the Life List
Duncan S. Bell

Physalis lobata - Duncan BellA “life list” is a term used by birders, botanist, entomologists and other groups of the natural sciences to refer to a list of all the different species they have identified. You will occasionally hear someone in the field say “That’s a lifer!” which means they have identified a species for the very first time and can then add it to their life list if they choose to.

One of my favorite things I love about taking volunteers out to the desert is not just showing them rare plants but introducing them to common plants as well. Often every plant we come across is a “lifer” for them. It’s always fun to watch them fall in love for the first time with some of my old favorites such as Desert Calico (Loeseliastrum matthewsii) with its flowers like little faces looking back at you, Frost Mat (Achyronychia cooperii) with its star fish-like branches, Parachute plant (Atrichoseris platyphylla) with its beautifully bizarre succulent leaves, and Ghost Flower (Mohavea confertiflora) which often grows with and mimics Blazing Star (Mentzelia involcrata) and takes advantage of its pollinators.

To continue reading, click here.

Rivers for Change Hunts for Treasured Plants
Will Spangler

Kiyak RPTH photo by Will SpanglerWill Spangler is a volunteer with Rivers for Change, a non-profit dedicated to protecting California's rivers through source to sea paddle trips, public education, and stewardship. This story originally appeared in the Rivers for Change blog.

There is a small world out there of hard to find rarities that few people even know exist. No, we’re not referring to dedicated botanists, we’re speaking of many listed California native plant species that are the targets of the California Native Plant Society’s Rare Plant Treasure Hunts. These treasure hunts are a citizen science initiative started by CNPS in 2010 that take place all around the state “with the goal of getting up-to-date information on many of our state’s rare plants, while engaging chapter members and other volunteers in rare plant conservation.” Often these unique and rare plants are found only in narrow patches of remaining habitat, and it’s important to survey their current distribution in order to best protect them. Historical populations do not always survive, and new patches of plants may spread, so getting out and finding them provides a fun opportunity to put an eye to the landscape and gather information that biologists and land managers can use going forward.

Many rare and threatened plants occur along rivers and riparian corridors, which are dynamic and often shifting places that pose a variety of access challenges. Rivers for Change, with many river miles to paddle and document, is a natural partner to conduct surveys along the state’s waterways, and recently joined forces with CNPS for a treasure hunt around Frank’s Tract where the San Joaquin River braids through the California Delta.

Continue reading on the Rivers for Change blog.

Carlquistia muirii (Muir's tarplant)
Duncan S. Bell

Carlquistia muirii- Duncan S. BellPresumably in the year 1875 a man named John Muir was clambering around a large mountain range called the Sierra Nevada in an area known as Yosemite Valley and came across a plant he did not recognize. Mr. Muir made a collection of this plant and sent it to a man named John Redfield who would in turn send it to a man named Asa Gray who would recognize it as a new species and name it for Mr. Muir. Obviously this plant had been around for hundreds of years but this would be the first time that it was found and taken in by the arms of science. So what's the story behind the naming of this plant?

Continue reading here.

Educational Grant Proposals Due September 30

Each year, the CNPS Educational Grants Committee awards grant funds to graduate students whose research supports the mission of CNPS. The committee reviews proposals from students and awards grants to those whom the committee believe best meet the criteria and complete the application as directed. Awards average around $500. Go to and scroll down to CNPS Educational Grants Program: Guidelines for Applicants.
It is important to state in each proposal how the student will fulfill their obligation to CNPS upon completion of their project. We request that students submit an article to Fremontia for publication and acknowledge the California Native Plant Society in reports, publications, or other products resulting from work we support. We also hope that students will send relevant rare plant data to the California Natural Diversity Data Base using CNDDB's field survey forms, or plant association data to the chair of the Vegetation Program.

CNPS appreciates your interest in the Educational Grants Program and encourages your participation and support. Support for the Educational Grants program may be sent to the CNPS state office with the designation noted in the letter or on the check.

