California Native Plant Society

CNPS eNewsletter

November 2015

Seed Cleaning in San Francisco

Volunteers learn how to clean seeds for long-term banking at the Presidio Native Plant Nursery in San Francisco (Mona Robison)

The CNPS Rare Plant Program is wrapping up its first year of participation in the California Plant Rescue project, aimed at developing a living backup to our rare plant flora through long-term seed banking. After a year in which program staff and a few volunteers collected seed from seven rare species, it's now time to clean those seeds before putting them into cold dry storage. Seed cleaning is crucial to seed saving efforts, as it saves space in storage facilities, allows seeds to be easily tested and germinated in the future, and may even increase the shelf life of stored seed. CNPS staff and volunteers recently convened at the Presidio Native Plant Nursery's seed lab in San Francisco to start cleaning these seeds, and were able to make significant progress on the task. Much more work still needs to be done, however, so additional seed cleaning days are planned for late November, and possibly into December. This work was generously funded by the Center for Plant Conservation, through the Kew Royal Botanic Garden, and the Dean Witter Foundation.

Seed cleaning can be a labor-intensive process, especially when working with small batches of seed from a wide variety of species. Seven batches of seed may not sound like a lot, but each collection is actually made up of at least 50 envelopes of seed collected on maternal lines, so we end up cleaning 350 small batches of seed. Collecting along maternal lines (meaning that all the seed in each envelope comes from a single plant) is important for conserving a large amount of genetic diversity in a collection that should last tens to hundreds of years. For each different type of seed, the seed cleaner needs to figure out which methods work best to separate out the seeds from the chaff (the other non-seed plant material included in the collection). Fortunately, the Presidio's seed lab has some great seed cleaning equipment, such as a wide variety of sieves, bowls, microscopes, and small hand tools, that make the process easier. Soil sieves, for example, can be used to separate seeds from chaff based on the size of the plant materials, which is far more efficient than separating material by hand.

At our first seed cleaning day, we drew in participants all the way from Santa Cruz to Sonoma Counties, truly a collaborative effort of multiple CNPS chapters. We finished cleaning all the seed of one species, and made significant progress on four other species. With the continued help of our volunteers, we will have finished cleaning all 350 envelopes of seed before the end of the year. To stay up-to-date on seed cleaning events and other rare plant-related volunteer opportunities, keep an eye on the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Event Calendar.

Volunteers learn how to clean seeds for long-term banking at the Presidio Native Plant Nursery in San Francisco (Mona Robison)

CNPS Wraps Up Fall "Ditch your Lawn!" Workshops

Penstemon (Becky Reilly)

In partnership with several organizations around California, CNPS held a total of 10 "Ditch your Lawn!" workshops around the state this summer and fall. Two each, sponsored by the California Department of Water Resources, were held in Sacramento, Redding, Chico, and Modesto; one was held in Encino in conjunction with Southern California Garden Club; and one was held in Bakersfield by the CNPS Kern County Chapter. Combined, over 200 homeowners and landscapers (many of whom were not previously involved with CNPS) learned how to replace thirsty lawns with California native plants! A big thank you goes out to all of the volunteers, chapters, instructors, staff, and partners who contributed in many invaluable ways to make this program happen so successfully in its first year.

Of special note, the Kern County Chapter was the first to use the statewide curriculum and materials to host "Ditch your Lawn!" as a fully chapter-sponsored event earlier this month in Bakersfield. Volunteers stepped up to develop their own plant list for the area and customize the statewide presentation and handouts, found two knowledgeable local presenters, and promoted the class across multiple outlets to bring together 40 participants - even gaining some new members! We are excited and inspired by the Kern Chapter's success with the "Ditch your Lawn!" program. If your chapter is interested in holding its own workshop using the curriculum and materials developed for the program statewide, please contact Becky Reilly. We look forward to more "Ditch your Lawn!" workshops in 2016!


Fall 2015 CNPS Educational Grants

A researcher in the field (Becky Reilly)

The CNPS Educational Grants Program is gearing up to award over $7,500 for seven research grants to students and researchers this December. The program has received a high number of qualified applicants that are doing exciting research in plant science, and the review committee has been hard at work to designate awards.

We are greatly thankful to the review committee chair, Lauren Brown, and review committee members, David Keil, Betsy Landis, and Steve Schoenig, for their hard work and dedication to reviewing proposals and getting the awards designated and announced on time. See the CNPS Research Grants webpage for more details about the various CNPS Education Program grant opportunities and application instructions.


Deadline for Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Data and Photos Monday, Dec. 7, 2015

Satan's goldenbush (Isocoma menziesii var. diabolica), a rare plant adopted for surveys by the Santa Clara Valley Chapter. (Danny Slakey)

The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt had another great field season in 2015, with new trainings on specimen collection and seed banking, and volunteers leading trips all over the state. As the rare plant season wraps up, we're asking volunteers and chapters to send in the last of their rare plant data and some of their best photos so we can recognize all of the great work that folks have been doing. While rare plant survey data are accepted at any time, we ask that volunteers and chapters submit their data to by Monday, December 7, in order to receive full consideration for our annual awards. Getting the data in on time is essential for us to report our annual results back to our grant funders and permit issuers. As a way to thank our dedicated volunteers and Chapters, we'd like to honor our top Treasure Hunters with awards in each of the categories listed below. All award recipients will receive recognition in CNPS publications (E-News, Bulletin, RPTH Annual Report, and Facebook).

