California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

April 2015

Exploration of Kettleman Hills

Caulanthus inflatus

Though 2015 has been quite dry, enough rain fell in the southern San Joaquin Valley this winter to germinate showy displays of wildflowers - especially in the Kettleman Hills area. CNPS vegetation staff have waited years to explore the herbaceous patterns of these low hills located in western Kings County. Finally, the climate and funding aligned for a week of sampling in a patchwork of BLM lands that separates the Kettleman Plain from the eastern San Joaquin Valley.

This area has been heavily disturbed by oil extraction, but the steep slopes still support a diverse mix of flowering forbs. We sampled buzzing stands of tansy leafed Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) alive with bees, sandy blown dunes of evening primrose (Oenothera deltoides) and Mojave sand verbena (Abronia pogonantha), and cool north-facing slopes dominated by bluegrass (Poa secunda) and peppergrass (Lepidium nitidum). We noted three species of hillside daisy (Monolopia) in Kettleman Hills, M. lanceolata that forms brilliant yellow stands on cooler north-facing slopes, M. stricta that is less showy and prefers steep rocky southwest-facing slopes, and the least showy of all, the rare M. congdonii (wooly threads) that snakes itself close to the ground, hiding among other grasses and forbs.

M. congdonii

Other gems add to the diversity and color of these interesting hills, including the glowing desert candle (Caulanthus inflatus), the aromatic thistle sage (Salvia carduacea), and the vibrant wind poppy (Papaver heterophyllum). The rolling hills are studded with fossils emerging from this long buried seabed and this area was a pleasure to explore as CNPS continues to study and catalog the diversity of grass- and forb-dominated landscapes across California.

Oenothera deltoides - Abronia pogonantha Association
All photos by Jennifer Buck-Diaz


MCV2 Database Now Online

Manual of CA VegetationA Manual of California's Vegetation, 2nd Edition is now available online. With more than double the information contained in the first edition, this new online display improves the accessibility of much needed natural resource materials. The new system provides biologists, land managers, agency staff, restoration ecologists, conservation planners, and casual users with tools for simple and advanced data searches!


Help Support CNPS on the 2015 BIG Day of Giving

BIG day of GivingCNPS is excited to participate in the 2015 BIG Day of Giving on Tuesday, May, 5, 2015. For 24 hours, from midnight to 11:59 PM, online donations made to the California Native Plant Society at will be eligible for additional Incentive Pool funds and prizes. A donation of only $25 given at just the right time could help CNPS win a $5000 bonus! All donations to CNPS will be eligible for a donor opportunity drawing of a "Native Plants Live Here" garden sign, a CNPS Press book, or framed photograph. You can help CNPS before the BIG Day of Giving just by clicking on - and sharing the link to - our Giving Edge profile - the nonprofit with the most views by May 5 will win $1500!


Southern Sierra Nevada Foothills Vegetation Project

Photos and text by Rosie Murphy-Deák

This spring, the CNPS Vegetation Program and partners have initiated more vegetation sampling in the southern Sierra Nevada Foothills (SSNF) under contract with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). This is a continuing effort to sample, classify, and map the vegetation of the SSNF at a fine-scale. The SSNF as a region covers more than 1.7 million acres on the eastern side of the San Joaquin Valley floor upward to roughly 2,500 ft. (760 m) in elevation. This project is yet another piece of CNPS and CDFW's long term goal of detailed vegetation mapping across California. The SSNF is a high priority because, along with the northern Sierra Nevada Foothills (mapped previously), and the San Joaquin Valley (a separate project), it has the greatest potential for increasing urban, suburban, and rural residential development in the state. The resulting sampling and map data are critical to the success of local and regional conservation planning processes currently underway for the region. Vegetation maps provide land managers with tools to inform decision making and planning processes, whether to identify what types of vegetation face encroaching development, require mitigation, provide habitats for threatened animals, or are in need of restoration. CNPS will also be gathering new information on vegetation alliances to inform a more complete classification of the vegetation types in the region and to refine our understanding of the California flora.

The CNPS vegetation team is actively seeking sites to survey. If you are a landowner in the southern Sierra Nevada Foothills and interested in having us visit your property, please contact Jaime Ratchford ( ).

A popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys nothofulvus) stand at Furman Ranch.

A pollinating insect's or sampler's view of the surrounding landscape.

A diverse wildflower grassland at Tejon Ranch.


USF Students Restore Endangered Species Habitat

Edward Carpenter

SFU Students - David McGuireThis article was originally published 08-07-2014.

