Los Osos Draft Habitat Conservation Plan (DHCP)

Los Osos Draft Habitat Conservation Plan (DHCP)

CNPS has concerns about the estimated impacts to Morro manzanita that are described in the DHCP. On Table 4-1, page 4-37, the impact of development on residential parcels greater than 1 acre is given as 1 acre per parcel. However the area within the DHCP includes core manzanita habitat south, east and west of the southern edge of the Cabrillo Estates subdivision. The DHCP shows no recognition that this parcel was the target of a large scale subdivision in 1998. This was Vesting Tentative Tract Map 1873, which was approved by the SLO County Board of Supervisors, but defeated on appeal by CNPS and others to the California Coastal Commission, which recognized that area as ESHA (Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area).

The 1998 project was described as the division of 124 acres into 41 residential lots and 3 open space lots, the latter totaling 88 acres, and therefore indicating that the 41 lots and roads would consume 124-88 = 36 acres. The 1996 subdivision described the developable envelope and associated buffer for each lot as being limited to 20,000 sq.ft., with a cumulative footprint of 18.82 acres. When fire clearances are considered at the Wildland-Urban Interface, acreage impacts are more severe. Manzanita is considered flammable by fire departments, and vegetation clearances of a minimum of 50 feet, and as much as 100 feet could remove as much as 1.5 acres of the plant around a single lot.

It must be remembered that this was actually approved by the Board of Supervisors, and only stopped at the Coastal Commission as a violation of the local coastal plan’s protection of an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA).

We have some other concerns as well. The DHCP requires a fee to be paid into a conservation fund by anyone seeking to ‘take’ of a covered species. The other species are Indian Knob mountain balm, whose populations are already protected, and two animals, the Morro Bay kangaroo rat and the Banded dune snail. The idea is to spend the collected funds on habitat enhancement, such as veldt grass removal, and the purchase of mitigation lands. One of the problems is that there are plenty of people ready to pay fees as the cost of doing business, but willing sellers of mitigation lands are hard to find. In addition, most of the core manzanita habitat is in pretty good shape, although becoming senescent, so that there is really not much mitigation that can be done, and for the manzanita, the DHCP appears to be a negative-sum game. The DHCP appears to underestimate the impacts to the plant, particularly as the protection of federally listed plants is weak relative to that of animals, and that could dictate where limited mitigation funds will be spent.

I can send you a copy of the DHCP if you email me at <dchippin@calpoly.edu>. The files can be downloaded from the Ventura office of the U.S. Fish and Wildflife Service <https://www.fws.gov/ventura/>. Comments are accepted up to November 18th.

Wildland Fire Buffers

The impact on plant communities due to mandated vegetation clearance at the Wildland-Urban Interface appears to be extremely variable, even along individual sites such as the pine forest in Cambria. In some areas we have been told that all small trees and shrubs were removed, and in others they were selectively preserved. CNPS urges members to photograph treatment areas, so that we can better estimate the long term ecological effects.

David Krause took these photos of untreated (left) and treated (right) areas in Cambria. Clearly the ‘fire ladder’ has been reduced, lessening the chance of crown fires, but wildlife habitat has been eliminated.

A larger need for conservation and protection

President’s notes – October 2019

As a passionate supporter of California’s native plants, from within my heart I often hear a voice that calls me towards the greater humanitarian perspective, one that encompasses an even larger need for conservation and protection. Here are the opening remarks made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on December 11th, 1964, as a call to acknowledge this greater perspective.

“This evening I would like to use this lofty and historic platform to discuss what appears to me to be the most pressing problem confronting mankind today. Modern man has brought this whole world to an awe-inspiring threshold of the future. He has reached new and astonishing peaks of scientific success. He has produced machines that think and instruments that peer into the unfathomable ranges of interstellar space. He has built gigantic bridges to span the seas and gargantuan buildings to kiss the skies. His airplanes and spaceships have dwarfed distance, placed time in chains, and carved highways through the stratosphere.

This is a dazzling picture of modern man’s scientific and technological progress. Yet, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer
we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers (and sisters).
The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation.”

