Rare Plant Communities Workshop

Rare Plant Communities Workshop

Registration Open for Workshop:

Rare Plant Communities of San Luis Obispo County

We are now taking registrations or the Rare Plant Communities in Coastal San Luis Obispo County workshop, Saturday April 18, 2020, 8:30am – 12:30pm, San Luis Obispo.

Presented by Melissa Mooney and local botanists. Participants will learn how the State defines and classifies plant communities and about rare plant communities in our area. We will have a short lecture followed by a field trip to see some local rare plant communities. Intermediate level – participants should have working knowledge of plant taxonomy and keying.


Registration closes April 10; advance registration required; $30 members, $40 non-members.


Invasive Species Report: Poison-hemlock (Conium maculatum)

Poison-hemlock Conium maculatum

Poison-hemlock Conium maculatum

A member of the Apiaceae (Carrot) family Poison-hemlock is a biennial native to the Europe and North Africa and is a common weed, widespread in California. Poison-hemlock may germinate throughout the year. First year plants are low-growing and may overwinter in mild climates and plants resemble carrot plants. Stems are erect, hollow, smooth and bright green with purple-reddish blotches. Leaves grow to two feet long and are tri-pinnately compound. In late spring, robust plants reach 5-8 feet tall and produce numerous umbel-shaped clusters of tiny, white, 5-petaled flowers. Poison-hemlock grows in moist areas such as pond sides, creek
banks and flood plains. It tends to grow in dense thickets and when the plants have dried out it is very difficult to walk through and the dead canes are toxic! It is notorious for displacing other vegetation. Plants reproduce only by seed and seeds may survive to about 3 years. Each flower produces two gray–brown seeds. There are hundreds of seeds on each plant. Poison hemlock is highly toxic due the toxin coniine. Seeds have the highest concentration of coniine. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Cattle are especially vulnerable. There are limitations to controlling this plant: do not cut, burn or graze. Pulling it is one of the best options and it’s especially important to pull out the root.

-Mark Skinner, Invasive Species Chair

Chapter Meeting: Rare Plant Meets New Technology: Snakeroot Science

Lynne-Dee Althouse

Lynne-Dee Althouse

CHAPTER MEETING, ATASCADERO, Mar 5th 2020 Thursday – 7pm social, 7:30pm program

Kiwanis Hall, adjacent to clubhouse, Atascadero Lake

Kyle Nessen and Lynne Dee Althouse

Snakeroot, a common name for members of the genus Sanicula, has a long history in early medicinal records. Sanicle species are common in chaparral and woodlands in California. A less common, and very special species occupies moist, deep clay in coastal grasslands in California. Kyle Nessen and LynneDee Althouse will describe ongoing research funded by a San Luis Obispo project with fascinating results regarding propagation and protection of the rare adobe sanicle (Sanicula maritima). They partner with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden in this research effort. Adobe sanicle is a state-listed rare plant, and easy to find at Laguna Lake Natural Reserve in the spring. Kyle and LynneDee will describe the sanicle’s biogeography, natural history of our local rare species, and findings from some of their
early research efforts, as well as plans for using technology to better understand its distribution and habitat requirements. Kyle is Botanist and LynneDee is a Principal Scientist at Althouse and Meade, Inc. a local biological consulting group.

Kyle Nessen

Kyle Nessen

Driving Instructions:

From US 101 Take Hwy 41 west from Freeway. Continue past Portola Avenue stoplight, war memorial, park and zoo on the left, turn left on narrow Pismo Avenue immediately west of the zoo, continue to intersection with Avenal Avenue. Kiwanis Building is single story building on your left, with parking for Hall and Atascadero Lake Pavilion to the left.

From Morro Bay drive to the first stoplight (San Gabriel Rd.). Pismo Avenue is the second road to the right. continue to intersection with Avenal Avenue. Kiwanis Building is single story building on your left, with parking for Hall and Atascadero Lake Pavilion to the left.

What Does Low Rainfall mean for Your Garden?

Well, with our rainy season half ways over, the outlook is dire. Looking at the “up-to-date” records, we have received about half of normal rainfall, season to date. So what does this mean for those of you who have just put in those natives after the plant sale?

The bottom line is you will need to water your new plantings every other week deeply until the rains hopefully return. What does water ‘deeply’ mean? Depending on your soil type, deeply for sandy coastal soil means: fill the basin around your plant three times. If you live in Los Osos that means it could take up to 10 minutes for the soil to accept the first basin full of water. With clay soil, like in San Luis Obispo or Atascadero, one basin filling should be enough. Remember it’s always best to water early in the day.

