Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip to Shell Creek

 

Saturday, March 30th, 2019, 8:30 am

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip to Shell Creek and Environs

One of the outstanding spring wildflower destinations in California. Meet at the Santa Margarita Exit Park and Ride at 8:30 am. Bring plant guides or plan to purchase one during the trip. Also bring adequate water, food, and dress in layers for the weather; a hat and sturdy shoes are advised.

For more information contact Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting at Carrizo Plain

Saturday, April 7, 2018, 8:00 am

Cancelled due to rain and poor wildflower showing

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting at Carrizo Plain

Join us to explore and appreciate the remarkable and unique display of annual and perennial spring wildflowers in eastern San Luis Obispo County. This could be the BIG YEAR in this giant swath of undisturbed California Prairie. Remember, this is a remote area, so make sure you have plenty of gas, water, as well as food.

Meet at the Santa Margarita park-and-ride (freeway exit, State Route 58 at Hwy 101) at 8:00 am. We will caravan from there with a brief stop at Shell Creek. You may be able to carpool with someone, so it is recommended to arrange your ride ahead of time, or jump in with others at the meeting place. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, bring sunscreen, a hat, and layered clothing for warmth, as needed.

For more information contact: George Butterworth, (805) 438-3641, gbutterworth8@gmail.com or Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com. Rain cancels.

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting at Carrizo Plain

Saturday, April 1, 2017, 8:00 am

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting at Carrizo Plain

Join us to explore and appreciate the remarkable and unique display of annual and perennial spring wildflowers in eastern San Luis Obispo County. This could be the BIG YEAR in this giant swath of undisturbed California Prairie. Remember, this is a remote area, so make sure you have plenty of gas, water, as well as food.

Meet at the Santa Margarita park-and-ride (freeway exit, State Route 58 at Hwy 101) at 8:00 am. We will caravan from there with a brief stop at Shell Creek. You may be able to carpool with someone, so it is recommended to arrange your ride ahead of time, or jump in with others at the meeting place. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, bring sunscreen, a hat, and layered clothing for warmth, as needed.

For more information contact: George Butterworth, (805) 438-3641, gbutterworth8@gmail.com or Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com. Rain cancels.

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting to Shell Creek

Saturday, April 2, 2016, Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting to Shell Creek co-lead by Dirk Walters and David Chipping. This is our monthly meeting for April. Meet at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue (corner of Grand & Monterey Boulevard) at 8:30 a.m. and/or the Santa Margarita Park & Ride (intersection of Hwys. 101 and 58) at 9:00 a.m.  Bring your “Wildflowers of Highway 58” plant guide by Dr. Malcolm McLeod or plan to purchase one for  10 on the trip. For more information call Dirk Walters at 543-7051 or Dave Chipping at 528-0914.

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting at Shell Creek

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting at Shell Creek

Saturday, 4th April, 2015, Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting at Shell Creek.

Join us to explore and appreciate the remarkable and unique display of annual and perennial spring wildflowers in eastern San Luis Obispo County.

Meet at the Santa Margarita park-and-ride (freeway exit, State Route 58 at Hwy 101) at 8:00 am. We will caravan from there. You may be able to carpool with someone. It is recommended to arrange your ride ahead of time.

Be sure to bring water, food, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, a hat, and layered clothing for warmth, if needed.

For more information call: Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com.

Rain cancels.

Coreopsis Hill

Photos courtesy of Marlin Harms

 

Malcolm McLeod Scholarship Fund

About Malcolm McLeod

Dr. Malcolm McLeod was a professor of botany in the Biology Department at Cal Poly from 1979 until his full retirement in 1993 and an active member of the San Luis Obispo Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (SLOCNPS) from 1973 until he died in 2006.

Dr. McLeod was a charismatic and inspirational chapter leader that served tirelessly on numerous committees and held several offices including president, recording secretary, and rare plant botanist. He was an educator, rare plant advocate, pioneer of native horticulture, photographer, author, and scientist with an uncanny ability to recognize species long believed to have been extirpated. In 2004 his vast contributions were recognized when he became a CNPS Fellow, the highest honor awarded by the Society.

