The upcoming presentation is on plants that uptake nickel as a biological weapon to combat insect predation, and the insect that is beating the system reinforces the connectedness between plants and other features of the natural world. In the Carrizo Plain there are plants that only grow in salty soils, or gypsum rich soils, or iron-rich friable soils. Some are dependent on the fungal population, some on forced absence of other species generated by the soil chemistry which eliminates competition. The fungi, which have shown up in profusion this year have a completely different roster of species in the Cambria pines (great January field
trip by the way), and in the Los Osos Oaks. Without the mushrooms, dead stuff will accumulate on the ground, and the fungi chew into the pine needles and old branches to release the nutrients for the next generation of plants. That is why CNPS, in a resolution made several decades ago, stated that it was ‘more than just plants’ in considering ecosytem integrity.
There is, of course, always a problem in these days of human activity in the
natural environment. As Mark Skinner points out, we have introduced weeds that are great ‘generalists,’ have a rapid and early growth cycle, and abundant seed production. These can cover the substrate, denying the space needed for the fruiting of mushrooms, and eliminating space for natives. Sometimes the soils that are still ‘nasty’ as far as the aliens are concerned, will become the last stands for important parts of the California flora.
This is a repeat plant from 1997. At that time, the article was accompanied by a grainy black and white photograph. This time the article is accompanied by a beautiful painting by Los Osos resident and CNPS member, Heather Johnson, who has given permission for us to use it in the Obispoensis. Keep on reading!
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO HELP SET UP AT 5:00 PM OR CLEAN UP (STAY 30 MINUTES LONGER)
California Native Plant Society – San Luis Obispo Chapter
Annual Potluck Banquet
Saturday, January 12, 2019
The LA County Board of Supervisors will consider whether or not to approve the proposed Centennial development next Tuesday, December 11.
Although this project is located in LA County, we believe this is an issue that impacts all of California, both in terms of our biodiversity and the precedent it sets for sprawl at the Wildland Urban Interface. Tejon Ranch is one of the most biodiverse areas of California, containing 14% of California’s native flora and a third of our native oaks. What’s more, it’s situated in a high fire hazard severity zone, putting future residents in harm’s way. We are advocating for the conservation of this land in its entirety.
ETHNOBOTANY NOTES: Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolium) Cathy Chambers
Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolium is a wonderful, hardy, native California evergreen shrub. It can be a good screen in the yard, growing up to 6 feet fairly quickly. It tolerates soils from serpentine to clay, to sand. It is not as flammable as other chaparral shrubs. It is a great forage plant for bees, butterflies, and other insects, as well as birds. You will find it to be a foraging hub in your yard when it is flowering, and then the fruit will feed birds. The red berries were eaten by many native Californians as well. They also contain some cyanide compounds and must be roasted, wilted, or boiled before eaten. The hard wood was used to make many tools including bows. I remember my Mom, an east coast transplant, making wreaths for the door at Christmas. The berries are ripe in red clusters in November and December making it perfect for making holiday decorations.
Photo by Stan Shebs and shared under Creative Commons 3.0 license
The brilliant red berries of the Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) usually herald the advent of holiday season. And they are certainly a gift to many hungry animals in winter. It was thus rather surprising to find two large old shrubs in full bloom at the Fiscalini Ranch just a couple weeks ago. Their blossoms provided a gift of a different kind to dozens of monarch butterflies seeking nectar and water after their long journey from up north. I love native plants, not only for themselves, but for their enormous importance for sustaining wildlife.
Your gifts of membership are what sustain the chapter and ensures our vital work in conservation, education, horticulture and plant science continues to grow and flourish.
If you want to have an even bigger impact, consider a gift membership to CNPS for someone special for the holidays. Your recipient will receive all the benefits of membership over the course of a year including Obispoensis, Flora, The Bulletin, and Fremontia newsletters, as well as opportunities to participate in field trips, informational programs and our annual CNPS banquet. It’s easy to do. You can fill out the form on the back of the newsletter and send a check or go to our web site and click on About > Join > Join / Renew. You will be directed to the statewide CNPS web site. You can then choose the appropriate gift level and click on the small box that says “I wish to give a gift of membership” above the Comments section. You’ll be guided through the rest of the necessary steps to establish the gift. Happy Holidays!
