CANCELED Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip to Shell Creek

In the interest of public health, and to support local efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Chapter is cancelling this event

Saturday, April 4th, 2020, 8:30 am

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip to Shell Creek

The destination for this year’s McLeod fieldtrip will be determined one week beforehand, based on spring flower availability.

Meet at the Santa Margarita Exit Park and Ride at 8:30 am. Bring plant guides or plan to purchase one during the trip. Also bring adequate water, food, and dress in layers for the weather; a hat and sturdy shoes are advised.

For more information contact Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip to Shell Creek

 

Saturday, March 30th, 2019, 8:30 am

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip to Shell Creek and Environs

One of the outstanding spring wildflower destinations in California. Meet at the Santa Margarita Exit Park and Ride at 8:30 am. Bring plant guides or plan to purchase one during the trip. Also bring adequate water, food, and dress in layers for the weather; a hat and sturdy shoes are advised.

For more information contact Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103, bill.waycott@gmail.com

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting at Carrizo Plain

Saturday, April 7, 2018, 8:00 am

Cancelled due to rain and poor wildflower showing

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.

Malcolm McLeod Annual Field Trip Meeting at Carrizo Plain

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.

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

Dune Mother’s Wildflower Guide

Dune Mother’s Wildflower Guide

This delightful guide to the plants of the sand dunes is geared to the layperson.  Although the book is written for southern San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara Counties’ coastal dunes, it should also prove useful in other California Coastal areas, as many of the species are widespread.  Over 150 color photographs of more than 120 plants.  Plants are arranged according to the areas of the dunes (shoreline, fore dunes, stabilized and unstabilized dunes) in which they would most likely be found.  The Dune Mother is a reference to Kathleen Goddard Jones, a well known local activist who worked tirelessly for many years to help protect the dunes and their vegetation.

Invasive Species Report: Purple Ragwort (Senecio elegans)

Invasive Species Report: Purple Ragwort (Senecio elegans)

An attractive member of the Asteraceae (Sunflower) family Senecio elegans is an erect annual herb, up to 1 ft. tall and to 1.5 ft. wide. It is native to Southern Africa and is distributed along coastal California. In northern San Luis Obispo County there are groups at San Simeon Point and at the other end of the county in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes. Local CNPS members have located them in the Dunes as follows–1984: Hidden Willow Valley by Malcolm McLeod and Austin Griffiths; 1986: Kathleen Jones; 1990: south of Oso Flaco Lake by Lynne Dee Althouse and David Keil. Germinating following rainfall, leaves have blades which are deeply cut (pinnately lobed), into several toothed lobes and are sticky to the touch. The spectacular fuchsia colored, daisy-like inflorescence bears flower heads lined with black-tipped phyllaries (leaf-like plant part located just below a flower). They contain many (100+) deep yellowish disc florets at the center. Each has 13+ fuchsia colored ray florets. The flower heads turn into fluffy white seeds, ready for the wind to disperse the seeds. Senecio elegans is an escaped invasive weed where it spreads rapidly, displacing indigenous vegetation such as Dunedelion (Malacothrix incana). Control is achieved by pulling it before flowering. I’ve been able to easily pull many hundreds in the Dunes south of Oso Flaco.

Mark Skinner: Invasive Species Chair

Photo: Mark Skinner

Annual Hike to Coreopsis Hill

Sunday, March 1, 2020, 9:00 am,  Coreopsis Hill (in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes) 

The Annual Hike to Coreopsis Hill (in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes), is scheduled for Sunday, March 1, 2020 from 9am to around noon. This hike is sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Chapter of CNPS and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It will be led by Jenny Langford, Lauren Brown, Dirk Walters, and other local botanists and volunteers. The hike will begin at 9:00 AM (please plan to arrive between 8:45 and 9:00), leaving from the south end of Beigle Road at the USFWS access road (fenced road). It 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. Long pants and closed shoes are recommended as the habitat is coastal dune scrub and there is the possibility of poison oak and ticks in the natural dune areas (we will watch for and point these out so they can be avoided).

For more information call Lauren Brown at 460-6329 or 570-7993. Heavy rain cancels this trip (light rain, bring appropriate clothing).

NOTE: Pets, smoking, or alcohol are not allowed on the Refuge, including the parking area, or other properties accessed during the hike (i.e., State Parks and Private Property). Pets may not be left in cars in the parking areas.

Directions from the north: Take Hwy 101 south from San Luis Obispo. Turn right (west) at the new Willow Road off ramp (Exit 180). Proceed west on Willow Road for about 4.3 miles, to Highway 1. Turn left (south) on Highway 1 and proceed for 2.7 miles, to Oso Flaco Lake Road. Turn right (west) on Oso Flaco Lake Road. Proceed west on Oso Flaco Lake Road for 2.5 miles to Beigle Road. Look for a 6’ tall wire mesh fence and steel gate.

