California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

March 2013

To Bee or Not To Bee

Debbie Ballentine

D. BallentineEuropean honeybees were my first insect love affair at the age of 8. They don’t have big brains, but they communicate with each other and work towards a common cause. This seemed otherworldly to me as a young girl. Over time native bees and pollinators took the place of honeybees in my heart. (Sorry Apis mellifera, I was only 8.) I’m far from an expert, yet I delight in these pollinators. This drives me to learn and share what I learn.

Pollinators… who are they and what do they need?

Although we might not think about it much, pollinators provide important services to humans and the ecosystem. They are critical to the survival of plants, animals and humankind.

Continue reading here.

The Manzanita!

Rob Moore

R. MooreOne of the greatest joys as a designer of native gardens in California is working with Arctostaphylos, a.k.a., Manzanita. I can trace my interest in these plants all the way back to my early childhood. One of my favorite pastimes at this early stage of life was taking roadtrips with my grandpa to the backcountry of San Diego County. We would drive up Old Highway 80 to a roadside spring known as Ellis Wayside rest stop, where we would eat lunch at a picnic table under the Oak trees.

I was fascinated with the history of that meandering old concrete highway and the circuitous path it wound through giant boulders jutting out of the chaparral. Manzanita covered the hillsides and I remember being intrigued by their smooth red bark and how green the country side was year-round.

Continue reading here.

Framing the Garden

Saxon Holt

S. HoltThis is the third installment in a continuing series of stories on getting better pictures of native plant gardens into the media. The series focuses on two themes: how to take better pictures and how to design gardens that photograph better. Read the first two articles, here and here

When I frame up a garden in my camera for a photograph I do many of the same things a designer will do when planning a garden. I look for ways to frame a composition that takes advantage of shapes and lines that will hold the composition together.

Think of the big picture, the overall view of the garden. With a camera, use the edges of the camera frame itself and fill it with only those elements that contribute to the story you want to tell. With the garden design, use the outer edges of the garden and work to fill the inside with plants and hardscape that harmonize the entire site and punctuate for accent and depth.

Continue reading here.

Third Annual California Native Plant Week

CNPW 2013California Native Plant Week (CNPW), a week dedicated to the appreciation, education, and conservation of California's flora, is coming April 14-21, 2013! The California Native Plant Week calendar is frequently updated but already has two dozen events across the state from Ridgecrest to Redding. Keep checking back for native plant sales, wildflower shows, gardening workshops, lectures, hikes, garden tours, and more near you. If you are involved in other organizations that have an interest in California's native plants, invite them to participate! Do you know of a CNPW event that is not on the calendar? Please send the event details, including type of event, date, time, location, and contact info (if applicable) to

Eastern Sierra Spring Sojourn Registration Due Soon

Big Pine in early spring, with Sierra and hillsides of Coreopsis bigelovii in bloom Photo by Steve MatsonThe Bristlecone Chapter will once again host the Eastern Sierra Spring Sojourn May 31 through June 2, 2013. The gathering place for programs, field trips and accommodations for out-of-town participants will be at the Sierra Adventure Center at Bernasconi located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains west of Big Pine at an elevation of about 5000 feet. Meals, cabins and camping facilities will be provided. We will offer several amazing field trips, with four to five to choose from on both Saturday and Sunday. Field trips, lead by local wildflower experts, will cover much of the diversity of our area in and around the Owens Valley, from the east slope of the Sierra Nevada to the White and Inyo Mountains. Also: Friday evening slideshow and Saturday evening banquet and presentation by Steve Matson on topic, “Botanizing Big Pine.” Registration deadline is April 29th. Mail-in registration form (pdf) is here. Hurry- space is limited!

Upcoming Rare Plant Communities Initiative Training in Nevada County

Hell's Half Acre - S. FlowerdewAs part of the Rare Plant Communities Initiative (RPC), the CNPS Vegetation Program is conducting chapter based workshops. The next field based sampling/mapping workshop is scheduled to be held with the Redbud Chapter at Hell’s Half Acre in Nevada County April 23-24. This workshop will focus on techniques to identify and survey rare natural communities using our combined CNPS/CDFW protocols. Hell’s Half Acre is a special bit of botanical heaven in the Sierra Nevada foothills where acres of brilliant wildflowers bloom in spring. Surrounded by pine and oak forest, Hell’s Half Acre is a distinctive open habitat sometimes called a “Mehrten meadow”. The cost of the workshop is $25 for CNPS members, $65 for non-members that includes a one-year membership to CNPS. The precise meeting location, agenda, and options for lodging (with specifics on camping and hotels, as well as important items to bring) will be sent out to participants in April. If you are able to attend, please RSVP to Deborah Stout no later than April 12, 2013, so that we can arrange travel plans and other specifics. The Vegetation Program staff looks forward to meeting and working with Redbud chapter members and other volunteers!

CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Trips

RPTH by Amber SwansonThe Rare Plant Treasure Hunt (RPTH) is a citizen-science program started by CNPS in 2010 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.This program helps conserve our rare flora by providing invaluable data to the CNPS Rare Plant Program and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Sign up for the mailing list to be notified of upcoming events by sending an email to New trips are added frequently. Check the RPTH Calendar for a treasure hunt in your region! 

Upcoming CNPS Workshops

Further details are available at Contact Josie Crawford for more information.

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

Carol WithamThis 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
UC Cooperative Extension and Chace Ranch, Merced
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.

Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations
Instructor: John Willoughby
Bodega Marine Lab and Reserve
May 7-9, 2013

Lupine and Workshop Participants - Josie CrawfordTopics cover principles of sampling and several sampling designs, field techniques for measuring vegetation, analyzing monitoring data and presenting results. Participants will receive a copy of the BLM-published book, Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations, by Caryl Elzinga, Dan Salzer, and John Willoughby, a notebook of all materials covered and a CD with additional materials to help with monitoring programs.

Cost: CNPS members $395; Non-members $420
3 nights lodging and meals: ($96/day) $288*
2 nights lodging and meals: $192

*Note that the workshop begins at 8:00am on Tuesday, so most of us will arrive late Monday. Dinner Monday is included in cost above for 3 nights lodging and meals. Lodging rooms may need to be shared with one other person.

Riparian and Wetland Plant Identification
Instructor: David Magney
Casitas Springs Community Center, Ventura
May 21-22, 2013

This is an intensive introductory/intermediate course on riparian and wetland plant identification and ecology. It is geared towards anyone who wants or needs to improve their knowledge and skills about riparian/wetland plants. Emphasis will be given to southern California species and habitats; however, information learned in this class will be readily applicable throughout California and elsewhere.

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

Riparian Ecology and Restoration
Instructors: Bruce Orr and Amy Merrill
Davis and various locations
June 5-7, 2013

Bruce Orr is for Riparian Ecology and RestorationThis workshop will include a day of lecture and discussion that provides a conceptual framework for riparian ecology and the natural processes that sustain riparian systems (day 1). The remaining days will include at-site lectures and field visits to riparian areas within a one to two hour drive of Davis. The workshop begins in Davis, the second day is at Cosumnes Preserve, and the third day begins on Mount Tamalpais and ends at Muir Beach, in Marin County.

Cost: CNPS members $395; Non-members $420. 

Details and registration for all workshops:

Chapter Events - A Sampling from Around the State

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. Don't forget to check the California Native Plant Week calendar for more events in April.

El Dorado Chapter

Spring Native Plant Sale
Saturday, April 6, 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

The chapter plant sales only come along twice a year but they are always popular and sell out fast. They are typically held on the first Saturday in April and October. These buildings are directly across the street from the Main El Dorado County Library. We offer grasses, perennials, shrubs and trees suitable for the foothills of El Dorado County, as well as seed packets of native spring annuals, and native plant bulbs. For a list of what will be available click this pdf. There will also be an extremely diverse offering of books on native plant horticulture, the basics of botany, and field guides for all aspects of natural history. Cash and checks only: all sales final! Location: in front of County Government Buildings A and B at 330-360 Fair Lane, Placerville.

San Diego Chapter

Advanced Field Trip: Proposed Wilderness Area in Cleveland NF
Sunday, April 7, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

The upper headwaters of Cedar Creek descend quickly down a steep canyon that is not easily accessible and has seen little botanical records as a result. However, the creek can be traversed, as long as a hiker is willing to get wet feet and scramble on boulders. The goal of the field trip will be see this rarely visited area, and document the flora that would be protected as part of a new wilderness in the Cleveland National Forest, if it is granted this status by Congress. Information about the species found could help support the position it is worthy of this title. Trip leader Cindy Buxton has been up and down Cedar Creek and wants others to see if they agree that it is a special place worthy of recognition. Those who are fit, and willing enough to join her, will have a chance to judge for themselves. The elevation loss/gain will be around 1,000 ft total, and the route will be gnarly. Meet at Dudley's Bakery at 9 AM and caravan to the trailhead. Wear long pants and sleeves and footwear with ankle support that will take getting wet, bring 3 quarts of water and lunch. Bring a change of clothes and your preferred method of combating dermatitis, in case you encounter poison oak. Rain at 7 AM will cancel. For any questions you may have, email Kay.

Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter

Program: Landscapes of Import: Field Notes from the Colorado and Owens Rivers
Tuesday, April 9, 7:30 - 9:00 PM

For the better part of a century, municipalities throughout Southern
California have relied on distant water sources to quench the thirst of an ever-expanding population. While these deliveries have supported the growth of industry, agriculture and settlement throughout the region, they have also profoundly altered the landscapes that supply the water. Curious to see the effects of our consumption, we visited two of the most impacted waterways in the West. During our explorations, we encountered monumental infrastructure, tremendous habitat loss, and restoration efforts that continue to this day in earnest. Join us as we share experiences that helped us better understand the implications of water use and appreciate the lessons to be learned in seemingly far-away places. Presenters: Joshua Link, registered landscape architect, urban designer, graphic artist and writer; and Aron Nussbaum, landscape and urban designer and co-founder of Ecotone Studios. The First United Methodist Church, 1008 11th Street, Santa Monica.

San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

The Fourth Annual Mickey Long Desert Field Trip: PiƱon Hills
Saturday, April 13, 9:00 AM

We will visit a private Arroyo and Foothills Conservancy property in the eastern Antelope Valley, in the general vicinity of Piñon Hills between 248th Street and a private road south of Fort Tejon Road. It supports a desert woodland of California juniper and Joshua tree. A rich diversity of desert shrubs is distributed over the property. Except for adjacent dirt roads, no significant land disturbance has occurred for a number of miles on any side of the property - it's in nearly pristine condition. A visit in June 2012 found 27 native plants in bloom, and we hope to find many more on this April trip. Directions: Meet 9 a.m. at the McDonald's restaurant adjacent to the I-15 and 138 intersection. Leader Mickey Long.

Willis L. Jepson Chapter

Earth Day in the Garden
Saturday, April 13, 9:00 AM

California State Parks Foundation's 16th Annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup. Forrest Deaner Native Plant Botanic Garden, Benicia State Park Recreation Area. Community tending/cleanup, 9:00-12:00, followed by a lunch provided by the Fruit Guys and Kind Healthy Snacks, Benicia State Parks Association, and the CNPS Jepson chapter. All ages and skills are welcome. Come dressed to get dirty. A hat, sunscreen, and gloves are highly recommended! Register online at and select Benicia State Recreation Area. Registration is recommended so that we can plan for sufficient activities and lunches, but no one who shows up to help without prior registration will be turned away. Meet at the Botanic Garden in the Benicia State Recreation Area of Interstate 780 between Benicia and Vallejo (Exit at Columbus Parkway). Parking fees will be waived by California State Parks for volunteers, but carpooling is recommended as parking is limited. For more information contact Dan at 707-980-4419 or send an email.

Kern County Chapter

Field Trip: Carrizo Plain National Monument
Saturday, April 13, 8:30 AM

Denis Kearns, BLM Botanist, will lead us on the trip to the Carrizo Plain National Monument. This field trip is limited to 20 people due to limits prescribed for such tours in the BLM Management Plan, so RSVP to Patty Gradek as soon as possible. The Carrizo Plain is a magical, beautiful place - especially in the spring. We may see fiddleneck, filaree, tidy tips, thistle sage, owl’s clover, encelia, eriophyllum, parry’s mallow and larkspur. Please meet at the parking lot of the BLM office at 3801 Pegasus Drive, Bakersfield at 8:30am for carpooling. It will be best to use 4 wheel drive or high clearance vehicles to get to some of the special sites. We will leave promptly at 8:45am. This will be a full day field trip. There are restrooms at the Visitor Center.