– Holly Sletteland
The extremely invasive Foeniculum vulgare is in the carrot (Apiaceae) family. It is native to Southern Europe and is problematic in coastal California and is also present throughout the western US all the way to Texas. I’ve encountered Fennel on Santa Catalina Island and Santa Cruz Island. Clusters of Fennel may be found in disturbed areas, mostly roadsides and fields. Fennel is an aromatic perennial with a thick deep taproot and which grows to 5 to 10 ft. tall forming dense stands producing thousands of seeds that birds and rodents consume. Seeds may survive several years. Feral pigs are attracted to it and love its roots! Fennel crowds out native plant species and can drastically alter the composition and structure of many plant communities, including grasslands, coastal scrub, riparian, and wetland communities.
The cultivated varieties of Fennel are seldom invasive. The leaves are finely dissected and the plants produce yellow flowers on compound umbels. Fennel is a difficult, labor intensive plant to control. Small infestations can be dug out. Large plants are hard to dig out. Preventing seed production by lopping stems is vital so cutting Fennel repeatedly is advised. Grazing with goats can knock the plants down. Burning doesn’t work because Fennel quickly recovers, but if linked with herbicide treatment may be an effective method.
– Mark Skinner
Photos courtesy of David Chipping
CHAPTER MEETING Dec. 6th 2018 – Thursday – 7:00 pm
- Veterans Hall, Monterey and Grand, SLO
- Mixer and Browse Sales Table 7:00 pm, Program 7:30 pm
Program: Carrizo Ecological Reserves, George Butterworth
George grew up in the Central Valley. Among his first memories were cattails and red-wing blackbirds, and crops and orchards. He spent 30 years in Southern California, graduating from UCSB in history. He taught tennis for many years. He came to the Carrizo Plain in 1993 and started collecting plants and enjoying the nature. When California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife acquired south Chimineas in 2001, he worked on the botany there as a volunteer. This led to his getting on the payroll. He continues to botanize both the Chimineas and Carrizo.Plain, and was a major force in producing the digital Plants of Carrizo Plain book. A great number of the photo illustrations are by George.
For a native plant novice like me, joining the California Native Plant Society seemed like a good idea so I became a member of the San Luis Obispo chapter. My spouse and I attended our first meeting a year ago last October. That is where I met Marti and the real fun began.
When we arrived at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Hall for the meeting, there were several folding tables set up containing bowls, cups, and bags filled with native plant seeds. I spotted a box with little brown envelopes and another with tiny pencils. Some people were pouring small amounts of seeds into envelopes and writing on them.
We did not have any seeds to share so we were standing there not sure what to do when Marti approached me. Marti assured me that it was not necessary to bring seeds to participate and she encouraged us to select some seeds to try growing for our yard.
Walking up to one of the tables, I realized that we might have some difficulty identifying the seeds because the containers were labeled with botanical names. Sigh.
My spouse noticed one that said Lupinus succulentus. Aha, surely that must be a lupine. Every year, I admire the lupines that grow on the surrounding hillsides and I was excited by the prospect of growing some myself. We asked someone and learned that yes, the seeds were lupines. We carefully put some seeds in an envelope and labeled it.
Moving on, I found Marti’s seed stash. I was pleased to see that she had attached pictures to her seed packets and included their common names. I recognized the photo of the tidy tips and we carefully poured some itty-bitty seeds into another envelope.
With help, we identified three more species of seeds to try including California buckwheat, coffeeberry, and purple needlegrass. Why I waited until January to sow the seeds remains a mystery. I placed the pots on the deck outside of our dining room so I would remember to water them periodically.
The day I spotted the first tiny lupine seedling poking its head through the soil, I was almost giddy with excitement. Other seedlings soon joined it. Watching the plants grow, develop buds, and then unfurl their flowers was fascinating. Only one of the California buckwheat seeds germinated. It grew into a small plant that seemed ready to graduate to the yard this fall so I planted it in a small fenced-in section of our yard to safeguard it from hungry deer.
There is something magical about growing a native plant with your own two hands. Perhaps it is because it connects us to a time when people lived in harmony with the rest of nature.
Read the whole story here.