Student funding available for Native Plant Pollinator Project

Acmon-Blue-Lobos-Valley-Polygonum-by-Ann-DalkeyThe California Native Plant Society is offering multiple student research projects for students interested in researching Southern California’s rare native plants on Forest Service or BLM land, and their associated pollinators. These projects are designed for students in search of valuable field research experience who plan on pursuing careers in a science field such as botany, entomology, ecology and natural resource management. Projects will be designed to parallel flowering cycles beginning in the spring through fall of 2012. It is not too late to plan a short project for late summer or fall. Email Josie Crawford for more information.

Guided experimental design, field research and technical research reports will be components of the project. Available funding covers travel expenses and supplies. Learn more about the Native Plant-Pollinator Project.

CNPS 2012 Conservation Symposium

Saturday, September 8
Santa Cruz, CA

CNPS will present its annual Conservation Symposium, a day-long series of talks and discussions addressing a focus topic held each September during our fall Chapter Council meeting. This year, speakers will present a retrospective, including case studies, of how plant species and plant communities have been addressed in Natural Community Conservation Plans (NCCPs) over the past 20 years. Presentations will include recommendations for improving plant community conservation in future NCCPs, and tips for plant advocates interested in engaging in NCCP processes in their Chapters. For further details (to be posted soon) click here.

Upcoming Rare Plant Treasure Hunts

For more information about the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt project go to

Moonwort Hunt at Loon Lake, El Dorado National Forest
August 4-5, 10AM - 4PM
Last year, Rare Plant Treasure Hunters camped at Loon Lake to search for rare moonworts (Botrychium spp.) in the El Dorado National Forest. We were able to find paradox moonwort, Botrychium paradoxum, which is only known from 3 different sites in the state. This year, we’ll revisit the paradox moonwort to see if any individuals have emerged this year, and then search some of the meadows and drainages that might support other populations of rare Botrychiums. Meet at the intersection of Hwy 50 and Ice House Rd at 10AM on Saturday, August 4th. There is a parking area on the south (river) side of Hwy 50 where we will congregate. From there, we’ll drive to higher-elevation sites to search for the moonworts. We have a campsite reserved at Loon Lake Campground for those who would like to stay for a whole weekend of moonwort hunting. Email Danny Slakey to RSVP for this trip, and state whether you’d prefer to camp and stay for the entire weekend, or just join for a day.

Osa Meadow, Kern Plateau, Tulare County
August 11, 8AM - 5PM
Return to Osa Meadow, Kern Plateau led by Kathy LaShure Last summer we could not access our planned Kern Plateau location and visited Osa Meadow instead. It was fabulosa! So much so, that we’re going back this year. The meadow has not been grazed by cattle for a number of years and has rebounded floristically. Three rare species were sighted in 2011 and there are at least 6 other possible CNPS Rank 1 or 2 rare plants that we can search for this year. High clearance vehicle required. Be prepared for sun, wind, hot and cold. Bring food and drink, and have your fuel tanks full. The Black Rock Information Station and the Kennedy Meadows Store have no fuel. This will be a full day outing. We will meet at the Inyokern Post Office at 8:00 am to carpool. Those coming from points north can meet the group at 8:30 am at the 9-Mile Canyon Rd turnoff from Hwy 395. Contact person: Email Kathy LaShure or call 760-377-4541.

Mt Baldy Moonwort Hunt, San Bernardino County (map)
Aug 11, 8 AM  – 2PM
*Full- waiting list only
Join the San Gabriel Mountains CNPS Chapter, the USFS and other rare plant treasure hunters for a trip to the Mount Baldy region in the San Bernardino National Forest in search of the elusive and rare moonworts (Botrychiums). These strange ferns are found scattered throughout North America, but they are always elusive, existing for most of the year in a dormant underground state, sometimes not emerging above ground for over a year! In California, all but one moonwort species is quite rare. This trip will take us to the northeast side of Baldy Notch, where the earliest documentation of moonworts occurred 90 years ago. We’ll search the mountain meadow for these small ferns, and see what we find in the way of lemon lilies (Lilium parryi) along the way! Due to the delicate habitat, there is a limit of 9 participants to prevent impact to the meadow and tiny plant specimens. First reserved accommodated. We'll be consolidating into two vehicles and going through a locked gate together, near the top of the ski lifts. You must sign up for this trip individually. Detailed directions and meet place will be sent to the final participant list.