About the Scholarship Fund

As part of Dr. McLeod’s continued memorial, SLOCNPS created the Malcolm McLeod Scholarship fund that is intended to encourage the study of botany by providing financial support to outstanding students in our region. Interested students are required to submit a brief letter that describes their research and how it relates to the overall mission of CNPS, a letter of recommendation, a timeline, and a budget that outlines how the funds will be spent. Awards typically range from 100 to 500 dollars. Award recipients give a presentation about their research at a local chapter meeting.

Helping Local Botany Students

Since its inception, the McLeod Scholarship has been awarded to several local botany students.

  • Jenn Yost received the award in 2008 for her research on local adaptation and speciation in goldfields (Lasthenia spp.) and members of the genus Dudleya. Ms. Yost has since gone on to pursue her Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • Carlos Torres was awarded a McLeod Scholarship in 2010 to conduct an out-planting study in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes ecosystem with two of our County’s most imperiled species, Gambel’s watercress (Nasturtium gambelii) and marsh sandwort (Arenaria paludicola). Carlos has gone on to become the restoration coordinator for the local land conservancy.
  • Kristie Haydu, who was recently elected recording secretary for the chapter, received a McLeod award in 2011 to identify and map plant biodiversity hotspots in San Luis Obispo County with geographic information system (GIS) that can be used to establish long-term conservation strategies and influence planning decisions.
  • Taylor Crow was awarded a scholarship in 2013. He was a second year master’s student at Cal Poly, graduating under the direction of Matt Ritter. Taylor spent his graduate career working on Swanton Ranch because of the wonderful amount of plants and surf breaks. He got his start as a botanist in David Keil’s and Dirk Walter’s plant taxonomy class. Taylor spoke at our chapter meeting in June, 2013.
  • In 2014, the McLeod Scholarship was awarded to Natalie Rossington to study the distribution and ecology of native populations of Layia jonesii and Layia platyglossa in Reservoir Canyon.

Graduate and undergraduate botany students from Cal Poly, Cuesta College, and Allan Hancock College are eligible to apply.

Growing the Fund

SLO-CNPS would like to see the McLeod Scholarship fund continue to grow. Growth of this fund will provide more substantial awards to a larger number of students. Education is expensive and as costs continue to rise, scholarships of this nature are increasingly important for students pursuing higher education. In addition, student research can furnish CNPS with valuable data to inform plant conservation issues and policy.

Students are ultimately the next generation of CNPS and they will continue our mission well into the future. Over the last few years we have received several donations to the Scholarship fund in memory of Dr. McLeod. Please consider making a year-end and tax deductible donation or bequest to the Malcolm McLeod Scholarship fund.

For more information regarding donations please contact Linda Chipping.

Submitted by Matt Ritter and Kristie Haydu

Dr. David Keil honored with a CNPS Fellowship

Dr. David Keil honored with a CNPS Fellowship

Acting on the nomination submitted by our chapter, the State Board recognized Dr. David Keil as a Fellow of the California Native Plant Society at its September meeting. He has been an active CNPS member; was a Cal Poly botany professor for over 37 years; and, through research and writing, has made significant contributions to California’s native flora.

Dave earned his B.S. in 1968 and M.S. in 1970 from Arizona State University in Tempe, and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University. Dave joined Cal Poly faculty in 1976, and two years later was appointed Director of the Robert F. Hoover Herbarium. His collection totals over 30,000 specimens, most of them housed at the Hoover Herbarium. He joined CNPS shortly after his arrival, and in 1978, served as the Chapter President. In earlier recognition of his generous contributions to our chapter, Dave was the recipient of the 1989 Hoover Award. He has led numerous chapter field trips for the San Luis Obispo chapter, some planned with detailed plant lists, some spur of the moment.

Dr. Keil has also presented chapter meeting programs and workshops on a regular basis. His broad knowledge of the county flora allowed him to surprise those attending with new discoveries, unusual findings, as well as his great slides. For anyone not familiar with county flora, Dave would answer any question. His small workshops conducted before chapter meetings include oak identification, plant collecting, rare plant training and a new grass identification key. In 2009 Dave’s participation on a ‘quick’ CNPS committee to develop a one page tri-fold of common plants for distribution by the City of San Luis Obispo became the 86 page Wildflowers of San Luis Obispo, California. It was an enormous success. As this nomination is being written, he is doing the proof reading on the revised second edition. After Dave’s retirement from teaching at Cal Poly, he was recruited to serve as chapter Vice President and has done so since 2016. He has always been a chapter resource.

