Plant Update for the Dune Mother’s Wildflower Guide

Errata and Jespon updates

For those of you who own our chapter published book, Dune Mother’s Wildflower Guide, you will want an Errata and New Nomenclature Conforming to the 2nd edition of The Jepson Manual.

Our excellent botanist member, Lauren Brown, took time this past summer to do this information update.

You can download the Errata here, or email me and I will forward a copy to you.

– Linda Chipping

Errata and New Nomenclature Conforming to the 2nd edition of The Jepson Manual is also available for Wildflowers of the Carrizo Plain and Wildflowers of Highway 58.

CNPS is Hiring

CNPS is Hiring an Associate Director

As you may have heard, CNPS is hiring an Associate Director. Please help us get the word out to find someone special who will help continue the great momentum we’ve built. Due to the great response so far, the hiring committee will begin reviewing applications early this month, so potential candidates should apply as soon as possible.

The Associate Director (AD) is a new leadership position. Under the direction of the Executive Director, the AD manages and enhances internal organization processes and infrastructure to ensure smooth and seamless operations that support CNPS’s ability to fulfill its mission. In the absence of the Executive Director, the AD assumes responsibility for directing the day to day operations of CNPS.

The AD provides key strategic leadership to the Executive Director (ED) by advising on issues of significant organizational importance and long-term sustainability. The AD is responsible for overseeing and monitoring financial practices, leading the budgeting process, managing human resources, and providing oversight of facilities and IT infrastructure. They will have broad latitude to shape this growing organization, including defining strategy and scoping/hiring new positions to help fulfill these important responsibilities. For the right person, one who sees how Californians can work together to celebrate and save our flora, this is a rare opportunity to make an enduring difference.

View the full job announcement here in a new tab.


Conservation: Projects on the Horizon; Veldt Grass Impact

Conservation Committee Update

November was  quiet  as  far  as  specific  projects  up  for   CNPS  review,  but  there  are  several conservation issues  growing  in   the  background  that  will  require  our  wary  eye.

Price Canyon Trail (Proposed)

I   attended  and  gave  input  to  a  scoping  meeting  for  a   proposed  trail  through  Price  Canyon  from  Edna  to  Pismo  Beach.  This  will  be  a  section  of  the  bi-­state   Anza  Trail,  and  would  have  to  pass  through  the  Arroyo   Grande  Oil  Field.  I  commented  against  sections  of  trail   that  went  through  relatively  undisturbed  oak  woodland  and  the  habitat  of  Pismo  clarkia  rather  than   staying  in  areas  that  are  currently  disturbed.  I  find   that  there  is  a  conflict  between  potential  trail  users   wanting  a  pleasant  “nature  experience”  and  the  need   of  nature  to  avoid  the  “human  experience”  as  much  as   possible.  The  SLO  Council  of  Governments  are  taking   the  lead,  and  at  this  time  there  is  no  money  for  any   trail  development  and  right-­of-­way  issues  are   significant.

Nipomo  Mesa

It  is  possible  that  the  rampant  development  that  has   destroyed  much  of  the  older  dune  surfaces  of  the   Nipomo  Mesa  might  slow,  due  to  newly  revealed issues  associated  with  water  supply.  The  Northern   Cities  Management  Area  (basically  the  Five  Cities   minus  Avila)  are  challenging  Nipomo  CSD’s  continued   issuance  of  building  permits  on  the  basis  that  the  CSD   is  intercepting  groundwater  that  would  normally   percolate  from  the  Santa  Maria  valley  toward  the   NCMA.    Recently  water  tables  in  the  area  are  dropping   to  the  extent  that  sea  water  intrusion  is  a  distinct   possibility.

