California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

January 2013

Upcoming CNPS Chapter-Based Sampling Workshops

Workshop Participants - Deborah StoutAs part of the Rare Plant Communities Initiative, the CNPS Vegetation Program will be holding several workshops in southern California to train CNPS chapter members on our Rapid Assessment vegetation sampling protocol. The goals of these workshops are to reach out, engage, and strengthen relationships with our chapter members and volunteers. The workshops will focus on identification and sampling of rare vegetation types in the hopes that individual participants will subsequently collect data on rare vegetation types in their local area. Any data, once submitted to the Vegetation Program, will be entered into our statewide database and used in regional vegetation mapping efforts. We currently are in the process of scheduling workshops for the Orange County, Channel Islands, and Los Angeles-Santa Monica Mountains Chapters. In addition, we will be working with members of the Redbud Chapter in early May to conduct sampling of rare types at Hells Half Acre.

If you are interested in attending any of these workshops, please watch the Upcoming Events box on the CNPS homepage. It will be updated shortly with upcoming workshop details.

Carrizo Plain National Monument Vegetation Map Completed

Carrizo Vegetation MapThe CNPS Vegetation Program has recently completed a fine-scale vegetation map for the Carrizo Plain National Monument in conjunction with the US Bureau of Land Management and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The map encompasses approximately 245,000 acres and is made up of nearly 20,000 individual polygons. It includes 86 vegetation types, of which 73 are natural vegetation types and 13 are non-natural or non-vegetated map units (e.g., playa, cliffs). All areas of natural vegetation were mapped at two levels of the floristic classification; the fine-scale alliance (analogous to a species) which is the preferred standard, and the more general group (analogous to a genus) or even macrogroup (analogous to family) levels when the alliance could not be interpreted from the aerial imagery. Looking at the map, it is easy to distinguish the large centrally located valley flanked to the northeast by the Temblor Range and to the southwest by the Caliente Range. The large number of smaller polygons in the mountains reflects the complex topography; there are discrete shifts in vegetation with each change in slope exposure. The fine-scale vegetation map will provide baseline data for long-term land management, conservation, and wildlife protection throughout the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The map and summary report will be available within the next couple of months.

Desert Vegetation Mapping in California

Over the past two years, large sections of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts have been mapped in a collaborative effort by Aerial Information Systems, Inc. (AIS), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP), CNPS Vegetation Program, California Energy Commission and the US Bureau of Land Management. The vegetation mapping was undertaken to assist with the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), the purpose of which is to conserve and manage plant and wildlife communities in the desert regions of California while facilitating the permitting of renewable energy projects. This mapping will provide decision makers with detailed information to help identify high quality habitat and rare communities that may require conservation or mitigation. Although the primary purpose of the mapping is to document vegetation communities, it also provides structural data such as herbaceous, shrub and tree cover, and information about the level of disturbance within the vegetation stand. These are important habitat factors for wildlife species in the lowland deserts.

During this mapping effort, AIS and CDFW delineated 107 different mapping units (including land forms and vegetation types) and 39,000 polygons within the Western Mojave Desert, and 32 mapping units and approximately 8,000 polygons within the Eastern Colorado Desert. Field accuracy assessment (AA) was conducted by CDFW in the Western Mojave and CNPS in the Eastern Colorado.

Species listed in the CNPS Rare Plant Inventory and observed during field AA in the Colorado Desert included Spiny Abrojo (Condalia globosa var. pubescens) California Rare Plant Rank (CRPR) 4.2 and Las Animas Colubrina (Colubrina californica, CRPR 2.3). Within the Western Mojave Desert, the Mojave Fishhook Cactus (Sclerocactus polyancistrus, CRPR 4.2) was observed. Special-status wildlife identified during AA includes the federally and state threatened Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), as well as Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), and Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma blainvillii), both California Species of Special Concern. See photos below of listed vegetation and wildlife.

San Bernardino National Forest Meadow Survey

Lilium parryi-Scott BatiukIn the summer of 2012, CNPS vegetation staff conducted watershed assessment surveys in wet meadows within the San Bernardino National Forest. We collected data on multiple vegetation types that have not previously been sampled extensively or at all, including communities dominated by clustered field sedge (Carex praegracilis) and by the CRPR-listed timberland blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium longipes). We also were able to relocate or find new occurrences of other CRPR-listed species such as Lemon lily (Lilium parryi) and San Bernardino Mountains owl's clover (Castilleja lasiorhyncha). The meadow vegetation is not well-sampled in this region of California and newly described sedge species need to be investigated throughout the San Bernardino Mountain range. In the future we look forward to working with the Riverside - San Bernardino Chapter to further our knowledge of the area by collecting more vegetation data in these uncommon vegetation types encountered during our surveys.