The University of San Francisco students began by conducting environmental research on a fragile ecosystem in the Bay Area parks system. Now their research is being adopted by the National Park System. Ecologists are using elements of the students' findings in their bid to restore the habitat of three endangered and threatened species in and around Marin County's Redwood Creek which winds through Muir Woods National Monument and pours into the Pacific Ocean at Muir Beach.

Continue reading here.


Upcoming CNPS Plant Science Workshops

We are working on finalizing details for our 2015 Plant Science Workshops, and have an exciting schedule in the works! More details, pricing, and registration information will be posted very soon on the workshops webpage. Please contact Becky Reilly (), CNPS Events Coordinator, for more information.

Vegetation Rapid Assessment - J. CrawfordIntroduction to Plant Family Identification
Center for Earth Concerns, Taft Gardens, Ojai
May 6-7

Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé
El Portal Community Center, Yosemite National Park
June 3-5

Introduction to Plant Family Identification
Sagehen Field Station, Truckee
July 6-8

Vegetation Mapping
Sacramento Area

Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé
Mid/Late Oct.

CEQA Impact Assessment
Ventura Area
Nov 4-5


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. Even more events from CNPS chapters and partners can be viewed on the Horticulture Events Calendar.

Napa Valley Chapter
Field Trip: Las Posadas State Forest
Saturday, May 2, 9:00 AM

Leaders: Linda Price (707) 257-7574 and Chris Lea (720) 934-2694. Call leaders for current information. Unless otherwise stated, all Napa Chapter field trips begin with a carpool/caravan leaving from the parking lot between Target and Pharmaca in BelAire Plaza off Trancas Street in Napa near Highway 29, at 9:00 AM. Bring snacks, lunch, ample drinking water, and sturdy hiking shoes Steady rain cancels.

Orange County Chapter
Field Trip: San Onofre State Beach
Sunday, May 3

With permission from CA State Parks and MSMC Camp Pendleton, our group will explore a coastal blufftop with small vernal pools, supporting one of California's rarest species, Pendleton button-celery - Eryngium pendletonense. We will have restoration ecologists on hand to discuss the pools and their restoration as well as CA State Parks biologist Lana Nguyen. We will likely visit another nearby restoration site which is employing innovative approaches to remove invasive mustards and other adventitious plants and return the area to a naturally functioning ecosystem. We will then likely visit the site of the March 2014 wildfire and view various wildflowers and a nice display of other fire-following plants. Depending upon group interests, a few may want to extend the afternoon into an optional hike down to the coastal beach and adjoining canyons to see the uncommon Emory's rockdaisy - Perityle emoryi and others. Meeting time and location is pending. Check after 7 PM the night before for details. Note: this trip does require an entrance fee to San Mateo State Park! Irregular water and restrooms. Bring lunch and water for the optional extended trip.

Yerba Buena Chapter
The Flora and Fauna of San Bruno Mountain
Sunday, May 3, 2:30 PM

The South San Francisco Public Library is pleased to host Dr. David Nelson, the Chair of the Locally Rare Plant Committee for San Bruno Mountain, of the Yerba Buena chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Dr. Nelson is currently writing a book for the CNPS, and will be presenting a discussion and slideshow on the flora and fauna of San Bruno Mountain, one of California's many beautiful state parks. For more information or to request sign interpretation or other accommodation, please call 650-829-3860 (voice) at least 10 working days before the event. South San Francisco Main Public Library, 840 W Orange Ave, South San Francisco, CA.

Mount Lassen Chapter
Field Trip: Camp Creek Rd to Mayaro in North Fork Feather River Canyon
Sunday, May 3, 9:00 AM

Meet at Chico Park & Ride west lot (Hwys 32/99) at 9:00. Bring lunch, water, sun/insect protection and money for ride sharing. We will drive 32 miles north on Hwys 99 and 70 to the old railroad town of Pulga. Then 2 miles on the Camp Creek Road high above, and looking down, on the Feather River. Mayaro is the site of the ruins of a 1920's resort, accessed mainly by the Western Pacific Railroad. Camp Creek Road is unpaved, narrow, rough surfaced, recommended only for high-clearance vehicles. By ride-sharing we will attempt to accommodate those who drive low-centered vehicles. We will make frequent stops to see Fritillaria, snowdrop, lupine, and bush monkey flower as we cross from granite to serpentine slopes. We shall lunch at a scenic waterfall. The average elevation is about 2000 ft. Call for alternate meeting place. Leaders: Gerry Ingco 530-893-5123, Wes Dempsey 530-342-2293.

