California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

October 2013

CNPS Grasslands Initiative Update

Pollen covered boots - Photo by Jennifer Buck-Diaz

With the fall colors and cool temperatures comes the anticipation of California's winter rains. For those of us who love the spring "eensy-aceae" (tiny flowers and grasses), everything is dependent on how this winter season turns out. Will the storms be strong and long-lasting enough to fill our vernal pools and keep them brimming for fairy shrimp and water-loving plants? Will the uplands of the San Joaquin Valley blind our eyes and dust our boots with acres of goldfields? Will the Sierra foothills glow gold and white with popping poppies and popcorn flowers under the new leaves of the blue oaks?

Each year affords distinctive features within the herbaceous landscape. The CNPS Vegetation Program has been studying (and delighting) in grassland vegetation in the San Joaquin Valley and the Carrizo Plain since 2008. In some cases, we've re-visited and collected plant data within the same plots multiple times in the past five years. A special understanding comes with repeat sampling at a site. Some years are breathtakingly showy like the spring of 2010; others are dry and dusty with exposed bare soil churned from rodent activity.

While annual plant species are not static over time in this region, there doesn’t appear to be a directional change in composition and abundance. Ideally, we'll resample our plots in another showy year like 2010 to determine if the composition returns to that expression. If vegetation patterns converge to a type characteristic of one of the earlier sample periods, the plant assemblage may be stable at a loose equilibrium over time.

A new report by CNPS summarizes research conducted under a three-year Conservation Innovation Grant funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The project had two main goals: 1) establish a baseline classification of natural grasslands, and 2) evaluate inter-annual changes of grassland communities. The report reveals an amazing diversity and variation of grassland vegetation within the Great Valley and Carrizo Plain.

We collected over 300 new field samples and compiled hundreds of additional grassland surveys into a large dataset for this region. With more than 1000 samples classified, we developed a floristic key and descriptions denoting 60 herbaceous associations nested within 30 alliances. This classification defines 7 new herbaceous alliances and 37 new herbaceous associations not previously published in the Manual of California Vegetation.

To read more about these new grassland types and our revisit analyses, click on the NRCS report here. Other online grassland resources can be found here. This coming spring will add another chapter to our growing knowledge of grasslands whether we have a dry or a wet winter, but it is hard not to hope for fields painted with color next year.

Photo by Jennifer Buck-Diaz

Photo by Jennifer Buck-Diaz

Sonoma County Vegetation Mapping & LIDAR Program

Vegetation sampling in Sonoma County. Photo by Jim Coleman.The CNPS Vegetation Program is currently collaborating on a project to classify and map the diverse vegetation of Sonoma County with substantial funding from the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (SCAPOSD) and other partners. The Sonoma County Vegetation Mapping and LIDAR Program, or Sonoma Veg Map, will result in a fine-scale vegetation and habitat map for the county, one step closer to getting the entire state of California mapped.

Working in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Tukman Geospatial LLC, and Prunuske Chatham Inc., we have begun collecting a minimum of 800 vegetation samples across the county’s 1.1 million acres. To achieve this goal, three local CNPS chapter members were hired alongside other state staff to collect vegetation samples and provide local knowledge and expertise of the flora. Vegetation sampling began this summer and fall of 2013. From the beautiful Pacific Coast to the Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountains, surveys have been collected throughout Sonoma County. Our recent efforts have focused on capturing the diversity of tree and shrub vegetation alliances such as oak woodland, redwood forest, and chaparral habitats, to name a few. CNPS staff and partners will return to Sonoma County in the spring of 2014 for a few more weeks of sampling to focus on riparian vegetation and herbaceous types when phenology is optimal. 

Photo by Sara Taylor

Photo by Julie Evens

CNPS Vegetation Program Seeks Volunteers and Habitat Photos

The CNPS Vegetation Program is currently seeking volunteers to help us in our Sacramento office as well as remotely on a variety of topics. See this link for more information.