CNPS Vegetation Reports Available Online

The CNPS Vegetation Program has posted many of its Classification and Mapping Reports on the CNPS website here. Our reports describe the characteristic vegetation types of various locations where we have worked, such as western Riverside County and the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Two reports that have been posted in the past year are Vegetation Alliances and Associations of the Great Valley Ecoregion, California and Vegetation Assessment and Ranking of Fen and Wet Meadow Sites of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California.

A Manual of California Vegetation Database Project

Lilium parryi-Scott Batiuk

MCV2A Manual of California Vegetation, Second Edition (MCV2) is the result of more than ten years of active work in updating the CNPS signature publication on vegetation for the state. To increase exposure and broaden applications of the MCV2, CNPS is building a public web-based database system for archiving, accessing, and adding to this vegetation information. CNPS is actively working on the first phase of this project thanks to the help of recent private and agency donations. To learn more about this project, see this link.

2013 Marisla Foundation Grant Awarded to CNPS

CNPS has been awarded a $40,000 grant from the Marisla Foundation based on the strength of CNPS's education, conservation, and vegetation programs. CNPS is fortunate to have received funding from the Marisla Foundation since 1987 (then under its previous name, the Homeland Foundation), and is pleased that this tradition will continue through 2013. Grants from the Marisla Foundation are administered by the Orange County Community Foundation, and we are extremely grateful for the opportunities that this generous funding provides.

Upcoming CNPS Workshops

Further details, including a list of upcoming workshops in 2013, are available at Contact Josie Crawford for more information.

Heath BartoshRare Plant Survey Protocols - A Scientific Approach
Instructors: Heath Bartosh, Aaron Sims, with a lecture by Roxanne Bittman
Walnut Creek
March 20-21, 2013

This classroom and field course is designed to approach rare plant surveys using the best scientific information available. This scientific approach is built on conducting proper background review and literature searches, evaluating ecological information, assessing annual phenology, appropriate study design based on the scale of the survey area, survey execution, and adequate documentation of rare plant populations encountered.

Cost: CNPS members $310; Non-members $335


Carol WithamVernal Pool Plant Taxonomy
Instructors: Carol Witham and Jennifer Buck-Diaz
Various locations in Solano, Sacramento, and Yolo Counties
April 15-17, 2013

This three-day course is a combination of laboratory and field studies of the taxonomy of vernal pool plants with a focus on difficult genera. The first day will take place in the UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity where instructors will cover the distinguishing characters of several difficult genera in a lab setting. The following two days will be spent visiting hard pan and clay pan vernal pools with many rare and common vernal pool species.

Cost: CNPS Members $415; Non-members $440

California Rangeland Monitoring
Instructors: Jennifer Buck-Diaz and Ceci Dale-Cesmat
Merced and field site TBD
April 24 and/or 25, 2013

J. Buck-DiazCalifornia grasslands are incredibly rich in herbaceous plant species; however, most areas are labeled and mapped as “non-native grassland”. We know less about this vegetation than most other California habitats. This optional one or two day workshop is a collaboration between California Native Plant Society (CNPS), and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Day 1 - Maintaining grassland biodiversity and field site visit. Half day lecture/half day field visit.
Day 2 - Grassland vegetation sampling using the Relevé method. All day field survey training.

1st Day: $25, includes coffee/tea, breakfast snacks, and lunch.
2nd Day: CNPS Members $150; Non-members $175.
Total for both days is $175 CNPS members; $195 Non-members.

Details and registration for all workshops:

Chapter Events

To connect to your local chapter, or to find other events in your region, see this page for a list and map of CNPS chapters.

Napa Valley Chapter

Moss collection and photography in Napa County
Various dates starting February 1

Stephen Rae, Ph.D., Plant Ecologist/Bryologist, Master Gardener, and CNPS member, is looking for people interested in assisting him with collecting and photographing mosses in Napa County. This is an excellent opportunity for someone to learn more about the flora of Napa County. All collections will be deposited in the UC Davis herbarium; there will be no collecting of sensitive plant species. For more information or to contact Dr. Rae, see this link.