At the state level he participated on the Rare Plant Scientific Advisory Committee from 1998 through 2001. Since 2009, he has served as a member of the Fremontia Editorial Advisory Board. From 2014 through 2016, Dave reviewed student grant applications with the Education Program Grants Subcommittee. On an annual basis since 2009, Dave has conducted multi-day plant science workshops on California flora for the State Education Program. For the workshop held in April 2018, Dave watched the county landscapes closely, knowing that the drought was adversely impacting the flora, but he was confident the workshop would be successful, and it was.

In the world of service to botanic science, he had made significant contribution to The Jepson Manual Project. He authored the Key to California Plant Families and served as the editor and primary author of the Asteraceae for both editions of The Jepson Manual. Key writing has always been one of Dave’s strengths, and it is a major part of the long-lasting legacy he has created throughout his career. For the second edition of The Jepson Manual, Dave authored a new key to families that encompasses the major taxonomic revisions that had taken place since 1993 and served as co-editor for the entire manual. His ability to track nomenclatural changes and translate them into meaningful morphological characters in all the major plant families was crucial for the writing of the new family key. Part of what makes Dave’s keys so valuable is that they are written with field botanists in mind, anticipating user misinterpretation on minor characters. This can only be done if the key writer is familiar with every other possible plant, which Dave usually is. Dave has authored over 130 species descriptions mostly in the Asteraceae, but also in the Poaceae and Ranunculaceae. Four taxa have been named in Dave’s honor: Ancistrocarphus keilii Morefield, Erigeron inornatus (A. Gray) A. Gray var. keilii G.L. Nesom, Wedelia keilii B.L. Turner, and Chrysanthellum keilii B.L. Turner.

During his more than 37 years as a professor at Cal Poly, Dave taught courses in general botany, plant taxonomy, field botany and biogeography. He was awarded the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1980. Each year Dave traveled around California with his field botany students, teaching them the elements of California flora. Students have described the course as both the hardest and best course they have taken during their college careers. Classes taught by Dave were often a life changing experience for students. One former student said, “I…was accepted into the ecology program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. During my year there, I took Dr. David Keil’s plant systematics class, which converted me from ecology to botany.”

Dr. Keil joins chapter members Dr. Dirk Walters and Dr. David Chipping as Fellows of CNPS. Past Fellows from the chapter include Dr. Malcolm McLeod and Alice and Bud Meyer.

Dave receiving his award Photo: Melissa Mooney. Laurel wreath: Mardi Niles

Dune Mother’s Wildflower Guide

Dune Mother’s Wildflower Guide

This delightful guide to the plants of the sand dunes is geared to the layperson.  Although the book is written for southern San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara Counties’ coastal dunes, it should also prove useful in other California Coastal areas, as many of the species are widespread.  Over 150 color photographs of more than 120 plants.  Plants are arranged according to the areas of the dunes (shoreline, fore dunes, stabilized and unstabilized dunes) in which they would most likely be found.  The Dune Mother is a reference to Kathleen Goddard Jones, a well known local activist who worked tirelessly for many years to help protect the dunes and their vegetation.

Generous Donation

Our Chapter would like to thank the anonymous donors of $1,000 to the Malcolm McLeod Scholarship Fund. This fund supports student research and has aided many students in projects that have contributed greatly to our knowledge of the flora. If you would also like to help students in their research, please look at our web page on the fund.

The Invasion of Veldt Grass

The Invasion of Veldt Grass

This image shows the demarcation between SLO Co. Land Conservancy (left) and CA State-owned properties (right)

During the second week in May I accompanied Lindsey Whitaker, Cal Poly graduate student and recipient of a Malcolm McLeod scholarship, to her research plots in the Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes.  In her study, she is looking at the rate of invasion of Ehrharta claycina, also known as Veldt grass, into the dune ecological zone.  Lindsey’s plots are located in the area of the dunes south of Black Lake, where California State and San Luis Obispo County Land Conservancy properties meet.

