Featured Plants

An in-depth look at a plant – what makes it special, it’s characteristics, where to find it in the natural landscape, and other notables. Common non-native and invasive plants are occasionally reported about.

Common Milkweed (kotolo) Asclepias eriocarpus

Common Milkweed (kotolo) Asclepias eriocarpus

common milkweed-imageThe cover drawing and article for this issue of the OBISPOENSIS was written and drawn by Alice Meyer. She was a very active member (and first Hoover Award Recipient in the 1970 and 80’s. She is the one who named our newsletter, OBISPOENSIS, and served as its editor (and typist) for the many years. She is also responsible for setting up the first successful chapter plant sales as well as recruiting our current Plant Sale Chair. She didn’t restrict herself to CNPS. She was also active in the Morro Bay Audubon to which she submitted a number of articles entitled “MEET A NATIVE PLANT’. Below is one of those articles. It was chosen since milkweeds are so important in the conservation of the Monarch butterfly and is being encouraged as a garden plant. Members of this genus serve as the primary food source for Monarch butterfly larva. While eating the milkweed leaves, the larva incorporate the milkweed toxins into their bodies and its these milkweed toxins that protect the Monarch larva from most predators.

I do need to mention a taxonomic update. In her first paragraph Alice places the milkweeds in the taxonomic family, Asclepiadaceae. This was where it was placed up until the 1990’s. Today the two families of milky sapped species [milkweeds (Asclepias) and dogbanes (Apocynum)] have been combined into the single family, Apocynaceae. Milkweeds are primarily temperate in distribution while the dogbane relatives are primarily tropical. Classical taxonomic work always accepted these two families as very closely related. Modern taxonomic studies (including DNA work) have discover the relationships to be intertwined which required their unification into a single family. A number of these formally separated but closely related families have now been combined.

-Dirk Walters

MEET A NATIVE PLANT Asclepias eriocarpus

Milkweed is a perennial plant of the milkweed family (Asclepidiaceae) family. The species shown is common in the Coast Ranges, Sierra Foothills south to Coastal Southern California from 100 to 2000 ft. The species shown is Asclepias eriocarpa (as-KLEP-i-as aor-ee-CARP-a). Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on this plant. The plants are erect and sturdy from 18-36” tall, with leaves 3-4” long, in whorls of 3 or 4 leaves. These are covered with fine hairs, which make them look and feel like flannel. Stems and leaves contain a milky juice, a form of latex.

The clusters of flowers appear in May at the ends of stems between the leaves. The structure of the flowers is very unusual. The corolla is cut into 5 petals. These are turned down so the hide the calyx. The stamens stalks are joined into a tube and the five ‘hoods’ are attached to the base of the column; this is the ‘crown’ of corona, and in this species the crown is pink or purplish. It is actually the nectary of the flower. The flower and its stem is creamy white. In the center of the flower is a fleshy column or tube formed by the stalks of the stamens, capped by the stigma, hiding the two tubes of styles leading down to the ovaries.

The pollen in each anther-cell is a waxy mass of different anthers and adjacent masses of different anthers are attached to a cleft gland. This resembles tiny saddle-bags, clipped together, and if a bee catches her foot in the cleft she may pull out and fly away with two pollen masses to fertilize another flower. To do this, she must get her foot caught in the cleft of another flower.

The probabilities of a bee catching a foot in the cleft of two different flowers, first to collect the pollen sacs, then to deposit them in another flower is so remote that this is called ‘lottery pollination’. When a flower is pollinated its stem enlarges and the petals fall off. The calyx remains at the base of the downy seed pod which becomes 3 to 4” long and the remains of the hoods hang on to the tip of the pod for time. When the pod is ripe, and dry, it splits lengthwise, revealing neat rows of seeds, each with a parachute of fine hairs attached. As soon as the these hairs are dry, the seeds will fly away on the wind to be dispersed. Flowers that have not been pollinated along with their stems, wither and fall away.

-Alice G. Meyer

Coast Live Oak

Dirk Walters, illustration by Bonnie Walters Oaks have been in the news a lot recently. Essentially all of it has been bad from the Oak’s point of view. First, there was the clearing of valley (Quercus lobata) and blue (Q. douglasii) oaks in the Paso Robles area. and...

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Common (White) Yarrow (Achillea millefollium)

Common (White) Yarrow (Achillea millefollium) The plant discussed in this issue of the Obispoensis is one that I’ve wanted to take on for a long time, but could never bring myself to ask Bonnie to draw. Since we are using photos to illustrate it by, I think it’s time....

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Fall Color

O.K.... so we’re not Vermont. However we do have some pretty fall color displays. If you like the gold of aspen, you will see the same colors in our closely related cottonwood stands, both trees belonging to the genus Populus. Cottonwoods are riparian trees, and the...