Veldt  Grass Impact

A  circa  1970  photo  of  the  Nipomo  Mesa  oil  refinery   reveals  the  eucalyptus  groves  since  removed  for  the   Woodlands  Development  and  the  once  vibrant  dune   scrub  community  seen  above  and  below  the  tank   farm.  The  area  above  the  tank  farm  was  the  pride  of   the  ‘Dune  Mother’,  Kathleen  Goddard  Jones,  who   called  it  Wild  Almond  Meadows.  Dark  dune  shrubs   cover  the  land  in  1970  (left),  almost  vanished  in  the   Google  Earth  2013  image (right)  due  to  competition   with  veldt  grass  and  attempts  to  control  it  using livestock.veldt


David Chipping, Professor of Geology (Emeritus), Cal Poly State University David Chipping was educated at Cambridge, England and Stanford, California. His doctoral thesis addressed the displacements of rocks along the San Andreas fault and the configuration of ocean basins in to which the rocks were deposited. He is active on the Board of the San Luis Obispo Chapter of the California Native Plant Society and has served as the statewide Conservation Director for that organization. David is currently leading a joint project between CNPS-SLO and Friends of the Carrizo Plain to develop a photographic collection of the entire flora within the Carrizo Plain Monument.
Quercus Kelloggii

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 many species of oaks have been producing fewer and fewer offspring primarily due to habitat modification and outright habitat loss. They are also probably being impacted by rising temperatures due to global climate change. It is also important to remember that oaks have been extremely important in the history of the human race. Various oak species have provided food, cork, charcoal, and lumber. A few species still do.


Dried Leaf Retention in Black Oaks

The idea for the cover was hatched out of a statement made by Bonnie while we were traveling to Yosemite Valley just before Christmas. She remarked that the dry, brown leaves and black trucks of the Sierra black oak (Quercus kelloggii) made a beautiful counterpoint to the white snow. This got me to thinking about the advantages that might accrue to a tree to keep its old, dead, dry leaves until spring of the following year. I had noticed this same phenomenon first in the eastern black oak of my youth in Illinois (Quercus nigra). Two ideas came readily to mind. First, it might provide some advantage to the plant that would aid its survival in the Montane Mixed Coniferous Forest where the Sierra black oak most often occurs. Some herbaceous plants produce hard leaves (e.g., bracken fern, Pteridium aquilinum) that last through the winter; these have been shown to shade out seedlings of competing plants during early spring growth. Last season’s bracken leaves begin to break down shortly after the new, young shoots get a foot or so tall. However, it is hard for me to accept a similar explanation to account for trees retaining dead leaves. I can think of a number of disadvantages such as increasing wind resistance and holding more snow on the branches. Both should result in more broken branches.

Retaining dead leaves could merely be an artifact of its history. Its closest relatives are all evergreen oaks and include the island scrub oak (Q. parvula) and the coast and interior live oaks (Q. agrifolia and Q. wislizeni). This group of oaks is called the red or black oak group (Erythrobalanus) and differs from the other major group, the white oaks (Lepidobalanus), primarily by having the leaf veins extending beyond the margin of the leaf as fairly heavy, tawny bristles or spines, possessing dark gray to blackish smooth bark, having thin flat acorn scales, generally taking two years to mature their acorn (exception the coast live oak) and having reddish-brown wood.

A third group of oaks is also found in California and these possess characters in combinations not found in the two major groups. All three groups include species of evergreen and deciduous oaks, but, as far as I know, only the deciduous black oaks retain many of their dead leaves for so long a time period.

Could it merely be a trait indicating a relatively recent origin of deciduous habit from the more general evergreen habit of the group? If my memory serves me right, both eastern and Sierran black oak leaves seem thicker and more leathery than one would expect for a deciduous tree.

What about the advantage of flowering trees and shrubs from evergreen habit? Primarily it is due to the fact that the off season (cold and/or dry) is not always so cold and/ or dry as to preclude a leaf from functioning. There are short periods, even in the most severe of seasons, when conditions are favorable for metabolism and growth. Evergreen plants can take advantage of these short periods because their leaves are in place, whereas deciduous trees must forgo them since, by the time they could produce new leaves, the favorable period would have been long gone.

Of course, evergreen plants must pay the cost of maintaining and protecting these living leaves during times when conditions prevent them from functioning, a cost not required of deciduous trees and shrubs. In other words, whether a flowering tree or shrub is evergreen or deciduous depends on the balance between cost of maintaining non-functional leaves versus the gain from being able to take advantage of short periods of moderate conditions. Thus, evergreen flowering trees and shrubs tend toward coastal and/or low to mid elevations where severe conditions tend to be rare and of short duration. Evergreen conifers, on the other hand, are a different story which will have wait for another time.

