California Native Plant Society

Education Program - Workshops and Professional Training

Vernal Pool Plant Taxonomy
Central Valley Vernal Pools

Download the print-friendly flyer (pdf) for complete information about this training.

Dates: April 16-18, 2018 (Monday - Wednesday)
Location: UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity; Vernal Pools in Solano, Sacramento, & Yolo Counties
Instructors: Carol Witham, Biological Consultant/Leading Vernal Pool Expert & Jennifer Buck-Diaz, Vegetation Ecologist, California Native Plant Society
Registration: $455 CNPS Members / $475 Non-Members

Target Audience: Professional botanists, ecologists, wetland scientists, land managers, resource specialists, and conservationists. Participants should have an initial understanding of plant terminology and basic plant identification skills.

Description: This is a three-day workshop combining laboratory and field studies of the taxonomy of vernal pool plants with a focus on difficult genera. This course focuses on plant taxonomy of vernal pool species.

California vernal pools have been called a spatially-stable, pedo-climax community dominated by dwarfish annual plant species. There are about 200 plants known to occur in vernal pools of which half are endemic to this ecosystem. Most of the plants are small. There is a dizzying array of somewhat cryptic species in several of the endemic genera such as Lasthenia, Eryngium, and Plagiobothrys. These genera also contain rare, threatened and endangered species.

We will visit claypan vernal pools of the basin and basin-rim formations in Yolo and Solano Counties and hardpans of both low and high alluvial terraces in Sacramento County. Sites have been chosen to maximize exposure to a wide range of plant species including several rare taxa. If all goes well, we will visit pools at Wilcox Ranch, Tule Ranch, Sacramento Prairie Vernal Pool Preserve, Rancho Seco, and possibly Howard Ranch (the order in which we visit them vary with the weather).

To earn a certificate of completion, participants will need to pass a brief exam at the end of the workshop.

Participants will learn:

  • The higher level knowledge required to confidently identify vernal pool plants both in the laboratory and in the field.
  • Characters used to distinguish species beyond those used in the typical dichotomous plant key.
  • Field identification skills to increase efficiency and effectiveness at vernal pool vegetation assessments, floristic surveys, and rare plant surveys.




If you have questions about this or any other CNPS workshops, please contact Becky Reilly, CNPS Events Coordinator, at 916-447-2677 x207 or .

View the complete schedule of CNPS Plant Science Workshops


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