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Ceanothus hearstiorum

Introduction October and November are when our Chapter gets serious about growing native plants. We have a November meeting devoted to it as well as our annual plant sale. This got me to remembering some articles written and drawings drawn by Alice G. Meyer that are...

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Solidago californica

California Goldenrod (Solidago velutina ssp. californica or S. californica) The photo by Dr. David Chipping that accompanies this note are of the California goldenrod (Solidago velutina ssp. californica or Solidago californica). According to Dr. Hoover in his Vascular...

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Oenothera deltoides

Desert Evening Primrose (Oenothera deltoides) Desert evening primrose (Oenothera deltoides) is in full bloom at Shell Creek as I write this. So it seemed appropriate to resurrect a drawing Bonnie drew back in 1981. It is one of her earlier drawings since it shows a...

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Cucurbita palmata

Coyote melon Bonnie’s drawing for this issue of Obispoensis is based on a picture sent to me by George Butterworth. The species, Cucurbita palmata, has many common names. The ones I found on the web include coyote melon, coyote gourd, desert gourd, palmate-leafed...

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Quercus Kelloggii

Kellogg Oak The following is an article from February 1993. It was chosen by the editor to spare me the choice since Bonnie and I were away in late October. We totally agree with his choice; we had totally forgotten about it. The repeat of this article reminds me that...

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Antirrhinum ovatum

Oval Leaved Snapdragon Drawing by Bonnie and article by Dr. Malcolm McLeod below appeared in the November, 1991 Obispoensis.   When you read it you will see lots of similarities with our current drought situation as well as the much hoped for possibilities of an...

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Cornus sericea

Creek Dogwood For this issue of the Obispoensis, I’m going out on a limb so to speak. Since the plant is a very small tree or moderately sized shrub, that limb will prove to be slender. The plant is the red osier, creek, or as stated in the new Jepson California...

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Atriplex patula

Spear Orache, Spear Salt Bush As I write this article, it’s August in the year of California’s third most severe drought. There’s not much out there in bloom. So I’ve retreated to one of the few places where plants are doing anything. Yes, I’m returning to the coastal...

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Calandrinia ciliata

Red Maids Bonnie’s drawing for this issue of Obispoensis is of a plant that is found throughout the western United States as well as spreading north into British Columbia. It has also been recorded in a couple of South American countries. It is especially common in...

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Valley Oak Snag

We are going back into the archives for this cover of Obispoensis. The landscape is a drawing of the Shell Creek area that Bonnie drew for the December 1991 cover. The inset is an ID drawing of the leaves and acorn of the valley oak. Why would one want to combine...

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Erodium moschatum

Filaree Erodium moschatum & E. cicutarium I assume it is not news to anyone that California in general and the Central Coast in particular has been experiencing an extreme drought. That means that most native plants that are adapted to this situation have been in...

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Vernal Pool with Downingia

Vernal Pools occur where there is moderate to large sized “natural” depression with no outlet. The depression has to be large enough to capture enough rainfall to fill the pond to some depth. The water collects in the lowest point in the depression. There also must be...

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Mystery Manzanita in the Elfin Forest

All three of Bonnie’s drawings this time are of manzanitas. One is a repeat of the endemic rare plant commonly known as Morro manzanita or Arctostaphylos morroensis. As you will see, it is included here to serve as a basis of comparison. The other two drawings are...

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Cynodon dactylon

Bermuda Grass It’s November in a very dry year which was preceded by a dry year. Most native plants are waiting for the rains. The small amount of rain that fell in the last week in October I doubt will be considered significant, i.e., sufficient enough to initiate...

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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,...

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Silene laciniata

Coastal catchfly Late summer or early fall (or more appropriately “late dry season”) is a downtime in our local wilds, especially true when we've had no significant rain after December. Even the animals seem to be resting. But if one looks carefully in our coastal...

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Calystegia macrostegia

Coastal Morning Glory (California) The plant featured on the June 2013 cover of the Obispoensis was chosen because of a request. It is the California, coast, island, or wild morning glory (Calystegia macrostegia). The common name, false bindweed, is sometimes used...

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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...

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Asparagus asparagoides

Asparagus Fern or Bridal Creeper This month’s plant is a South Africa native that has become naturalized in Southern California where there has the potential to become an extremely troubling weed species. It is already considered so in some localities in Southern...

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Amanita phalloides

Why is the Death Cap mushroom so deadly? On New Year's Day I visited a favorite, and normally productive, chanterelle patch outside San Luis Obispo to discover an enormous fruiting of the dangerously toxic death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides). My culinary...

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Quercus douglasii

Blue Oak Bonnie’s drawing on this cover of the Obispoensis includes an acorn, a couple of leaves and a two individual blue oak (Quercus douglasii) trees from Shell Creek. This species of oak is extremely common in a vertical band through the center of our Chapter...