Little Dry Creek Unit, Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area RPTH
August 18
Hunt for California Hibisicus (Hibiscus lasiocarpos var. occidentalis). More details will be forthcoming. Conact Ron Coley for more details or to RSVP.

Butte Creek House RPTH
Oct 6, 10AM - 4PM
Hunt for Obtuse starwort with the Mt. Lassen Chapter of CNPS. More details about this trip will be forthcoming. Conact Ron Coley for more details.

Chapter Events

Mount Lassen Chapter

Humbug Summit Check Listing
Butte County
Friday, August 3

This is another of the slightly new type of field trips, with less hiking and more identifying. Botanically interested folks of all skill levels are invited. This is a chance to improve your plant-keying skills in an area with good diversity of primarily native species. Roadside meadows (dry and wet) and forests will be visited, culminating with the area of Humbug Summit at 6714 feet - the highest spot in Butte County reached by a good dirt road. Our goal will be to produce a list of all plant species identifiable on this date. Bring water, lunch, insect/sun protection and money for ride sharing. Meet at west lot of Chico Park & Ride (Hwy 32/ 99) to leave at 9 am, return probably 5 pm. For
further details as the roadside stops are chosen in July, email leaders: Rob Schlising and Robert Fischer.

Hat Lake to Paradise Meadow
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Sunday, August 5

Meet at the west lot of Chico Park & Ride (Hwy 32/99) to leave at 8:30 am. We will drive Hwy 32 and 89 a distance of 86 miles to the trailhead in Lassen Park. Paradise Meadows is one of botanist Vern Oswald’s favorite places for flowers in the park. The meadow, at 7200’ has a glaciated headwall for a scenic backdrop. Elephant head and Gentian can be seen near Hat Lake, scarlet gilia along the first mile and satin lupine in timbered openings. Watch for columbine, lupine, monkshood, penstemon, Copeland’s owl’s clover and bog orchid in the meadow. From the trail head at Hat Lake the trail climbs 700 vertical feet over a distance of 1.4 miles to Paradise Meadow. Wear sturdy shoes. Take lunch, water, sun/insect protection, and money for ride sharing. Take your park pass if you have one. Call for alternate meeting place. Leader: Wes Dempsey 530-342-2239

Caribou Wilderness
Lassen National Forest
Sunday, August 21

Meet at west lot Chico Park & Ride (Hwy 99/32) at 8 am with lunch, water, sun/insect protection, and money for ride sharing. We will drive to a wilderness area that borders Lassen Park. We will hike about 4.5 miles on an easy loop past several beautiful little lakes and open lodgepole-fir-pine forest at 6800’ elevation. Leather grape fern (Botrychium) and many other plants of interest. Call for alternate meeting place. Leaders: Wes Dempsey 530-342-2293 and Gerry Ingco 530-893-5123.

North Coast Chapter

Orchids in the Dunes Plant Walk
Lanphere Dunes
Saturday, August 4, 10 AM- 1 PM  

Intricate, beautiful, and diverse, orchids have a special allure. Join Carol Ralph to find four native species blooming and one in fruit along the forest and dune trails of Lanphere Dunes. Not all orchids are big and showy!  Bring a magnifying lens if you have one. Meet at Pacific Union School, 3001 Janes Rd. in Arcata to carpool to the protected site. Co-sponsored by CNPS and Friends of the Dunes. Call 444-1397 to RSVP.

Boy Scout Tree Trail Day Hike
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Saturday, August 11

This is a 5.6-mile, out-and-back, somewhat strenuous trail from a trailhead on Howland Hill Rd. outside Crescent City. It features a big tree, a small waterfall (especially small in August), and generally lush redwood forest vegetation. Bring lunch and water; dress for the weather. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata) or arrange another place. Return late afternoon. Information: Carol 822-2015.

