Rare Plant Treasure Hunt – Central Coast

Dear Rare Plant Treasure Hunters,

This year the RPTH is taking on the California Central Coast as a new geographic focus. We will be leading many trips in Monterey County’s Ventana Wilderness as well as in California State Parks and other public lands. On the Ventana trips, we’ll also begin to document the noxious weeds we encounter to help the USFS manage the wilderness and reduce the impact of biological invasions.

We are also pleased to announce that Deanna Giuliano, the Santa Cruz Chapter President, will be helping us out this season! So, please consider coming out to join us for some for these trips – whether you prefer an easy to moderate day hike or a strenuous 3-day backpacking trip, there is something for you! If you can make it out to one of our camping trips for just a day or 2, let us know; we will likely be able to accommodate. Check out the photos below for a sample of the rare plants we’ll see this season!

Happy Rare Plant Hunting,

Danny Slakey

North Coast Ridge Road Car Camping w/ optional overnight backpack (Monterey County) May 20 – 22

On this trip, we’ll be camping with members of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance near Big Sur along North Coast Ridge Road, which is not normally open to vehicles. This will give us a chance to quickly get to many remote sites in the Wilderness! We’ll hike many of the nearby trails and also search along the road corridor for rare plants and noxious weeds. On the target species list we have Clarkia jolonensis, Malacothamnus palmeri var. lucianus and Abies bracteata, but we’ll search for many others as well.

Depending on the interest and size of the group, some of us may backpack for one night to botanize some of the more remote trails. Hikes will be anywhere from easy-moderate to moderately-strenuous, depending on the participants’ interest. There are restrictions on the number of vehicles we can bring to this site, so please let us know in advance if you would like to join this trip. Email dslakey@cnps.org for details and to RSVP.

Memorial Day Cone Peak Car Camping (Monterey County) May 25 – 27

What better way to spend your Memorial Day than camping, and looking for rare plants while you’re doing it?! With special permission for the USFS, we’ll drive to near the top of Cone Peak, near Big Sur for a weekend campout. On the peak itself, we’ll search for a number of rare species: we’ll test out our plant ID skills by surveying for two rare species of bedstraw, Galium clementis and Galium hardhamiae. We’ll also look for some showier plants, such as the most beautiful jewelflower (Streptanthus albidus ssp. peramoenus). In addition to the peak itself, we’ll plan on hiking some of the nearby trails in search of these species, other rare plants, and noxious weeds. Hikes will be easy-moderate to strenuous, depending on the interest of the group. There may also be an option for an overnight backpack with part of the group. For details and to RSVP send an email to dslakey@cnps.org.

Pine Ridge Trail / Sykes Hot Springs Backpacking (Monterey County) June 5-7

This is the most popular trail in the Ventana Wilderness, but unfortunately it is also the most heavily impacted one. We are doing this trip on weekdays to avoid the big crowds. Because of the heavy impacts along the trail, documenting the rare plants and noxious weeds here is especially important for helping the USFS to improve management of the trail and surrounding land. Several occurrences of Dudley’s lousewort (Pedicularis dudleyi) have been found nearby, so we’ll search for new occurrences of it, as well as many other rare plants.

We’ll hike 11 miles from Big Sur to Sykes Hot Springs in the first day of the trip. On the second day, we’ll do an easier day hike with botanizing on nearby trails without our packs. On Day 3, we’ll hike back along the Pine Ridge Trail. For details and to RSVP send an email to dslakey@cnps.org.

Andrew Molera State Park (Monterey County) June 8, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

This State Park on the coast is host to a number of showy rare plants, such as the Little Sur Manzanita (Arctostaphylos edmundsii), adobe sanicle (Sanicula maritima), Hutchinson’s larkspur (Delphinium hutchinsoniae), and Dudley’s lousewort (Pedicularis dudleyi). However, we only have a small amount of data on the distribution of these rare plants in the park, so we’ll search the park for new occurrences of these and other rare plants.