Marin Chapter
Mt. Tam Safari
Saturday, May 9, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Help find the plants 'missing' from the past BioBlitz events. Since 2012, the Marin Municipal Water District and the California Academy of Sciences have engaged with the public to document the plant biodiversity of Mt Tamalpais; about 300 species are missing - come help find them!! It is required to pre-register at least 2 days in advance as follows: email or call MMWD at (415) 945-1128. More information is here. Location and end time varies- please register to obtain this information.

San Diego Chapter
Old Town State Park Native Garden Work Party
Saturday, May 9, 1:00 - 3:00 PM

Come help other volunteers tend the Old Town Native Plant Landscape, where the native shrubs actually grow too much despite being watered only twice a month! We'll use the crown reduction pruning technique to lighten them up and leave them looking natural and full, but not droopy. The Landscape is at the corner of Taylor and Congress Streets in San Diego. Park in the CalTrans lot at Juan and Taylor Streets, then walk toward the trolley/train depot and turn in at the welcome sign on the adobe wall, under the cottonwood trees. Bring pruners, saws, gloves, sun protection and water. Restrooms are nearby.

Shasta Chapter
Mother's Day Wildflower Show
Sunday, May 10, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Cosponsored by the Klamath and Shasta-Trinity National Forests, treat mom to the 22nd Annual Mother's Day Wildflower Show. Hundreds of native plants on display, wildflower photo contest, books, posters, and wildlife art on display. For more information, call Marla Knight at (530) 841-4425. Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds, 1712 Old US Hwy 99, Yreka, CA.

San Gabriel Mountains Chapter
Eaton Canyon Plant Walk
Saturday, May 10, 9:00 AM

Meet in front of Eaton Canyon Nature Center (1750 N Altadena Dr, Pasadena, CA) at 9:00 a.m. Then we will go on a leisurely walk, about 2 hours, through the native plant garden that surrounds the Center and into the nearby wild areas. The walk is different each time - what's leafing out, flowering, in seed, etc., determines what your leader will talk about - and different leaders bring different points of view.

Milo Baker and Sanhedrin Chapters
Lost Valley (BLM South Cow Mountain) Serpentine Hike
Sunday, May 10, 7:45 AM

We'll spend the day traversing this upland, ultramafic (serpentine) soil-influenced grassland and adjacent chaparral and woodlands. Many unique botanical wonders await us. This is a relatively short walk at a slow pace. Be prepared for lots of sun and perhaps heat and wind. Bring lunch, hat, layers, water, sunscreen. Peter Warner has developed the beginnings of a plant list which will be built upon during this outing. Meet at park and Ride on River Rd. 500 ft west of Hwy 101 at 7:45 AM. We'll carpool directly to the site. A plant list has been posted on the Milo Baker and Sanhedrin Chapters' websites. A map of the South Cow Mtn. BLM OHV Recreation Area is available here. Contact Peter with questions - (707) 666-9071, (707) 328-8251 (mobile), or email Peter.

Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter
Program: Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Areas - Past, Present, and Future
Tuesday, May 12, 7:30 - 9:00 PM

The Sepulveda Basin is the home of a Wildlife Area with an 11-acre lake, the Bull Creek Ecological Restoration Area, one of only 3 soft-bottomed portions of the Los Angeles River, Encino Creek, Woodley Creek, and Hayvenhurst Creek, plus Lake Balboa. The Sepulveda Basin was in the national news in December 2013 when the Army Corp of Engineers destroyed vast swaths of mature native vegetation under the guise of removing non-native plants. If you want to find out what happened and what are the current plans for restoring that area, attend this presentation by Steve Hartman, currently the chair of the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Areas Steering Committee. Sepulveda Garden Center, 16633 Magnolia Blvd. Encino, CA.

Sacramento Valley Chapter
Program: A Simplified Geologic Overview of California's Great Valley and Geomorphic Development of Vernal Pool Habitats
Wednesday, May 13, 7:00 PM

Many people in our region have learned to love California's vernal pools and the unique array of plants and animals found in these ecosystems. Superbly adapted to their environments and the extreme seasonal fluctuations we enjoy here in California, these flora and fauna are both beautiful to behold and wondrously fascinating to study. But have you ever wondered how these vernal pool habitats formed in the first place? Not only are vernal pools distinctive biologically, they are geologically unique as well! Local geologist and earth science educator Nate Manley will be providing a geologic overview of California's Great Valley, illustrating how a myriad geologic processes and more than 200 million years of Earth history have shaped our state and contributed to the evolution of the vernal pool ecosystems we enjoy today. Shepard Garden and Arts Center, McKinley Park, 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento, CA.