Bristlecone Chapter

Return to Osa Meadow
Kern Plateau
Saturday, August 11

This is a Creosote Ring Sub-chapter event. Last summer we could not access our planned Kern Plateau location and visited Osa Meadow instead. It was fabulosa! So much so, that we’re going back this year. The meadow has not been grazed by cattle for a number of years and has rebounded floristically. Three rare species were sighted in 2011 and there are at least 6 other possible CNPS Rank 1 or 2 rare plants that we can search for this year. High clearance vehicle required. Be prepared for sun, wind, hot and cold. Bring food and drink, and have your fuel tanks full. The Black Rock Information Station and the Kennedy Meadows Store have no fuel. This will be a full day outing. We will meet at the Inyokern Post Office at 8:00 am to carpool. Those coming from points north can meet the group at 8:30 am at the 9-Mile Canyon Rd turnoff from Hwy 395. Contact person: Kathy LaShure or 760-377-4541.

Shasta Chapter

Cedar Basin Hike
Near Mount Shasta
Saturday, August 11    

This will be a four- to five-mile hike of moderate difficulty with a 500-foot elevation climb to three small mountain lakes at the 6,000-foot elevation. We will hike to a high elevation Port Orford cedar grove and see Klamath manzanita (discovered there in 1982), roundleaf sundew, and California pitcher plant. This area is a US Forest Service research area and has five species listed on the CNPS rare and endangered species list, and the trail is featured in Michael Kauffman’s Conifer Country. The area is 14 miles west of Mount Shasta. Meet at Redding City Hall’s south parking lot on Parkview Avenue at 8 AM to carpool to the trailhead. Bring water, lunch, and adequate hiking footwear. No dogs, please. Please call David Ledger at 355-8542 for further information.

Klamath National Forest Field Trip
Siskiyou County
Saturday, August 18
Join Marla Knight, Forest Botanist for the Klamath National Forest, for a summer fieldtrip to Siskiyou County. Meet with Jay & Terri Thesken in Redding at 7:30 AM for the 2-hour drive up to Yreka, where we will meet Marla and other Klamath National Forest botanists, and then drive up I-5 to Mt. Ashland for a day on the Siskiyou Crest. This tour will largely be roadside hotspots, where we will explore meadows and rocky serpentine outcrops on short jaunts along the ridges. We expect to see species such as Horkelia hendersonii, Tauschia howellii, and Lupinus ashlandensis. This will be an all-day fieldtrip, with a likely late return to Redding in the evening as we may stop for dinner in Yreka. We will leave Redding at 7:30 AM from the south side of City Hall (Parkview Avenue side), 777 Cypress Avenue. Or meet at 9:30 AM at the new Forest Service office in Yreka, 1711 South Main Street. Bring water, lunch, and sturdy walking shoes. No dogs, please. Call Jay & Terri at 221-0906, or Marla in Yreka at 841-4425 for details.

Marin County Chapter

Point Reyes National Seashore Restoration
Thursday, August 16

Join the Third Thursday Weeders to spend a day at beautiful Point Reyes and help tackle invasive weeds that threaten important plant habitat in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The group meets on the Third Thursday of each month at locations arranged with Seashore staff. Send an email to Ellen Hamingson to be notified of the time and place to meet. Bring plenty of water, lunch and snacks, warm and wind-stopping layers, sturdy shoes, and work clothes. No shorts or open-toed shoes. The Park provides tools and gloves.

San Diego Chapter

Package Seeds and Bulbs Party
Tecolote Nature Center, San Diego
Sunday, August 26, 8:30 AM- 11:30 AM

The Seed and Bulb Team sorts, cleans, and packages bulbs and seeds that have been collected by various members, so they can be offered for sale at the Fall CNPS Plant Sale. Amy Huie is the chair and leader of the group. For questions email Amy. Tecolote Nature Center, 4675 Tecolote Rd, San Diego, CA 92110.

Contributors and Photo Credits


  • Josie Crawford
  • Will Spangler
  • Danny Slakey
  • Duncan S. Bell
  • Kim Clark
  • Greg Suba
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger


  • Duncan S. Bell- Physalis lobata
  • Will Spangler - RPTH Kiyakers
  • Duncan S. Bell- Carlquistia muirii inflorescence
  • Ann Dalkey- Acmon Blue, Polygonum, Lobos Valley


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