Layia platyglossa

Layia platyglossa


Layia platyglossa is one of our more common spring wildflowers. It can turn the hills a shade of yellow. When people talk of great wildflower displays, it is often this plant of which they are speaking. Its flowers are predominately yellow. The center is dark yellow to even orange while the bases of the petal-like structures are medium yellow. The tips are pale yellow to white. When in mass, they form medium-yellow patches as opposed to dark orange-yellow of goldfields (Lasthenia).

It is the pale tips that give this plant its common name ‒ tidy-tips. It is a member of the sunflower family, Asteraceae or Compositae. The name Compositae is an older, alternative name that has been conserved by the Rules of Botanical Nomenclature. It refers to a trait shared by nearly all members of this very large family of having its tiny flowers aggregated (composited) into flower-like clusters commonly called heads. The heads are made up of two types of flowers. In the center of the head is a tight, disk-like cluster of dark-yellow to orange flowers with their petals (corollas) formed into a tube.

These flowers are called tube flowers based on this trait or disk flowers referring to their forming that tight disk in the center of the the head. However, it is the “petals” that surround the head that give us the common name. The “petals” are actually the modified corollas (petals) of the second type of flower, the ray flower. Ray flowers are so named, I assume, because they radiate out from the outer edge of the disk. The flat strap-shaped petal-like corolla is termed a ligule and is made up of three fused petals. The ligule in tidytips generally has a medium yellow base and pale yellow to white tip.

California Wildflower

Illustration by Bonnie Walters

A second species of Layia is called white layia, because its pale tip extends all the way to the ligule base. White layias are common in the drier portion of our Chapter area. Dr. Robert Hoover recognized eight Layia species in the county.  However, I’m only familiar with four of them: common, white, Munz’s, and Jones’s tidy-tips.

How do you tell them apart? Well, white layia is the easiest to distinguish because its ligule is completely pale yellow to white. The other three species would all appear to be tidy-tips in a casual photograph. In order to distinguish these, one needs to get kind of technical. A hand lens would also prove to be useful, if not essential. The main character that  distinguishes the species resides in the greenish, modified leaves immediately surrounding the heads. Leaves associated with flowers are called bracts. A tight whorl or spiral of bracts is called an involucre. In the Asteraceae, these involucre bracts are given the unique term phyllaries. The phyllary tips in common tidytips are “visibly hairy.” In contrast, the phyllary tips in Jones’s and Munz’s tidy-tips either lack hairs or have hairs so short as to appear absent (puberulent).

The common tidy-tips is by far the most widespread and is easily the one most encountered. It is especially partial to well drained, sandy or rocky soils and is found practically everywhere. In contrast, Munz’s and Jones’s tidy-tips are more localized and are partial to clay soils. Munz’s or alkali tidy-tips is found in extremely alkali soils such as around Soda Lake on the Carrizo Plain. Jones’s tidy-tips is partial to soils derived from serpentine. It is known from several locations in the San Luis Obispo area.

It must be added that tidy-tips are extremely variable in many characteristics such as presence of odor, red striping and sticky hairs on the stem and the shape of individual bracts. Members of the sunflower family do not have typical green sepals. Instead of being green, they can be absent or consist of dry scales, bristles or some combination of both. Because the sepals do not look like sepals, botanists give them another name. They are called pappus. The pappus found in the various species of tidy-tips runs the full spectrum of forms with some species such as the common tidy-tips which can possess either no pappus or a pappus of thick fuzzy bristles (awns).

by Dirk Walters, illustrations by Bonnie Walters | Dirk and Bonnie Walters are long-time CNPS-SLO members, contributors, and board/committee participants. In addition to his work at Cal Poly, Dirk is the current CNPS-SLO Historian.
May Chapter Meeting

May Chapter Meeting

Chapter Meeting

Our program for this chapter meeting includes a talk by Lisa Stratton, the Director of Ecosystem Management for UCSB’s Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER). She will tell us how native plants have become a priority for UCSB open space areas, and cover current and ongoing open space projects.
John Chestnut will give us a run down on the recent CNPS is proposal to add a new species, to list 1B. This species is restricted to the Central Ca sand dunes– Los Osos, Oceano, Guadalupe and Vandenberg. C. littoreum was segregated from C. carnosulum var. patagonicum by the Chenopodium author in the forthcoming Jepson 2.