Bill Waycott

Ethnobotany Notes: Catalina Cherry

What should I plant in my yard this fall before the rains begin? People are often asking me this. I like to consider what Doug Tallamy told us at the CNPS state conservation conference a couple of years ago about planting trees and shrubs that are foraging hubs for insects and birds. He mentioned several genera that fed lots of caterpillars, which in turn feed lots of birds.

cherryOne of these was the genus Prunus. You may recognize this as a fruit tree genus including cherries, apricots, plums, and peaches. It attracts butterflies, bees, and pollinating flies. One of my favorites is the Prunus lyonii, or Catalina cherry. It has beautiful green foliage, is drought tolerant, and according to Las Pilitas nursery, it tolerates clay soils well. It is closely related to the native shrub called Islay (Prunus ilicifolia). Islay was harvested for the kernels inside of the pit. Jan Timbrook notes in Chumash Ethnobotany that one hat of islay was worth two hats of acorns.

The kernel of the cherry needs to be removed from the pit (you may eat the thin skin of fruit in the process if it is ripe first). Then you must boil the kernels and rinse the water several times, then smash the kernels and then leach like acorns to remove the cyanide that naturally occurs in the kernels. Since the native Islay was not available at the time, I decided to try this with the Catalina cherry growing in my Mom’s yard. (Catalina cherry is used in the horticultural trade and can be bought and planted easily). I gathered the pits that had accumulated on the ground, cracked them open, boiled and leached the kernels, then made little balls out of them. They kind of tasted like cooked beans, bland but nutritious. My curiosity was satisfied. I’m not crazy about the kernels as food, but I love the shrub with its gorgeous bright green foliage. The pictures below are from Morro Bay State park where it was planted between the campsites.

As I am writing this, I am thinking about the fact that we have our annual native plant sale coming up on November 2. I have been planting the plants that I have written about over the last year in my own garden, and I hope that you find some that will be perfect for yours as well. I’ll see you there on November 2.

Cathy Chambers

Safe Insect Repellents

The Garden Corner

Spider mites, aphids, thrips, oh my! Sadly, along with fall colors comes an invasion of these pesky insects. And trust me, when it comes to bugs, things can go south real fast! Fall’s warm weather, often times referred to as “The Indian Summer”, creates the perfect condition for these destructive creatures to explode overnight. Before you know it, there could be a full fledged war happening in your backyard. Luckily I have some tricks up my sleeve to keep these bugs at bay.

Now there’s a few things to keep in mind when it comes to repelling insects. This first thing to remember is that you’ll never be able to kill every single bug. Not to worry though, plants are able to tolerate a few insects here and there. Secondly, it’s highly important to be mindful of bees. The rule is: When flowers are present, there’s likely to be bees present. That’s why fall is an optimal time to spray for pests, as most plants are in a somewhat dormant state waiting for the winter rain.

When the bugs attack, the first thing I’d recommend is Neem oil. This organic pest repellent is made from the seeds of the Neem tree, and available at most nursery centers. Neem oil works by covering the insects’ breathing holes, and is also effective against leaf fungi on manzanita and toyon. Next on the list are soap sprays. I would suggest a simple soap spray made of potassium salts, which like Neem oil, smothers the bugs’ breathing holes. Lastly is Bacillus thuringiensis. This spray works exclusively on caterpillar insects like the ones that eat oak trees, and should only be applied in the evenings as it breaks down in the sunlight.
I hope this gave you a bit of insight on how to prepare for Fall’s creepy crawlers. Until next time, happy gardening! If you have any questions, please contact me at: gritlys@gmail.com

-John Nowak

Chapter Meeting “Can you be a  Sprouting Pine Nut”

NikkiPlease join us on Thursday November 7 for a talk titled “Can you be a Sprouting Pine Nut?” about a plant community with some notoriety in our neck of the woods: Monterey Pine Forest. The story isn’t about the trees, which seem to grow everywhere in the California landscape and are found around the world in vast plantations – the story is about the natural Monterey Pine Forests of the Central Coast and the biological, economic and inspirational values these plant communities sustain. Nikki is a Central Coast native who will share the ecological story about Monterey Pine Forests and how a small group of pine enthusiasts in Carmel came together nearly 30 years ago to advocate for the conservation of native forest habitat.