Now we need to discuss your more matures trees and shrubs? Many of us already have old oaks, manzanitas, ceanothus and many other natives. Should I water them? If we don’t receive at least 2 inches of rain by the end of February, the answer is “yes”. I know you have always heard, “don’t water your oaks or natives.” This is somewhat true, but to clarify: Don’t water during the summer months of June, July, August and September. Watering mature oaks during these months can cause ‘root rot’ aka oak root fungus. However, during the winter months of December, January, February and March, our native plants, especially oaks, need rainfall to sustain themselves through the long summer months.

So in conclusion, due to the unusual deficit in rainfall that we are now experiencing, you may need to apply supplemental water to your garden. Keep an eye to the sky and if the rain doesn’t return (and you can afford it), you will need to help your garden out. Set out irrigation for established shrubs and trees as well as hand water your new plantings, every two weeks until the rains, hopefully return. Until next time, collect rain water and happy gardening. John Nowak

Protecting the Dunes

President’s Notes

As we focus this month on the Oceano Dunes and its rare plants, habitats, and proposals that could change this area forever, it is worthwhile to look at the area in the larger context. Recall that the Oceano dunes are part of what we call the Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes Complex, a 10-mile stretch of coastline running from Pismo Beach to Point Sal, consisting of multiple areas of differing land ownerships and management strategies. (See “Project A” of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreational Area for a figure from the Guadalupe Dunes National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Management Plan.) Within this complex, there are County parks, State Beaches, a national Wildlife Refuge (Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes), and two preserves. We are lucky to have these areas. But it has taken years to gain this, and we need to be ever diligent in monitoring and protecting what we have. The Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area can be argued to be the “heart” of the area, including its valuable wetlands, numerous bird species, surrounding dunes, sensitive plant species, and rare natural communities. Let’s keep it that way.

-Melissa Mooney

“Project A” of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreational Area


History has record of the strong local effort to protect the wetlands and lakes of the Oso Flaco area, including the work done by the ‘Dune Mother’. Kathleen Goddard Jones. Our comments are hereby confined to issues surrounding the Oso Flaco Campground and Public Access Project, also termed Project A in SVRA Public Exhibits.

Besides the obvious disruption to the natural environment of Oso Flaco Lake through vastly increased vehicle traffic which will disrupt an extremely important birding area, CNPS plant specific concerns are hereby listed and should receive thorough analysis of projected loss and mitigation in the environmental review process.

These plans for the southern entrance represent an existential threat to the rare plant species in the Oso Flaco region.

  1. Federal and State Endangered Arenaria paludicola have extant populations (verified 9/2018) on the west and east shores of Oso Flaco Lake (northern half).  Improvements in the causeway, and the riding area extension trail will destabilize the hydrology of the northern half which supports this population.
  2. Federal Endangered and state endangered Nasturtium gambelii (California Rare Plant Rank: 1B.1) seriously threatened and eligible for listing) had populations immediately north and south of the causeway, and any “traffic capacity” improvement in the causeway would directly impact those locations.
  3. Federal Endangered and state endangered Lupinus nipomensis (California Rare Plant Rank: 1B.1) is found growing within the refinery waste pipe right-of-way, and using that ROW, as envisioned in the Concept 1 plan threatens this core population.
  4. Cirsium scariosum var. loncholepis California Rare Plant Rank: 1B.1, State of California as Threatened and by the Federal Government as ‘Endangered) was recorded growing in damp swales south of the Refinery ROW in the OHV trail drawn in the Concept 1 plan.
  5. The locally significant stand of Leptosyne gigantea (aka Coreopsis) is found on the west side of Osos Flaco lake, and within the redline OHV route shown in the Concept 2 plan.

In view of the long history of labor and resources that has taken place in the protection of these species, and of the integrity of the dune scrub ecosystems, we believe that a southern entrance to the SVRA should be removed from future development plans.

Screen shot from the SVRA’s planning documents. Note the two entry points that would carve roads across vegetated dunes on the eastern edge, and the proposed 40 acres of new OHV roads just north of the Oso Flaco Lake area. You can find project documents at oceanodunespwp.com/en/documents.