The Program is also seeking contributions of photographs for an upcoming coffee-table book about the regional diversity and importance of vegetation assemblages in California. If you have taken high quality photos of breath-taking habitats that are near and dear to you, please consider sharing them with us by contacting Jaime Ratchford. We specifically need photos from the Central Valley, North Coast Ranges, and South Coast. Click this link for examples of the type of photos we are seeking.

Photo by Julie Evens

McKenzie Preserve, Photo by Jennifer Buck-Diaz.

CNPS Selected For G2 Gallery's Annual Stocking Fundraiser

CNPS logoThe California Native Plant Society has been chosen as one of the eight non-profit organizations featured as part of G2 Gallery's annual Stocking Fundraiser. Stockings will be hung in the gallery labeled by organization name and guests are encouraged to donate to the nonprofits of their choice. Holiday stockings will be on display from Nov. 28- Dec. 31.

Of special interest to CNPS members, from November 9 - January 5, the G2 Gallery is showing From the Ashes: A California Wildfire Recovery, photographed by Michael Caley, featuring never-before-seen images following the devastating 2009 Station Fire in the Angeles National Forest. The opening reception will be November 9 from 6:30 - 9:00 PM, and includes wine, hors d'oeuvres, and complimentary valet service. Proceeds from the $10 admission fee benefit CNPS. Please RSVP to The G2 Gallery is located at 1503 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291.

On Facebook? Join the CNPS Facebook Group!

Recent shared photos from CNPS Facebook Group.If you’re on Facebook, consider joining the CNPS Facebook Group. Facebook Groups, unlike "fan pages", were designed to make it easier for people with a common interest to communicate and share content with each other. On the CNPS Group, you can post a picture of a mystery plant and have people from across the state pitch in their best guesses. Share events in your area or find out about a new species that was discovered near your town! Recent pictures include showy buckwheats, succulents from the desert and coastal islands, and dainty ferns flourishing in the cool fall season. Have a question about the use of redwood as mulch, what species to plant in your Orange County yard, or if the desert is blooming yet? Get the answers online and make a few comments of your own. With almost 3,000 members socially connected on the CNPS Facebook Group, we can all share our knowledge and passion for native plants.

Northern California Botanists to Present a Symposium

On January 13-14, 2014, Northern California Botanists will present a two-day symposium titled Northern California Plant Life: Botany for a Changing World at California State University, Chico, plus a third day of workshops. Also included: a poster session, reception, banquet, keynote speaker. Student stipends available. For details, see:

Upcoming CNPS Workshop

Vegetation Mapping Workshop Vegetation Mapping workshop

Instructors: Dr. Todd Keeler-Wolf (CDFW), John Menke (AIS), and Julie Evens (CNPS)

Location: CNPS, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CNFW), and Aerial Information Systems (AIS) University of Redlands and the Potrero unit of the San Jacinto Wildlife Area

Dates: Feb- 11-13, 2014

Course Description: Participants will learn about vegetation sampling, classification, and photo interpretation in this hands-on workshop presented jointly by CNPS, CDFW and AIS. In field and computer lab exercises you will practice creating a vegetation map using Geographic Information Systems, collect reconnaissance samples supporting an existing vegetation classification, and practice techniques of photo interpretation, delineation, and attribution. You will also learn how to validate a vegetation map through accuracy assessment. Experience with GIS is recommended but not required.

Cost: Members $665 / Non-members $690
Registration opens soon.

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.

East Bay Chapter

Point Isabel Native Plant Restoration Work Party
Saturday, November 2, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Come out and help remove invasive plants and re-vegetate with native plants grown from plants found at the site. Tools provided. Bring water and a hat. We are at the end of Rydin Road just off the I-580 next to Hoffman Marsh. See this link for a map of the location: Point Isabel Regional Shoreline. Organized by Tom and Jane Kelly. Contact: Email or call (510) 684-6484.