Nikki Nedeff is a Monterey County native with an enduring love of wild places and open spaces. Her professional experience spans more than three decades with non-profit conservation organizations and public resource management agencies in land acquisition and stewardship positions. Nikki’s academic background includes degrees in Biogeography from UC Berkeley, where her graduate work focused on riparian plant ecology. She teaches plant community ecology each spring at California State University Monterey Bay and works with the Big Sur Land Trust as Associate Director of Conservation. Email: nikki@ventanaview.net

Clarkia unguiculata (Elegant Clarkia)

Clarkia unguiculata (Elegant Clarkia)

About the Artwork: The plant on the cover of this issue of the Obispoensis is the elegant clarkia or mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata). It’s another drawing by Mardi Niles, using Prismacolor Verithin color pencils. When I first saw Mardi’s work, they were a fantastic study of the development of an inflorescence and the opening of flowers. I remember them as pencil sketches. Later, I saw them as beautiful finished watercolors. Unfortunately, our mailed chapter newsletter often has a grey-scale print on the cover.

Now let’s talk about elegant clarkia. It gets that name because its flowers are beautiful (and elegant) and the plant stands tall (up to 3 feet or more) which adds to its elegance. As can be seen, the 4 petals have an unusual shape. They have a long, narrow base and a broad triangular tip. Botanists call this shape ‘spatulate’. The sepals are fused into a disk that’s attached below the attachment of the 8 stamens. Note that only four of the stamens look like normal, functioning stamens with large anthers and the other four have tiny anthers. I don’t know if they have any function or not. Note the single flower bud shown in the picture. It is deflexed or has its tip pointing downward. This is an important character used to separate groups of species in the genus, Clarkia.

C. unguiculata

Photo of Cal Poly herbarium sheets C. unguiculata with calyx and
ovary bearing long spreading hairs

Elegant clarkia is endemic to California where it ranges throughout the foothills of the Coast and Sierra Nevada ranges. It seems to be rare or absent away from hills. The distribution map for the species in California resembles a big ‘O’ with the Central Valley inside the ‘O’. I find that the easiest place to find elegant clarkia growing is on roadsides, especially roadsides passing through hilly country. It is especially noticeable growing with thistle sage at Shell Creek.

Dr. Keil’s SLO County Flora (in preparation) will be recognizing a close relative of the Clarkia ungiculata, C. tembloriensis. C. tembloriensis, as its name implies was probably described from plants growing in Temblor Range. Dr. Robert F. Hoover, in the original San Luis Obispo County Flora, has a relatively long discussion of the two species that ends in his concluding that the two species intergrade so much in eastern San Luis Obispo County that it would not be productive to try and separate them. Well, we’ll have to wait to read what Dr. Keil has to say about them when his new County Flora is available.

Elegant clarkia makes a wonderful addition to a native plant garden; especially in a flower bed set aside for annuals. I first became acquainted with the plant in Ralph Baker’s Shell Beach front yard Ralph was the acting Chapter President when I joined the Chapter back in 1970. It was Ralph’s clarkias that inspired me to see if it would grow for me despite my very brown thumb. Since it is said to grow readily from seed, I obtained my first seed at a Chapter Plant Sale many years ago. Today, it now grows luxuriantly in my front yard in San Luis Obispo adobe clay despite most of my horticultural sources recommending well drained soils. Seed from my adobe grown plants were at the SEED EXCHANGE set up before our October Meeting and will also be available at the upcoming PLANT SALE the first Saturday in November.