A Few Rare Dune Natural Plant Communities

A Few Rare Dune Natural Plant Communities

Everyone’s been to the beach, yes. But how much have we looked around to see what vegetation patterns are there to greet us? San Luis Obispo County dunes, and the Oceano dunes surrounding Oso Flaco Lake in particular, are awesome places that are full of rare plants and at least three rare natural communities, as defined by the Manual of California Vegetation (Sawyer, Keeler-Wolf and Evens, 2009). Let’s explore them. And remember, we give these communities names only to make it easier for ourselves to talk about them. We draw lines around them as we see them repeating in nature, but plants don’t always adhere to our neat little coloring books and boxes. There is really a continuum in vegetation; we separate areas mostly for our own convenience.

Closest to the beach, but not actually on the beach, are what are called dune mats, the Abronia latifolia-Ambrosia chamissonis Herbaceous Alliance and its associations. Some of you may know this as central or southern foredunes (Holland’s Preliminary Descriptions of Terrestrial Natural Communities of California, 1986), others as pioneer dune communities (Holland and Keil’s California Vegetation, 1995). In this community, sand verbena and beach bur-sage are characteristically present. It has a global ranking of G3 and a State ranking of S3, meaning it has less than 21-100 viable occurrences, or occupies a certain rather small area. Dune mats are characteristically found on small hummocks in between sandy areas within about a quarter mile of the surf zone. You might also see sea rocket and the invasive European beachgrass here. Rare plants found here include the surf thistle (Cirsium rhothophilum) and beach spectaclepod (Dithyrea maritima).

Remember that dune communities exist in an unstable environment, with frequent winds, salt spray, and shifting sands. As mentioned above, the communities also shift and sometimes blend into each other. And in extremely protected areas in between the hummocks we often find dune swales containing wetland vegetation. We’ll save those wetland types for another time, but let’s move on to another upland dune community.

Inland from the foredune community and on slightly more stable soils, we find silver dune lupine-mock heather scrub, the Lupinus chamissonis-Ericameria  ericoides Shrubland Alliance and its associations. Again, this community has other names such as central dune scrub (Holland 1986, referenced above), and dune scrub communities (Holland and Keil, 1995). Hoover’s Vascular Plants of San Luis Obispo County, 1970 refers to these areas as coastal sand plains. In this community, either silver dune lupine or mock heather is “conspicuous.” This community also has a ranking of G3 S3. This community can extend far inland, to almost 3 miles (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2016). Here you might also see sea cliff buckwheat, California poppy, and occasionally, giant coreopsis (now Leptosyne gigantea), which blends into the next community. If you’re lucky you might find the den of a burrowing owl here, or even see an owl. Rare plant species found here include Blochman’s leafy daisy (Erigeron blochmaniae), dune larkspur (Delphinium parryi ssp. blochmaniae), and Kellogg’s horkelia (Horkelia cuneata ssp.sericea).

Giant Coreopsis

South of Oso Flaco Lake is a very rare natural community that many of us have visited and know its location well as Coreopsis Hill. Did you know that the community is called Giant coreopsis scrub? Its official name is Coreopsis gigantea Shrubland Alliance, but as we all know, the major dominant plant species, giant coreopsis, has had its name changed to Leptosyne gigantea. (But note that Leptosyne gigantea is not considered a rare plant.) In our area, this community inhabits the stabilized backdunes, but further south it occurs on bluffs immediately along the edge of the coastline. This community is ranked G3 S3 and is also considered sensitive. According to the Manual of California Vegetation, wherever the giant coreopsis occurs at greater than 30 percent relative cover, we can call the community giant coreopsis scrub. It typically co-occurs with Ericameria ericoides, Artemisia californica, and other dune-lupine-mock heather scrub species. Coreopsis Hill is its northernmost natural occurrence. This is the community shown on our front cover this month. These are only three of our rare natural communities that inhabit dunes along our coastline. Again, it is important to point out that there are variations and subdivisions within these types; these are called Associations. Some associations have been identified and classified; others have not. This means there is more work for our Plant Communities committee to do!

-Melissa Mooney


CNPS-SLO Fights for a Better Froom Ranch Specific Plan

CNPS-SLO Fights for a Better Froom Ranch Specific Plan

Beginning in 2015, an LA-based investment group, in partnership with a prominent local landowner and local planning firm, began the process of seeking to develop a large residential project in the City of San Luis Obispo at the corner of Los Osos Valley Road and Calle Joaquin. The project, known as the Froom Ranch Specific Plan (FRSP), proposes to develop some 404 units of senior housing, including so-called “memory care”, plus a more standard development of 130 apartments and associated commercial development as a separate but related project on the 110 acre Froom Ranch property. CNPS-SLO has not opposed the FRSP per se, but we have strong reservations about the severe environmental impacts the project would impose on the community in general and the Irish Hills in particular.

