California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

August 2013

CNPS Educational Grant proposals due Sept 30

CNPS logoEach fall, the CNPS Educational Grants Committee awards grants from 4 endowed funds. This year, due to a generous contribution from an anonymous donor, we will be able to offer roughly twice as much funding as usual. We now have an electronic submittal process which can be accessed with full details, on our website. Please spread the news far and wide to any students of the California flora. If you or someone you know would like to apply, please submit the proposal form on or before Sept 30, along with a letter of recommendation from an advising professor or the like. Non-students may also apply.

Save the dates: Jan 13-17, 2015

DoubleTree by Hilton, San Jose, CA

Preconference workshops and fieldtrips, January 13-14
Scientific Conference, January 15-17
Call for Abstracts opens in March, 2014

For more information and ways to participate go to:

10 Reasons to Treasure Hunt in California

CNPS logoby Kim Clark

  1. You love native habitats, and haven't been out in a while
    (it's blooming now)
  2. You are kind of addicted to native plants
    (we're here for you)
  3. You like outdoor adventure but don't have 4WD or wouldn't go down that road alone
    (there's comfort in numbers)
  4. You don't know much botany
    (learn by doing)
  5. You know a lot and go out on your own
    (share with the up-and-coming)
  6. California is big and gas is expensive
    (share the cost by going with others)
  7. You're busy / tired
    (enjoy the satisfaction that comes from volunteering and partake in nature's recharge)
  8. You like to feast on weekend campouts
    (your place at the table awaits)
  9. You enjoy the thrill of the hunt
    (it's its own reward)
  10. Conservation of native plants is important to you
    (Documenting rare plant occurrences helps substantiate their CNPS ranking)

Desert Monsoon

Story and photos by Duncan Bell

The summer storms have come to the California deserts and with them have come summer wildflowers. Some areas of the desert received multiple to many storms in July. At this time there is a great deal of germination going on out there with some areas already having carpets of wildflowers.

taken Aug. 13, 2013

It is not always easy to find these showy summer blooms as they can be highly localized and many of them are in places so remote that a great deal will go unseen by the human eye.

Summer blooms are tricky. Even if it does rain, it can be so hot that the rain will evaporate before hitting the ground. Summer monsoonal storms are heavy and fast so if the rain does make it to the ground it often does so in large volumes creating flash floods which carry that rain water miles from where it initially landed. When summer annuals germinate, the daily temperatures are often over 100 degrees which means they have to complete their life cycle as quickly as possible before burning up. Sometimes this can be as fast as three weeks, which means some of these flowers may only be in bloom for a week or less before they go to seed. So even if you are only a day or two late, you may have missed everything.

Mojave milkweed (Asclepias nyctaginifolia)
Mojave milkweed (Asclepias nyctaginifolia)

If you are lucky enough to find one of these areas you should expect to find such plants as chinch weed (Pectis papposa), trailing windmills (Allionia incarnata), California caltrops (Kallstroemia californica), the showy devils claw (Proboscidea althaeifolia) or other rarities such as Mojave milkweed (Asclepias nyctaginifolia), Abert’s sanvitalia (Sanvitalia albertii), squareseed spurge (Euphorbia exstipulata), nine awned pappus grass (Enneapogon desvauxii), and perhaps you may find Mexican panicgrass (Panicum hirticaule), the newest addition to the CNPS inventory, and a plant we worked with last summer that is now under threat in California by large scale solar projects.

Eastern Mojave
Eastern Mojave

The most promising areas this summer look like they may be the northern section of the Sonoran desert and the east Mojave. Summer annuals are special because it takes just the right natural events for them to occur and succeed- something that can happen in just the blink of an eye. We hope to see some of you rare plant hunters out there this season as we go in search for some of these hardy, brave, and at times reclusive, plants.

Rare Plants on the Central Coast

Bristlecone fir

In 2013 the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt made its debut on the Central Coast of California, with a big emphasis on the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas near Big Sur. We had some great experiences searching for rare plants and noxious weeds with the volunteers who came out on these trips, becoming very familiar with Corky Matthew's Monterey County Flora, braving trails lined with poison oak, gaining up to 3000 feet of elevation in a single day, and soaking in natural hot springs, creeks, and pools at day's end.

Continue reading here.

The Unexpected Wonder

By Kim Clark

click image to view larger

Desert treasure hunts hold the opportunity to find rare plants filling their niches with flowers after seasonal rains. Unbridled delight seeps in as we hike through habitat in its full-bloom glory, when both flora and fauna are caught taking advantage of the nutrients and resources du-jour to further their procreation agendas. And it’s often in this profuse interaction that we enjoy a peak human experience: wonder.

Plants and animals are entirely interdependent, down to the microscopic and molecular levels. And at the macroscopic, our camera lens discovers the tiniest of insects busy in the tiniest of niches within the milkweed flower, setting us to wonder about the details of their intimate relationship.

The ingenious desert tortoise waits near its self-dug watering trough, ready to wade in after rain and drink its fill. Giant saguaro swells with hundreds of gallons of tiny water molecules, towering with ginormous mass and stamina against the coming uncertainty, as the half-inch Linanthus goes from seed to flower to seed in just a few weeks.

Hoards of caterpillars consume entire plants, leaving nothing but cocoons and a dense scattering of recycled nitrogen. Beetles feast, display and mate. Tiny toads fatten up before estivation, and the mysteries of the past whisper from voluptuous sand dunes and pottery shards lying in the sun.