San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

Fall Native Plant Sale
Saturday, November 9, 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM

A large variety of well-priced and unusual California native plants and wildflower seeds will be available. Appropriate forgardens in the Los Angeles Basin, these beautiful native plants provide good habitat, and are attractive to birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. Many are drought tolerant, requiring less water than most other garden plants. Knowledgeable chapter members will be on hand to answer questions and offer recommendations. CNPS members receive a discount; memberships are available at the sale. A plant list is available at Eaton Canyon Nature Center, 1750 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena, CA 91107.

Riverside/San Bernardino Chapter

Plant Sale and Free Landscaping Workshop
Saturday, November 9, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Make your garden water-wise, beautiful, wildlife friendly, and save on your water bills! Popular and hard to find native plants, seeds, and bulbs. Experts will be on hand to answer your questions during the sale. Discounts and prizes available for new and renewing CNPS members. 11 AM-12:30 PM- a free workshop, "Landscaping with California Native Plants" will be taught by Susan Jett. Learn how California natives save water, and animal and insect species, and why fall and early winter are the best times to plant. WMWD Landscapes Southern California Style Water Conservation Gardens, 450 E. Alessandro Blvd, Riverside 92508.

Mount Lassen Chapter

Sunday, November 10, 10:00 AM
Old USDA Plant Introduction Station Arboretum

The group will meet at 10 a.m. at the Mendocino National Forest Genetics and Conservation Resource Center on Cramer Lane to see some of the original trees, including Tung oil, Shantung maple and camptotheca, that originated those industries. Includes an easy, paved nature trail. 2741 Cramer Ln Chico, CA 95973. For information, call Wes Dempsey at 893-5123.

Redbud Chapter

Briar Patch Work Day
Sunday, November 10, 8:30 AM

We will work on preparing the native habitat garden site for a late November planting day (date yet to be scheduled). Volunteers who are BP members will receive volunteer hours credits if they wish. We will be pruning, removing some shrubs, perennials and weeds, creating a rock-lined drainage ditch, moving rocks and soil in wheelbarrows, relocating manzanita branches, raking gravel, possibly installing gravel on paths and under the shade structure, and hopefully getting the drip system operational. Dress appropriately and don't forget your gloves. Some tools will be available but you are encouraged to bring your own. Contact person is Nancy Gilbert 530-272-4775. Briar Patch Co-Op, 290 Sierra College Dr., Grass Valley, CA 95945.

Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter

Keep Your Green! Sustainable Landscape Consultations
Thursday, November 12, 7:30 - 9:30 PM

The Resource Conservation District is providing on-site consultations for home and business owners on how to save water, money and improve water quality by initiating sustainable landscaping solutions on their properties. "Keep Your Green" refers to the money ("green") saved through a reduced water bill and (green) climate-appropriate plants. The on-site consultation model is a perfect fit with the RCD's long-term commitment toward soil and water conservation, water quality protection, erosion control, oak health, fire-safe landscaping and native habitat restoration. Presented by Steven M. Williams, a conservation biologist on the staff of the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains. Williams has been trained in Sustainable Landscaping, Habitat Restoration, and Permaculture Design. Sepulveda Garden Center 16633 Magnolia Blvd, Encino 91406.

Marin Chapter

Lichen Walk on Mount Vision, Pt. Reyes National Seashore
Wednesday, November 13, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Meet at the parking lot at the end of Mt Vision Rd. Join Shelly Benson, the president of the California Lichen Society, for a walk through a mature stand of coyote bush to view an amazing display of cyanolichens. Don’t know what cyanoliches are? Well, come on this walk and find out! Lichens are found all around us, growing in nearly every habitat; however, they are commonly overlooked. These cryptic organisms have been used to monitor air quality since the early 1800s. Within the last 20 years, researchers have found that lichens are sensitive to climate change. Click here for a species list of the common lichens at Cascade Canyon.

