California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

December 2013

Please Help CNPS Double a Special Donation!


Exciting news: a generous donor just gave $27K in support of the CNPS Rare Campaign for rare plants and places, asking that we use their gift to inspire others to contribute. Will you please help to match that generous gift?

To help with this goal, please click on the donate button above or visit It's easy to earmark your donation to the Rare Campaign: just click on the pulldown menu at the end of the donation form that lets you earmark your gift and select "Rare Campaign." As always, donations to support the important work of CNPS are tax deductible.

A Timely Donation

CNPS had a very pleasant surprise at the recent Chapter Council meeting on December 7th. Our South Coast Chapter (which covers the southern part of Los Angeles County and the southern section of the Channel Islands) donated a whopping $10,000 from their Conze Bequest to jump start the Horticulture Program.

The fund that the South Coast Chapter drew from for this contribution was based on a bequest from one of the founding members of the chapter. Elaine Conze was one of the 22 charter members in 1982. She was active with the Chapter through the late 1990s and passed away January 12, 2008, at the age of 97.

The gift is greatly appreciated because it was spontaneous and shows the interest that so many chapters have in the gardening aspects of native plants. We expect this to encourage other chapters, individuals and supporters to donate as well.

CNPS Executive Director Dan Gluesenkamp and Horticulture Director Susan Krzywicki are working on how best to maximize this contribution for the good of all. There are so many good ideas waiting to be implemented: helping chapters with symposia, garden tours, workshops, plant sales and other outreach activities. We will be generating discussion about the myriad issues that touch on horticulture: genetic contamination, the use of local endemics, nursery practices and how to best use home gardens for additional habitat in the built environment.

Winter Frosts: Preparing the Garden for Weather

Susan Krzywicki

Native plants can be harmed by unexpected cold weather, including large amounts of snowfall, just like their exotic counterparts. In a completely natural setting this would rarely occur, since these species are adapted to the variable temperature range. However, in the built environment, frost damage is increasingly likely since we frequently use native plants from other regions. Plants that originated in Southern California, the Channel Islands or in our low deserts look lovely in gardens, and when winter comes, they may be at the edge of their cold-tolerance range.

Continue reading here

How to Have a Native Plant Garden, Part One: Planning

Peyton Ellas

Cleveland Sage - Peyton Ellas
Cleveland Sage - Peyton Ellas

This article is the first in a series adapted from Peyton Ellas's native gardening series in the Porterville Recorder. Watch for upcoming installments in future hort-themed newsletters.

One of the decisions to make early, before you start buying plants, is what kind of native plants you want. Do you want nothing but “bullet-proof” species? Or do you want to do the research (or ask a pro) to find only the plants that will like your garden conditions? Or do you want to include some (or a lot) of trial-and-error species? There are no wrong answers. Having an idea, however, of what you want will help you avoid disappointment and extra expenses.

Working with California native plants, I've learned that in some ways they are not that different from non-native species. Find the right plants for the  garden's soil, sun and water, and they are easy to grow and maintain. The further you stretch out of a plant's comfort zone, the higher maintenance it will require.

Continue reading here

California Native Sage Shortbread

Susan Krzywicki

Susan Krzywicki - Hummingbird Sage
Hummingbird Sage - photo by Susan Krzywicki

I love shortbread – crumbly and rich – it is perfect for the holidays.

This recipe is not too sweet and you can use any of several varieties from your garden. I love hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea) for this.


  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 California native salvia leaves, grown organically, washed & dried
  • Extra granulated sugar for sprinkling on top, if desired

Continue reading here.

In and Out: Bart O'Brien

Bart O'BrienRecently Bart O’Brien left a position in Southern California and joined a Northern California institution. The following two articles reflect these changes and it is a wonderful tribute to Bart, which we wanted to bring to your attention as a “set”. Bart is a longtime CNPS member, and has been active in a variety of high-level positions, including editor of Fremontia, the journal of CNPS, from 2006 to 2009.

Welcoming Bart O'Brien, the East Bay Regional Parks Botanic Garden's New Director

Sue Rosenthal

When Wayne Roderick learned that Steve Edwards had been hired to succeed him after he retired as director of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden, he knew the garden would be in good hands. Now Steve is happily welcoming his successor, Bart O’Brien.

