Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting to Shell Creek

Saturday, 7 April, 2012 8:30/9:00 am

Title: Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting to Shell Creek
Location: Shell Creek
Description:  Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting to Shell Creek co-lead by Dirk Walters and David Chipping.

This will be our monthly meeting for April.

Meet: SLO Vets Hall, 801 Grand Ave. (corner of Grand & Monterey Blvd) at 8:30 a.m. and/or Santa Margarita at 9:00 a.m.

Bring your “Wildflowers of Highway 58” plant guide by Dr. Malcolm McLeod or plan to purchase one for $10 on the trip.

For more information call Dirk Walters at 543-7051 or David Chipping at 805/528-0914  or

2012 Banquet

2012 Banquet

San Luis Obispo Chapter of the California Native Plant Society

Morro Bay Community Center

1001 Kennedy Way, Morro Bay

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Social Hour 6:00

Pot Luck Dinner 7:00

Chapter Business 8:00

Program begins 8:30


The Life of an Oak

Click to view in bookstore

Native plants shine as the perfect answer to recreating local habitats in home gardens. By selecting the right plants for the right place, according to guidelines from local ecosystems, gardens become oases of beauty with a minimum of care and maintenance. Our featured guest, Glenn Keator, will highlight this concept.

Designing California Native Gardens, Keator and Middlebrook

click to view in bookstore

Dr. Glenn Keator is a freelance botanist, writer, and teacher specializing in native plants and related floras. He received his doctorate in botany at UC Berkeley and currently teaches at San Francisco Botanical Gardens, Regional Parks (Tilden) Botanic Garden, and Merritt College in the Landscape Horticulture department. Glenn has had a life-long interest in growing plants and has many trips to various parts of Mexico over the last 35 years.

He has written several books on California natives as well as others including The Life of an Oak: an intimate portrait, Introduction to Trees of the San Francisco Bay Region, Complete Garden Guide to Native Perennials of California, and Complete Garden Guide to Native Shrubs of California. His most recent book, co-authored with Alrie Middlebrook, is Designing California Native Gardens: The Plant Community Approach to Artful, Ecological Gardens.

Here are some pictures of our 2012 Annual Banquet

Thank you

to Nancy Shearer and Marti Rutherford

and Mardi Niles and Kristie Haydu

for submitting these photos

La Purisima Burton Mesa Wildflower Walk

Saturday, March 31, 2012, 9 am, CNPS and Sierra Club Spring La Purisima Burton Mesa Wildflower Walk

This is the annual California Native Plant Society and Sierra Club spring tour of the beauties of the Burton Mesa Chaparral. This is turning out to be a fair year for wildflowers, annuals as well as shrubs.

Optional afternoon tour.

Meet at the La Purisima Mission Parking Lot, corner of Purisima and Mission Gate Roads (2295 Purisima Road, Lompoc)

Bring sturdy shoes, lunch & liquids, camera and binoculars advised.

For info, contact Charlie Blair at 733-3189 or Connie at 735-2292.


Book Talk, February 2012

Nevin Smith has spent his life growing native plants and exploring the wilderness areas of California. During the 1980s, his articles on natives appeared in Fremontia and, finally, he was prevailed upon to put the articles into book format. That book is Native Treasures. We have been without copies to sell for two years, but now have books available.

There are chapters on manzanitas, ceanothus, ribes, lupines, sages, buckwheats, oaks, penstemons, and many more. Native Treasures is, indeed, a treasure and a joy to read. Easy to dip into when have a question about a specific plant; delightful to curl up with on a cold foggy day to read about all the glories you might try to grow in your own garden.

Chapter  Meeting,  February 2, 2012

Chapter Meeting, February 2, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012–Groundhog Day

Program: Dirk and David’s Best Spring Plant Walks Illustrated

Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo

7:00 pm: 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 presentation.