Dirk Walters Illustration by Bonnie Walter

Prepare for a wet winter

Great News! Fall is here and the rains have finally started. There are so many things we could discuss this month but I would like to focus on how to prepare for what could be a very wet winter.

Manage erosion on slopes

Covering slopes with mulch would be a good idea.  There are basically two types of mulch out there. Some let rain water penetrate such as fresh tree chips, recycled wood chips, and walk on bark. Other mulches such as gorilla hair or cedar bark, hold water tightly and do not allow it to penetrate, hence stopping soil erosion. Just remember, if you have plants on a steep slope, remove gorilla hair two feet from around the plants’ trunks. This will allow rainwater to penetrate the area and water the plants’ roots. If your plans are to suppress weed growth on a level area, apply any other mulch four inches thick. It is not necessary to use gorilla hair. Remember to keep chips one foot away from trucks to prevent root rot.

Control water molds and root fungi

There’s a higher likelihood of having water borne pathogens affect drought-stricken plants during rainy months. These pathogens are easily spread by excess water so it’s important to remember that pooling water can spread a pathogen from a sick plant to a healthy one.  If you have any plants that appear to be dying from drought stress, you would be wise to not allow water to run or pool there. Come spring, if the plant appears to be completely dead remove it immediately. If green growth appears, wait and see if it recovers.

Prune for high winds

Winter storms usually bring quite a bit of wind. A tree’s or shrub’s branches  must allow the wind to pass threw or it will blow over. If you have any  plants in need of thinning, fall is a great time . The nights have gotten cooler and plants are starting to go dormant. Consult gardening books for tips on how to thin your trees and shrubs. The goal is to allow wind to penetrate and blow threw the branches without destroying the general shape of your tree or shrub.

From Suzette and me, thanks to all of you who came and volunteered at this year’s plant sale. We had a great time and we really appreciated your help.  Until I see you at our next meeting, Happy Gardening!

John Nowak

Become our next Newsletter Editor

Newsletter Editor

Our chapter is looking for a Newsletter Editor to create our chapter  newsletter, Obispoensis. If you like to write, edit and do a little page layout design, this position is perfect for you.

The newsletter is published eight times each year, monthly October through June except January. No previous experience is necessary.

Contact Bob Hotaling, or Bill Waycott,

Introducing Ramalina menziesii, the new California State Lichen

Introducing Ramalina menziesii, the new California State Lichen

Image By Jason Hollinger (Lace Lichen  Uploaded by Amada44) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


On July 15, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill designating lace lichen, Ramalina menziesii, the California State Lichen.

The law takes effect January 1, 2016, making California the first state to recognize a lichen as a state symbol. Lace lichen joins the California poppy as the state flower and the grizzly bear as the state animal.

The California Lichen Society promotes the appreciation, conservation, and study of California lichens, and has posted a beautiful article about our new state lichen on their website:

CALS sees this designation as an important step in increasing public awareness of the significant roles that lichens play in our natural environment. Calling attention to lichens by recognizing one of them as the California State Lichen creates an opportunity for us to learn about and celebrate the things that make California special.

Attend a Board Meeting

We Encourage Your Input at our Next Board Meeting

The Board of Directors of the CNPS San Luis Obispo Chapter will hold its bi-monthly meeting on November 19th, 2015 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm.

This meeting is held in the Pavilion at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, 3450 Dairy Creek Rd, SLO (located in Choro Regional Park across Hwy 1 from Cuesta College).

CNPS members are encouraged to attend the meeting to observe discussions and give input.

California’s Fall Colors

As one drives around in September, brilliant yellows, cheerful whites, subtle pinks, and even chartreuse greet us from bushes and roadsides. Except for the bright red leaves on Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobium, few of our lower elevation natives have the brilliant red, orange, and yellow leaves that festoon mountains and eastern areas, yet many of our fall flowers and leaves have their own unique if subtle charm. This is when our fall-blooming DYC’s come into their own.

Even the lowly Coyote Brush, Baccharis pilularis, one of the few dioecious, shrubby, non-showy composites that I know of, has its “Fifteen minutes (or 1-2 months) of fame.” The subtle yellow staminate flowers of the male plant, aka “Mr. Fuzzy-Wuzzy,” shine with pride, and are quite fragrant, especially in bright sunshine.