David Chipping will challenge us to help out with weed control in our open areas. Much can be done, and creative ideas are welcome. David is happy to coordinate if companies, groups, or families would like to “adopt” an area within which invasive weeds are a problem.

photo courtesy of Sharon Lovejoy


President’s Message

If you have not yet visited our Facebook page at, please do as it shows recent photos of field trips, up to date flower locations and more. If you would like to post information, you can send it to me at

We had two excellent early April field trips to Shell Creek and then to Chimineas Ranch with George Butterworth. Even though we lacked the lush windflower carpets of last year, there was plenty to see at both locations including interesting snakes and lizards. In spite of the heavy rains of March, the rains of late 2010 combined with the extended January drought to reduce the show this year, although we hope late flowering species such as Clarkia might do well. It seems you never can tell, and that is half the fun. Where you WILL have fun is at the Santa Margarita Lake picnic on May 1, so we hope to see you there.

Work has started on compiling photos of the flora of the Carrizo Plains, using the team that put together the wonderful San Luis Obispo book. If you have photos of sufficient detail of species that you suspect might be missed by the committee, please send them to me. We don’t want scenery but if you have high quality images of an interesting plant we would like to see them. Don’t be shy.

— David Chipping

Conservation May 2011

Conservation May 2011

Carrizo Projects

CNPS testified at the first Planning Commission hearing on the Topaz Solar Plant that we would prefer the plant to be moved as far to the northwest as possible into existing ploughed fields, giving better protection to grassland areas closer to California Valley and the National Monument. We are unfortunately getting opposition from agriculturalists who wish to keep the Williamson Act-protected plough land from being converted.

Weed Control

In the last newsletter I had asked for help from any certified herbicide applicators that could help us perform weed control in our vastly underfunded public lands. None were forthcoming, and so I will now ask for any people who might be willing to shovel, hoe and rake to protect native plants. I will be working with California State Parks as they have expressed a willingness to work with CNPS on this issue. Projects I have in mind are the protection of wildflower populations though veldt grass and long leaf ice plant control in the Butte Drive area of Montana de Oro and the Powell Addition to Morro Bay State Park. There is also cape ivy that can be raked out of the understory in Los Osos Oaks. I am sure some of you may have some other projects in mind. I will set up a field trip to take any interested people to look at these projects. Please contact me if you are interested in adopting some small patch in wildflowers and saving them for future generations.

California EPA

State Senator Canella is proposing a bill (SB 241) that will essentially gut the California Environmental Policy Act. CNPS urges you to contact Senator Sam Blakeslee and ask him to withdraw any support he might have for this bill. Blakeslee was one of the five state Republicans who bravely broke away from the main Republican block to attempt a budget negotiation with Governor Brown, but unfortunately he brought some elements of this bill into the bargaining process. The bill is long and you should read it at:

The bill prohibits any comments on a project after the official close of comments from being considered by an agency, even if the project was changed. It severely restricts consideration of cumulative impact, massively raises the costs of appeals and eliminates the fair argument standard for preparing an EIR, a fundamental element in the creation of CEQA. It exempts many projects and weakens enforcement to an extreme degree. There is more. You can contact Senator Blakeslee via his web page

— David Chipping

President’s Message

We had an excellent turnout for our yearly north county meeting, and it was really great to see faces that don’t usually appear at out SLO Meetings. I would be very interested to hear from north county people on what they thought of the program, and what they would like to see next year.

Our next meeting not held in the Vets Hall, but at Shell Creek (field trip information). This is always a fun outing, and it may be a bit more of an adventure as the creek is running high at the moment. I think the wildflowers will be great this year, including those along Highway 58 on the way.

We are going to be present at Earth Day celebrations at the SLO Botanic Garden, so give us a visit. We are always looking for volunteers who would help our boothing regulars.

We will be presenting before the Board of Supervisors the week before California Wildflower Week (third week in April) with a long list of
happenings, which will also be mounted on our web site.