C. tembloriensis

Photos of Cal Poly herbarium sheet showing C. tembloriensis with calyx and ovary with tiny little hairs

Claytonia perfoliata (Miner’s Lettuce)

Claytonia perfoliata (Miner’s Lettuce)

Heather Johnson has a new watercolor for us to use on the cover of this issue of Obispoensis. One might ask what is the origin of the practice of putting a different plant on the cover of each Obispoensis issue? It all started with the founder of our CNPS chapter, Dr. Robert Hoover. At the beginning of the first CNPS chapter meeting I ever attended (Fall, 1969) Dr. Hoover got up and made a presentation of what he called the “Plant of the Month.” It turned out the plant he chose to discuss was not a native plant or to even be known to exist in the wild. He discussed Franklinia alatamaha or Franklin Tree, a plant that had been collected and described from Georgia during Colonial times but after exhaustive searches hadn’t been found since. Why did he talk about a plant extinct in the wild? It had just appeared on a newly published United States postage stamp!

However, Heather’s cover watercolor is of a plant found throughout California as well as all the surrounding states. One or more of its varieties spread north into British Columbia and South all the way to Central America. The plant is seen on practically every spring field trip, but I’m reluctant to call it common. I prefer to think of it as widespread. Miner’s lettuce prefers shaded, moist, disturbed areas. It tends to be common during the rainy season and spotty other times. In the early spring, when there’s still lots of surface water, it can be found just about anywhere. I have a picture from the Shell Creek area of it growing in the crotch of a blue oak tree.

I also suspect everyone who has any experience with native plants, especially edible native plants, already knew what it is. Yes, it’s most commonly identified around the central coast as miner’s lettuce (Claytonia (Montia) perfoliata). In a book entitled Edible Wild Plants (originally, 1939) by Oliver P. Medsger, that has been in my library since my childhood, has also been called Indian lettuce, or Spanish lettuce and in Europe it’s cultivated under the name of winter purslane. All these names refer to use as a spring green. I suspect the name, miner’s lettuce, is the most recent and probably dates back only to the mid-1800s when California was over-run with miners looking for gold. I also am sure the miner’s diet was mostly tubers, grain, legumes with some meat and whisky. All of these ‘foods’ lacked enough required vitamins and minerals which would have been amply supplied by grabbing a handful of miner’s lettuce leaves on the way to a stream to pan for gold.

Heather’s watercolor is only of a couple of flowering stems which produce the leaves that were used to coin the second part of the scientific name – perfoliata. The situation where a leaf blade base appears to be passed through (perforated) by its stem is said to be perfoliate. The regular leaves are all basal and form a mound a few inches high and wide. Each basal leaf is modestly succulent and is in the shape of the spatula from your kitchen. It has a long tapering base and broad squarish or egg-shaped tip. I suspect it’s these basal leaves that were eaten.

You may also have noticed that there are two possible generic names for this plant – Claytonia and Montia. So, which is the correct genus? Also, if you go to older floras and wildflower books you will find that its botanical family seems to have changed from Portulaccaceae to Montiaceae. The name currently valid according the Jepson Manual, 2nd Ed. Is Claytonia perfoliata and is placed in the Montiaceae family. According to the Jepson Manual, the change in genus and family is referenced to a paper published in 2006. This means that the change is probably based on modern DNA sequence data as well as new technical descriptive data which was then organized using current computer classification techniques. The Jepson Manual also noted that some of the characters used required a microscope with 20X magnification which most of us don’t have. This procedure resulted in miner’s lettuce (along with a couple of other species) being moved from the genus, Montia, to the genus Claytonia which included several species of spring beauties. The remaining species in Montia remained in Montia and a new family was created for them – Montiaceae. Why didn’t the species name (perfoliata) change when the species was moved to a new genus? This is due to another rule of Botanical Nomenclature. When a species is moved from one genus to another, the species epithet moves with it unless the species epithet already exists in the new genus. If it does, the mover must come up with a new name for the species in its new location. Since the epithet, perfoliata, didn’t already exist in Claytonia, the epithet moved with miner’s lettuce’s scientific name to its new location. This rule helps keep track of name changes.

