Chapter Meeting: Plant Propagation by Elliot Paulson

Chapter Meeting: Plant Propagation by Elliot Paulson

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.

Blue Elderberry (Sambucus coerulea or mexicana)

Blue Elderberry (Sambucus coerulea or mexicana)

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.

Cathy Chambers

Elderberry Photos: David Chipping. Flute by SuncrowFlutes

Chapter Board Elections 2018-2019

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.

Capturing California’s Flowers: An image is worth a thousand words

Digitization of herbarium specimens—capturing images and label data in digital formats—remains an enormous task for the world’s herbaria. For 22 institutions in the U.S. state of California, this job has become easier with a new 4-year, $1.8 million National Science Foundation grant (Award # 1802301) to establish a new California Phenology Thematic Collections Network (TCN). Spearheaded by Dr. Jenn Yost, Director the Hoover Herbarium at the California Polytechnic State University, this new network aims to image over 900,000 herbarium specimens from the oldest records, the most diverse families, and most threatened families in California. California is a biodiversity hotspot and home to more than one third of all U.S. plant species, emphasizing the need to understand this diverse and changing flora through herbarium records. The region’s herbaria already have a strong history of collaboration in the Consortium of California Herbaria, and this project aims to strengthen and expand the capabilities of this community of universities, research stations, natural history museums, and botanical gardens.

The project is trailblazing not only in its ambitious digitization goals and cast of collaborating institutions, but also in its research aim: to better understand flowering time shifts by recording flowering (i.e., phenological) data for each specimen digitized over the course of the grant. Flowering time is an important biological phenomenon for science, society, and biodiversity, and herbarium specimens can provide rich data on how flowering times vary across time and space. This project builds upon recent advancements in standardization and sharing of phenological data, including the Plant Phenology Ontology and data standards developed in collaboration with the New England Vascular Plants TCN, to capture phenological data. Furthermore, the project will digitize specimens of 250 taxa currently monitored by the California Phenology Project and National Phenology Network, empowering future cross-comparisons of specimen-based and observational phenological data. The institutions involved in this project will explore several workflows for capturing phenological data: from specimen sheets during imaging, from label text using a new Attribute Mining tool, and from images using crowd-sourced Notes from Nature expeditions that engage a broad audience of citizen scientists, students, and volunteers to produce phenological scorings. With the efforts of this community of California herbaria, the project hopes to build a strong foundation for the future of capturing phenological data from herbarium specimens.

All specimen images and records produced in this project will be publicly available for research, education, and outreach via the CCH2 portal, an open-source, web-accessible database platform widely used by other collections and TCNs. The project will also develop new tools in CCH2 to mine, explore, and store phenological data, and all data will be aggregated and available through the iDigBio portal. For Cal Poly, this means a lot of great changes. We have hired Katie Pearson as the Project Manager and she is now based here in San Luis Obispo. We have purchased an imaging station to image 40,000 specimens over the next few years. Annie Ayers, a Cal Poly undergraduate and CNPS board member, has been hired as a curatorial assistant. Our workflows are changing and pretty soon, you’ll be able to look at our specimens from the comfort of home!

The project runs from 2018 – 2022. Jason Alexander from UC Berkeley is the Data Manager and Katie Pearson is the Program Manager. The tools, techniques, and data generated as part of this project will expand the value of herbarium specimens in addressing society’s problems. More information can be found at http://www.capturingcaliforniasflowers.org or by emailing jyost@calpoly.edu. This project is funded by the Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections program of the National Science Foundation. Many California herbaria are contributing to this Thematic Collections Network.

Volunteer at the Hoover Herbarium

 During the volunteer sessions at the Hoover Herbarium, people can take part in any number of activities. One of our primary responsibilities is mounting new specimens. This involves taking dried and pressed plants and glueing them to paper. When we mount plants, we do it in such a way that those specimens will last for hundreds of years. Each specimen is a physical record of what plants occurred where and when. Without this valuable information we wouldn’t know when a species goes extinct, expands or contracts its range, or where species occur. After mounting, the specimens are databased and geo-referenced. Then they are filed into the main collection. We have over 80,000 specimens at the Hoover Herbarium. We are also working on a SLO Voucher

Collection, which will contain one representative specimen for each species in the county. Volunteers look through our specimens and pick the one that should be added to the Voucher Collection. Additionally, we are actively working on our moss and lichen  collections. Volunteers can choose what aspects of the work they would like to participate in. Any and everyone is welcome. The Hoover Herbarium is located on the 3rd floor of the Fisher Science Building (33) in rooms 352 and 359. Starting Sept 18th, the herbarium volunteers sessions will be Mondays from 3-5 pm and Fridays 9 – 11 and 1 – 3 pm.