Meet at 10 a.m. at the pullout on the east side of Hwy 1, at the intersection with Coast Rd. The spot is about 20 south of Carmel, and across Hwy 1 from Andrew Molera State Park. We may be able get the $10 entrance fee to the park waived. To RSVP and get more details, send an email to dslakey@cnps.org.

Alder Creek Botanical Area Car Camp / Optional Mountain Bike (Monterey Co.) June 14 – 16

The Alder Creek Botanical Area is in the Silver Peak Wilderness, just north of the Monterey / San Luis Obispo County border. The area has a lot of serpentine soils and is at the northern extent of many southern plant species, so it has a very unique flora. We’ll hike in the botanical area and along nearby trails in search of rare plants and noxious weeds, and we may even be able to find some range extensions for serpentine-endemics that are not currently known from Monterey County! We’ll search for two rare bedstraws (Galium clementis and Galium hardhamiae), late-flowering mariposa lily (Calochortus fimbriatus), and Palmer’s monardella (Monardella palmeri), as well as many other species.

Since we are car camping, this trip has options for folks with a lots different hiking abilities, from easy-moderate to strenuous. In addition to hiking, a small group could do a survey that requires mountain bikes. The Lottie Potrero Camp is a botanically interesting site, but it is about 5 miles from the point when the road becomes impassible to larger vehicles, making mountain bikes the best method to reach the site. We’ll have room for at least 2 mountain bikes on a rack, so please let us know if you are interested in bringing a bike out. We’ll camp at an unofficial campsite along South Coast Ridge Road near the Alder Creek Botanical Area.

For more details and to RSVP, send an email to dslakey@cnps.org. Remember to bring any botany supplies you have, including a hand lens, GPS, camera, field notebook, and floras.

Lion’s Den Botanical Area and Cruickshank Trail Backpacking / Optional Car Camp Rendezvous June 28 – 30

On this trip, we’ll backpack along a loop that covers some spectacular botanical sites in the Silver Peak Wilderness, right by the Monterey / San Luis Obispo County border. We’ll start at the Salmon Creek Guard Station and hike through the Southern Redwood Botanical Area – where the coast redwoods reach their southern extent! We’ll continue along the trail to camp at an established wilderness campsite. On Day 2, we’ll hike the Cruickshank Trail to the Lion’s Den Botanical Area, which is host to many rare plants, such as late-flowering Mariposa Lily (Calochortus fimbriatus), Bishop manzanita (Arctostaphylos obispoensis), and Hardham’s bedstraw (Galium hardhamiae). We may also be able to find some range extensions for plants like Santa Lucia mint (Pogogyne clareana) or yellow-flowered eriastrum (Eriastrum luteum). On Day 3, we’ll hike back to the Salmon Creek Guard Station via the Salmon Creek Trail.

On this trip, we won’t hike more than about 5 miles per day, so there will be plenty of time for botanizing. However, the trail climbs about 3000 ft. to Lion’s Den, so hiking will be moderately strenuous. Since Lion’s Den is accessible via South Coast Ridge Road, car campers can rendezvous with us at Lion’s Den Camp on June 29. For more details and to RSVP, send a message to dslakey@cnps.org. Remember to bring any botany supplies you have, including a hand lens, GPS, camera, field notebook, and floras.


Book Talk June 2013

Nancy Bauer has won an award from the American Horticultural Society for her book, The California Wildlife Habitat Garden. The book just came out a few months ago and it is such a pleasure to read. It fills a niche in garden writing and is particularly aimed at California native gardens. I dip into portions of my copy every few days.

The thing about being a native plant enthusiast is that you are drawn into worlds of birds and butterflies and pollinators. You begin to notice them, learn about them and then you begin doing more and more things to entice them into your garden. This lovely book has been an excellent guide and motivator. I spend hours in my garden just watching all the different visitors.