Monterey Bay Chapter
Program: Introducing Bryophytes (The Other Land Plants)
Thursday, May 14, 7:00 PM

Bryophytes (mosses, liverworts, and hornworts) represent a completely different solution to the evolutionary problem of living on land. They lack the complex vascular system that has made the so-called "taller plants" so successful, but they have evolved complex solutions that will surprise you. Ken Kellman will show us how to recognize this important group of plants with a short presentation, and then we spend the rest of the evening looking closely at many common bryophytes from the Central Coast. Speaker Ken Kellman met his first bryophyte in 1995 during a vascular plant survey of Quail Hollow Ranch in Santa Cruz County. It did not take long for him to abandon normal botanizing in pursuit of these tiny plants. He has published A Catalog of the Mosses of Santa Cruz County and is now collecting for a similar project in Monterey and San Mateo counties. His explorations have revealed several species new to science, and many more new to the central coast and the state. Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, 165 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove, CA.

Kern County Chapter
Program Meeting, Plant ID, and Native Plant Gardening
Thursday, May 15, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

From 6:00 - 7:00 PM two concurrent group discussions will take place on plant ID and native plant gardening. At 7:00 the meeting will begin with two speakers: Michael Clem will offer a report on the CNPS Conservation Conference and Clyde Golden will speak on the wildflowers of the Mill Creek Trail. Hall Ambulance Community Room 1031 21st St, Corner of N St & 21st St, Bakersfield, CA.

Bristlecone Chapter
East Mono Basin Rare Plant Treasure Hunt
Sautrday, May 16, 9:00 AM

A Rare Plant Treasure Hunt (RPTH) for Astragalus pseudiodanthus and Astragalus kentrophyta var. ungulatus, and we'll visit the dunes on the east side of Mono Lake. We'll meet at the Von's parking lot in Bishop at 9:00 to carpool - contact me if you need to meet the group somewhere else along the way. Roads are sandy, so 4WD is best. Check back here for updates, or call Sue Weis at 760-873-3485 or email.

Channel Islands Chapter
Program: Baja Vernal Pools
Thursday, May 21, 7:15 - 9:00 PM

Speaker: Matt Guilliams. Learn about the ephemeral vernal pool habitats of Baja California. Channel Islands Chapter Board meeting will precede talk beginning at 6 PM. Bring your unknown native plants to ID before the talk. Venue: Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Library, 1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara, CA.

Santa Clara Valley Chapter
How I Did It: Creating a Bee-Friendly Native Garden
Friday, May 29, 7:00 - 8:30 PM

Most people are aware of the honey bee crisis, but honey bees aren't the only ones in trouble. Other pollinators are also in decline. Since this crisis, researchers have put more emphasis into studying all pollinators and learned that native bees not only pollinate crops alongside honey bees, but they also improve the efficiency of honey bee pollination. At this talk learn how to create a bee-friendly garden for honey and native bees - giving them a place in which to live, eat and raise their young, while attracting other wildlife such as butterflies, birds, hummingbirds and more. We'll also enjoy a humorous look at native "bee- haviors." Debbie Ballentine joyfully shares her knowledge of California native plants, wildlife gardening and sustainable landscaping through her writing, speaking, and photography. Saratoga Library, 13650 Saratoga Ave., Saratoga, CA.

Sierra Foothill Chapter
Field Trip: Hammill Canyon/Herring Creek Rd
Saturday, May 30, 9:00 AM

Hiking Level: moderate (some rough ground and a small amount of cross-country hiking). Leader: Jennie Haas. This area contains diverse habitats and a 2,400 ft elevation gain along the road from Hwy 108 to the top of the loop in Hammill Canyon. There is a great diversity of plants. We're hoping to see the peony in bloom at this early date. Meet at 9:00 in the parking lot between the KFC restaurant and Kohl's, on Mono Way in Sonora. For more information contact Jennie at (209) 962-4759.


Contributors and Photo Credits

  • Jennifer Buck-Diaz
  • Edward Carpenter
  • Becky Reilly
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger
  • Oenothera deltoides - Abronia pogonantha Association - Jennifer Buck-Diaz
  • MCV2 Book Cover
  • A pollinating insect's or sampler's view of the surrounding landscape - Rosie Murphy-Deák
  • SFU Students Performing Work at Redwood Creek - David McGuire
  • Workshop participants - Josie Crawford



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