North Coast Chapter

"Glacier's Last Stand: a Flora of a Trinity Alps Sky Island"
Wednesday, November 13, 7:30 PM

Join three local ecologists on a personal journey of discovery into the coldest nook and possibly the shortest growing season in the Klamath Mountains. At the base of one of the region's two remaining vestigial glaciers, learn how passionate volunteer science leads to the unearthing of a little known natural history. Once a year, Justin Garwood, Michael van Hattem, and Ken Lindke venture into this wonderland to map the glacier’s blue ice and define the diversity of pioneering plants that survive at its foot. With the field work completed, now they strive to put it all together, compare it to past work, and update what is known about the botanical treasures from the last vestiges of a much colder time in the Klamath Mountains. Six Rivers Masonic Lodge, 251 Bayside Rd., Arcata 95521. Refreshments at 7:00 p.m.; Botanical FAQ at 7:15 p.m., and program at 7:30 p.m.

Yerba Buena Chapter

Plant Identification Workshop
Thursday, November 14, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

If you are interested in learning to key plants or to increase your plant recognition skills, join the informal, relaxed, and very popular Plant Identification Workshops where graduate students in Botany at San Francisco State will help you learn to key plants. Bring a hand lens and a Jepson Manual if you own one. Meet at Hensill Hall, Room 440, San Francisco State University. Transit: 19th Avenue & Holloway St. Contact: Mila Stroganoff.

Milo Baker Chapter

Mushrooms of Northern California with Rachel Zierdt
Tuesday, November 19, 7:30 PM

Rachel is on the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Mycological Association (SOMA). She will share information about the great variety of mushrooms there are, how to find them, and how to identify them. Talk begins at 7:30 PM, optional Plant ID Hour begins at 6:45 PM. Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center at 2050 Yulupa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95405.

Channel Islands Chapter

"Interesting Things I Have Learned From Dudleyas"
Thursday, November 21, 6:30 - 8:30 PM

Speaker: Tom Mulroy, PhD. Join CNPS and Tom in his talk: Interesting Things I Have Learned From Dudleyas. Dudleya is the genus for the small succulents from mostly California. There are a number of Dudleya species that are quite rare, and some that are common. The common name for the genus is Live-forever. The talk will begin at 7:00 PM. Come at 6:30 PM for socializing, identifying plants, and exchanging natives from your home gardens. Refreshments will be served. Contact Andrea for more information at 684-8077. Blakesley Library, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, 1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.

Kern County Chapter

Program Meeting: Xeriscaping
Thursday, November 21, 6:00–9:00 PM

Hall Ambulance Community Room 1031 21st St, Corner of N St. & 21st St, Bakersfield 93301. 6:00–7:00 P.M. L. Maynard Moe: Family/genus identification. 7:00 P.M. Speaker: Richard Shiell. Topic: Xeriscaping, techniques to conserve water in your yard and garden.

El Dorado Chapter

Analyzing Your Site to Make a Landscaping Plan
Tuesday, November 26, 6:30 PM

Successful landscaping requires an analysis of the site's physical, biological, and climatic constraints. Questionnaires can identify limiting factors and ways to either accept or mitigate those limitations. Dr. Debra Ayres will explain how to analyze all of the many factors one encounters in the foothills when planning a garden. She started her career as a landscape designer and Master Gardener in El Dorado County before she returned to graduate school to become a plant ecologist. Lobby Meeting Room of the El Dorado County Library, 345 Fair Lane, Placerville 95667.


Contributors and Photo Credits

  • Jennifer Buck-Diaz
  • Julie Evens
  • Kendra Sikes
  • Jaime Ratchford
  • Sara Taylor
  • Snowdy Dodson
  • Josie Crawford
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger
  • Jennifer Buck- Diaz - Pollen covered boots
  • Jim Coleman - Veg sampling in Sonoma County
  • Julie Evens - Overview of Sierra Foothills, Mariposa County
  • A sample of recent photos shared by members of the CNPS Facebook Group
  • Vegetation Map Example




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