Most rare plant occurrences (individual or small group)
The top 3 RPTHers (or small groups of RPTHers) who documented the most rare plant occurrences will receive the following awards for their significant contribution to rare plant conservation:

  • All 3 will receive a free 1-year CNPS membership ($45 value)
  • 1st Place - Free attendance to a CNPS workshop or a $75 certificate toward the CNPS Store or outdoor/botany gear
  • 2nd place - $50 gift card for the CNPS store or outdoor/botany gear
  • 3rd place - $25 gift card for the CNPS store or outdoor/botany gear

Most rare plant occurrences (chapter)
The Top 2 Chapters that documented the most rare plant occurrences will receive:

  • 1st Place - $75 gift card to the CNPS store or outdoor/botany gear
  • 2nd Place - $50 gift card to the CNPS store or outdoor/botany gear

Santa Clara Valley Chapter members checking out a population of Satan's goldenbush at Alum Rock Park. (Danny Slakey)

Photo Contest
Enter up to 6 photos you've taken on RPTH trips this year. Photos can be of a rare plant, rare plant community, or RPTHers. Winning photos will be displayed on the CNPS Facebook page, website, and possibly other publications. Images should be high resolution (800 kb or larger) and in JPG format. Photographers will always be credited with their work if photos are used in future publications.

  • 1st Place Photo - $50 CNPS gift certificate
  • 2nd Place Photo - $35 CNPS gift certificate
  • 3rd Place Photo - $25 CNPS gift certificate

Significant Contributions
We would like to award several of our volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to the project, but might not be recognized in other ways. Each of these volunteers will be awarded with a $25 gift card to the CNPS store.

Data Submission Options
We now have multiple options for submitting data. Please choose the one that works best for you, or ask us if you have questions about any of them.


Upcoming CNPS Plant Science Workshops

The CNPS Education Program is gearing up for another year of exciting plant science training workshops. We are expecting to have the full schedule of classes finalized and available within the next month. Stay tuned! Please contact Becky Reilly with any questions in the meantime.


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.

Yerba Buena Chapter
Annual Members' Slides and Potluck Supper
Thursday, December 3, 6:30 PM

Join our annual year-end informal members' potluck dinner and slide show. Please bring your favorite slides or digital images and your favorite dish or beverage to share. There will be no restaurant dinner or plant identification workshop preceding this meeting. Whether you are a photographer or an appreciator, come for an enjoyable evening of delicious food and great pictures. The potluck starts at 6:30 and the slides start at 7:30. Recreation Room, San Francisco County Fair Building. Contact Kipp McMichael ( or 510-759-3178) for information about showing your pictures

Santa Clara Valley Chapter
CNPS Chapter Council Meeting in San Carlos
Friday-Sunday, December 4-6

On the weekend of December 4-6, it’s our Chapter’s turn to host the quarterly CNPS Chapter Council for delegates from around the state. These meetings include opportunities to socialize and attend field trips with like-minded people working to conserve our wild places and native flora. Our Chapter last hosted Chapter Council at Santa Clara University in December 2009. This year we’ve chosen Casa de Flores in San Carlos as the location. Members of the State Board of Directors and the State CNPS staff will also be in attendance. All CNPS members are welcome to attend. Visit the meeting website for details.

Santa Cruz County Chapter
Hike to Chalk Mountain
Saturday, December 5, 9:30 AM - 2:30 PM

Hike to Chalk Mountain (1609 ft) with Deanna Giuliano. Enjoy spectacular panoramic views and amazing redwoods on the way up to a coastal scrub habitat. Chalk Mountain is located near Año Nuevo SP. Strenuous elevation gain of about 1500’ feet. Four mile round trip. Meet at Westside New Leaf parking lot. Limited to 15 people.

Monterey Bay Chapter
French Broom Weed Bash, Point Lobos
Saturday, December 5, 1:00 – 4:00 PM

Join us on these 1st Saturday of the month visits to the beautiful Monterey pine forest on the east side of Point Lobos. We’ll use several techniques to remove French broom and help restore this area that wants to thrive with native plants. Meet at 1pm in Carmel at the Rio Rd. Park n’ Ride (across from the Chevron Gas Station). All supplies provided. Bring a friend, water, and a snack. Contact Bruce Delgado at or 831-277-7690 for more info.