At dusk our thoughts turn to the beauty of our ecosystems and the amazing life-cycles we were privileged to witness. Our minds brighten, imagination and creativity stir, and we rise to meet the new day.

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.

Mount Lassen Chapter

Field Trip: Eagle Rock and Humboldt Summit, Lassen NF
Sunday, September 1, 8:30 AM

Meet at Chico Park & Ride west lot to leave by 8:30 a.m. Wear sturdy shoes and bring lunch, water, sun/insect protection and money for ride sharing. We'll drive up Highway 32 to the Butte Meadows area where we'll see the insectivorous pitcher plant. Then we'll drive 4 miles on a gravel road to Humboldt Summit at 6664' elevation. From here it is a 1-1/2 mile hike on mostly level trail to our destination and lunch stop, the picturesque Eagle Rocks. On our return we can make a short side trip to the top of Humboldt Peak at 7,087'. Call leader Gerry at 530-893-5123 for alternate meeting site.

Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter

Program Meeting: New and Continuing Threats to Native Oaks
Tuesday, September 10, 7:30 PM

Presented by Sabrina L. Drill, Ph.D. Will your favorite oak of today be here tomorrow? Sabrina Drill will introduce the newest pests (Goldspotted and Polyphagous Shot Hole Borers) to threaten Southern California's native oaks, discuss the latest research on their ecology and management, and bring us up to date on other oak issues, such as the continuing problems with sudden oak death. Sepulveda Garden Center, 16633 Magnolia Blvd., Encino.

Sacramento Valley Chapter

Program: California Native Plant Gardening, A Month-by-Month Guide, with author Helen Popper
Wednesday, September 11, 7:00 PM

California Native Plant Gardening, A Month-by-Month Guide by author Helen Popper is the first month-by-month guide to gardening with native plants in a state that follows a unique, nontraditional seasonal rhythm. Beginning in October, when much of California leaves the dry season behind and prepares for its own green “spring,” Helen Popper provides detailed, calendar-based California native plant gardening a month by month guide information for both beginning and experienced native gardeners. Each month’s chapter lists gardening tasks, including repeated tasks and those specific to each season. Popper offers planting and design ideas, and explains core gardening techniques such as pruning, mulching, and propagating. She tells how to use native plants in traditional garden styles, including Japanese, herb, and formal gardens, and recommends places for viewing natives. An essential year-round companion, this beautifully written and illustrated book nurtures the twin delights of seeing wild plants in the garden and garden plants in the wild. Shepard Garden and Arts Center, McKinley Park, 3330 McKinley Blvd, Sacramento.

Sierra Foothills Chapter

Sierra Gardening Symposium
Saturday, September 14
The Sierra Foothills Chapter of CNPS is hosting a symposium focused on growing native plants in the home landscape in the Mother Lode community of Sonora. Our keynote speaker will be seed producer and author Judith Larner Lowry. Other speakers include Julie Serences an expert on pollinators, retired nursery owner and NP gardening consultant Mary Anderson, and author Helen Popper. Click here for the brochure. For more info, please contact Patti Hohne at 209-753-4313.

Bristlecone Chapter

Fall Native Plant Sale
Saturday, September 14, 9:00 - 11:30 AM

A wonderful array of native plants are offered every year.  We’ve been busy coaxing from seed dozens of  brittlebush, various buckwheats, penstemons, Mojave aster, lupine and many more favorites! An updated pdf of plants currently growing for the sale is available for download as well. Plant prices are currently $5.00 for a small tree pot and $8.00 for gallon pots. Contact Katie if you have any questions.

Sequoia Chapter

Water Wise Plant Sale and Fair
Saturday, September 28, 8:00 AM to Noon

Guided tours, landscape design and garden experts will be on hand. Admission is free. Volunteers are needed. Please contact Thelma Valdez or Marian Orvis 226-0145. Clovis Botanical Garden, Dry Creek Park, 945 N. Clovis Ave., Clovis.

San Diego Chapter

Native Plant Gardening Symposium
Saturday, September 28, 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM

The region’s first large-scale Native Plant Gardening Symposium will be held Saturday, September 28th at the San Diego Girl Scout Balboa Campus in San Diego. The day-long event, sponsored in partnership with the Friends of Balboa Park, will offer exclusive access to five tracks of information, education and hands-on gardening. The Symposium is a one-day event, held from 8 AM to 2:30 PM, that will offer a selection of courses on a variety of topics, from garden design and benefits, to plant selection and installation, to water conservation and wildlife. Simultaneous tracks in different rooms will allow participants to select and attend the classes that interest them the most. The sessions are appropriate for people who are new or nearly-new to native plant gardening, although more experienced gardeners will still find worthwhile content. Tickets are $35 per person. Children under 12 years of age are free. For tickets and information, please visit, email, or call 619-318-4590.

Contributors and Photo Credits

  • Kim Clark
  • Duncan Bell
  • Danny Slakey
  • Josie Crawford
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger
  • Stacey Flowerdew - Wilkin's Harebell, Campanula wilkinsiana, California Rare Plant Rank 1B.2
  • Duncan Bell- View of the desert on 8/13/13
  • Danny Slakey - RPTH Central Coast Assistant Botanist Deanna Giuliano at the top of Cone Peak
  • Kim Clark - "Unexpected Wonder"




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