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.

Matilija poppy

Matilija poppy

Matilija poppy, Romneya coulteri

The illustration on the cover of this Obispoensis is another of Heather Johnson’s wonderful watercolors. It was just too beautiful not to use, in spite of the fact its natural range barely reaches our Chapter’s area.

The text below was written by Alice Meyer back in the 1970’s or early 80’s for the local Audubon Chapter Newsletter. Alice, along with her husband, Bud, were the very first recipients of the Chapter’s Hoover Award. As you will probably gather from Alice’s discussion below, she was a very good native plant gardener. She is also the person most directly responsible for the creation of our annual plant sale back in the early 1970’s.

I feel compelled to add one additional tidbit about the Matilija poppy. It had a very important but behind-the-scenes role in a 1998 film entitled “The Mask of Zorro.” The plot of the movie involved the kidnapping of a young girl, who was then taken back to Spain where she grew up and where she was told she had been born. Upon returning to California, she remembered the odor of the plant her true parents had placed around her crib. That plant, of course, was the Matilija poppy which as you are about to learn is basically confined to California (Upper and Lower). But, let’s leave it to Alice to tell you the rest.

The Matilija poppy is regarded as one of our most magnificent perennial wild flowers, with its gray-green foliage and its 3-5 inch wide crinkly white flowers. It was discovered by Dr. Thomas Coulter, who named it after the Britsh astronomer Dr. Romney Robinson. Hence the botanical name, Romneya coulteri Rom-nee-a colt-er-i).

The common name, Matilija poppy, was bestowed because it grew so profusely in Matilija Canyon in Ventura County, but it is also found in canyons and washes from Santa Barbara to lower California at 1000-2500 feet. Locally one may see it occasionally along the roadside on Hwy 101 from San Luis Obispo to Arroyo Grande. It flowers from June to September. This plant is so attractive it is much in demand for home gardens, but nurseries have the plant for sale only occasionally.

Growing it from seed is difficult, since the seeds are very slow germinating – (up to 2 years). Germination can be hastened by planting in sand in a flat with a foot of pine needles on top, then burning the pine needles. When cool, remove the ashes and water the flat from the bottom. When the seedlings have a few true leaves, transplant into small containers. When containers are full of roots, transplant the plants in gallon cans.

Propagation may also be done from root cuttings taken in December or January, which is the easiest way to propagate the plant. After the plants are set out, they should receive supplemental water for the first two years, but when well established, natural rainfall should suffice.

-Alice Myers

Our Chapter almost always has it at our annual native plant sale in November. From conversations overheard at our plant sale Matilija poppy is relatively difficult to get started. Customers indicate that they have tried several years before having success, then they complain that once established, the species can be difficult to contain).

DIRK WALTERS

 

Matilija poppy, Romneya coulteri

Matilija poppy, Romneya coulteri

 

 

Solanum xanti (Blue, Purple, Chaparral, or San Diego Nightshade)

Solanum xanti, Blue nightshade, article accompanied by original watercolor painting by Heather Johnson. Blue nightshade (the name most commonly used around here) is not pushy in its appearance unless it’s in bloom. It is up to a yard tall and the stem is half woody or suffrutescent. The ordinary looking, mostly un-lobed leaves are up to 3 inches long and lanceshaped to oval. Blue nightshade even prefers to grow near other plants and just blend in.

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Salvia spathacea (Hummingbird Sage)

The cover of this Obispoensis is another beautiful water color by Heather Johnson. In our area Hummingbird sage can grow in an extensive mat. Its leaves are large (10 in (20 cm) long and 3 in (8 cm) wide). The leaf surface appears quilted. Its family affiliation (Mint or Lamiaceae or Labitae) is shown clearly in Heather’s water color.

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Vitis californica (California grape)

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.

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Clarkia speciosa subsp. immaculata (Pismo Clarkia)

I chose the Pismo clarkia because it grows in the area surrounding Mardi’s home and nowhere else. It grows naturally in about 20 occurrences from the southern Edna Valley, south through the foothills and valleys of the Southern San Luis Range, ending east of Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande (Huasna Valley).

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Viola pedunculata (Johnny-jump-up)

Wild (California, yellow, or grass) violet, pansy or Johnny –jump-up This botanical illustration was created by Mardi Niles using a Micron 005 #1 Archival Ink pen and Prismacolor Verithin colored pencils on Bristol Regular paper. It will be the first of several...

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Common Milkweed (kotolo) Asclepias eriocarpus

The 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...

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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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< 2017 >
October
  • 05

    7:00 pm-9:00 pm
    10-05-2017
    SLO Vets Hall
    801 Grand Ave, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, USA

    The October meeting of the California Native Plants Society will take place on Thursday evening, October 5th, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the SLO Vets’ Hall, 801 Grand Ave. in San Luis Obispo.

    The first half of the meeting will be devoted to a California native seed exchange. If you have an interest in planting native seeds and/or have native seeds to share with others, you are asked to come prepared to participate. During the  meetings, seed traders will share their tips on how to plant the seeds and grow the plants, they brought to share.

    The second half of the meeting will feature presentations by local members, reporting on botanical places of interest they visited during the summer. Join us for refreshments (please bring a dessert to share) and some exciting photographs and stories of forays into the wild. If you would like to present some of your tales of discovery out in nature, bring your photos in a viewable format to the meeting, on a thumb drive, or you can e-mail your photos to David Chipping (dchippin@calpoly.edu), 24 hours before the meeting. Dave can also answer any questions about formatting your photos.

  • 07

    9:00 am-1:00 pm
    10-07-2017
    Nipomo Native Garden
    927-999 Osage St, Nipomo, CA 93444, USA

    NIPOMO NATIVE GARDEN FALL PLANT SALE

    Saturday, October 7th, 9AM to 1 PM

    Nipomo Native Garden Parking Lot on Osage. Take 101 to Tefft to Pomeroy, left on Camino Caballo. Right on Osage.

    There will be a wide variety of landscaping plants, many drought tolerant grasses, shrubs, trees. Also –

    • Tee Shirts & Caps
    • Information and advice
    • Great Plants – Great Prices

    Plus Grand Opening of Little Free Library!

    For more information 929-3589 or cjelinek@calpoly.edu

  • 17

    11:00 am-4:00 pm
    10-17-2017
    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

  • 22

    2:00 pm-4:00 pm
    10-22-2017
    San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden
    3450 Dairy Creek Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405, USA

    Sunday, Oct. 22nd2:00-4:00 pm, iNaturalist Workshop, San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden

    Have you ever thought about keeping track of your own nature observations in an organized way so you could refer back to them? What if you could easily do that, as well as share your observations and photographs taken in nature, with a group of like-minded people online? Would you like to make meaningful contributions to scientific research? “Citizen science” is ordinary people contributing to scientific research and iNaturalist is the place to get started with any or all of the above.

    Join us to discuss how to use the iNaturalist website and mobile applications, what the options are, and how to customize your iNaturalist account for your personal interests. This workshop, led by Damon Tighe and Bill Waycott, will be a combination of hands-on classroom and field work.

    In preparation for the workshop, please sign up for an iNaturalist account online and create your profile. If you plan to use your mobile device(s), download and install the mobile app(s) on Android and IOS, prior to the workshop.  After the classroom component, we will visit the garden to use iNaturalist in real-time.  The SLO Botanical Garden is located in Chorro Regional Park, off of Hwy 1, across from Cuesta College and adjacent to the Dairy Creek Golf Course.