Mount Lassen Chapter
Hike: Ten-Mile House Trail, Upper Bidwell Park, Chico
Sunday, December 6, 8:30 AM

Meet at Chico Park & Ride west lot (Hwys 32/99) in time to leave by 8:30 am. Wear sturdy shoes, bring lunch, water, insect protection, and money for ride sharing. We’ll drive east 9 miles on Hwy 32 to the green gate, park on the left (north) side. We’ll hike down an historic wagon road, pass buckeyes and black oaks, and lunch at an old homestead site near a large spring, surrounded by old fig and persimmon trees. Be prepared to climb 800 feet back up. Call for alternate meeting place. Leaders: 530-893-5123, 530-342-2293.

South Coast Chapter
Annual Potluck Desserts and Open Slide Show
Monday, December 7, 7:30 PM

Join us for our annual holiday get together. Please bring a dessert item to share. Digital photo presentations should be on a flash drive, should be not more than 5 minutes, and should have a nature theme. Photos related to California Native Plants are preferred. South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 Crenshaw Boulevard, Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter
A Grass Roots Garden Without the Grass
Tuesday, December 8, 7:30 - 9:00 PM

Arlington Garden in Pasadena is an inspiring success story of visionary residents working with an award-winning landscape designer to create the city’s first public garden. Unlike most public gardens, this one has grown in spite of its humble budget of both money and water into a Mediterranean-climate oasis enjoyed by the community at large, visitors from all over the world, and a healthy number of local fauna! The garden is designed to maximize the use of available rainfall, and is supplemented with a minimal supply of water delivered via efficient forms of irrigation. As for grass, there is none! Join Mayita Dinos, the garden’s master planner, for a virtual tour of this magical place. You will hear of its transformation from weed lot to oasis, and learn about the plants and design elements that make it a beautiful model of a sustainable urban watershed garden. First United Methodist Church, Santa Monica.

Channel Islands Chapter
Flora of Mount Pinos
Wednesday, December 9, 7:15 to 9:00 PM

David Torfeh will discuss the diverse flora of the Mount Pinos area. Mount Pinos is the highest peak in Ventura County (8831 feet elevation) and the San Emigdio Mountains. Take a slideshow tour of what can be seen at and near Mount Pinos (in the Los Padres National Forest) in the early summer, which is the height of this area's flowering season. Bring your unknown native plants to ID before the talk. Topping Room, E.P. Foster Library, 651 E. Main Street, Ventura.

North Coast Chapter
Native Plant Show and Tell
Wednesday, December 10, 7:30 PM

Join us for an informal evening sharing photos, artifacts, readings, or food relating to native plants and their habitats. If you would like to share something, contact Michael at or 707-407-7686. Six Rivers Masonic Lodge, 251 Bayside Rd., Arcata.

San Diego Chapter
Join Partners in Grime at the Old Town Native Plant Landscape
Saturday, December 12, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Short days, long nights, and cooler weather means plants grow slower. We'll snip and tidy up some overgrown shrubs and do careful hand weeding around the native plants we planted in November. The Landscape is at the corner of Taylor and Congress Streets, in the west end of Old Town State Historic Park. Park in the CalTrans parking lot on Taylor; enter at the Juan Street traffic signal. It is a recreation of the landscape that provided for the needs of Native Americans in our region before the arrival of Europeans in 1769. Bring gloves, sun protection, pruners and weeders, or borrow ours. Questions? E-mail Kay at

San Gabriel Mountains Chapter
Monthly Walk, Eaton Canyon Nature Center
Sunday, December 13, 9:00 AM

Take a gentle, 2-hour walk around the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. Make friends with people of similar interests and learn the names and habitats of the native plants in the surrounding area.

Dorothy King Young Chapter
Annual Potluck
Sunday, December 13, 1:00 PM

Brief meeting and annual election at 1 p.m., followed by a presentation by four outstanding botanists at 1:15 p.m. Bring a dish to share, your own liquid refreshment, dishes and utensils. Greenwood Community Center in Elk.

Orange County Chapter
Program Meeting: It’s Your Turn!
Thursday, December 17, 6:45 PM (doors), 7:30 PM (program starts)

This is your chance to share a favorite flower or voyage or habitat—locally or anywhere else in the world. The only rule is 5 minutes, that’s the limit. Everyone will get a turn and we’ll get home before midnight! Get ready for you FIVE minutes of fame! See the November/December newsletter for technical requirements. Following a long-standing tradition, board members will provide a festive spread on the hospitality table. If you have something you’d like to share (besides your photos!), you are welcome to bring it.

Shasta Chapter
Plant Propagation Session
Sunday, December 20, 10:00 AM

Join us for a two-hour work session starting at 10 AM at the Shasta College greenhouses. We will be propagating cuttings and rooted divisions; donations of California native species are welcome. The greenhouses are located near the back of Shasta College, where the livestock barns are. Please call Jay & Terri Thesken at 530-221-0906 for further information.


Contributors and Photo Credits

  • Danny Slakey
  • Becky Reilly
  • Aaron Sims
  • Mona Robison
  • Stacey Flowerdew
  • Mark Naftzger
  • Seed Cleaning - Mona Robison
  • Penstemon - Becky Reilly
  • Researcher - Becky Reilly
  • Treasure Hunters - Danny Slakey



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