Contact me if you have something in mind for celebrating wildflowers during either that week or the weekends at either end. We are also trying to post stuff like wildflower sightings on the Facebook page at — David Chipping

Conservation April 2011

CORRECTION: In the last Conservation post of the solar project that adjoins Belmont Trail and which lies closest to the Temblor Range I mistakenly named the developer as First Solar, instead of SunPower. CNPS is also commenting on First Solar’s project, which is further north and to the west.

SunPower project

I regret to say that the Planning Commission seemed to have ignored CNPS concerns with the SunPower project’s impacts to flower fields, and approved the project by unanimous vote. We had asked that some definite conservation actions such as offsite mitigation funding be set up prior to approving the project, as the EIR assigns Class II impacts (impacts that can be mitigated) only if additional steps are taken. We have concerns that the Board of Supervisors might be equally dismissive of biological impacts on the basis of an overriding consideration that solar power and carbon reductions trump local effects. We do not have the same problems with the First Solar/ Topaz project, where impacts to flora are much less evident.

Pismo Beach and the Godfrey Ranch

In another problematic move, the City of Pismo Beach is changing the area that they are considering for annexation in the Price Canyon area, removing the Spanish Springs North Ranch property which is northwest of the highway, and adding the Godfrey Ranch which lies southwest of the Spanish Springs South Ranch, and is west of the western end of Vetter Lane. The Godfrey ranch is essentially undeveloped grasslands with scattered oaks and would appear to be prime habitat for Pismo clarkia. To develop this property, which is remote from the core of Pismo Beach, would be the epitome of urban sprawl. One would imagine that this property would also require an additional water source.

Weed Control

As state and federal agencies get poorer, it looks like conservation actions such as noxious weed removal are being ignored. I would be interested in seeing if there are any certified herbicide applicators within our chapter who could be called upon in the event that CNPS could take
over some weed control from certain agencies under an MOU of some sort. I would also ask any agency people who are reading this to contact me if they think CNPS and the agency could work together on certain weed removal projects. — David Chipping

March Chapter Meeting

March Chapter Meeting

The Carrizo Plains: A Wildflower Wonderland

Speakers are Dr. Dirk Walters and Dr. David Chipping, Emeritus Professors from Cal Poly

Thursday, March 3, 2011, 7 p.m.

The San Luis Obispo Chapter of the California Native Plant Society will present a slide show and lecture entitled “The Carrizo Plains: A Wildflower Wonderland” on March 3, 2011, at 7:00 p.m. in the Atascadero Association of Retired People building, 7484 Pismo Avenue,#adjacent to the Lake Pavilion, Atascadero, off Morro Road (Hwy 41).

A large selection of natural history and botanical books will be offered for sale. The lecture and slide show are free and open to the public, but arrive early as seating is limited.

Call 441-3777 for more information.

Conservation March 2011

We are still trying to force some decent mitigation built into the First Solar project in the Carrizo. We are concerned that pressure for jobs and tax income might cause local government to allow the project to go forward without securing off-site mitigation. Our main concerns lie in the southwest corner of the project, and the positioning of Arrays 8 and 9 in a recognized wildflower field. If you have seen the spring flower displays on the north side of Belmont Trail, then you know what is at stake.

If you don’t know about these displays, come to our next meeting in Atascadero.

President’s Message

Those of you who missed Bob Stafford’s wonderful talk on the wildlife of the Carrizo Plain and Chimineas Ranch areas can have another chance to learn about the area at our March 3 meeting in Atascadero. Following the snafu last year when we posted insufficient information on time and place, we want to make sure you find your way to the AARP building at the rear of the Lake Pavilion in Atascadero Lake Park.

Dirk Walters and myself have developed a slide show on the wildflowers and landscapes of the area, and will start at 7:30 after the social gathering at 7:00.

After a month with no rain, I am getting worried that all the field trips planned by us and other organizations for celebration of California Native Plant Week may be too late for short-lived annuals. Right now, Montana de Oro State Park has nice displays of shooting stars and chocolate lilies along the East Boundary Trail, and trillium in Coon Creek. Snag them while you can.

I encourage you to use our Facebook page to post wildflower sightings and fast breaking news at

–David Chipping

Feb Chapter Meeting

Feb Chapter Meeting

Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve – Biodiversity, Monitoring, and Research

by Bob Stafford

The Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve contains a wide variety of vegetative communities. This botanical variety supports an equally diverse faunal assemblage which will be explored during this presentation. We will also look at past, present, and future wildlife research projects and how all of this information will be used to direct the future management direction of the ecological reserve.