Parking permits are required Monday through Thursday, 7:00 am through 10:00 pm; and Friday, 7:00 am through 5:00 pm. You can either buy a $6 day pass, a $4 3-hr pass, park in a metered space, or park off campus and walk in. Questions: email Jenn Yost at jyost@calpoly.edu

Jen Yost

Dr. David Keil honored with a CNPS Fellowship

Dr. David Keil honored with a CNPS Fellowship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beechey ground squirrel

California ground squirrel aka Beechey ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi), may look cute or even cuddly, but ground squirrels could be the worst things to hit your garden since your cousin came to visit in his RV. No, seriously, this last year saw an explosion of the squirrel population due to the late but heavy March rains which brought a profusion of good things to feed the ground squirrels. And multiply they indeed did.

First, don’t use poison to control squirrels. The possibility of poisoning another species unintentionally, such as an owl, a hawk, or a turkey vulture is too problematic.  Instead, I opt to capture the squirrel in a live trap then remove them to the wild, or to Pacific Wildlife Care to feed their rehab birds. Selecting a live trap can be complicated. I  prefer the larger live trap to capture the critter. I use a combination of peanut butter and birdseed to bait the trap, placing it on the trap trigger. Once I catch the squirrel, I cover the trap with a towel so as to calm the little guy down until I can release him in another suitable place, which is up to you.

Next month we will cover gopher control. Until  then, Happy Gardening.

John Nowak, Plant Sale co-Chairperson

Vitis californica (California grape)

Vitis californica (California grape)

I’m introducing a new artist with this cover of the Obispoensis. The artist is Heather Johnson, who paints beautiful renditions of California native plants, so I asked her if she would allow them to be displayed on the Obispoensis cover. Thankfully, she agreed and has sent me several. I was really taken by the first one I looked at! It was of a leafy twig of the California grape in fall color. California grapes are widespread through Northern California where they favor, but are not restricted to, stream sides. However, I was surprised by Heather showing them having bright red color. If you are seeing the cover in black and white, I recommend that you go to cnpsslo.org and see them in their brilliant red color. The leaf color rendition produced by Heather closely matches the color of the leaves I saw in photos on the Web.

There is a problem with the leaf color however, and trying to resolve it lead me to a very interesting story. This is because the usual fall color of California grape leaves is pale yellow not red. So where did the red come from. It turns out that the entire story of its finding and selection is well known and is worth a google search. In late October 1983, Roger Raiche of the U.C. Berkeley Botanic Garden, first saw a California grape with bright red leaves growing alongside Palmer Creek Road in rural Sonoma County, west of Healdsburg, California. He collected cuttings, rooted them in the green house and finally planted them out in the botanic garden. They grew easily and with minimal care and little water. Later he gave cuttings to a garden volunteer who was also a member of the local California Native Plant Society Chapter. She donated a flat of them to her  CNPS Chapter’s plant sale. She labeled the flat simply “Roger’s red grape.” When those plants were sold, the name was born, although the cultivar ‘Roger’s Red’ has never been registered or patented.

So far we find we have a cultivar with very unique fall color that was found growing wild. But, we still haven’t discovered the origin or the red color. It turns out careful observation of the cultivar ‘Rogers Red’ indicated that it’s not pure Vitis californica and that it shared characteristics with the European wine grape (Vitis vinifera). Further observations limited the possible ancestor to a particular variety of commercial vine grape commonly grown for its reddish fruits. The red fruits of this variety were used to add extra color to red wines. This variety was and still is Vitis vinifera ‘Alicante Bouschet’ and has been grown in California for years. As well as reddish fruits, this variety of wine grape produces bright red leaves in the fall. Enter DNA to the story. Several DNA studies proved that the cultivar ‘Roger’s Red’ is truly a hybrid between the native California grape and the European wine grape Vitis vinifera var. Alicante Bouschet.

This California native (hybrid) is extremely popular and is widely available at nurseries and probably CNPS native plant sales around the state. It’s easy to grow and tolerates many different soils, watering regimes and different levels of shade. Its major fault might be its rapid, aggressive growth. It will require taming. Its fruits are edible, but the seeds are large and the flesh is thin. Not a great ‘eat-off-the vine’ fruit but they can be turned into a nice drink.

Dirk Walters

Invasive Species: Narrow leaf iceplant

Invasive Species: Narrow leaf iceplant

INVASIVE SPECIES REPORT

Mark Skinner

Conicosia pugioniformis Narrow leaf iceplant

Conicosia is in the Aizoaceae family. It is a succulent perennial with a crowded basal rosette of smooth, bright green, upright, linear leaves. Clustered with the leaves are stems with brilliant yellow flowers. All this on top of a carrot like root. It’s capsule fruits are dry at maturity.

Conicosia is abundant on coastal dunes. It seems like nearly anywhere I travel in the back dunes from Oceano to Guadalupe—there they are—they’re so darn ubiquitous! Conicosia crowds out native plants and is a prolific seed producer.