As we walked through the Conservancy property towards the State owned land, we saw a thriving native dune habitat with many of the species in bloom.  There were popcorn flowers, fiddle necks, an assortment of suncups and primroses, robust California thistle, Cirsium occidentale var. californicum, deer weed, common sand aster, Corethrogyne filaginifolia, the giant dune bush lupine, Lupinus chamissonis, and lots of mock heather, Ericameria ericoides. There were some juvenile Veldt grass and narrow-leaved ice plant (both introduced from South Africa) scattered here and there, but insignificant compared to the hearty showing of native dune species.

As we walked over to the State property, I stopped dead in my tracks.  Incredible, I thought to myself!  The Veldt grass was so thick, it had pushed out everything else.  The clumps of bunch grass were evenly spaced over the entire dune surface, as if they had been planted into a pre-measured grid.  A complete carpet of Veldt grass had ravaged the landscape, with virtually nothing else left in its wake.  Gone were the annuals, and the hearty perennials; only a few of the larger mock heathers had survived, though not for much longer.

At this point, Lindsey explained to me the glaring disparity between the two properties.  Simply put, the Conservancy land had been treated annually with a grass-specific herbicide, laboriously applied by hand, while the State land had been left alone.

Invasive weeds in Central Coast wildlands is obviously a huge problem.  Personally, it is hard for me to stomach the destructive power such plants as Veldt grass unleash on some of our more delicate and unsuspecting habitats.  What a mess has been created with no easy solution!

San Luis Obispo County has a weed management program.  Although not exhaustive, the plan lists roughly 30 species that are considered highly invasive.  One can view this list and the plan’s recommendations for what to do if one of these weeds in found on a property in the county.

Let’s educate ourselves about invasive plants by using the internet to reveal just how threatened the California landscapes have become through the introduction of non-native species to this environment, and through land development and disturbance with no realistic plan for restoration.  After years and years of revegetation of our native plant communities by introduced species from other parts of the world, we now have the collective awareness and necessary tools to avoid the mistakes of the past and work together at bringing the pervasive invaders such as Veldt grass into a more controlled and directed management system.

Two weeks later –

Population where Pismo clarkia is known to grow along Ormonde Rd. near Arroyo Grande, CA. Note the dominant Veldt grass and a few Pampas grass.

Population where Pismo clarkia is known to grow along Ormonde Rd. near Arroyo Grande, CA. Note the dominant Veldt grass and a few Pampas grass.

During the late spring, I am in the habit of driving Ormonde Road, north of Arroyo Grande, to inspect a small patch of Pismo clarkia, Clarkia speciosa, ssp. immaculata, which Mardi Niles told me about several years ago.  This species is ranked as a 1B.1 endemic and as far as we know, only occurs within a roughly ten mile radius of Arroyo Grande.

I frequent this spot to ascertain the health of the overall polulatio of this species, knowing that the Ormonde Road site has been strong, perhaps as high as 500 individuals in a good year and less than 20 individuals in a bad year.  Thus, watching the ability of this species to regenerate itself from year to year teaches us a lot about its future fecundity.

Being small, inconspicuous plants, except when in bloom, it is very easy to alter the existing Pismo clarkia landscape during the many months of the year when our long, dry summers hide the small annuals from view.  One can imagine what foot, horse, bike, and/or car traffic can do to disturb these fragile habitats.  This particular population has been severally disrupted by property owners who don’t know they have a very rare plant on site, and by off-road vehicles that have made a mess of the area.

Close up of Pismo clarkia peeking through Veldt grass and other annual grasses at the Ormonde Rd. site.

Close up of Pismo clarkia peeking through Veldt grass and other annual grasses at the Ormonde Rd. site.

Well, this year’s crop has yet another villain!  As I reported earlier, the 2015-2016 rainy season has made for a bumper crop of Veldt grass.  Due to the disruption of these sandy soil environment, Veldt grass has quickly become the dominant species here, significantly choking out the native vegetation.  As we saw at the Guadalupe – Nipomo Dunes, the grass has not only taken over, but has eliminated virtually everything else, creating a monoculture of dire proportions.

How many individual Pismo clarkia exist today; perhaps 20,000 plants?  Knowing the environmental requirements for these two species, i.e., sandy soils located within ten miles of the coast, Pismo clarkia becomes a lot rarer.  Not only is it a 1B,1 ranked rare plant, endemic to a few square miles in San Luis Obispo County, but now it is under attack by an unrelenting “assassin” that takes no prisoners!

Next time you see a Veldt grass plant, please pull it out!

-Bill Waycott