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< 2017 >
April
  • 01

    All day
    04-01-2017
    Santa Margarita Park and Ride
    US-101 & El Camino Real & US-101, Santa Margarita, CA 93453, USA

    Saturday, April 1, 2017, 8:00 am

    Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting at Carrizo Plain

    Join us to explore and appreciate the remarkable and unique display of annual and perennial spring wildflowers in eastern San Luis Obispo County. This could be the BIG YEAR in this giant swath of undisturbed California Prairie. Remember, this is a remote area, so make sure you have plenty of gas, water, as well as food.

    Meet at the Santa Margarita park-and-ride (freeway exit, State Route 58 at Hwy 101) at 8:00 am. We will caravan from there with a brief stop at Shell Creek. You may be able to carpool with someone, so it is recommended to arrange your ride ahead of time, or jump in with others at the meeting place. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, bring sunscreen, a hat, and layered clothing for warmth, as needed.

    For more information contact: George Butterworth, (805) 438-3641, gbutterworth8@gmail.com or Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com. Rain cancels.

  • 02

    9:00 am-12:00 pm
    04-02-2017
    La Purisima Mission
    2295 Purisima Rd, Lompoc, CA 93436, USA

    Sunday 2 April 2017 9 AM

    CNPS, LVBHS, and Sierra Club Spring La Purisima Burton Mesa Wildflower Walk

    Meet at the La Purisima Mission Parking Lot, corner of Purisima and Mission Gate Rds. (2295 Purisima Rd. Lompoc) at 9 AM for this annual California Native Plant Society and Sierra Club spring tour of the beauties of the Burton Mesa Chaparral. This should be a great year for wildflowers, annuals as well as shrubs; Optional afternoon tour.

    Sturdy shoes, lunch & liquids, camera and binoculars advised. For more information, call Charlie at 733-3189 Saturday, April 8, 2017, 9:00 am, Pecho Ranch, (PG&E property) near Montaña de Oro State Park. This is an RSVP only field trip open to 40 CNPS members.

    Details will be available in the April Obispoensis and via e-mail announcements. To place your name on the list, contact Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com.

  • 08

    9:00 am-12:00 pm
    04-08-2017
    Pecho Ranch
    Pecho Valley Rd, Los Osos, CA 93402, USA

    THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO RAINMdO

    Saturday, April 8, 2017, 9:00 am, Pecho Ranch, (PG&E property) near Montaña de Oro State Park

    We will walk to the top of the ridge road, located on the north ranch. As we ascend the road, you will see the habitats change from coastal sage scrub to chaparral and bishop pine forest. The top of the road offers a view of Morro Bay and the Coon Creek drainage.  Total distance is 5 miles, elevation gain is 800 ft., three hours.

    This is an RSVP only field trip open to 40 CNPS members. To place your name on the list and receive details about this field trip, contact Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com.  Bill will ask for some personal contact information to be forwarded to PG&E.  

    Deadline to sign up for this field trip is March 25th.

    Rain cancels

     

    We will meet at the Point Buchon Trail check-in station. See map here: https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/in-your-community/local-environment/diablo-canyon-trails/point-buchon-trail.page

  • 09

    All day
    04-09-2017
    Wind Wolves Preserve
    39611 Oak Glen Rd, Yucaipa, CA 92399, USA

    Sunday, April 9, 2017, 9:00 am

    Wind Wolves Preserve

    16019 Maricopa Highway (State Route 166), between Maricopa, CA and Interstate 5.
    Join us for a daylong visit to Wind Wolves Preserve, part of the Wildlands Conservancy, located on the north slope of the Transverse Ranges, east of Maricopa, CA.

    This area has spectacular open spaces with carpets of wildflowers that stretch up into pine forests.
    We will meet outside the administration building at 9:00 am.

    Be sure to bring water, food, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, a hat, and layered clothing for warmth, as needed.
    Carpooling is available.

    RSVP if you plan to participate: Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com

    Rain cancels

  • 16

    1:00 pm-4:00 pm
    04-16-2017
    Irish Hills Trailhead
    1691 Madonna Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405, USA

    Sunday, April 16th, 1:00 p.m

    Join us for a plant walk from the Madonna Road trailhead (southwestern terminus of Madonna Rd.) into the upper reaches of the Irish Hills Open Space.

    The vast majority of soils in this area are derived from serpentine, which is a metamorphic rock, high in magnesium and iron, while low in calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. The excess magnesium in combination with low levels of calcium, phosphorus, and potassium create a stressful environment for plant growth, and therefore inhibit the growth of the vast majority of both native and introduced species. The unique assortment of plants that do grow in the Irish Hills and on other serpentine-based outcrops surrounding San Luis Obispo, make for an exceptional mixture, which we will see in bloom on this walk. A plant list will be provided.