Bristlecone Chapter

Field Trip: Post-fire Debris Flows on Oak Creek
Saturday, February 2, 9:30 AM

Post-fire debris flows of July 12, 2008, on Oak Creek. Leader: Dave Wagner, California Geological Survey. Meet at 9:30 AM at the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery north of Independence. We'll carpool from there up the Oak Creek Canyon road. This trip is a follow up to Dave's presentation at the January 30th general chapter meeting and will feature the effects and hazards associated with debris flows. The trip will end around mid-day.

Marin County Chapter

Field Trip: Carson Falls/Carson Ridge Sunday, February 3, 10:00 AM

We'll start at the Pine Mountain Fire Road and climb through the serpentine barrens along Carson Ridge to the junction with Oat Hill about one mile out. If we're lucky, we'll see some early-flowering Mt. Tam manzanita. We'll then follow Oat Hill to the Carson Falls Trail and down to the falls, hiking a total of 1.7 miles from the trailhead. Along the way, we'll look for fetid-adder's tongue, milkmaids, and other early wildflowers. We'll lunch at the spectacular Carson Falls, and hopefully catch a glimpse of the endangered yellow-legged frogs that live there. Plant list available here (opens as a Word document). Meet at the Pine Mountain Fire Rd. trailhead, about one mile south of the Meadow Club on the Fairfax-Bolinas Rd. Heavy rain cancels. Call Amelia if in doubt. Leader: Amelia Ryan, (707) 481-9932.

South Coast Chapter

Program Meeting: California's Palette - Natural Dyes and California Native Plants
Monday, February 4, 7:30 PM

Native plants are beautiful, water-wise and life-friendly - but they also are useful. In this talk we'll consider California native plants from a natural dyer's perspective. Dr. Connie Vadheim, Biology Professor at CSU Dominguez Hills, will discuss the science of plant pigments including their chemistry, biology and why plants make them. Then we'll discuss the history, artistic and practical aspects of using native plant pigments as dyes. We'll be showing examples of yarn and other fibers dyed with California and Southwestern plant dyes. Of interest to native plant lovers and fiber artists alike- we'll even unveil some newly-dyed yarn as part of the talk. Location: South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 Crenshaw Boulevard, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274.

Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter

Program Meeting: So That's How They Do It! How Our Plant Communities Withstand Climate Extremes
Tuesday, February 12, 7:30 PM

Take a “walk” with Nancy Helsley, of the Mountains Restoration Trust's Cold Creek Docent program in a hands-on look at native vegetation without leaving your seat! “Walk” through various plant communities to look closely at some of the characteristics that have allowed the natural vegetation of the Santa Monica Mountains to survive extremes of climate change through the millennia. Since 1984 Nancy has served as a Board member of Mountains Restoration Trust and she is a Director with the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains. Location: First United Methodist Church, 1008 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA.

Sacramento Valley Chapter

Program Meeting: Alpine Plants of the High Sierra
Wednesday, February 13, 7:00 PM

The high southern Sierra Mountains contains some of the wildest country remaining in the United States. It is a habitat dominated by long winters and rocky granite slopes with little soil formation. In this seemingly barren environment, July and August reveals a surprising diversity of beautiful alpine wildflowers. During this brief growing season, hardy wildflowers take advantage of the warmer days and melting snow, amongst the boulders and scattered high meadows. These lofty gardens are a testament to California's rich diversity of life, even on the highest peaks in the state. Mary Maret, past Sac Valley CNPS President and local Sacramento botanist, will present a slideshow of these high alpine wildflowers in their spectacular landscapes that she and her family have visited during their many summer hikes into the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Location: Shepard Garden and Arts Center, McKinley Park, 3330 McKinley Blvd, Sacramento, CA.