An Environmental Impact Report on the project was undertaken beginning in mid-2017. That report was finally released in November 2019, and described many impacts from the project. It recommended numerous changes to the project to reduce or eliminate those impacts, and recommended many more “mitigations” to offset those that could not be eliminated. CNPS-SLO has followed this process closely, as we have long been advocates of the City’s environmental policies, and we have been quite vocal about them. Among the most important impacts we have objected to are:

  1. Allowing development above the 150 foot elevation along the base of the Irish Hills, including a sensitive and natural serpentine bunchgrass community;
  2. Placing an isolated part of the development in a site surrounded by sensitive woodland;
  3. Placing two Chorro Creek bog thistle populations at risk; 4. Rerouting Froom Creek around the project site;
  4. Exposing downstream areas to increased flood potential; 6. Potentially damaging the Calle Joaquin wetland and other sensitive wetland habitats;
  5. Eliminating part of an existing conservation easement to accommodate the development.

With release of the EIR, the project sponsors themselves saw the severity of one of the most significant impacts and publicly announced that they would drop most of the project above the 150 foot elevation in order to avoid those impacts. They also approached CNPS-SLO to discuss other issues of the project in an attempt to blunt our opposition to other aspects of the project or to modify them if possible. That is where we are today. We are calling for changes to those parts of the project which compromise the integrity of Irish Hills Natural Reserve, or which degrade the environment of Froom Creek or the Calle Joaquin wetland.

Specifically we seek the following changes:

  1. Preservation of all lands above 150 foot elevation; dedication to the City of SLO, with conservation easement held by the Land Conservancy;
  2. Preservation of the wooded “cove” area, and its inclusion in the dedication described above;
  3. Establishment of a park at the former quarry area, with trailhead, historic buildings, and enhancement project on Froom Creek’s north bank and adjacent flood plain (see #7 below); (Note: All of the above items are recommended in the Froom Ranch EIR)
  4. Presentation of 1, 2, and 3 above, together with adjusted agricultural conservation easement, as a package to justify said adjustment of conservation easement;
  5. Reasonable proof that rerouting of Froom Creek will: result in establishment of healthy native riparian gallery forest plantings, include use of appropriate native upland species on any elevated surfaces, result in restoration of ecological functions lost due to destruction of existing detention basins in proposed new basin;
  6. Reasonable proof that rerouting of Froom Creek will not: interrupt groundwater flow, exacerbate flooding or drying of Calle Joaquin wetland, or damage the wetland;
  7. Mitigation for losses of native bunch grass habitat to include enhancement on the flood plain of Froom Creek at the mouth of Froom Creek Canyon where an excellent opportunity exists in an area now dominated by the non-native fountain grass (Pennisetum);
  8. Mutual agreement on boundaries of the development and the nature of the required buffer areas between the new development and lands that will remain in open space uses.

CNPS-SLO will continue to press for these changes right through the approval process, which is expected to take at least a year. As nearly all the listed plants (listed here on p.6) lie above the 150 ft. contour, this is most important issue facing CNPS.

Neil Havlik: CNPS _SLO Conservation Committee

Froom Ranch image

Wetlands and sensitive habitat area, southern end. Photo D. Chipping

This URL will give you access to the project description and EIR: https://www.slocity.org/government/department-directory/community-development/planning-zoning/specific-area-plans/froom-ranch

Listed Plants Observed on Froom Ranch above the 150 ft. elevation (from EIR)
Perideridia pringlei (adobe yampah); Chorizanthe ssp. breweri (Brewer’s spineflower); Dudleya blochmaniae (Blochman’s dudleya); Calystegia subacaulis ssp. episcopalis (Cambria morning glory); Senecio aphanactis (Chaparral (rayless) ragwort); Cirsium fontinale var. obispoense (Chorro Creek bog thistle); Calochortus clavatus ssp. clavatus (Club hair mariposa lily); Centromadia parryi ssp. congdonii (Congdon’s tarplant); Delphinium parryi ssp. eastwoodiae (Eastwood’s larkspur); Layia jonesii (Jones’ layia ); Streptanthus albidus ssp. peramoenus (Most Beautiful Jewel-flower); Chorizanthe palmeri (Palmer’s spineflower); Calochortus obispoensis (San Luis mariposa lily); Castilleja densiflora ssp. obispoensis (San Luis Obispo owl’sclover)


Welcome to the New Year from our New Chapter President

Welcome to the new year! As your new President, I look forward to an active and fun-filled year working towards our mission of increasing our understanding and appreciation of California’s native plants and to conserve them in their native habitats. As you know, we are part of a statewide effort to accomplish this, and we have a large and dedicated group. This time of year, it might be nice to revisit CNPS’s statewide strategic plan goals, which, in a nutshell, are: (1) Know; (2) Save; (3) Enhance and Restore; and (4) Engage and Energize.