Bob Stafford has worked as an associate wildlife biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game for over 19 years and he has worked in the San Luis Obispo county unit for the past 13 years. He has extensive experience working with the endangered vertebrates of the San Joaquin Valley as well as large mammal species such as black bear, tule elk, and pronghorn. His current duties include developing a land management plan for the Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve, including the Chimineas Unit.

Thursday, February 3, 2011 — Meet at the Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo, 7:00 p.m. 7 – 7:30 p.m.

Enjoy social time, refreshments and browse our book table.

The meeting  begins at 7:30 with a little time for chapter business and announcements, followed by the presentations.

Conservation Feb 2011

Carrizo Plain Solar Projects

Our chapter submitted comments on the Draft EIRs of both Carrizo Plain solar projects. I was invited to tour the Topaz Project, which is generally north of Highway 58 and centered around the site of the old solar panel site that was torn down years ago. Topaz is composed of low, stationary solar panels bolted to aluminum frames that can easily be removed if necessary. The entire area has been disturbed by agriculture, but there is some grassland in which native species are returning.

CNPS has argued for keeping grassland and using more of the existing ploughed ground, but there is some opposition from those that don’t want to see Williamson Act lands
converted in this way. There are some large protected areas in which scarce listed plants could be increased as part of the mitigation, and the botanic part of the DEIR is one of the best I have seen.

We agree with the developer that this is an excellent site for solar power, given the winter tule fogs in the Westlands area along I-5 that has been suggested as an alternative.The site will not have a large visual impact on the national monument.

The final EIR is out for the Sunpower Project, which will sit south of 58 and reaching to Belmont Trail. Site disturbance will be far greater than for Topaz. Visibility will be higher, impacting the vistas of Soda Lake as seen from the highway. The final EIR has finally produced some decent plant data, and it appears that the Array #8 bank of generators will have a big impact on CNPS 1B plants and significant wildflower fields. Only avoidance and appropriate grassland management will suffice to protect these resources.

The EIR also recommends off-site mitigation, but there is no such program as part of the project at this time. CNPS will argue first for avoidance, but, in the event of approval, that the offsite mitigation will take place in the flower fields immediately west of the project and north of the vernal pool area along Belmont Trail.

At the current time we see no evidence that the take of CNPS listed species can be mitigated to Class 2 (Less Than Significant), based on current project description.

North County Habitat Conservation Plan

CNPS has been asked to join an Advisory Committee on a new North County Habitat Conservation Plan, and I need information on the locations of botanic assets in the areas defined by the Paso Robles zone of influence. I have already suggested adding what is left of vernal pools around the airport, most of which have been obliterated by vineyards.

–David Chipping

President’s Message

The rain and warm weather has fuchsia flowered gooseberry, trillium and ceanothus in full flower, and now, in mid January, the accursed veldt grass is setting seed. If not global warming, it is certainly global weirding. It seems to me that we should make notes on early flowering when we see it as it could be useful in global warming studies.

North County members will be happy to know that we will be having our March 3 meeting at the Atascadero Association of Retired People (AARP) Hall, which is right across the parking lot for the Lake Pavilion at Atascadero Lake. We are planning a great show on the flowers and landscapes of the Carrizo Plain and east County.

A reminder that April will include Native Plant Week, and we are getting quite a few organizations signing up to do something special during the week. Spread the word and feed me contacts.
— David Chipping