Monterey Bay Chapter

Program Meeting: Zen and the Art of Mushroom Hunting
Thursday, February 14, 7:00 PM

With its cold and rain may not be the favorite field season for botanists, but here's a secret: fungi are the flowers of winter! Be prepared to be dazzled by the photographs and stories of the many interesting and beautiful, and ecologically essential species of fungi that are found here in California. Our speaker is particularly interested in the genus Amanita, which contains some of the choicest edibles as well as the most deadly fungi found around the world. Of particular note is Amanita phalloides (‘Death Cap'), which was inadvertently introduced to California in 1948, and is the first known instance of an invasive species of mycorrhizal fungi (fungi that have a symbiotic relationship with plants and trees). Speaker Debbie Viess is a Bay Area biologist and naturalist, writer and artist, and a popular public speaker throughout the United States. Visiting and book purchasing from 7:00; meeting and program Begin at 7:30. Location: Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, 165 Forest Ave, Pacific Grove, CA.

East Bay Chapter

Field Trip: Mount Olympia at Mount Diablo State Park
Sunday, February 17, 9:30 AM

Field trip leader Gregg Weber will return to the canyons above Clayton to see many late winter flowers, with possible performances by sun, sky, and clouds. Winter blooms to look for include two species of manzanita, violas, Nemophila, and some early tidy tips and Mt. Diablo jewelflower. This is a strenuous walk with a 2300 foot elevation gain on the way out, and all downhill on the return trip. The round trip distance is about 6 miles, so the trip will take 6-7 hours. Bring lunch and water, and be prepared for a wide range of temperatures. The trip will proceed despite official predictions of rain, and we will decide on the day of the trip if the weather is sufficiently inclement before postponement. If there is a heavy rain the trip will take place on February 24 at the same time. For detailed directions to the meeting site, see:

Orange County Chapter

Field Trip: El Moro Canyon, Crystal Cove St. Park
Sunday, February 17, 8:00 AM

Along with Laguna Canyon and Aliso Canyon, El Moro Canyon comprises one of the major coastal watersheds of The San Joaquin Hills. Oriented perpendicular to the coast and cutting about three miles into the foothills it offers a range of plants typical of our coastal foothills. Along the way, we will make a stop to pay our respects to Orange County's only native Valley Oak tree. Rain cancels – please check website for late updates. Meet at 8:00 at the day-use lot within the “Moro Canyon” parking area, located on the inland side of PCH, behind El Moro School. Once in the main lot, be sure to proceed to the “day-use” lot, to the right. This trip does require a $15 day use fee per vehicle (carpool if you can) or a State Parks Pass! Physical Difficulty: About 4 miles and moderate. Plant Intensity: Moderate. Time: Approx. 3 hours. Rain cancels – check the chapter's field trip page after 7:00 the evening before the trip for final weather and trip updates.

North Coast Chapter

Field Trip: Mad River Beach to Lanphere Dunes
Saturday, February 23, 9:00 AM

Even this early in spring some tiny things are blooming in the dunes. We will study them and watch for other treasures in the foredunes and swales paralleling the beach for about 2 miles. We will shuttle cars from the county park to the refuge, so we need walk only one way. Dress for the weather; bring lunch and water. Meet at 9:00 at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata). Return mid-afternoon. Please tell trip leader Carol (707-822-2015) that you are coming.

Santa Cruz County Chapter

Field Trip: Branciforte Creek
Saturday, February 23, 10:00 AM

Leader: Randall Morgan. Limit 15 people; RSVP required. Reprise of our inaugural walk, a leisurely half-riparian, half-urban stroll, this time at the freshest most verdant moment of the year. We will follow the creek from its concrete-channeled lower end to a pleasantly untrammeled stretch, with interesting backyards on the other side the whole way, then back via Market Street neighborhoods with all sorts of interesting highlights along the way. No end of things to interest a lover of plants. We'll cancel if it rains. Meet at 10:00 at the Santa Cruz Senior Center, 222 Market St. RSVP to Ken Moore. Be sure to put the date of the trip in the subject line and provide your name to reserve your spot.

Contributors and Photo Credits

  • Deborah Stout
  • Sarah Taylor
  • Scott Batiuk
  • Kendra Sikes
  • Julie Evens
  • Dan Gluesenkamp
  • Josie Crawford
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger
  • Deborah Stout - Desert Workshop Participants
  • Todd Keeler-Wolf - Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) in the Mojave Desert
  • Scott Batiuk - Lemon lily (Lilium parryi) near the San Gorgonio Ranger Station
  • Heath Bartosh - View of Devil's Pulpit and the Summit of Mount Diabl
  • Carol Witham - Vernal Pool
  • Jennifer Buck-Diaz - California grassland


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