The award committee said her book is, “well-produced, practical and thorough. This book is a significant contribution to habitat gardening literature.” I couldn’t agree more.

Heather Johnson

Sudden Oak Death (SOD) Blitz Update

Dr Matteo Garbelotto presents the collecting materials and sampling protocols for the Sudden Oak Death (SOD Blitz) held on May 3, 4, and 5. The training took place on Friday evening and volunteers collected samples in numerous areas in northwest San Luis Obispo County

There was a great turn-out for the first San Luis Obispo SOD Blitz training. We had 17 volunteers investigate areas with bay laurel trees, inspecting leaves and collecting samples, from Arroyo Grande to the northern SLO County boundary.

I want to thank everyone that helped organize this event and of course all the volunteers. Everyone who collected said it was difficult to find leaves that matched the SOD symptom description. This may indicate the SOD has not yet made it to SLO County, or it may be a result of this being a very dry year.

The samples must be tested within a few days of collecting and all the volunteers turned in their samples by Sunday evening so they could be mailed by Monday morning. The samples were sent to the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory for analysis and the results will be included in the SODMAP research project.

Dr. Matteo Garbelotto will be visiting SLO County in the fall to present the results of our collections and additional information on SOD and the SOD Blitz project. Please check the newsletter and the CNPS website for the date of this meeting. We need to continue monitoring for this devastating disease and hope to participate in the SOD Blitz again in the future.

I again thank those that helped organize and all the volunteers.

Lauren Brown

Invasive Species Committee Chair


For additional information on the SOD Blitz project, visit: http://www.sodblitz.org

Susie Bernstein, Suzette Girouard and Anthony Mienhold colleting bay laurel leaves

Community Education

A beautiful blue oak woodland adorned with lace lichen, more California peonies than you can shake a stick at, and a handful of young children who eagerly call out the names of native plants along the trail. What more could one ask for?

At the end of March, Bill Waycott and I led a group of 4-­‐8th grade students, a couple accompanying moms, and resource teacher Paula Warnes of the Paso Robles Public School Home School Program on a two mile loop walk on the Jim Green Trail in Atascadero. This trail was new to both Bill and me, but we were tasked to Kind a child-­‐ friendly wildKlower walk in the North County and a web search led us to this lucky Kind.

Located on the northern end of the Heilmann Regional Park, the Jim Green Trail is a very satisfying walk with a variety of blooming spring Klowers amidst remnant needlegrass patches and in the woodland understory. In addition to a preponderance of peonies, we saw a nice display of California buttercup, Johnny jump-­‐up, blue dick, Kiddleneck, sanicles, lupines, owl’s clover, Chinese houses, and the leaves of many clarkia that will bloom later this spring. The blooming ceanothus were also at optimal fragrance-­‐snifKing level for the height of our group.

Before we head out on the trail, we reviewed photo handouts of 16 plants commonly growing along the trail, and then we had the kids point out the plants during our walk.

The most satisfying part of it all was at the end of our walk (after we collected the handouts) when the children were asked what plant communities and plants they had just observed -­‐ we got an enthusiastic response of correct answers from all! A couple of the kids, including one sporting poison oak blisters on his neck, were genuinely excited about identifying the plants, even inquiring about species that we had not specifically called out.

We may do another walk with this home school program again in the fall. If any of you are equally interested in winning over children in this manner, please let me know.

Susi Bernstein

Chapter Meeting – June 6, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 7 p.m.

Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo

Our June speaker will be Taylor Crow. He is a master’s student at Cal Poly and a previous winner of the Malcolm McLeod scholarship. Taylor will be speaking about his graduate work on the California native coyote mint (Monardella villosa).

Taylor Crow is a second year master’s student at Cal Poly, graduating this spring 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 grew up in Exeter, California on a citrus farm and cattle ranch, and got his start as a botanist in David Keil’s and Dirk Walter’s plant taxonomy class. He will be moving on this summer to Laramie Wyoming, where he will be studying Cercocarpus (Mountain Mahogany) for a PhD.