-Dirk Walters

Claytonia perfoliata, Miner’s Lettuce; original watercolor by Heather Johnson

Italian Thistle (Carduus pycnocephalus)

Invasive Species Report

A member of the Asteraceae family, Italian thistle is an annual herb native to the Mediterranean region and is widespread in California, Oregon and Washington, however it is not found east of the Sierra Nevada. It was accidentally introduced into United States (Batra et al. 1981) and California (Goeden 1974) in the 1930s. Robbins (1940) reports it as early as 1912 near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. It forms a deep taproot and prefers fertile, well drained soils but is found in disturbed areas, roadsides, pastures, meadows and grasslands. It dominates sites and crowds out native species and discourages wildlife from entering infested areas. It grows well in oak savanna and can carry grass fires to tree canopies. Although Italian thistle can grow to over six feet it is usually knee high and is often present in clusters. Its leaves are white-woolly below, hairless-green above and deeply cut into two to five pairs of spiny lobes. Stems are slightly winged. The thimble-sized flower heads in pastel shades of rose, pink to purple flowers are clustered in groups of two to five are covered with densely matted, cobwebby hairs. Italian thistle is bisexual and a single plant can produce 20,000 seeds in one season (Wheatley and Collett 1981). Its light seeds are spread by lodging (bent or broken stems in contact with the ground), wind, vehicles, and animals and also may spread from seed-contaminated hay and soil from infested quarries. To remove Italian thistle dig them out 2-4 inches below the soil before flowering. Mowing is a waste of time, in fact, plants cut 4 days after flowering can still produce viable seed. Italian thistle seedbank may last up to 10 years. Intensive grazing by sheep and goats is effective. A pre-emergent and growth regulator such as Milestone is one of the most effective herbicides for thistles and generally does not harm grass. Did I say don’t touch Italian thistle? Wow does it hurt! Use your thickest gloves!

-Mark Skinner: Invasive Species Chair

New Operating Guidelines Approved by the Chapter Board


Oh boy! An article about the changes we made to the Bylaws! How exciting! (snore….) Below is a brief summary of the changes made to the Bylaws, and the main change is that the “Bylaws” are now called “Operating Guidelines.” The Board approved these on May 13, 2019, and we hope the membership will follow with approval in November.

Article I: We added reference to the Statewide CNPS organization being a 501 (c) 3 organization, with Bylaws; we added the Mission of the  Society; and added the geographical area of the SLO Chapter.

Article II: Made grammatical changes; Added a purpose, which is: to regulate Chapter affairs such that they are compatible with the Society’s articles of incorporation and bylaws; and added two objectives:

  • Increasing public awareness of the importance of California’s native flora through public education;
  • Contributing to the Society’s governance by selecting a delegate to the Chapter Council;

Article III: No changes

Article IV: Section 4 and 5 regarding Nomination and Elections moved to Article IX and revised.

Article V: Officers. Clarified the duties of the President, namely, that the President is the primary representative of the Chapter in negotiations with other organizations, unless this representation is expressly delegated to another Board member. Added duties to the Secretary’s position of ensuring the posting of minutes to the administrative file. Clarified and added to the duties of the Treasurer, including maintaining the financial accounts of the Chapter.

Article VI. Board. Changed “Executive Board” to “Chapter Board”; Added reference to “Individual Contributors”; Changed the notice for meetings of the Chapter Board from 5 days to 7 days.

Article VII. Standing and Ad Hoc Committees: This section was revised considerably, both in terms of format and content. We defined standing and ad hoc committees, named 7 standing committees (and at least 4 ad hoc), and clarified the responsibilities of each committee. There was extensive discussion about what our major emphasis was, and will be in the future, and we decided to split up the former committees into key standing committees and recognize the work of Individual Contributors, with the goal being to be as inclusive as possible in the makeup of the Board.

New Section: Article VIII. Individual Contributors. We clarified the responsibilities of these important roles that tend to be carried out by individuals as opposed to committees.

Article IX. Nomination. We attempted to clarify the steps in the Nomination and Election process.

Added Article X. Limitation of Authority. No member of the Board binds the Chapter without Board approval.

Lastly, text relating to Chapter Status and Commitments was removed as obsolete.

-Melissa Mooney


October Seed Exchange

The summer has flown. It seems like I was just admiring the blooms on my Clarkia. Now their seeds are in little packages ready for the seed exchange and I am on to watching the blossoms on my many Eriogonums. I am waiting for the seeds to ripen so those can end up in bags for the exchange as well. In between I have been collecting from Chlorogalum, Ceanothus, Sage, Sidalcea, Silene and numerous other plants.