The white, powder-puff plumes and smaller blossoms of the female plants, aka “Mrs. Fuzzy-Wuzzy,” greet those who have the eyes to see them. This is indeed the season of yellow flowers. Prominent are the “diaspora” members of the Haplopappus genus, i.e., the various Golden Bushes, Hazardia, Ericameria, and Isocoma spp. The Mock Heather, Ericameria ericoides, looks as if its tops were spray painted. The tarweeds, Hemizonia, Centromadia, Deinandra, and Madia spp., Rabbit Brushes, Ericameria and Chrysothamnus spp., Goldenrods, Solidago spp., and Telegraph Weed, Heterotheca grandifolia, also greet the viewer.

White is represented by both flowers and plumes. Various Lessingia spp. bloom in the fall including one appearing late enough to be known as the “Christmas Daisy.” A few late-blooming Buckwheats, Eriogonum spp., Morning Glories, Calystegia spp., and Mexican Elderberries, Sambucus mexicana, are evident. The Dandelion-like plumes of the composites, the pheasant feather-like plumes of the Western Mountain Mahogany, Cercocarpus betuloides, and the fluffy plumes of the Cottonwoods, Populus spp., also liven the fall vegetation.

Pink is seen in the Twiggy and other Wreath Plants, Stephanomeria spp., maturing Buckwheats, Eriogonum spp., and the ubiquitous Naked Ladies, Amaryllis belladonna. But chartreuse?  This is found in the rare but, in places, locally abundant Seaside Birdsbeak, Cordylanthus rigidus ssp. littoralis. A spectacular display can be seen on State Route 1 between Vandenberg Village and Allan Hancock College, where Deer Creek crosses the highway. Ah yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

As plant lovers we should not only see our subtle fall beauty, but should be sharing this vision with others. Check Field Trips for our mid-October Burton Mesa Chaparral tour at the La Purisima Mission.

— Charlie Blair

Water Issues

October was, thank goodness, another quiet month as far as development project review was concerned.

I attended and gave input to in what appeared to be an interesting project being conducted by the Corps of Engineers concerning coast erosion and beach sand management along the coast, and supposedly issues such as rising sea level. This is being performed on behalf of the SLO Council of Governments. My disappointment cannot be overstated. I was present at scoping meetings a year ago, and now find a year later that they have paid no attention to  the effects of rising sea level on habitat and people around Morro Bay, and when I asked about their consultation with the National Estuary Program, their people didn’t even know we had such a program, or that the Corps did studies on sedimentation in Morro Bay. In their economic evaluation they considered only the economic value of beach attendance by the public and not erosion and stuff like the possible long-term risk to coastal properties. No wonder New Orleans flooded.

In other water related issues, the continued downward trends on the elevation of the groundwater surface along the coast south of Pismo Beach may be close to putting the groundwater-­ supported coastal lakes such as Black Lake at risk. The once-impressive peat wetlands of Black Lake Canyon just east of Highway 1 were drained and destroyed in the  1980s as springs dried up, and now the fate of the other wetlands is in question. I mention this as water use in the Nipomo Mesa area and the allocation of groundwater is becoming the subject of litigation between water management agencies.

David Chipping, Professor of Geology (Emeritus), Cal Poly State University David Chipping was educated at Cambridge, England and Stanford, California. His doctoral thesis addressed the displacements of rocks along the San Andreas fault and the configuration of ocean basins in to which the rocks were deposited. He is active on the Board of the San Luis Obispo Chapter of the California Native Plant Society and has served as the statewide Conservation Director for that organization. David is currently leading a joint project between CNPS-SLO and Friends of the Carrizo Plain to develop a photographic collection of the entire flora within the Carrizo Plain Monument.

Get Involved with CNPS-SLO

There’s no time like the present to volunteer for a role with CNPS. There are several possibilities to help you find your niche within this awesome group of people. Here are some of the things going on in our chapter.