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 2.5 miles to Beigle Road (on left).

Parking: We will have people posted at the entrance of the USFWS fenced road to direct parking. The gate will be open around 8:30. Please do not park on Oso Flaco Lake Road near the gate as there is not much room and it could be hazardous. There should be plenty of room to park along the acccess at Beigle Rd. If you need to use a restroom before the hike (there are none along the hike route). the Oso Flaco Lake State Park lot is another ¾ miles west of Beigle Road

Additional Information: The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes-Point Sal Coastal Area contains the largest, relatively undisturbed coastal dune tract in California and was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974. Five major plant communities are represented including pioneer/foredunes; coastal dune scrub; riparian woodland; coastal dune freshwater marshes, ponds, and swales; and active interior dunes. The flora includes many endemic plant species and the dunes habitats support numerous rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals.

Antirrhinum ovatum

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 excellent rain year. Yea, el Niño! If we get the rain, we just may have a once a decade or so treat to witness. We can only hope. Malcolm was a long-time member of our chapter who served several years as out chapter president. He served many years as our rare plant coordinator.  Malcolm mentions many names of people who came to see this rare event.  They are a whose who of local last generation including naturalist-rancher Eben McMillan and botanists Clare Hardham and Clifton Smith. In 1991, the Carrizo Plains area was not yet a National Monument but a Natural Area administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the Nature Conservancy.  It’s the presence of this species, as well as  number of other plant and animal species, that aided in it being designated a National Monument in 2001 by President Bill Clinton.  

– Dirk Walters, illustration by Bonnie Walter

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Vernal Pool with Downingia

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 an impervious layer under the pond that prevents the water from seeping deep into the soil. This impervious layer is usually a layer of calcium carbonate that forms where water seeping downward due to gravity is balanced by pull upward caused by evaporation. True vernal pools are a desert or semi-desert phenomenon. I suspect it goes without saying that not all temporary pools are vernal pools. For example, in San Simeon State Park there are extensive interlocking shallow pools surrounding small hillocks that are filled up by winter rains and are gone by summer. These are formed by animals that dig out the depressions and pile up the excavated dirt to form the mounds. This allows the animals a drier den during the rainy season. Back East, where it rains or snows most of the year, you will find temporary ponds that will last from many months. These are colonized by ordinary species more or less identical to those that inhabit the forest around them. Vernal pools will only last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on their size and the amount of rainfall.

For the second Obispoensis of this year, we are doing a repeat of a drawing Bonnie did for the banquet cover back in 1993. We’re repeating this particular drawing because of the drought and in the hope that it will serve as sign that we really, really need rain! It was originally done in honor of Dr. Wayne Ferren’s (then Curator of the Herbarium at U.C. Santa Barbara) program entitled “Creation and Restoration of Vernal Pools at Del Sur Reserve near Isla Vista, California.” The vernal pool in Bonnie’s drawing is one that occurs off the road to leading to Cerro Noroeste from California State Highway 166. It is on a shelf in the otherwise steep slopes of that mountain’s foothills. This particular pool is a favorite stop for CNPS-SLO, especially when there has been enough rainfall to fill it.

It is when the vernal pool lasts for weeks that they become particularly interesting. For plants, vernal pools are a particular challenge. The first plants to appear are those that can stand total emersion in the water. These are aquatic plants that usually live totally submerged in the water. Because the water is going to last for a very short time, these aquatic plants must have an accelerated life cycle to get from germination to fruiting. As the pool begins to dry up, plants that can tolerate saturated soils begin to germinate in a ring just inside and upslope from the water’s edge. Again these plants have a difficult environment. They begin life with too much water and end up high and dry as the pool constricts away from them. The end result of this process is a series of bands produced by various species that get their start under different soil water conditions. This banding is easily visible in Bonnie’s drawing. One genus that is particularly typical of vernal pools Downingia. It is they that form a spectacular bluish band around the pool. Bonnie included a drawing of the flower of the common Downingia species found in this particular pond. It is Downingia cuspidata.

Bonnie’s drawing was taken from a photograph, lost many years ago, that was taken on a chapter field trip to Mount Able and Mt. Pinos. Although the person shown in the drawing is drawn much too small to be recognized, notes from the time indicate that it is Sybil McLeod who served CNPS-SLO chapter in many different ways. Yes, she was also the wife of Dr. Malcolm McLeod who was a past CNPS-SLO President, Historian, and for many years the Rare Plant Committee Chairman. To be a committee chair in this chapter usually means you do all the committee’s work.

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.