Burton Mesa Chaparral Clean-up

Saturday, February 11, 2012, 9 am, LVBHS Burton Mesa Chaparral AHC Interpretative Area Clean-up

This is the annual “Spring Cleaning” of the BMC Interpretative Area on the Lompoc Allan Hancock College Campus. This six-acre area was established in the 1970s in what was then Ken Adam Park, now part of the Lompoc AHC Campus, by what grew into the Lompoc Valley Botanic and Horticultural Society (LVBHS). Each year the LVBHS clears the trails and removes some of the dead vegetation.

The Lompoc AHC Campus (1 Hancock Drive) can be reached form SR 1 between Vandenberg Village and Lompoc. Turn onto the campus at the signal then immediately right, following the road to the BMC area. 

Please bring tools as gloves, as needed.

For info, contact Charlie Blair, 733-3189, or Mimi Erland,733-2323

La Purisima Mission

Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, 9 am, Late Winter BMC Chaparral CNPS Field Trip at the La Purisima Mission

The California Native Plant Society (CNPS)/ Lompoc Valley Botanic and Horticultural Society (LVBHS) will hold their annual winter field trip to the Burton Mesa Chaparral (BMC) on the La Purisima
Mission grounds. Join us for a chance to see the early bloomers and interesting scenery.

Meet at the east end of Burton Mesa Boulevard (1550 E). in Mission Hills.

To reach Burton Mesa Boulevard, Get to SR 1 north of Lompoc. At the signal where SR 1 turns down hill towards Lompoc, take Harris Grade Road north to Burton Mesa Boulevard, and turn right (east).

For info, contact Charlie Blair at 733-3189.

Coreopsis Hill

Sunday, March 25th, 2012, Annual Hike to Coreopsis Hill led by Lauren Brown, Dirk Walters, and other local botanists. If you are in the SLO area or points north, we will meet at 8:30 AM at the SLO Vets Hall then head south (see directions below). The hike will begin about 9:30 am at Beigle Road and will be a casual walk through the dunes to the top of Coreopsis Hill. This is a moderate hike, about 3 hours round-trip. Dress in layers, bring water and snacks, and have your “Dune Mother’s Wildflower Guide” by Dr. Malcolm McLeod for the trip. For more information contact Lauren Brown at 570-7993 or  Heavy rain cancels this trip (light rain, bring appropriate clothing).

Directions from the north: Take Hwy 101 south from SLO. Turn right onto Hwy 1 at Pismo Beach. Continue southward to Oso Flaco Lake Road, turn right and proceed to Beigle Road (look for a chain link fence and gate). We will have people posted if we can park along the fenced road.  If not, Please park along Oso Flaco Lake Road near the entry to the Oso Flaco Lake State Park lot or in the lot (there is a parking fee). We can walk or shuttle from the parking lot. (Parking near Beigle Road is hazardous, so please park in a safe place closer to the State Park lot.)
Directions from the south: Take 101 north to Santa Maria and take the Main Street exit toward the town of Guadalupe. Turn right onto Highway 1 and head north to Oso Flaco Lake Road (about 3 miles north of Guadalupe), turn left onto Oso Flaco Lake Road and proceed to Beigle Road or the State Park Lot.

Camissonia cheiranthifolia

Camissonia cheiranthifolia

Beach sun cup

Camissonia cheiranthifolia is one of the few plants that bloom year around along our coast. It is found most commonly on the unstable, sandy hillocks immediately in-shore from the beach. It can also occasionally found on disturbed sandy soils away from the immediate coast, but this is very rare. Its range is from southern Oregon to just into Baja. In the northern part of it range it is basically a perennial herb. It becomes somewhat woody in the southern portion of its range. Being somewhat in the middle, it can be either in our chapter area (San Luis Obispo county). It is quite variable here. Behind the windy beaches it’s a flat ground cover, while in sheltered areas it is taller and less spreading.

I’ve seen a few green plants with no surface hairs, but most of our plants are more or less hairy. Some petals have red spots at their base while others lack these spots. What looks like a very large bud arising from the angle between the leaf below the flower and the stem in Bonnie’s drawing is actually the elongate fruit, which becomes twisted as it matures. Flower size is also quite variable.