Flora of Fern Canyon




Scientific name Common name Foot Note
Acacia melanoxylon Blackwood Acacia 1
Albizia lophantha Plume Acacia 1
Artemisia douglasiana Mugwort
Baccharis pilularis Coyote Bush
Briza maxima Rattlesnake or Quaking Grass 2
Calystegia macrostegia Morning-Glory
Conium maculatum Poison Hemlock 2
Cortaderia selloana Pampas Grass 4
Crocosmia X crocosmiliflora Montbretia 1
Dryopteris arguta Coastal Wood Fern
Equisetum telmateia Giant Horsetail
Fragaria vesca Wood Strawberry
Galium californicum Bedstraw
Genista monspessulana Broom 4
Geranium dissectum Cut Leaf Geranium 2
Heteromeles arbutifolia Toyon
Juncus effusus Rush
Leymus condensatus Giant Ryegrass
Lonicera hispidula Coastal Honeysuckle
Lonicera involucrata Twin Berry
Mimulus aurantiacus Sticky Monkey Flower
Myosotis spp. Forget Me Not 1
Oemleria cerasiformis Oso Berry
Pennisetum clandestinum Kikuyu Grass 4
Pinus radiata Monterey Pine
Polystichum munitum Western Sword Fern
Pteridium aquilinum Bracken Fern
Quercus agrifolia Coast Live Oak
Quercus chrysolepis Canyon Live Oak
Raphanus sativus Wild Radish 2
Rhamnus californica California Coffee Berry
Ribes sanguineum Pink Flowering Currant
Ribes speciosum Fuchsia-Flowered Gooseberry
Rubus discolor Himalayan Blackberry 1
Rubus ursinus California Blackberry
Rumex crispus Curly Dock 2
Salix lasiolepis Arroyo Willow
Satureja douglasii Yerba Buena
Scrophularia californica California Figwort
Senecio mikanioides German-Ivy 4
Sonchus oleraceus Common Sow Thistle 2
Stachys bullata Hedge Nettle
Thalictrum fendleri Meadow Rue
Toxicodendron diversilobum Poison Oak
Tropaeolum majus Garden Nasturtium 1
Vicia gigantea Giant Vetch
Vinca major Greater Periwinkle 1

1. Ornamental species escaped from cultivation.

2. Introduced more-or-less weedy species.

3. Crop plant escaped from cultivation.

4. Noxious weed.


Conservation Dec 2010

Carrizo Plain Solar Projects

We commented on the DEIR for the Carrizo Plain Sunpower solar array. Prior to writing the comment, we attended a meeting the developer held, in which they revealed biological information on rare plant distributions and possible revision of the project footprint that was not mentioned in any part of the DEIR. Our comments therefore reflected the feeling that the document was effectively useless.

Another DEIR has just been released for the Topaz Project, which is further north, and we will be commenting.

Pismo Beach Project

Nearer the coast the City of Pismo Beach has closed the EIR process on the annexation of 1,700 acres of Price Canyon into the city. The EIR is lacking planning specifics, and fails to identify proven sources of water for the project, so the project will have a hard job getting by LAFCO review, the next step in the annexation process.

Although the City says it’s policies will force it to protect important biological resources, their history gives us considerable doubt.

— David Chipping

President’s Message

Another Plant Sale is behind us, and everybody likes our new location. We had a lot of people coming in due to our better visibility from the highway, thanks to our sign makers.

Thanks also to all of the volunteers, to people to grew plants for the sale, and from those of you who bought plants and put our chapter on a firm financial footing. Even the
threatening weather held off until the last half hour when we were packing up.

Other groups are getting on board with our celebration of Native Plant Week in April. So far, both the SLO and Nipomo Native Gardens, BLM and the Friends of the Carrizo, and SWAP at the Elfin Forest are considering activities. If you belong to an organization that could join in the celebration, let me know about it.

Judi Young has redesigned and updated our web site at Take a look and tell us how you like it. Thank you Judi.

— David Chipping


Conservation Nov 2010

Carrizo Plain Solar Projects

We’re closely watching the Carrizo Plain Sunpower solar array that is currently in the Draft EIR stage. There is a large population of Layia munzii of over a million plants that will be impacted by Solar Array #8, which is at the southwest corner of the project adjacent to Belmont Trail. Other impacted CNPS 1B species are Layia heterotricha, Delphinium recurvatum, and Lasthenia ferrisiae.

The DEIR leans heavily on off-site mitigation, with specific mention of retirement of development in some lots within the California Valley subdivision. My one conversation with a Sunpower representative showed very little enthusiasm of land purchases outside of the project. You can read the biological portion of the DEIR at (note: The planning organization has changed their website and I could not find the document. Here is a link to the current page concerning SunPower. -Judi 5/2011)

CNPS finds itself in a difficult position on the numerous solar projects being fast-tracked throughout the deserts of California. We need to reduce fossil fuel use, but not at the expense of imperiling desert species such as tortoise. Impacts to plants are essentially being ignored, given that ‘mitigation’ for the more ‘charismatic’ tortoise has meant moving them into other areas where mortality has been extremely high.
There is no doubt that we can have some solar in the Carrizo Plain, but it must have a footprint much more considerate of our rare plants.! ! ! !