    The length is 5 miles, 700 ft. elevation gain, 3 hours. Be sure to bring water, food, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, a hat, and layered clothing, as needed.

    Contact: Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com.

    Rain cancels

  • 18

    11:00 am-4:00 pm
    04-18-2017
    Growing Grounds Farm Wholesale Nursery
    3740 Orcutt Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, USA

    Growing Grounds Farm is a non-profit wholesale nursery located in San Luis Obispo. Growing Grounds offers California natives, Mediterranean perennials, succulents, restoration and mitigation plants, a wide variety of grasses, and a selection of perennial herbs.

    Growing Grounds Farm is a wholesale nursery and does not sell directly to the public except on the 3rd Tuesday of each month from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m

  • 20

    1:00 pm-5:00 pm
    04-20-2017
    Atascadero Library
    6901 Capistrano Ave, Atascadero, CA 93422, USA
    April 20, 2017 @ Atascadero Library 6555 Capistrano Ave, Atascadero, CA 93422
    **FREE Workshop & DPR CEU’s are applied for**
    Agenda:
    1:00 pm – 1:15 pm Check-In
    1:15 pm – 1:30 pm Welcome and Introductions Lauren Brown, California Native Plant Society, San Luis Obispo County
    1:30 pm – 2:15 pm Goldspotted Oak Borer: Life Cycle, Identification and Management Speaker: Kevin Turner and Kim Corella, Cal Fire
    2:15 pm – 3:00 pm Identification, Impact and Management of Shot Hole Borer Speaker: Akif Eskalen, University of California, Riverside
    3:00 pm – 3:15 pm Break
    3:15 pm – 4:00 pm Sudden Oak Death: Identification and Management Speaker: Kerri Frangioso, University of California, Davis
    4:00 pm – 4:30 pm Questions for speakers
  • 21

    3:30 pm-6:30 pm
    04-21-2017
    Atascadero Lake Park Pavilion
    9315 Pismo Ave, Atascadero, CA 93422, USA

    Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

    Special Guest Speaker: Penny Nyunt, daughter of Bert Wilson, owner of Las Pilitas Nursery

    Ribbon Cutting Flyer1

  • 22

    9:00 am-11:00 am
    04-22-2017
    Atascadero Lake Park Pavilion
    9315 Pismo Ave, Atascadero, CA 93422, USA
  • 22

    11:00 am-5:00 pm
    04-22-2017
    San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden
    3450 Dairy Creek Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405, USA

    No additional detail for this event.

  • 23

    1:00 pm-4:00 pm
    04-23-2017
    Nipomo Native Garden
    927-999 Osage St, Nipomo, CA 93444, USA

    Nipomo Native Garden Spring Garden Tour offers a delightful afternoon of garden tours, talks, and a children’s program

    Talks

    1:30 Controlling Gophers in the Garden – Gopher biology, habits, hearsay

    2:00 Using Drought Tolerant Native Plants in the Garden

    3:00 Controlling Gophers again – a popular subject

    Children’s Garden Program

    Puppet making: All the fixings available to make your own puppet

    Flower Pounding: Kids can make a lovely bookmark to take home

    Kids can also enjoy the regular activities available in the Children’s Garden:- the sandbox, the wishing tree, hopscotch, and looking for insects and other critters in the Bug House.

  • 29

    12:00 pm-5:00 pm
    04-29-2017
    Cambria Veterans Memorial Building
    1000 Main St, Cambria, CA 93428, USA

    Saturday April 29 12:00-5:00  and Sunday April 30 10:00-4:00

    • Hundreds of freshly picked Central Coast wildflowers and other flora will be presented and described
    • Edible, Medicinal, Rare, Invasive and Poisonous plants will be identified
    • Botanists will be on hand for your questions
    • Treats available from the Wildflower Café
    • T-shirts, books, and more for sale

    Admission is free for students, otherwise it’s a $3 donation to this worthy cause.

    Brought to you by the Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve 805-927-2856

    Of special interest will be the “Fire-Following Flowers” the first to bloom out of the Chimney fire

  • 30

    10:00 am-4:00 pm
    04-30-2017
    Cambria Veterans Memorial Building
    1000 Main St, Cambria, CA 93428, USA

    Saturday April 29 12:00-5:00  and Sunday April 30 10:00-4:00

    • Hundreds of freshly picked Central Coast wildflowers and other flora will be presented and described
    • Edible, Medicinal, Rare, Invasive and Poisonous plants will be identified
    • Botanists will be on hand for your questions
    • Treats available from the Wildflower Café
    • T-shirts, books, and more for sale

    Admission is free for students, otherwise it’s a $3 donation to this worthy cause.

    Brought to you by the Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve 805-927-2856

    Of special interest will be the “Fire-Following Flowers” the first to bloom out of the Chimney fire