By Linda Poppenheimer
Photo: A buckwheat grown from seed after 8 months, Linda Poppernheimer
Last month we discussed California ground squirrel problems, this month I will focus on the gopher aka Botta’s pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae). For most of us, gophers can sometimes be a headache but a livable one. They come and go between you and your neighbor’s yard, only losing a couple of plants a year. For yards like these I recommend using gopher root baskets. These baskets are designed to last for years and will allow the plants some long-term safety against limited attacks. The wire baskets come in different sizes to fit whatever you plant; 1 qt., 1 gal., 3 gal., 5 gal., and 15 gal. Place the wire baskets around the roots before planting. I prefer never to use gopher poison, as the likelihood of some non-target animal eating the dead gopher is not acceptable.
For those who have a severe problem with gophers, I recommend using a gopher gasser. The gasses will travel down the tunnel and the gopher will succumb to carbon dioxide. The most important thing in using gopher gassers is the soil must be well irrigated. The water will trap the smoke inside the soil particles allowing the gasser to be more effective.
I have to mention gopher trapping. There are many traps to choose from, its up to you to consider trapping. I do trap gophers but only in those yards that have severe infestations.
If you have any direct questions, you can always contact me at email@example.com. Until then, Happy Gardening;
John Nowak, Plant Sale co-Chairperson
Image: Chuck Abbe [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The cover of this Obispoensis is another beautiful water color by Heather Johnson. When I chose this beautiful and accurate representation, I expected that I could just go to my archive and update an article I had already written. To my surprise, Bonnie hadn’t drawn and I hadn’t written anything about it. I’m going to use the excuse that Hummingbird sage is so distinctive and so common that we took it for granted that everyone already knew it. It was one of the first California wildflowers I learned after I arrived in California from the Midwest. In our area Hummingbird sage can grow in an extensive mat. Its leaves are large (10 in (20 cm) long and 3 in (8 cm) wide). The leaf surface appears quilted. Its family affiliation (Mint or Lamiaceae or Labitae) is shown clearly in Heather’s water color. Its large red, two-lipped tubular flowers appear in our area by March and last well into summer and are borne in tight clusters; the clusters climbing upward resembling the balconies of an oriental pagoda. The two stamens and single style extend from under the upper lip in succession. The stamens appear first and after all the pollen has been removed they are replaced by the stigma at the end the style. Mint family characters also shown are the opposite leaves and the square stem. Unfortunately, the characteristic mint odor characteristic of this family is fruity (I smell lemon), but either way it’s not discernible in Heather’s art.
I’ve found three common names for this mint. They are crimson sage, hummingbird sage, and pitcher sage. The first two names are readily explainable. The usual flower color is dark red (crimson) and red is the color of flower that hummingbirds frequently visit. The name, pitcher sage, requires a little history. When I came to California in the late 1960s, the only wildflower books readily available were authored by the Southern California botanist, Phillip Munz, and emphasized Southern California common names. In those books Salvia spathacea was given the common name ‘pitcher sage’. So, we botanical oldsters probably remember it by that name. However I remember that hummingbird sage was always the name used on field trips in our area even then and the name, ‘pitcher sage’ was used for a completely different shrubby mint, Lepechina calycina, which grows in the interior mountains of our chapter area.
Based on my observations and the numerous accounts on the web, hummingbird sage has a place in a California Native plant garden, especially gardens away from the coast. It prefers partial shade, but where it doesn’t get too hot it can tolerate sun. It even does well under oaks. It even prefers clay soils rather than sand. For areas that have many deer, they seem to avoid eating it. Its large flowers with lots of nectar make it great for attracting and feeding hummingbirds. I suspect the best situation in which to plant them would be an area that is visible, but little trod upon. Here it can even become a sort of ground cover. I found no real references for its use in medicine other than for ailments in which its wonderful odor might be helpful. According to the book on Chumash Ethnobotany, the Cumash didn’t have a name for it although the early Spanish settlers did. Some suggested it might make a decent tea. No member of the genus, Salvia, was in any of the indices of books on poisonous plants I have in my library.
Please open up your calendars!! Isn’t that refreshing? I’m NOT asking for money, only a little bit of your time.