Marin Chapter

37th Annual Marin Chapter Spring Native Plant Sale
Saturday, April 13, 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM

We’ve been growing a large variety of native plants at our volunteer-powered nursery located within Green Point Nursery, 275 Olive Ave., at Atherton Ave., in Novato. We’ll have unusual annuals, a selection of flowering perennials (some grown from locally collected seed), lots of bunch grasses, various Salvias and a selection of shrubs and trees. Native seeds are also offered; choose from more than 60 different species! You will be able to see many of the plants offered for sale growing in our Native Demonstration Garden, and we’ll have experts on hand to help with your selections. Native plant books, posters, cards will also be on sale. Closer to the date, find more information at

Redbud Chapter

Program: "A Growing Restoration Program in the Yuba Watershed"
Wednesday, April 24, 7:30 PM

The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) has been steadily growing their restoration program over the past few years. In SYRCL’s new strategic plan, they have identified three goals: rehabilitating the lower Yuba River with an emphasis on salmon habitat, restoring the health of mountain meadows, and protecting the river corridors from invasive species. These goals have manifested in several projects including the Hammon Bar Riparian Enhancement project on the lower Yuba River, several aspen regeneration projects in meadows and a newly developed invasive weed removal program. Adele Rife, SYRCL’s AmeriCorps Restoration Coordinator, will be joining the Redbud Chapter to present these up-and-coming restoration initiatives in the Yuba Watershed. Location: Madelyn Helling Library, 980 Helling Way, Nevada City.

South Coast Chapter

19th Annual Spring Garden Tour
Saturday, April 27, 9:30 AM or 1:30 PM

This tour is a great opportunity to see and learn about California native plants from our experts, Tony Baker and Ric Dykzeul, who will lead the tour. Bring your cameras and note pads! Tour takes approximately 2.5 hours and features three gardens in the Palos Verdes Area. Donation: $20 members, $25 non-members. Space is limited, so call Loretta Rose at 310-629-0500 for reservations any day from 9 AM to 7 PM. All ticket sales are done by phone and the tickets will be mailed to your address prior to the event. To download a copy of the garden tour flyer click here.

Sacramento Valley Chapter

Wildflower Wonders
Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wildflower Wonders is the annual Earth Day event by this chapter of the California Native Plant Society with a plant sale, walks, talks, art, games, kids events, and more. This year’s WW will be a showcase of native plants in their natural habitats of our greater Sacramento region. We will highlight wildflowers and plants from these local habitats: oak woodland, vernal pool & prairie, riparian woodland, and chaparral. Hundreds of fresh-cut native wildflowers, shrubs, trees, and grasses illustrate each display. Rounding out each habitat area are inspiring photographs of the landscape. Expert naturalists provide friendly and knowledgeable interpretation at each exhibit. We will also have a Gardening Expert table and a Maintenance Table - for those of you with questions about native plants already in your garden. Join CNPS or renew your CNPS membership and choose a free plant from Elderberry Farms! Suggested donation: $5, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. For further information, please contact Chris Lewis, Event Coordinator, at 916 812-2876. If you would like volunteer at this awesome event, please email Chris. Location: 2140 Chase Dr, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670 on the American River Parkway at Soil Born Farms.

North Coast Chapter

Field Trip: Wildflowers in a Hydesville Forest
Sunday, April 28, 1:00 - 3:00 PM

A dappled, deciduous forest along a sparkling stream, sprinkled with sprigtime gems like trillium, fairybells, bleeding heart, and Solomon's plume, is only one treat on show by hosts Bill and Linda Shapeero in Hydesville. A shady, grand fir forest and sunny, pasture edges offer other habitats alive with flowers and fresh, green herbaceous plants and shrubs, almost all native. Led by Carol Ralph and Janelle Egger. From 101 at the south end of Fortuna take the Highway 36 exit, go about 3 miles up to Hydesville, turn left at the church onto Rohnerville Rd., go about 1 mile, turn right onto Puddin Ln. at the bottom of a gulch, follow signs and balloons to Shapeero. The ground may be damp. Information: 768-3287 or 822-2015.


Contributors and Photo Credits

  • Debbie Ballentine
  • Rob Moore
  • Saxon Holt
  • Laura Camp
  • Caroline Garland
  • Josie Crawford
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger
  • Debbie Ballentine - Long-horned bees
  • Rob Moore - Snowy Manzanita in Idyllwild 2009
  • Saxon Holt - The fence as a photographic "Punctuation Point"
  • Steve Matson - Big Pine in Early Spring
  • Stacey Flowerdew - Hell's Half Acre
  • Amber Swanson - Rare Plant Treasure Hunters
  • Carol Witham - Vernal Pool
  • Jennifer Buck-Diaz - California grassland
  • Josie Crawford - Lupine and Workshop Participants
  • David Magney - Wetland Plant ID
  • Bruce Orr - Riparian Ecology & Restoration


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