I hope many of you have enjoyed watching the progression on your plants and that you are capturing that last stage of seed maturity before they disperse. Some of the plants that I have been nurturing out back that I am hoping to get in the ground this fall were from seeds that I obtained at our last seed exchange.

Think about what you hope to find at the seed exchange. What is that plant that you just can’t get at the nursery or our plant sale? Some of our members may be growing it at home and contributing seed to the exchange. Think about what you can contribute. As always you are welcome to take seed without contributing anything. The purpose of the seed exchange is to encourage the growing and planting of our native plants. Seed will not be sold at the exchange but extra seed may be packaged up for sale at our plant sale in November.

Cindy Gaulin has agreed to take on the set up for the sale this year. Seed may be brought in bulk, preferably cleaned but not absolutely necessary. We ask that seed be identified with Genus and species, location found and that it only come from California natives. Please bring a picture of the plant because not all of us recognize plant names, Latin or common. There will be empty seed packets available.

I hope to see you there at the Veteran’s Memorial Building on October 3rd from 6 to 7 pm before the chapter meeting.

-Marti Rutherford

Building a Chapter Photo Collection

Our chapter would like to have a high quality photo of every species in our county, as will be described in Dr. David Keil’s Flora.
We would like as many pictures as possible to be usable both for scientific purposes and for use in digital media, and as such we
would like to be the owners of the photos under copyright. All photo donations would retain and post the name of the
photographer in any use. Most photos found via CalFlora cannot be used in any item for sale, such as digital or printed books. If
you would like to donate, we can start with these species of Amaranthus: A. blitoides, A. californicus, A. hybridus and A. palmeri.
Send photos to David Chipping dchippin@calpoly.edu.

Plant Sale Announcement + Volunteers Needed

Plant Sale Announcement + Volunteers Needed

With November fast approaching, it’s time once again to ask for volunteers for the plant sale. With last year’s relief from the long-standing drought,
hopes are high for another rainy season. I have gone back and looked at rain records based from San Francisco and they show that normally after a drought ends California has two to three years of normal to almost normal rainfall. So keeping this in mind, fall is a great time to plant natives. Tell your friends and neighbors to mark the first Saturday of November (Nov. 2nd) as the plant sale.

As you might guess the plant sale is one of our biggest fundraisers and is run totally on volunteer help. I have many jobs from hard to easy, depending on your abilities, so please contact me at gritlys@gmail.com if you are interested in volunteering. Hours for set-up are from 7am to 9am, plant sale from 9am to 2pm, and clean-up from 2pm to 3pm. Early helpers get first pick on plants. But you are likely to get free plants if you help at clean-up. Those who want to just come and watch, that is fine too. The more the merrier.

In addition to plants, we will have a huge selection of books, posters, t-shirts, native plant seeds; great for early Christmas shopping! Suzette and I look forward to seeing you all at our October meeting.

John and Suzette, Plant Sale co-Chairpersons.

Email updates, the August meeting, and the CNPS Fire Recovery Guide

Sign up for Email Updates

Here is a brief organizational request. I had a telephone conversation with long time members after our August meeting and the presentation on landscaping with fire resistant natives. I mentioned I did not see them at the meeting and emphasized how pertinent the information was for those of us living in rural and suburban communities. Their immediate response to my comments were “What meeting? I didn’t know there was a meeting.” At that point, I proceeded to explain that a simple request for information via our website (www.cnpsslo.org) would give them access to semi-monthly updates via e-mail, from our chapter, and would have alerted them to the existence of our August meeting. So, for those who rely on the paper edition of the newsletter for all your chapter information, you are missing announcements to members throughout the year available only on computer, tablet and/or smartphone.  To request receipt of these updates, open our chapter’s website (www.cnpsslo.org) Home Page, then scroll down until you see the green box on the right hand side, opposite the calendar. Type in your name and e-mail address and check “subscribe”, and you will be listed to receive the chapter updates.

