Conservation November 2013

Avoid bee-killing neonicitinoids

These are systemic chemicals that some nurseries use as a pesticide, and are also ingredients in some over-the-counter pesticides and root fertilizers. The Xerxes Society has issued an alert based on information from the Pesticide Research Institute and Friends of the Earth. The Xerxes Society for Invertebrate Conservation lists the chemicals on its web site, including Imidacloprid, Clothianidin, Thiamethoxam, and Acetamiprid.

These chemicals are banned in Europe, as they are suspect in the die-off of native bees. Gardeners may think the chemicals are safe as they are applied to the soil and roots rather than directly to the plant’s surfaces, but the chemicals are taken up by all the tissues, then eaten by insects, and then possibly passed further up the food chain to birds and herbivores.

Habitat Conservation Plan

Passing on to another “killing” issue, the third attempt to create a Habitat Conservation Plan for the Los Osos area is underway, and I attended a scoping meeting. The “killing” part of an HCP is that it allows “take” of species normally protected under the Endangered Species Act. The county was actually scoping the Environmental Impact Report that would be issued when the HCP is issued, but no details of the species that would be covered was available.

This was more than annoying, as there are potentially massive impacts to the HCP from the potential delisting of Morro Bay K-Rat (extinct) and Morro Bay Shoulderband Snail (challenged on basis of genetics and distribution). While I gave suggestions, it was particularly frustrating that U.S. Fish & Wildlife that would create the HCP were absent from the meeting (government shutdown!).

Photo-documentation Project

To bring greater focus to the chapter program to monitor long-term vegetation changes, I am repeating that we need access to pictures of SLO County “natural” landscapes that might lurk deep in family archives. Even if we have to look around the sides of Auntie Flossie, if there is a substantial landscape to be seen we would like to see the picture. These would include old 35mm slides and photographs. Don’t dismiss photographs where the landscape looks the same as today’s, as this may be important.

– David Chipping

President’s Message November 2013

This is the month of horticulture for CNPS. We are having our native plant sale on November 2 at the Pacific Beach High School adjacent to the Target Shopping Center on Los Osos Valley Road. We expect a lot of buyers, as the predictions are for a normal rainfall this winter which should trigger the release of pent-up planting lust. This is the time to get rid of those water-sucking non-natives and plant something that also benefits the local bugs and birdies. This is a critical moneyraiser for the chapter, so come and support us.

We have great news, as the state organization has hired Susan Krzywicki as the new Director of the Horticulture Program. She has led horticultural activities for the San Diego Chapter, and we expect greater support for chapter horticultural programs. If you Google her name you can see what she has been doing in San Diego.

I would like to thank all of you who brought pictures to share at the October meeting, and we had a great show. We also had some really great desserts.

If you are not receiving any electronic messages from our chapter such as field trip updates, let me know. You don’t have to be a member to get notification, so you can add friends as well. Just email me at <> and I will add you to the list.

– David Chipping

New Horticulture Program Director

New Horticulture Program Director

Exciting news: For the first time in our history, the California Native Plant Society now has a fulltime staff Horticulture Program Director!

This is a new staff position, and CNPS sought out a Horticulture Program Director who could help chart the course of California’s oldest and most recognized native plant gardening program.

Susan Krzywicki comes from our San Diego chapter, where she helped to grow that chapter’s amazing horticulture program. She worked to build a successful garden tour, deliver training symposia, and otherwise engage thousands of San Diegans in growing native plants. While doing all this, Susan has also helped other groups (such as Surfrider Foundation, San Diego County Water Authority, and Port of San Diego) in their work adopting and promoting California native plant horticulture.

Greg Rubin, San Diego Chapter Board member says, “Catching the native gardening bug is quite the affliction— you never know where it will lead. I had no idea a dozen years ago when I met Susan Krzywicki that she would turn out to be the new Horticulture Program Director for CNPS. I witnessed her knowledge, interest, and passion blossom, however, bringing her commitment to friends, neighbors, clients, and companies.”

Susan’s communication skills, public presence, leadership, and organizational ability will enable her to make an outstanding contribution to the CNPS mission: To protect California’s native plant heritage and preserve it for future generations. Native plant horticulture is increasingly popular and is catching on with gardeners, homeowners associations, and public entities across the state. It is a fun and effective approach that saves water, and helps pollinators. This widespread acceptance is in large part due to our CNPS membership and in the coming years we will continue to spread the word and encourage these gardening techniques.