❖ ❖ ❖

The next Chapter meeting is the October “Dessert Potluck,” Thursday, October 3, 2013. Bring a dessert and photos and videos of your summer travels to share.

Conservation June 2013

Oster-Las Pilitas Quarry

The big issue of the month is the Oster-Las Pilitas quarry east of Santa Margarita. CNPS is especially concerned about the cumulative effect with the existing quarry and the potential blocking effect along the Salinas riparian corridor. We are also questioning the manner in which conservation spaces have been allocated, and the impacts to certain species. As far as the general public is concerned, the vast amount of truck traffic and water use appear to be the main themes for comment and protest.

One real problem is that the state has declared the area a Mineral Resource Zone, and the County zoning and land use maps echo this designation. As granite suitable for road base is an uncommon commodity in the Coast Range, it is considered a protected resource and may provide the developer some leverage in damaging other natural resources.

Goldspotted Oak Borer beetle

If Sudden Oak Death coming south from Monterey County wasn’t enough of a problem, we have a massive new threat coming up from the south. A beetle, Goldspotted Oak Borer, is attacking coast live oak, canyon live oak and black oak , has expanding out of Arizona,, and at the moment is raging through San Diego County. Apparently thousands of oaks are dead, and as the pest can be spread with firewood, all those dead oaks are going to be a temptation to campers coming here with campfires in mind. There is apparently no known control other than covering dead oak wood with clear plastic or chipping it into tiny pieces.

David Chipping

President’s Message June 2013

As we wind down our activities before the 2013-2014 kickoff in October, remember that the show consists of your photographs. We had some phenomenal pictures last year, so remember to carry your camera in your travels.

I would like to take this time to thank all of you who have contributed to our activities during this last year. Whenever we ask for help our membership comes through.

Spring was dry, but most field trips yielded flowers and sometimes some really pretty displays in the western part of the county. We were joined on many trips by non-CNPS members, which is wonderful, so we will continue to encourage you to spread the word and ask friends along.

Some of you might be wondering about the beautiful pictures of Cryptantha nutlets shown by Michael Simpson at the May meeting. They were truly spectacular, but Michael told me I need $25,000 to get a microscope rig that would do that work. Apparently the San Diego botanists have to share this with the “spider” lab. I did see the Cal Poly contingent salivating, so maybe we can get one up here.

A number of us took part in the Sudden Oak Death “Blitz,” in which the leaves of bay trees (a carrier of the disease) that showed damage were collected for analysis at U.C. Berkeley.

We discovered that people in the north county’s back country are having to deal with trespassing Mexican cartel marihuana growers, which is a growing threat to offtrail travel as trail cameras have shown them to be armed. If you run into PVC runs tapping into springs, get out of there and report it. The cumulative damage to native plant resources and water quality is becoming a real problem.

David Chipping

Fremontodendron californicum

Fremontodendron californicum

Flannel Bush

This month’s cover drawing by Bonnie Walters is a repeat of flannel bush, Fremontodendron californicum. It was last used on the Obispoensis cover back in 1991. Does anybody remember it?

Fremontodendron classification

It is being reused now due to a request Bonnie received to use some of her drawings for a project associated with “Learning among the Oaks” program. Of course, this required us to go back into our archives to find it. Also, it was obvious to us that the write-up that accompanied the earlier cover was clearly out of date. Back then the article stated that flannel bush was “a member of the moderately large (65 general and 1000 species) and predominantly tropical family, Sterculiaceae. The most famous member of this family by far is cacao, Theobroma cacao, the plant from which from which chocolate is made.”

Today we have to accept the conclusion that flannel bushes are part of the large (266 genera & 4025 species), cosmopolitan (but still favoring warmer regions of the earth) Malvaceae. This family is most often called the cotton, hibiscus or mallow, and obviously chocolate family. The most obvious characteristic shared by flannel bush and the rest of the Malvaceae is the fusion of their stamen filaments into a tube that completely surrounds and thus hides the ovary and style base. One other note, the beautiful yellow perianth elements found on flannel bushes are sepals not petals; Fremontodendron does not have petals. This is because there is only one whorl of perianth and when that happens, botanists almost always define them as sepals.