August Meeting with Greg Rubin

For those who missed the August meeting, Greg Rubin gave a detailed presentation on landscaping with fire resistant natives. Of particular note, he mentioned several times that a native garden/landscape surrounding a structure should not be a pure, undisturbed native setting, but rather a well-managed native planting. The critical take-home point here is that a straight, undisturbed chaparral landscape is ten times more likely to ignite than a well-spaced, infrequently hydrated, low growing native landscape.

Regarding structural considerations, he made these points:

  • no plants up against a structure
  • leave an unplanted “apron” around any structure
  • all windows should be double glazed and metal framed
  • all eaves should be enclosed
  • roofs should be made of non-flammable materials

Regarding planting considerations, he made these points:

  • 75% of the plants are perennial and evergreen, 25% can be color spots which bloom at different times of the year
  • use infrequent, overhead irrigation (not drip) every 7-10 days, similar to the effect of a light rain occurrence
  • leave healthy spaces between plants, and make liberal use of rocks and paths
  • use well-compacted “gorilla hair” (finely separated redwood bark) as mulch, which when compacted will not burn

Regarding a list of recommended native species, he gave this short list with a Southern California focus:

  • Summer Holly (Comarostaphylis diversifolia)
  • Channel Island Ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus)
  • Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea)
  • Howard McMinn and Sunset manzanitas (Arctostaphylos sp.)
  • Pigeon Point Baccharis (Baccharis pilularis)
  • Blue Jeans, Frosty Blue, and Joyce Coulter Ceanothus
  • Santa Cruz Island Buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens)
  • Wayne Roderick Daisy (Erigeron “WR”)
  • California fuchsia (Epilobium canum)

CNPS Fire Recovery Guide

The CNPS state office has just released the second edition of the Fire Recovery Guide. This extensive guidebook is a treasure trove of information for Californians living in the rural and suburban areas of the state, like the communities of the Central Coast. The guide can be downloaded and a hard copy of the guide can be obtained via the state website at cnps.org.

I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the August meeting and so we plan to repeat the event in the years to come. Please make sure you have signed up to receive chapter updates via the website to stay informed.

-Bill Waycott


Conservation Notes

There has not been a lot of progress on the two large projects of greatest immediate concern. Chapter members attended several meetings, one of which was at the Coastal Commission, on plans to build a southern access to Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area. There is zero indication that State Parks is changing it’s mind concerning building a campground and access roads adjacent to Oso Flaco Lake and its special, protected dune and wetland habitat. When the Environmental Impact Report is released, we will have greater opportunity to comment. The other issue, the large development at the mouth of Froom Creek at the Los Osos Valley Rd/ Hwy 101 junction, is having issues with wetland protection, and we are still awaiting an EIR on that.

The Garden Corner Oct 2019

As we march closer to fall, it’s time to think about preparing our landscape for the upcoming rains, cold nights and of course weeds. I thought it would also be a good time to think about tearing out overgrown shrubs and trees to replace them with new plants or the same thing.

Our chapter has always targeted our plant sale for November because it is the best time to plant with the winter rains coming, hopefully. But in a perfect world we can expect rains in January through March. So, what to do? Well, here are a couple of thoughts.

First, its time to take a walk through the garden and look closely at what you have already. Are you happy? Are some plants old and need to be replaced? Take a note pad with you and write down your thoughts. Sometimes I like to do this after work, when I’m feeling relaxed. I look at the yard and think to myself, “What would look really cool here?” This could take weeks, but knowing that the rains are coming, now is the time to, as my Dad used to say ‘Johnny, put your nose to the grindstone’. Second, prepare for the weeds, and this is best done by mulching. There are so many ways to mulch and there are some articles that say mulch can encourage weeds. In my experience, when mulch is applied too thin it is ineffective. A thick layer of three inches will put an end to most annual weeds. Perennials, such as Bermuda grass, will not be controlled with mulch, sorry. Further, it’s important to keep an eye on pests. Many pests will show up when you least expect them. I’m going straight to Neem oil now, with a soap spray every other treatment; very effective for spider mites, thrips and aphids. For loopers, which are prone to attack oaks, I use Bacillus thuringiensis. Spray at night, because it breaks down in the sun. It only controls loopers; therefore, it won’t hurt other insects.