We work to understand the flora, map and inventory the flora, and assess and prioritize. We act to conserve and share quality information. We build expertise and help restore native landscapes. We strengthen CNPS, appreciate what we have, champion and promote the good work of partners and professionals, and engage people of diverse backgrounds. All of our actions fall under these broad strategies and goals.

Here in SLO County in the coming year we are promoting workshops to understand the flora and our communities, and we will be actively involved in fighting the good fight for the Oceano Dunes and Osos Flaco Lake and other areas in the county that need conservation. We have an excellent team of experts that brings resources to every meeting we have. Perhaps we will even see that long-awaited Flora popping up this year (we hope; we hope!)

And lastly, this winter we have had a good set of storms, and hopefully this will promote extensive blooms and field trips galore now that our past president Bill Waycott has more time to give to setting up field trips!

Melissa Mooney

Thank You to All Banquet Volunteers

Thank You to All Banquet Volunteers

Once again Lauren Brown and Linda Chipping did preliminary organizing for the banquet, and Lauren was the master coordinator for the evening. This means  securing a location, getting insurance, making sure the kitchen equipment and supplies are in place and updates out to the volunteers . We thank the quick and efficient banquet table set up crew, Mardi Niles and the flower arrangers and Dirk Walters for the table programs. David Krause as usual handled registration and the bar. CalPoly students Molly Vanderlip, Kieran Althaus and Charlie Gibbons assisted with setup and cleanup. The food was delicious and abundant, so a big thanks to all of you who made this a successful evening.

The Passing of the Presidential Torch

The Passing of the Presidential Torch

Our chapter owes a great deal of gratitude to Bill Waycott for his excellent leadership, and to Diana, his wonderful wife, for her contributions as well. Bill will be staying on the Board as Field Trips Chair, and therefore we will not lose his wisdom. The torch now passes to Melissa Mooney, who, as Vice-President, has been responsible for our excellent speaker program during the last year. We also welcome our new Vice-President, Kristen Nelson, who will welcome any suggestions and contacts regarding our 2020 speaker program. Kristen is the discoverer and describer of Chorizanthe aphanantha, a new species of spineflower, at the head of Froom Creek canyon.

2019 Community Award Recipient: ALPS

2019 Community Award Recipient: ALPS

We are pleased to honor the Atascadero Land Preservation Society (ALPS) with our CNPSSLO Community Award. President Mike Orvis and Vice President John Goers accepted the award at our 2020 Banquet. This award highlights the significant contribution that has been made by an entity, outside of CNPS, to promote native plants or the natural environment in our local community. Since 1989, ALPS has had an outstanding record of protecting native plants and habitats in Atascadero, in addition to inspiring appreciation of native plants. As a land trust, ALPS has been successful in purchasing and preserving important parcels of land in the City, planting natives to enhance disturbed portions of the properties, and sharing the land with the public. In addition, ALPS makes a concerted effort to incorporate an educational component for the public on the properties they acquire. Their properties include the 103-acre Three Bridges Oak Preserve with trails that wind up to a summit with a terrific view of Atascadero. The sycamores, oaks, and madrones are welcoming all year round, but you should definitely walk the trail in Spring to see the diversity of blooms. The interpretive signs on this trail are excellent, as is the ALPS website.

Another property of ALPS is Stadium Lane which connects Atascadero Creek to the entrance of the historic Stadium Park. The Bill Shepard Native Garden located here is a great place to get a sense of which native plants appeal to you and which can handle Atascadero’s climate, and there’s even a sign with information about growing native plants. An annual interpretive program is conducted at the Adobe Springs Reserve, an ALPS property that supports a natural artesian spring. The field-day introduces local youngsters to the historical significance and natural resources associated with the spring. CNPS has participated in this program, teaching kids about the local plants, and the importance of having open space available for kids to learn about nature, in nature, is clear. To complement the Adobe Springs Interpretive Program, ALPS has led the development of a third-grade curriculum for the Atascadero Unified School District. In addition to the acquisitions and stewardship, ALPS conducts native planting projects on other properties, awards annual college scholarships to students interested in environmental science or conservation, and has a long history of providing outreach and education about Atascadero’s native trees through their Native Tree Committee. Thank you ALPS for all you’ve done to protect native plants and habitat in Atascadero.