Back in 1991, it was noted that Fremontodendron in California had only two species – F. mexicanum and F. californicum. In 2013 we have to acknowledge that there are now three recognized species. A new species with a very restricted range (found only in Yuba & Nevada Counties) has been separated from F. californicum. This new species is F. decumbens or the Pine Hill flannel bush.

Growth Habit

Unlike the other species which are erect, small trees or large shrubs, Pine Hill flannel bush grows flat on the ground. The new Jepson Manual indicates that this species is “morphologically, genetically” distinct (i.e. looks different and doesn’t cross with) from the other species.

Use in the Garden

As one might guess because of its large flowers, flannel bushes ought to be sought after as horticultural plants. The problem is that they are considered hard to grow. They require well drained soils with little summer water. If one tries to plant them in clay, such as found around San Luis Obispo, one internet reference recommended digging a large hole (three feet across and deep) and filling it with sand before planting. This will keep the soil in contact with the root crown from prolonged contact with moist soil. Summer watering (after establishment) and/or moist soil in contact with the root crown will kill it in a couple of years.

The pure species in cultivation is mostly F. mexicanum as it has the largest flowers. However, this species is restricted to extreme Southern California and adjacent Mexico. Because of this, gardeners have created hybrids and selections that combine the environmental latitude of F. californicum with the large flowers of F. mexicanum, thus making the hybrids much more garden friendly.

Gardeners on the internet stress that flannel bushes are large plants and don’t fit well into small suburban settings. They also noted that the pubescence (hairs) that shed from the twigs can be very irritating. Therefore, it might be best to plant it where people do not congregate.

Fremontodendron in the Wild

F. californica is found in desert washes and on dry, well drained foothill slopes. It is particularly common in the high desert and southern Sierra foothills where it prefers locations soil surfaces are habitually dry yet have available water from relatively shallow water tables. This is because their root crowns are particularly susceptible to various pathogenic fungi that live near the surface. It is these soil pathogens that make it difficult to maintain in cultivation.

Viewing Flannel Bush in SLO County

It can be found in our county in scattered colonies along the crest of the Santa Lucia Mountains and on a few of the higher peaks in the interior. The most accessible stand is just east of the forest service road to the Sergeant Cypress Grove on West Cuesta Ridge. Most of our plants have smaller, three-lobed leaves instead of the more common five-lobed leaves characteristic of the species. Because of this Dr. Robert Hoover named our local plants, F. californicum var. obispoense. I also think I remember Dr. Robert Rodin, a plant anatomist and morphologist, telling me that the flannel bushes on West Cuesta Ridge also had one less chromosome than the rest of the species. If this is true, it would further strengthen the separation of our plants into a distinct variety.

A Local Hybrid

I have one last note. A member of our chapter enters the story of producing a much more water-tolerant Fremontodendron garden. This cross, between Fremontodendron californicum and the tropical monkey’s hand tree (or Chiranthodendron pentadactylon) was being propagated for eventual release into the trade at Rancho Santa Ana by then Rancho graduate student and later SLO County Chapter member Austin Griffiths. At least one of these inter generic hybrid plants was planted on the Cal Poly campus. I do not know if it is still living there.

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.

Caliente Mountain

A warm sky enveloped us at 3900 feet in the Caliente Range. Clear and clean with no wind, perfect weather. The flowers weren’t as good.

Southern slopes were parched and barren in this drought year. There were no colorful blankets. Many of the annuals were smaller than usual. But we found many things of interest and had a really good day.