You may have noticed the book and tee shirt table in the back of the meeting room each month, it not only serves as a free library before the meetings but it also generates quite a bit of the capital we need to keep our group funded. Problem is, this spring Linda, David, and myself are spread too thin. That’s where YOU come in.
We could use some help behind the counter at some of our meetings and events. You can be as involved as you like: selling and writing receipts, report on the sales after the meeting, even order books. Please consider a few hours to keep us operating! If you’re interested send me a note, and I can give some of the dates and details. I’d love to hear from you! It’s really a task you’ll enjoy- what could be better than talking to other plant enthusiasts and helping them find a suitable book/poster or good looking tee?
AND THANK YOU to all of you that have helped many a cold evening by setting up or packing up our inventory!!! Many hands really does make light work.
-June Krystoff-Jones, Retail Sales Manager
California Dudleyas are easy to grow. Illegal wild collection can be disrupted via legal propagation. I propagate Dudleya with middle school science classes. If seventh-graders can grow these natives from seed, you can too.
Good news on the Sudden Oak Death front. As a result of last spring’s Sudden Oak Death Blitz, and additional collecting by agency staff, we find that. as yet, there were no positive finds in SLO County. In all, 699 trees were surveyed, of which 18.7% appeared symptomatic, but which did not test positive in the lab. It appears that there are other infections of California Bay that appear similar to those of SOD. None the less, as the disease is present just north of the county line on the Big Sur coast, the risk still hangs over us like the proverbial Sword of Damocles.
Bill Deneen, long time CNPS member, Hoover Awardee, and champion of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes died at the age of 93 in September. Bill taught biology at Santa Maria High School for 25 years, during which time he became a passionate advocate for the environment. He worked with Kathleen Goddard Jones and others to keep a nuclear power plant from being built in the Nipomo Dunes, which he loved with a deep passion. Later he was arrested from ‘crossing the blue line’ at protests against the re-siting of the power plant at Diablo Canyon, earning him the title of ‘ecohooligan’ which he wore proudly for the rest of his life. In recent years he opposed the use of OHVs in the dunes, and was on the enemies list of the local OHV community. He founded an Environmental Award which he gave out to encourage conservation action, and in a touching moment in his failing last years was given his own award by his admirers. In a sort-of-goodbye party in 2015 held at the Dana Cultural Center, he received accolades from friends and family to notable politicians like then-Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and Congresswoman Lois Capps. Capps called Bill a ‘national treasure’. Older members of the chapter will remember the many field trips he led into the dunes, and his fierce sense of humor. Bill… we will miss you… and thanks.
CHAPTER MEETING Nov. 1st 2018 – Thursday – 7:00 pm
Veterans Hall, Monterey and Grand, SLO
Mixer and Browse Sales Table 7:00 pm, Program 7:30 pm
PLANT PROPAGATION by ELLIOT PAULSON
Elliot graduated from Cal Poly in business finance, and horticulture. He established Clearwater Color Nursery in 1987, where he grows annual color, vegetables, Mediterranean type perennials, and succulents along with California Natives. Plants are propagated in plugs, packs and pots both by seed and asexual cuttings. Elliot will tell us what works and what
doesn’t work. He will also engage other plant propagators in the audience. Along with his wife Megan, he runs the nursery on Los Osos Valley road with 13 dedicated employees. The nursery delivers plant material to local retail nurseries, the Central Valley, and Santa Barbara county.
ETHNOBOTANY NOTES: Blue Elderberry (Sambucus coerulea or mexicana) A delicious, wildlife attracting addition to your garden
This last year, I have become the Johnny Appleseed of elderberry plants. Although, I plant the elderberry plants and not the seeds. I have been making Elderberry jelly and tincture for my family for almost twenty years. We gathered them in Cambria just as we did blackberries. Then when I started landscaping seriously about two years ago to help out my mom, I realized that maybe I would not have to drive for miles to gather berries if I just planted the bushes in our yard and in the gardens to which I have access. Last year, I planted several at work, and several on my mom’s property. This year I planted three at my house, and two in my friends’ yards. However, I might have to wait a few years to see the fruits of my labors.