Do not step on a plant with dried capsules: the seed will stick to the bottoms of your shoes! Due to a thick root it is hard to pull. If one snaps off the leaves on the soil surface it will grow back, therefore a shovel is best. Chemical control is best achieved by spraying a liquid mix containing 1.5% glyphosate 1.5% surfactant. It is best to spray before flowering. (We caution that the use of glycophosate is under legal challenge as a possible carcinogen.)

Exotic Species on the Central Coast Part I

This month’s President’s notes will be divided into two parts, with the second part included in the November issue.

As someone who frequently hikes in our California landscape, I often ponder over the abundance and diversity of exotic species that have naturalized here, and how that came to pass, specifically during the past two centuries. This is not to say humans did not move plants around California prior to the arrival of Europeans, but historical records point to the introduction and, in some cases, rapid dispersal of non-native species in our state, as a post-European-arrival event. So, I set out to satisfy my curiosity, and in the process found some interesting facts.

How did so many non-native species find their way to California and how could they spread so quickly and in such large populations – was it intentional or by accident – by air, by water, by animal, by human, etc.? I reckon humans have had preferences for certain plant species since the beginning of time, thus altering the landscape to create a more desirable food supply. As North Americans, most of the plant species we consume are actually native to somewhere else, where simple domestication events started eons ago. However, as non-native plant species were carried to other continents during the last 500 years, adequate safeguards for their containment were apparently not well understood, and the botanical invasion we see today in California correctly had its origins in the not so distant past.

Here’s one example. I am astonished to see European fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) growing in such numbers in abandoned fields in my neighborhood. It is particularly thick along the railway right-of-way that bisects this vicinity. How did those plants get so well established here? One possible scenario could be – it’s originally from Greece, then traveled to Italy, then to Spain, to Mexico, and finally to California, where it was planted in the early gardens in this area, and then transported via the hooves of horses and on the wagons they pulled, later on the trains, trucks and tractors that worked and subdivided the land, and finally via the shoes, socks, and pockets of humans. I wonder if that is how it really occurred.

This hypothesis comes from observations I have made while hiking in some of the more remote areas of our county, where it can be hard to find exotic species that have become established. In most cases, the further one travels away from human civilization, the fewer number and variety of exotic plants are found. There are exceptions to this rule, especially where soil type and/or moisture do not afford these plants adequate resources for growth. Here are a couple of examples of what I have seen in recent years, illustrating to me how new species have potentially moved into our area.

On some of the hiking trails, one finds an introduced species growing right along the path, but rarely more than a few feet off the path. Torilis arvensis, known as hedge parsley, or “sock destroyer”, is a European native having seeds covered with tiny hooks, similar to Velcro. The plant grows within the range of most people’s socks, i.e., 1-2 feet tall. Socks pick up the seeds when the plant is shaken and then transport them to new locations along the side of the trial, thus engineering this unique dispersal pattern.

The other example concerns two species; Canadian horseweed, Erigeron canadensis, and Italian thistle, Carduus pycnocephalus. Both of these plants were uncommon in our county 15-20 years ago. Later, they began showing up along roadsides and even later spreading along the trail systems, to the point where they now dominate sizeable portions of our open spaces. Canadian horseweed, although native to North America, has become an “unwanted plant” in many places, common in disturbed areas in full sun, while Italian thistle does best in partial shade, especially under coast live oaks. Both are in the Asteraceae family and produce copious quantities of seeds. Using its pappus, a small parachute connected to one end of the seed, these species achieve phenomenal aerial dispersal potential, even from a single plant. Seeds move with the wind, easily get lodged in vehicles, horses’ hooves, people’s shoes, etc. Thus, these seeds first arrived along roadsides, then moved along the trails into our wildlands.

So, I guess the finger of blame for these introductions, and rapid disseminations, points to us, because the patterns of dispersal invariably involve human activity. Next month, I will cite some historical records to further illustrate my point.

Torilis. Photos by David Chipping

Carduus and Torilis, right) revealing two different seed dispersion strategies.

 


Into the Fall season

THE GARDEN CORNER

With the Fall season almost upon us it’s time to start planning on preparation for the Winter season. The most important item on the list is weed control. By applying mulch now you will save lot of labor in the future (next Spring & Summer).

Any forest product four (4) inches thick will stop weed growth, but it can also affect desirable plants from thriving if you don’t follow the rules. So start by checking and marking any California native plants, like Baccharis, Lupinus, or Eschscholzia californica, before spreading mulch. Once all desirable plants are plotted using marker flags or sticks, spread a thick layer of clean chips of any forest product four inches thick to suppress weed growth. Leave a one-foot space around desirable plants with no mulch. This will prevent trunk rot. While mulching is not always 100% effective for weed control, it can definitely help mitigate the majority of grass weeds.

Happy Gardening; John Nowak, Plant Sale co-Chairperson.