The Horticulture Program is ramping up, and we are looking forward to input from members throughout the state. As we set plans in motion, it is crucial to focus on what works at a local level and how we can base our programs on a sound scientific footing that can help gardeners throughout the state to succeed. Please welcome Susan and send any suggestions or ideas to

– Stacey Flowerdew

Dendromecon rigida

Dendromecon rigida

Bush Poppy

A funny thing happened while Bonnie and I were working on the drawing and article for and about the plant discussed in this issue of Obispoensis. Before we started, we consulted Dirk’s list of past drawings and could not find any entry for Bush Poppy, a.k.a., Tree Poppy, (Dendromecon rigida). But after Bonnie was well into the drawing and I had started the article, we discovered a drawing and article from April 1995. We decided to go ahead and complete the ‘new’ drawing and possibly update what was said about Dendromecon back in 1995.

Bush poppy is one of the more common and easily recognized of our local shrubs. It is a woody member of the poppy family (Papaveraceae) and is especially common in our scrub communities (chaparral & coastal scrub) after fires. I’ve observed scores if not hundreds of plants per acre the first year after a fire. However, as the community matures, bush poppies begin to die out and become restricted to disturbed areas such as road cuts and trail edges. It is for this reason as well as its large conspicuous yellow flowers that this species actually appears to be more common than it actually is.

The poppy family is characterized by sepals being shed when the four petals expand (caduceus). Note that the spherical structures in Bonnie’s drawings are flower buds and not fruits. The superior ovary is long and thin. There are two very short styles which end in two large, flat stigmas. These can be seen in the drawing of the flower as well as the small aborting fruit found among the leaves in the 1995 drawing.

The ovary contains many seeds which are attached to two areas on opposite sides of a single cavity (i.e., parietal placentation). Each small seed contains a small fleshy body near the attachment of the stalk (funiculus) attaching it to the ovary/fruit wall. In the process of the capsule explosively splitting from the bottom up, the seeds are thrown away from the plant. After the seeds land on the ground, ants collect the attached fleshy body (aril) and carry them back to their nests. When the ants arrive back at the nest they either remove the seed from the aril before taking the aril into the nest or later. If the seed is removed later, it is taken out of the nest and thrown into the ant colony’s refuse heap. Either way, ants are very important in seed dispersal of this poppy.

Our local species is Dendromecon rigida which is common throughout most of the southern California mainland extending in to northern Mexico. A second species that is very similar to D. rigida is found naturally restricted to a few of the Channel Islands. This is D. hartfordii or the Channel Island tree poppy. This rare species differs from the more common mainland tree poppy by having larger flowers and shorter, fatter leaves. Lastly, the mainland tree poppy has minutely toothed leaf margins where as the island form has completely smooth margins. It appears that I may have misidentified the species in Bonnie’s 1995 drawing as the twig in the drawing as its leaves are drawn shorter and wider than her current drawing which is based on local SLO County plants.

One might expect that a plant with such large and showy flowers would have a significant following among California native plant aficionados. Also, we would expect the island bush poppy to be the preferred species as it has larger flowers, and this is often the case. However, Dendromecon is not commonly found in the home garden because it is particularly devilishly hard to get started. According to internet entries as well as Bornstein, Fross and O’Brien’s California Native Plants for the Garden (2005), its roots are especially sensitive to disturbance. According to Dara E. Emery’s book, Seed Propagation of Native California Plants, growing it from seed requires either a fire treatment or stratification (buried in between layers of moist sand) for 1½ months with a daily temperature fluctuation of between 46oF and 70oF. Mr. Emery indicates they can be more easily propagated by winter cuttings placed in a propagation bench supplied with intermittent mist and bottom heat. If you do try to propagate this species or especially if you buy potted ones, remember to treat their roots with extreme caution. Plant the root ball with little or better NO disturbance.

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.

Fall Plant Walk

Title: Fall Plant Walk
Location: La Purisima Mission
Description: Charlie Blair will be leading a tour of fall-blooming plants of the Burton Mesa Chaparral. Come and see what is out at this sometimes forgotten time of the
year. Meet at east end of Burton Mesa Boulevard (1550 E. Burton Mesa Blvd.) in Mission Hills at the Community Service District Office.

From the north, take the Constellation Road off-ramp from SR 1, heading left, then turn right on Burton Mesa Boulevard.

From the south, Burton Mesa Boulevard can be accessed from either Harris Grade Road or Rucker Road; again, turn right on Burton Mesa Boulevard.

Call Charlie Blair, 733-3189, for details.

Start Time: 09:00
Date: 2013-10-19

Cunningham Slide Collection

CNPS thanks Becky Daugherty and others in her family for the generous donation of her father’s botanical slide collection to the SLO Chapter. Craig was a member of the chapter board for several decades and worked with Malcolm McLeod and others in cataloging the county flora.