Native Californians also used the hollow branches to make flutes and clapper sticks. They used caution and respect and were aware that there are toxic compounds in the stems and leaves (such as hydrocyanic acid and sambucine.) These are also in the berries, but less so, and dissipate when cooked or dried. Research has found compounds in Sambucus that are anti-viral. They are also high in vitamin C. I’m sure that hundreds of years ago, when Europeans ate the jelly, and drank the wine all winter it helped them to fend off colds. When making jam or wine, the seeds should be strained out.
The flowers are also considered medicinal. They are picked when flowering then dried for tea that is used to break dry fevers and stimulate perspiration. The USDA Plant Database says that “The flowers contain flavonoids and rutin, which are known to improve immune function, particularly in combination with vitamin C. The flowers also contain tannins, which account for its traditional use to reduce bleeding, diarrhea, and congestion.” They can also be prepared as a delicious cordial. Ethnobotanist Michael Moore writes that “ The flowers and dried berries are useful as a diuretic and have been used for centuries as an aid to rheumatism and arthritis. The red elderberries are toxic and should not be used.
The elderberry grows throughout California and can be drought tolerant but will thrive better and grow much faster with some watering. It tolerates clay soils and seasonal flooding, but it also grows in sandy soil in my yard. It can grow to 10 feet tall. It has green foliage which is deciduous and has cream colored flower clusters. It is a great plant to bring birds into your garden. It also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
Elderberry Photos: David Chipping. Flute by SuncrowFlutes
The Nomination Committee presents the following slate of candidates
President: Bill Waycott, continuing
For Vice President: Nishanta ‘Nishi’ Rajakaruna (Thank you David Keil, new CNPS fellow, for your time as VP!)
Nishi Rajakaruna fell in love with plants at a young age during a visit to Sinharaja Rainforest, a lowland tropical rainforest in Sri Lanka. He received a BA in human ecology from College of the Atlantic (Maine) and conducted his post-undergraduate practical training in plant ecophysiology at Harvard University. His research on the evolutionary ecology of the Lasthenia californica complex earned him a MS and a PhD in botany from the University of British Columbia, Canada. Nishi conducted post-doctoral research in plant ecology at Stanford University. His research examines how plant diversity, ecology, and evolution are influenced by serpentine and other ‘unusual’ soils, including those with heavy metals. He has taught botany at College of the Atlantic and San José State University for 12 years and spent a year as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Sri Lanka and India. He is currently an associate professor in plant biology at California Polytechnic State University where he teaches general botany and biogeography.
Nishi has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on plant-soil relations of serpentine and other harsh edaphic settings in California, Maine, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Iran, and Russia and is the co-editor of two key treatments on plant life on serpentine soils [Serpentine: Evolution and Ecology in a Model System (2011) and Soil and Biota of Serpentine: A World View (2009) and a book titled Plant Ecology and Evolution in Harsh Environments (2014). He has served on the scientific advisory committees of the International Conference on Serpentine Ecology since 2006 and was the Recording Secretary of the California Botanical Society 2009-2010. He has been the Editor-in-Chief of Rhodora, the Journal of the New England Botanical Club, since 2014 and a member of the CNPS, SLO Chapter since Fall 2017.
Treasurer: Dave Krause, continuing
For Secretary: Cindy Roessler. I have been a member of CNPS for decades and moved to San Luis Obispo County about a year ago so now I am ready to help out the SLO Chapter by serving as a local officer. I have served on numerous boards and committees for conservation groups, so I have the experience and commitment to do the “boring” organizational work along with attending our local beautiful hikes and surveying our rare plant communities. In my professional career over 35 years, I’ve worked as an ecologist managing natural public lands in Florida and California. I am very familiar with California native plants, how to identify, find and enjoy them, and how they contribute to the ecology, beauty and economic stability of our state. Most of my experience is with oaks, grasses, ecological restoration, and control of invasive plants in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am amazed at how different the plants are in San Luis Obispo County, just 200 miles south of my former region of expertise, so I have been attending local trainings and hikes and it’s exciting to be a student all over again. You can find out more about me by checking my natural history blog www.dipperanch.blogspot.com or my LinkedIn account. As Secretary for the SLO Chapter, I foresee keeping records of the board meetings and handling other clerical duties so that the chapter can smoothly pursue its conservation and educational goals. I am particularly impressed with the participation of students and young people in the SLO CNPS chapter and will look for ways to support young people joining the organization.