Pictured: John Goers (L) & Mike Orvis

2019 Hoover Award Recipient John Doyle

2019 Hoover Award Recipient John Doyle

The Hoover Award is given to members who have made an exceptional contribution to the local chapter, and is selected by a committee of past awardees. Our 2019 recipient is John Doyle.

John has been spreading native plant enthusiasm and assisting CNPS since 2011, making significant contributions to the chapter’s horticultural program. He has chaired the chapter’s horticultural committee since 2016. John contributed to our chapter’s initial seed collection and packaging effort with Marti Rutherford in 2013, while also encouraging others in the chapter to collect and distribute seed for the subsequent seed exchange program. He participated in the short-lived CNPS propagation group, and then went on to be an important voice in our chapter for promoting the use of natives. John has made presentations to the UC Master Gardeners of SLO County. He also participated in public radio station KCBX “Issues and Ideas” program, entitled “Fall Landscaping and Gardening Tips from a Central Coast Panel of Experts” (link). He gave advice in the production of our “Landscaping with Natives” brochure, organized and facilitated the “CNPS-SLO Landscape with Natives” workshop in October 2019 with Mindy Trask, and is working on more of the same. For several years he presented an annual talk at SLO’s
Farm Supply Co. regarding planting natives, and has also sat behind the CNPS information table at several events. John has contributed to our annual plant sale by bringing Growing Grounds Farm offerings to improve our selection, in addition to his own stash of collected native seed and plants, and regularly assists customers with his practical knowledge of using natives in landscapes. When Chimineas Ecological Reserve requested that CNPS help install a native plant garden, John volunteered. He has worked with Bill Waycott on the restoration of native vegetation along the creek banks at the SLO Mission and at the Rodriguez Adobe. John has also co-led a couple of field trips and has been a participant in many chapter activities. We thank John for his great contributions.

Garden weeds

The New Year always comes with the promise of happy times and lots of good luck. Well, for the garden, good luck means rain. And that great stuff helps our native plants grow. Unfortunately, rain also brings unwanted company to the garden in the form of weeds. A very smart person once told me, “John, a weed can be any plant growing in the wrong place”….. for example, California poppies.

I had a client whose yard was overtaken by California poppies. She said she had been told it was against the law to remove the poppies. I assured her that the ‘poppy police’ would not fine us and so we waited for the plants to set seed. I then removed the plants and collected lots of seeds, giving the seeds away. Needless to say the next Winter her yard was full of poppies again and is still to this day!

January is by far the best time for weed control in the garden. Nights are cool and the seedling weeds are small and easy to hoe under. Here are a couple of tips for weeding: First, wait two or three days after a rain event to weed, as wet soil is hard to hoe or hand pull weeds from. The soil will fall off pulled weeds easier when the soil is drier; Second, go after the largest weeds first, as these are usually the grasses which set seeds first. Compost weeds that are green and can really get your compost going. Third, do not use Round-Up unless it is absolutely necessary, and if so, follow the instructions closely. Lastly, when weeding, use a knee pad as kneeling is safer for your back then a bent over position that is hard on the lower back and will cause you harm. Start out slow and don’t over do it the first day. Finally, mulch after weeding, if you mulch too early it will cause you headaches when you try to hoe or hand pull weeds.

Well that’s a lot to comprehend. This weeding stuff requires a sharp mind and a weeding tool, as well. Until next time, happy gardening. If you have any questions about sowing your wildflower garden, please contact me at: gritlys@gmail.com.

John Nowak

Try Eating The Weeds

Ethnobotany Notes

Great, now you have planted your native plants, and maybe some vegetables. There are also some wonderful edibles that will come up as soon as it rains which you did not intentionally plant. Planting natives in your garden which you can use is ideal, but then there are also the weeds, which can also be very tasty and nutritious. There are many online and print resources available about eating non- native weeds. There are on-line forums and YouTube videos on how to prepare them.

Dirk Walters wrote about New Zealand spinach as a cooked vegetable used by early explorers. I have occasionally given it to my chickens as an addition to their boring store bought feed. Now I know that I should probably be cooking it first because of the oxalates. (They are happy to eat most weeds that I throw their way.) It can also be grown easily in our area as a planted vegetable. Every spring, my Mom would ask that I let her pick the Dandelion greens before I mowed the lawn at my house up north in the mountains. I also remember drinking Dandelion wine while visiting friends up in Alaska. Dandelions thrive in cold climates, but will also grow here in  places that are watered. Dandelion greens are a great addition to any vegetable stir-fry. The flowers are wonderful in salads and both are packed full of vitamins and minerals.