Craig Cunningham’s photographs were not only excellent in picking out details for keying the species, but were most often works of art. Some of you will have seen them in the program we presented at an Atascadero meeting, a small selection of the approximately 5,000 slides in the collection. We made a DVD of the movie of that slide show and presented it to Craig and his family just before his death.

This is a fitting time to remember not only his leadership of the photographic committee but also the field trips he would lead to his favorite locations, including Carson Pass in the Sierras and along Santa Rita Creek in Templeton. For these trips he created extensive plant lists and a remembered library of little tidbits of information about each plant.

He suffered increasing deafness in his later years, but continued to present multiprojector slide programs with a pre-prepared recorded narration. When I remember Craig it is to think, “What a sweet, kind guy!”

— David Chipping


It is always a treat to start our new meeting year off with an evening of great trip pictures and dessert! I was a child of the 50’s and grew up watching my family’s and their friends slide shows. The technology has evolved, the camaraderie remains.

New this year− Jim and I will only be bringing books, tees, etc., to FOUR meetings. If you are interested in tees, you really need to find the box with your size and look at all the beautiful jewel tone colors of tees. Short sleeve are $18.00 and long sleeve are $20.00 each.

See you at the October meeting.

— Heather Johnson

Dessert Potluck and Member Slide Show

Title: Dessert Potluck and Member Slide Show
Description: San Luis Obispo Chapter Meeting

Thursday, October 3, 7:00 p.m.

Bring a dessert to share and your 15 best photos, slides and digital pictures.
Start Time: 19:00
Date: 2013-10-03
End Time: 22:00

Conservation, Oct 2013

Price Canyon Developments/Pismo Beach

It seems that local opposition and worries about water and traffic have slowed the progress of the Price Canyon developments which will become part of Pismo Beach. It is possible they will go back to the drawing board if there are substantial changes. CNPS is concerned about oaks and Clarkia speciosa ssp. immaculata, but battle lines are being drawn on other issues.

Aquifer/Paso Robles

Even through the precipitous drop in Paso Robles aquifers is a tragedy for those people losing their wells, the bright spot is that it might slow the conversion of grasslands to crops over the basin. Grasslands are a valuable habitat, but the general psyche is that a tree is bigger and better than a shrub, and a shrub is bigger and better than grass. There has been little or no effort to conserve grasslands in the county.


There was a scoping meeting for a planned expansion of the ConocoPhillips refinery in Nipomo, which is adding a whole bunch of railroad sidings. John Chesnut supplied written commentary, particularly in regard to Nipomo lupine, and I went to the meeting. There is something very strange happening, as they tacked on a study for a possible southern entrance to the OHV area, which has nothing to do with the refinery. I did not receive any sort of explanation of a credible CEQA nexus, so those of you concerned with the integrity of the sand dunes should be vigilant.

Historic Vegetation Photo Archive

Please look at your old photographs that show vegetation so we can start an audit of long term changes. See Kickoff for more information.

— David Chipping


2013-14 Kickoff

Welcome to the 2013-2014 cycle of programs and events, which will kick off with the slide/digital pics presentation and dessert potluck. While at the Chapter Council meeting in Humboldt County, we got an actual clickety-clack slide show, so I will have a projector available (let me know in advance). Bring your pictures.

  • I would deeply appreciate if photo presenters would arrive close to 7:00 so we can load them into a single computer from your CD or thumb drive.
  • Label slides in alphabetical order to ensure sequencing order.
  • I will also be able to load PowerPoint, but save your program as “.ppt” and not “.pptx” if possible.
  • A title “slide” would be helpful, and no more than 15 pictures per person.
  • They can be of any interesting subject you like, although plants are appreciated.

We are, as always, at the Vets Hall in SLO on the first Thursday in October.

The Humboldt County meeting centered on the importance of disturbance in ecosystems, with notes on the dire effects on plants like western lily when grazing is ended, or fire frequency is changed. We have such issues in our local parks.

Historic Vegetation Photo Archive

As change happens slowly, it is important to have photographs of the same area several decades apart, and there is no program for accumulating a “landscape” photo library. I am suggesting that CNPS becomes the repository for GPS-re-locatable photographs, and I would like to kick this off in our chapter.

We can start by going through slide collections for pictures of landscapes taken from as far back as we can, and then scanning them and locating where they were taken via Google Earth. There may not be much change between the “thens” and the “nows,” but they could be valuable in 100 years when we are all boiling hot and submerged in the ocean.

— David Chipping