This brings me to my last point. Whenever we spray in the garden, even with Neem oil that is totally organic, we need to watch for bees. If you see bees, the rule is to not spray. Spray late in the day when the bees have returned to their hives. I’ve covered a lot. So until next time, Happy Gardening.

– John Nowak, Plant Sale Chairperson.

Landscaping with California Native Plants

Landscaping with California Native Plants

Saturday, October 12, 2019, 9am – 1pm

The workshop is full and registration is closed. Please send an email to the organizers if you wish to be added to the wait list. You will be contacted by October 4 if space becomes available.

Email address melster@charter.net

This CNPS-SLO chapter workshop will provide a short lecture followed by field trips to local native plant gardens.

Learn about:

  • Which plants tend to be available and work well
  • Selecting appropriate plants based on site conditions
  • Plant/soil relationships
  • Learn from local landscapers and gardeners

Morning refreshments and coffee will be provided.

Class size is limited and advanced registration is required. 

Registration ends October 4th, 2019. Cost is $30 for members and $40 for non-members. We will meet at UC Cooperative Extension (2156 Sierra Way # C, San Luis Obispo) for the lecture and first garden tour. Other garden tours will be at native plant enthusiasts’ homes in SLO. Questions? Please email David Krause dkincmbria@aol.com

Please arrive by 8:45 for check-in and breakfast refreshments. Participants are encouraged to bring a sack lunch to enjoy at the last tour stop.



Fire resistant species for residential landscape designs

CNPS will hold its first-ever meeting in August, on Thursday, August 1st, at the SLO Vets’ Hall at 7:00 pm. The Greg Rubinfeatured speaker will Greg Rubin, an expert in native residential landscape design with special emphasis on fire resistant species.  Greg will talk on his experience in Southern California, working in chaparral ecosystems.  He will present the current approach to best practices for fire-safe plant selection and placement in suburban environs.

Greg Rubin, President and Founder of California’s Own Native Landscape Design, Inc. is a licensed landscape contractor who has worked with California native plants since 1985.  His company has designed over 700 native landscapes in Southern California. Specialties include residential, commercial, and institutional landscapes that cover an array of garden styles, while providing year-round appeal, low maintenance, water efficiency, rich habitat, and fire-resistance.

Greg has been featured in a number of periodicals including the Wall Street Journal, San Diego Union Tribune and Los Angeles Times, and magazines such as Sunset, San Diego Home and Garden, California Gardener and Kiplinger’s. Media coverage includes repeat appearances on NPR. Greg regularly gives presentations and workshops on native plants to conferences, garden clubs and other organizations throughout Southern California.

Greg is co-author of a new book with Lucy Warren, “The California Native Landscape: The Homeowners’ Design Guide to Restoring its Beauty and Balance”, published by Timber Press.  This popular native horticultural work covers all aspects of native landscape design.  Greg also served on the boards of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation, California Native Plant Society, the Lux Art Institute, and the Garden Native foundation.

Butterfly data on Calscape

Butterfly data on Calscape

CNPS went live with past week with the new Calscape feature whereby users can search for host plants by butterfly species and location.  (https://www.cnps.org/news-releases/help-for-the-insect-apocalypse-calscape-adds-host-plant-information-for-california-native-butterflies-and-moths-16245). This exciting addition to the Calscape website occurred during National Pollinator Week and is a tangible way ordinary folks can play a part in halting the dramatic insect decline.

New Membership Coordinator

We are happy to announce LynneDee Althouse has accepted the job of Membership Coordinator for the SLO Chapter.  She is replacing Holly Sletteland, who has done a fantastic job with membership files for the past several years.  We thank Holly for her expert management of the database and for her monthly correspondence with the new and lapsed members.  We wish Holly continued success in her ongoing role as Project Manager at the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and for her assertive advocacy on Central Coast conservation issues.  If you have questions about membership, please contact LynneDee at lynnedeealthouse@gmail.com.