  • The annual plant sale, for people who like to talk to the public and encourage them to use native plants. To be held Saturday, November 7 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Pacific Beach High School, next to Target on Los Osos Valley Road, in San Luis Obispo. Contact John Nowak (
  • The rare plant monitoring group, for people who have time to help find rare, and sometimes rarely seen, native species, and keep tabs on their development.  Contact David Keil (
  • The plant propagation group, for people who like to tinker with native seeds and plant propagation. Contact Bill Waycott (
  • The Sudden Oak Death fungus assessment team, for people who are concerned about plant pathogens that attack native plants on the central coast.  Contact Lauren Brown (
  • The Hoover Herbarium volunteer group at Cal Poly, for people who want to really get into the details of our local flora.  Contact Jenn Yost (
  • The plant conservation committee, for people who are keen to monitor environmental policies, insuring they are fair, accurate, and transparent.  Contact: David Chipping (
  • The San Luis Creek at the Mission Plaza restoration project, for people who want to see local native landscapes in our communities.  Contact Bill Waycott (
  • The Website and Facebook group, for people who are creative and familiar with social media.  Contact Judi Young (
  • The public outreach group, for people who like to meet the public and help set up the booth with books, pamphlets, and CNPS apparel.  Contact Linda Chipping (
  • The native plant photography group, for people who want to document the plants and habitats of this area, as well record the effects of climate change over time.  Contact Marlin Harms (

Also, there are a few positions open needing your involvement:

  • Chapter Secretary (if interested in taking on this important role for our chapter, please contact Jim Johnson –
  • Hospitality coordinator and Newsletter editor (if interested in taking on either of these fun-filled tasks, please contact Bill Waycott (

Be sure to signup for our electronic announcements via email using the green form on the right of this screen.

Bill Waycott, President of the San Luis Obispo chapter of the California Native Plant Society
Native Plants in the Landscape – November 2015 Meeting

Native Plants in the Landscape – November 2015 Meeting

Native Plants in the Landscape – Cultivating the natural beauty of the Central Coast

This is a photographic tour of California Native Plant use in the landscapes of Madrone Landscapes over the last 38 years.

Madrone Landscapes has been designing, installing and maintaining gardens throughout San Luis Obispo County, emphasizing California Native plant use, since 1977.  Rick Mathews is founder and president of Madrone Landscapes, Design-Build Maintenance firm, based in Atascadero.

As a landscape contractor for nearly four decades, Mathews has incorporated the use of California native plants since the 1970s. The wisdom of this approach has repeatedly become apparent, through several drought cycles. Madrone continues to favor natives in their designs, as this presentation will convey.

Thursday, November 5, 2015, 7:00 p.m. Meet at the Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo.

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


Registration page for Landscaping with Natives Workshop

Reserve your spot and register using your credit card by clicking this link:


Alternatively, you can print out this form and send it with your check to our treasurer.



Gardening in deer-prone areas

This article helps you determine if you have a low, moderate, or high level of “browse” and suggests the appropriate methods for combating the problem.

Also included is a  brief list of plants that have shown some success when gardening in deer-prone areas.


Planning for the Plant Sale

Planning for the Plant Sale

Now that summer is almost over, the long dry days and warm nights will give way to cool crisp mornings and as autumn approaches . . . The Plant Sale. (more…)

A long, hot summer

A long, hot summer

Conservation Updates

Summer has been quiet, thank goodness, concerning large threats to native plants. The drought and associated water restrictions are smothering a lot of development plans, at least for the moment.

Topaz Solar Plant


Rare Plant Program – Mona Robison

Rare Plant Program – Mona Robison

Dear SLO rare plant enthusiast:

SLO County will have a visitor from the CNPS state office, Mona Robison.  She was recently hired by CNPS to coordinate the State’s Rare Plant program (see attachment).  Prior to CNPS, Mona has had a rich and diverse involvement with CA native plants. (more…)

CNPS Chapter Council Meeting – 30 and 31 May 2015, Quincy, CA

CNPS Chapter Council Meeting – 30 and 31 May 2015, Quincy, CA

Chapter Council meetings are held quarterly at locations somewhere in California/Baja California. They are attended by interested members and the public. Designated representatives from each of the thirty-five Chapters attend, as do the directors of the board, officers, CNPS staff, and interested members. (more…)

Mission Plaza – San Luis Creek Restoration Project

Mission Plaza – San Luis Creek Restoration Project

Earlier this year, SLO city officials approached CNPS with the idea of restoring the deteriorated riparian habitat, which runs through the downtown adjacent to the Mission Plaza, with California native species. Our local chapter has embraced this project with great enthusiasm. (more…)