Caliente Mountain Field Trippers

Marlin, Bob, Lynne, Marti

Lynne Peterson, Marti Rutherford, Diana and Dennis Sheridan, John Chesnut, Marlin Harms, Bob Hotaling, Dirk Walters and myself journeyed up Caliente Ridge.

The photograph shows part of our group.

The shrubs were abundant and pretty healthy: California juniper (Juniperus californica), Tucker’s oak (Quercus john-tuckeri), interior goldenbush (Ericameria linearifolia). And we saw two kinds of mistletoe, one on the junipers and one for the oaks.

Wind Poppy

Wind Poppy

We found List 4 species, such as Calif. androsace (Androsace elongata), Salinas milkvetch (Astragalus macrodon), and Mojave paintbrush (Castilleja plagiotoma). Some other things on the mountain:

  • Amsinckia vernicosa
  • waxy fiddleneck Arctostaphylos glauca
  • big-berry manzanita Boechera pulchra,
  • beautiful rock cress Castilleja subinclusa
  • longleaf paintbrush Caulanthus inflatus
  • desert candle Chenopodium californicum
  • Calif. goosefoot Claytonia parviflora ssp viridis
  • miner’s lettuce Ephedra viridis
  • green ephedra Eriastrum pluriflorum
  • many-flowered eriastrum Eriogonum elongatum
  • long-stem buckwheat Eriogonum fasciculatum var polifolium
  • Calif. buckwheat Erysimum capitatum
  • wallflower Gilia latiflora
  • broad-flowered gilia Leptosiphon parviflorus
  • baby stars Mentzelia pectinata
  • San Joaquin blazing star Monolopia lanceolata
  • hillside daisy Mucronea perfoliata
  • perfoliate spineflower Papaver heterophyllum
  • wind poppy Phacelia distans
  • distant phacelia Phacelia fremontii
  • Fremont’s phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia
  • fern-leaf phacelia Pholistoma membranaceum
  • white fiesta flower Poa secunda
  • blue grass Stipa speciosa
  • desert needle grass
  • Several kinds of cool beetles pointed out by Dennis Sheridan
Caliente Mountain Field Trip

The rough terrain below Caliente Mountain that we contemplated as we had lunch. The La Panza range is in the distance.



-George Butterworth, April 14, 2013

Rare Plant Treasure Hunt

Botanical Adventures with the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt!

The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt is a citizen-science program started by CNPS in 2010 with the goal of getting up to date information on many of our state’s rare plants, while engaging chapter members and other volunteers in rare plant conservation.

Many of California’s rare plant populations have not been seen in decades and some parts of the state have seen little to no botanical exploration to date. This program helps conserve our rare flora by providing valuable data to the CNPS Rare Plant Program and the Department of Fish and Game.

Treasure Hunters can join an organized rare plant search or learn how to plan their own trips by attending training events; those who already have some botanical experience can start leading their own trips!

You can also sign up for the mailing list to be notified of upcoming events by sending an email to treasurehunt@cnps.org

Join us for one or more trips this spring/summer! Trips are listed below, and more info can be found at http://www.cnps.org/cnps/rareplants/treasurehunt/calendar.php or by contacting dslakey@cnps.org.

May 5 – Junipero Serra Peak (Monterey Co.)

May 11-13 – Pine Ridge / Tassajara Hot Springs Backpack (Monterey Co.)

May 16 – Sierra Azul Open Space (Santa Clara / Santa Cruz Co.)

May 20 – 22 – Ventana Wilderness Car Camp (Monterey Co.); dates tentative

May 25 – 27 – Cone Peak Car Camp (Monterey Co.)

June 5 – 7 – Pine Ridge Trail / Sykes Hot Springs Backpack (Monterey Co.)

June 8 – Andrew Molera SP (Monterey Co.)

June 14 – 16 – Alder Creek Bot. Area / South Coast Ridge Car Camp (Monterey Co.)

June 28 – 30 – Lion’s Den Bot. Area / Cruickshank Trail Backpack/Car Camp (Monterey Co.)

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