Before 1969 beach sun cups were in the genus Oenothera. At that time the common name applied to this entire genus was “evening primrose.” So, Camissonia cheiranthifolia would have been called “beach evening primrose” or simply and misleadingly, beach primrose. However that common name is quite misleading; primrose is a name better applied to a totally different and unrelated group of plants in the true primrose family (Primulaceae) which include the shooting star and the pimpernel.

The only trait that sun cups and true primroses share is their general tubular shaped flowers. Sun cups (with other members of its family, Onagraceae) have four separate petals instead of the five fused petals found in the primroses. In fact, the flowers of Onagraceae, including the sun cups, have a distinctive set of characteristics. They produce flowers that possess four sepals, four petals, eight stamens, attached to the top of a generally thin, elongated ovary which displays a four-parted structure.

The distinctive characteristics of the Onagraceae family can be summarized as CA4 CO4 A8/G 4 . CA is short for calyx which is the collective term for the sepals. CO stands for the corolla, the collective term for the petals. A is the abbreviation for andrecium, which translates as all the “male things,” the stamens. G stands for gynoecium (female thing), which represents the four-parted ovary, style, and stigma. The circled 4 indicates that the four subunits (carpels) that make up the gynoecium are fused into a single pistil.

Why did Dr. Peter Raven separate the sun cups from the evening primroses when they share so many family characters? First and most easily observed is the stigma. A look at Bonnie’s drawing will show it to resemble a single, wide, hemispherical cap as opposed to the four hair-like stigma branches found in the true evening primroses. A second trait is harder to determine. True evening primroses produce their flowers at dusk and bloom through the night and fade in the morning. Sun cup flowers open at dawn and bloom during the day. This means the two genera have different pollinators since their flowers are open at different times of the day.

Evening primroses would be expected to be visited by night-flying animals such as moths whereas sun cups would be visited by day-flying ones. While researching tidbits to include about beach sun cups, I came across the discussion of the species in the book by Mary Coffeen titled Central Coast Wild Flowers. In it she reprints part of an article about the Morro Bay Sand Spit by my friend and former Cal Poly professor, Wayne Williams. In it he describes the pollination of beach sun cup and as follows:

“The plant’s bright yellow flowers cover new sand deposits everywhere along the sand spit, enhancing dune stability. Its blossoms face down wind. The pollinator is an exceptionally large bumblebee (Bombus sp.). We have all heard how bumblebees manage to fly despite the aerodynamic engineering theory that would render them landbound because of their weight and size. These bees deftly approach the beach primrose flowers by flying upwind for greatest flight stability. Their powerful thorax muscles and large size allow them to survive within this niche, gathering food and pollinating, because of the downwind direction of the primrose corollas. Since the primrose is decumbent where wind speed is slowest, the bees can also work over large territories. I have watched these bees and have never seen any other species pollinating beach primroses at the sand dunes. This symbiosis between plant and insect allows both the plant and the bumblebee to thrive and reproduce.”

Just imagine how much observation time required to allow one to come up with this kind of natural history fact. There are lots more yet to be discovered. That’s why natural areas like the Elfin Forest are so important.

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.

Elfin Forest Walk

Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012, 10 am, El Moro Elfin ForestLos Osos

The Elfin Forest is adjacent to the Morro Bay estuary, a 90-acre natural area belonging to San Luis Obispo County Parks and California State Parks.  Its plant communities include coastal brackish marsh, riparian woodland fringe, pygmy oak woodland, maritime chaparral, coastal dune scrub, and oak and manzanita complex.  The Elfin Forest supports more than 200 species of plants and more than 50 species of lichens.

We will be taking a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk and observing all the diversity of native plants and lichens.

Meet at the parking area at the north end of 16th Street in Los Osos (turn west off of South Bay Blvd. onto Santa Ysabel Ave., travel two blocks to 16thStreet and turn north).

Bring adequate water and dress in layers for the weather; a hat and sturdy shoes are advised.  The walk will take roughly 2 and a half hours.

For info, contact Matt Ritter, or Bill Waycott,