— David Chipping

President’s Message

I want to thank all of the photographers and dessert creators who made out first meeting so successful. There were so many contributions that I think we will have to slightly trim the time allocated per presentation next year, but that is hard when so many of the photographs could have been on national magazine covers.

While most pictures were of interesting and beautiful subjects, there were a couple of4 talks with some solid scientific content, and one, from John Chesnut, showed very real evidence of climate change as desert sagebrush was replaced by hightemperature desert scrubs over the span of a quarter century. This emphasized the dual nature of CNPS as a plant-appreciation group on the one hand, and a science-based conservation organization on the other. You don’t have to have a botany degree to do good plant science, and I am going to suggest that any of you who would like to be involved in scientific data collection, monitoring, photo-surveys, horticultural suitability experiments and the like contact the
appropriate program within our chapter.

As noted in the last newsletter, the third week in April has been designated as Native Plant Week in a California Joint Assembly Resolution. CNPS wants this to be celebrated throughout the county, and this should involve other conservation, horticultural, and natural history-related organizations. If any of you have any special relationships with such an organization, let me know.

We are going to need the usual help at the Plant Sale, but also could use some unusual jobs like sign-wavers to stand on the side of LOVR. If anybody wants to dress up like a daisy or something and dance around, we will welcome them. We have no shame when propagating the use of native plants.!

— David Chipping

Conservation Oct 2010

I have just returned from a CNPS meeting where the protection of CNPS List 2 species was discussed. If you are not familiar with the CNPS Inventory of Rare & Endangered Plants, it has become the accepted authority on the status of plants, and is addressed in environmental assessment of projects. List 1A plants are considered extinct, List 1B plants are rare, threatened, or endangered in California and elsewhere , and List 2 plants are rare, threatened, or endangered in California, but more common elsewhere. For more information, see CNPS Ranking System.

The CNPS argument for protecting List 2 plants is that our populations are by definition at the edge of the range for the plant, or even a distant outlier of the plant. This would frequently involve some genetic adaption to the habitat that would otherwise be marginal to a species, and for that reason may hold the keys to the long-term survival of the species in a changed environment. Thus heat-adapted species might fare better in a warmer world. Variety is indeed the spice of life.

CNPS maintains a searchable web site of the Inventory, and it shows that San Luis Obispo County only has five List 2 plants. This is in spite of the fact that we have the westernmost extensions of Mojave Desert species, the most southerly extensions of northern Coast Range plants, and the most northerly extensions of many southern plants such as our much admired Coreopsis gigantea from the Oso Flaco Lake area.

This indicates that the rationale justifying List 2 should be applied within California, so that plants that are rare in SLO but common elsewhere should be given some sort of protection, as the same edge-of-range values would apply. The value of locally rare species is inconsistently applied, is not recognized in either State or Federal Endangered Species Acts, but is recognized under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Our chapter will be assessing all of the “edge-of-range” and “outlier” species with the aim of getting better protection at the County and City planning level.

Please contribute your knowledge to this effort.

— David Chipping

President’s Message

Welcome back to another nine months of Chapter programs, field trips, garden visits and other fun activities for you and your family.

Our first meeting is the dessert potluck and contributory slide show, and we welcome any and all OOOOH-AAAH pictures. Linda and I will bring in some grizzly bears and other
Alaskan goodies.

This year will have changes. We are working on a much improved web site, a Facebook presence and other new fangled stuff. We are debating changes in the newsletter, and those of you with e-mail will receive messages from us regarding use of that medium in receiving a full color PDF version of our newsletter.

Our plant sale will be at the same time (November 6) but the location will move from the “traditional” site on Madonna Road.

Thanks to Assembly Member Evans and many coauthors that included Sam Blakeslee, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 173 has declared the 3rd week in April as California Native Plant Week. This will set the stage for a big effort by our chapter to celebrate the week and introduce as many people as possible to our wonderful native flora. Send me your ideas.

— David Chipping