Stellaria media © 2006 Dr. Amadej Trnkocz (CC
BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Stellaria media © 2006 Dr. Amadej Trnkocz (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Purslane is another great vegetable, which can be sautéed alone or with others. I’ve always pulled it out of my gardens, and was surprised to see it being sold at a farmers market one day. Fennel flower buds are very pungent and can be added to many dishes, or just nibble on it for a quick breath freshener. Wild young mustard greens and flowers are also a nice cruciferous addition to savory vegetable dishes, used in place of kale. Chickweed (Stellaria) is great cooked or fresh in a salad and seems to be becoming more widespread. Eating the weeds is a great way to reduce those plants, which you do not want in your garden, without overforaging in wild areas. Always be sure however that your chosen weeds have not been sprayed with an herbicide previously.

Cathy Chambers

Annual Banquet January 11, 2020

California Native Plant Society – San Luis Obispo Chapter

Annual Potluck Banquet

Saturday, January 11, 2020

5:30-9:30 pm

$10 per person, plus a pot luck item for the dinner

Morro Bay Veterans Memorial Building

209 Surf St, Morro Bay

Social Hour – 5:30 pm

Buffet Style Potluck Dinner – 6:30 pm

Chapter business – 7:30 pm

Program – 8:00 pm

– – –


The CNPS Vegetation Program

Julie Evens

Julie EvensJulie Evens will provide a talk regarding the California Native Plant Society’s Vegetation Program plus photo excerpts from a signature book published a few years ago about our state’s incredible diversity of vegetation, including a spectrum of common and rare vegetation assemblages. Julie is the Vegetation Program Director of CNPS, in which she maintains standard methods for surveying, classifying, and mapping vegetation in California. She provides public workshops on vegetation surveying and mapping. She works collaboratively with agencies and CNPS chapters on vegetation assessment
projects, including current projects in the Bay Area, Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, Sierra Nevada foothills, North Coast, among other regions. She is a coauthor with John Sawyer and Todd Keeler-Wolf of the second edition of A Manual of California Vegetation, and she is a co-author with Michael Barbour et al. of California’s Botanical Landscapes: A Pictorial View of the State’s Vegetation. She also helped compile the first edition of the CNPS Fire Recovery Guide. Julie has a M.A. degree from Humboldt State University, and she holds two B.A. degrees from the University of California–Santa Cruz. Before CNPS, She has worked as an ecologist and botanist for federal and state agencies including the National Park Service, US Geological Survey, University of California, and Department of Fish & Game. She has worked for CNPS since April 2001.


Tickets are $10 per person – You may reserve your spot with credit card or PayPal by clicking the Tickets button


If you prefer, you may send payment to D. Krause, 2706 Newton Drive, Cambria, CA, 93428. You may print this form to include with your check.

Questions? Contact David Krause  at dkincmbria@aol.com or 805-927-5182


CNPS will be providing the beer, wine, coffee, tea, and assorted beverages included with the cost of the banquet. Plates, glasses, cups, and napkins will be available; we ask that you bring your own eating utensils, although plastic utensils will be available.

For the dinner potluck, we are asking those with last names beginning with the following letters to bring the suggested item (and serving utensils). However, if you have a dish you especially want to share with the group, please feel free to bring it or contact Lauren (805-460-6329, lbrown805@charter.net) for alternative suggestions.

A to H: main meat or veggie dish
I to Q: salad (with dressing) or side dish
R to Z: dessert

Please put your name on a label or piece of tape on your serving items so they can be returned to you.


From the south (SLO/Los Osos): Exit Hwy 1 at Main Street. Turn right, go under freeway, and stay on Main Street through traffic signal. Go up the hill a couple hundred yards and turn right on Surf Street (sign is obscure). Continue over cross street and veer to the right. The Veterans Building is the large building on the left.
From the north (Highway 41 and the north coast): Turn left on Main Street immediately east of the freeway. Stay on Main Street through the signal and then see above.


contact Lauren at lbrown805@charter.net or 805-460-6329.

Volunteers Needed

The room is open at 5 and we need volunteers to arrive at 5 and help get set up by 5:30, and volunteers to clean up (plan to stay about 30 minutes after). Contact Lauren at lbrown805@charter.net or 805-460-6329.

Hope to see you there!