Continue reading here

Bart O'Brien by Emily Green

In Praise of Bart O'Brien

Emily Green

Expecting a generous reaction to the news that Bart O’Brien is taking over directorship of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in the Bay Area’s Tilden Park asks too much of an Angeleno. Berkeley’s gain is a staggering loss for Southern California, specifically for the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, where O’Brien has worked for more than 20 years. As Rancho’s director of horticulture, and later leader of its special projects, O’Brien introduced generations of homeowners and no few directors of water companies to plants perfectly adapted to our dry climate. The importance of this work cannot be overstated. These stoic plants and not squelching lawn will green our cities as more people are faced with getting along on less water.

Continue reading here

Upcoming CNPS Workshop

Vegetation Mapping workshopVegetation Mapping Workshop

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

Location: University of Redlands and the Potrero unit of the San Jacinto Wildlife Area

Dates: February 11-13, 2014

Course Description: Participants will learn about vegetation sampling, classification, and photo interpretation in this hands-on workshop presented jointly by CNPS, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CNFW), and Aerial Information Systems (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 open now.

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.

Santa Clara Valley Chapter

Field Trip: Año Nuevo State Preserve
Wednesday, January 1, 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Join us as we celebrate a Chapter tradition of welcoming the New Year with a walk and picnic at Año Nuevo State Preserve on the San Mateo County coast.  The preserve is located south of Pescadero on Highway 1, just north of the Santa Cruz County line. Meet in the parking lot ($10 day use fee) at 10 am.  Latecomers will find us on the trail in the coastal prairie.  We’ll enjoy sea cliff vegetation, raptors, songbirds and maybe marine mammals. We will face a moderate high tide at noon, but should be able to picnic on the beach (in the area in which seal tour reservations are not required).

As this is a day to have fun at the beach with fellow Chapter members, the ending time and depth of botanical discussion may be extended depending on participants. We will finish at the visitor center. Bring binoculars and layers for variable conditions including wind, sun and fog. Heavy rain cancels. For more information email or call (650) 804-6162 (eves).

Mount Lassen Chapter

Field Trip: North Ridge Banana Belt Scramble, Upper Bidwell Park
Wednesday, January 1, 10:00 AM

Meet at Horseshoe Lake parking area (Lot E) in Upper Bidwell Park. Leaders: Gerry Ingco, phone (530) 893-5123 & Wes Dempsey, phone (530) 342-2239. We'll climb up Monkeyface to see the first of the new year's flowers, like buckbrush, common manzanita, and blue dicks. On cold, clear, windless nights it is 10 degrees warmer up there (Banana Belt) so we have a better chance of seeing flowers. We will have lunch in a Maidu cave having a cozy southern exposure. About 2.5 miles. Leaders: Gerry Ingco 530-893-5123 and Wes Dempsey 530-342-2293.

East Bay Chapter

Field Trip to See Fetid Adder’s Tongue
Sunday, January 5, 2:00 PM

Location: Huddart County Park, 1100 Kings Mountain Road, Woodside. Meet in the parking lot just past the pay station. (510-393-1858) will lead a hike on the Crystal Springs Trail where fetid adder’s tongue (Scoliopus bigelovii, Liliaceae) blooms in early January. (In most locations outside botanical gardens, it blooms in late January or early February.) This is a gentle trail, losing about 200 feet over about 1/2 mile to the creek. We will walk to the creek and then return the same way. It is unlikely that there will be any other flowers out this early, but the fetid adder’s tongue’s presence tells us that the new flower season has started. The area is second growth redwood and mixed evergreen forest. For directions:

North Coast Chapter

"A Brief Delving into the Cryptic Lives of Gall Wasps Infesting Oaks."
Wednesday, January 8, 7:30 PM

Retired professor John DeMartini will lead us into the Lilliputian world of tiny cynipid wasps that form galls on a variety of plants, notably oaks. He will illustrate the life cycles, sites of galls, predators, and other organisms influencing these minute but important insects. Six Rivers Masonic Lodge, 251 Bayside Rd., Arcata.  Refreshments at 7:00 p.m.; Botanical FAQ's at 7:15 p.m., and program at 7:30 p.m.

Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains

Program Meeting: Native California Bulbs for the Garden
Tuesday, January 14, 7:30 - 9:30 PM

Presented by John Wickham. California has a beautiful array of native geophytes, ephemeral wild flowers that are challenging and worthwhile additions to the garden. There are dozens of species, subspecies, and cultivars of California native bulbs. Many are highly regarded additions to the garden, but careful attention is needed to ensure success with many of them. John Wickham is past president of the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants. He established and curates the Foundation's bulb collection. Sepulveda Garden Center. 16633 Magnolia Blvd., Encino.

Monterey Bay Chapter

Program Meeting: Rare Plant Hunting on California’s Central Coast
Thursday, January 9, 2014, 7:00 PM

Over the past spring and summer, CNPS staff and chapter members hiked, botanized, and documented rare plants on the Central Coast, with particular attention to the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas of the Los Padres National Forest. This project was part of a statewide volunteer project called the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt. The Wilderness Areas often challenged volunteers with long hikes, overgrown trails, and hot weather, but rewarded them with incredible rare plant finds and access to some of the area's best swimming holes! Danny Slakey will share the results of the Central Coast project, with some stunning photos of the landscapes and rare plant finds from the trips. Pending funding, CNPS hopes to continue this project on the Central Coast next year, so it’s a great opportunity for interested volunteers to find out what it’s all about. Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, 165 Forest Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950.

Orange County Chapter

Field Trip: Wood Canyon Wilderness, Laguna Beach
Sunday, January 12, 8:00 AM

Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Park is a major green space in coastal Orange County, covering nearly 4,000 acres. Aliso and Wood Canyons are major drainages of the San Joaquin Hills. Most of Wood Canyon consists of coastal sage scrub, oak woodland and disturbed grassland plant communities, along with riparian environments. A number of sensitive plant species are present in the park, including many-stemmed dudleya, Pomona rattleweed, Orange County Turkish rugging, Palmer's grapplinghook, Aphanisma, Laguna Beach dudleya, scrub oak, western dichondra, hummingbird sage and others. During this early season trip we will hike along Wood Canyon Trail as far as the group wants to go, perhaps as far as the Mathis Cyn. Trail (5.6 total miles). Park and meet at 8 AM at the curb in front of Canyon View Park, near the intersection of Canyon Vista Road and Silkwood in Aliso Viejo (.5 mi. NW of Pacific Park Drive). No water or restrooms on the trail. Leader: Ron Vanderhoff.

Kern County Chapter

Chapter Potluck and Program Meeting
Thursday, January 16, 6:00 - 9:00 PM

6:00 PM- 7:00 PM Potluck. 7:00 PM Program: Lucy Clark and Clyde Golden. The Flowers of Mill Creek Trail. This will be followed by a field trip in April. Hall Ambulance Community Room 1031 21st St, Corner of N St. & 21st St, Bakersfield.

Bristlecone Chapter

CNPS Field Trip Planning Meeting/NPS Program: Rare Plants, Weed Wars, and Outdoor School on the Tribe’s Conservation Land
Wednesday, January 22, 6:00 PM

White Mountain Research Station, 3000 East Line Street, Bishop. A meeting to schedule field trips for 2014 will be held at 6:00 PM, prior to the general meeting and program starting at 7:00. Anyone interested in leading or co-leading a trip is welcome to attend and pencil your date and destination. For further information, contact . Program: Native plants in the open spaces of Bishop - their conservation, restoration, traditional uses, and role in community education. Hillary Behr, Katie Larsen, and Brian Adkins, Bishop Paiute Tribe.

Contributors and Photo Credits

  • Susan Krzywicki
  • Peyton Ellas
  • Sue Rosenthal
  • Emily Green
  • David Varner
  • Josie Crawford
  • Dan Gluesenkamp
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger
  • David Chipping - $10K Donation to the Hort Program
  • Peyton Ellas - Cleveland Sage
  • Susan Krzywicki - Hummingbird Sage
  • Photo of Bart O'Brien courtesy EBRPD
  • Emily Green - Bart O'Brien



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