President’s notes – December 2019

Over the years, Dr. David Keil, professor emeritus Cal Poly-SLO, has documented the plants of California with an emphasis on plants of San Luis Obispo County and nearby regions. Recently, Dave offered to make the majority of his plants lists for this region available to CNPS-SLO and they now reside on the Chapter’s website. These lists represent a mountain of work, where he has carefully noted every species occurring in a particular area and later revisited the area to add and/or modify his findings. Some of us have been fortunate to accompany him on one of his “plant list” field trips. He starts with a clipboard and about ten pages of blank paper. At the end of the visit, the pages are full, written in a notation style only he can decipher. Those notes are then transcribed by Dave into lists. So, thank you Dave for allowing us to share in this treasure trove of data, which is now available for generations to come. To access the website domain containing these lists, go to www.cnpsslo.org, then to the pulldown menu “Resources” and then to “Finding Plants in the Wild”. And while you’re there, go to the “Home” page and scroll down to the green box opposite the calendar and sign up to receive e-mails about upcoming Chapter events.

Bill Waycott

Editor’s Addition: The plant lists described by Bill are PDF files and require a PDF reader. Dr. Keil’s lists present species with native/introduced in the first column, latin binomials in alphabetic order in the second column, common name in the third column, and family in the fourth column. If you wish to sort these lists in a different order, such as by family, you can select data on the PDF and paste it into an Excel spreadsheet, selecting only sections of the PDF with the plant data (i.e. do not include explanatory text, or page numbers). When you paste into Excel, you will see that each of Dr. Keil’s data lines will occupy two rows of the spreadsheet, one of which will contain no data. Ignore this. To sort in Excel, select the cells to include in the sort (sort is part of the ‘Data’ pulldown). Sort only works if all the cells are the same size, which is why you don’t copy/paste parts of the original PDF.

David Chipping

Landscaping with California Native Plants Workshop in October

Landscaping with California Native Plants Workshop

Landscaping with California Native Plants Workshop

CNPS-SLO hosted an information-packed, fun-filled workshop on October 12, 2019. This was the first of a series of “Botanist-Development” workshops to be provided by your local CNPS chapter. The goals for these workshops is to offer low cost training for local botanists to improve your knowledge and spread the love of native plants! The Landscaping with California Native Plants workshop was expertly facilitated by local landscape contractor and CNPS member, John Doyle.

After a brief lecture on the foundations of landscaping with natives, the group hit the dirt, observing and learning about native plant

CNPS Certified Wildlife Habitat sign

CNPS Certified Wildlife Habitat

gardening from local landscapers. John’s lecture provided context on why using native plants in your landscaping is so important for local critters, basic tenants of a good landscape design (match to your climate, substrate and topography), and examples of local native plants that tend to do well in our gardens. Native plants were raffled off to eager participants and everyone walked home with a wealth of information on where to learn more and find native plants. The first tour stop was the Garden of the Seven Sisters where SLO Master Gardeners have a healthy California Native Plant garden. After an informative presentation by Gary Lawson, the class moved on to the Monday Club where they have recently installed a native plant garden. Landscape Architect Jeffrey Gordon Smith shared some of his wisdom on landscaping with natives. The last stop was at the home of Bill and Diana Waycott to learn about what some dedicated homeowners can do to create a little utopia for native pollinators. Workshop participants learned how they can earn a CNPS Certified Wildlife Habitat sign.

Mindy Trask

Using the Consortium of California Herbaria website

Using the Consortium of California Herbaria website

How many of you have photographed a manzanita in the field, or brought back a leaf, and then had trouble identifying it using a key? There are many manzanitas in the County, and a lot share common features. You ask yourself if what you have matches what is described in the key. One helpful tool is to use something like the CalFlora web site to see what other people thought as a match to the species name, but those photos may not flag key diagnostic features from the key. Don’t you wish you had a bunch of correctly identified specimens lying in front of you for comparison? Well… you can…. At the CCH2 web site you can enter and examine specimens from dozens of herbaria.

On the opening page, select ‘image search’ and then type in the latin binomial into the search page. You can also search by common name, family, or taxonomic group. Click Load Images to see thumbnails of all herbaria sheets matching your search criteria. Select a thumbnail, and another page will open with data on the sample. Open Large Image will open a high resolution picture of the specimen. Once loaded, your cursor will turn into the ‘+’ which allows extreme close up.

This is sufficiently detailed to enable you to see glands on stem hairs, and details of leaf surfaces, and you will have a lot of samples for most species. Those of you who attended the workshop before the last meeting were learning how to enter data from herbarium sheets, and this site is where a lot of the data will reside.

David Chipping