Camissonia cheiranthifolia

Camissonia cheiranthifolia

Beach sun cup

Camissonia cheiranthifolia is one of the few plants that bloom year around along our coast. It is found most commonly on the unstable, sandy hillocks immediately in-shore from the beach. It can also occasionally found on disturbed sandy soils away from the immediate coast, but this is very rare. Its range is from southern Oregon to just into Baja. In the northern part of it range it is basically a perennial herb. It becomes somewhat woody in the southern portion of its range. Being somewhat in the middle, it can be either in our chapter area (San Luis Obispo county). It is quite variable here. Behind the windy beaches it’s a flat ground cover, while in sheltered areas it is taller and less spreading.

I’ve seen a few green plants with no surface hairs, but most of our plants are more or less hairy. Some petals have red spots at their base while others lack these spots. What looks like a very large bud arising from the angle between the leaf below the flower and the stem in Bonnie’s drawing is actually the elongate fruit, which becomes twisted as it matures. Flower size is also quite variable.

Before 1969 beach sun cups were in the genus Oenothera. At that time the common name applied to this entire genus was “evening primrose.” So, Camissonia cheiranthifolia would have been called “beach evening primrose” or simply and misleadingly, beach primrose. However that common name is quite misleading; primrose is a name better applied to a totally different and unrelated group of plants in the true primrose family (Primulaceae) which include the shooting star and the pimpernel.

The only trait that sun cups and true primroses share is their general tubular shaped flowers. Sun cups (with other members of its family, Onagraceae) have four separate petals instead of the five fused petals found in the primroses. In fact, the flowers of Onagraceae, including the sun cups, have a distinctive set of characteristics. They produce flowers that possess four sepals, four petals, eight stamens, attached to the top of a generally thin, elongated ovary which displays a four-parted structure.

The distinctive characteristics of the Onagraceae family can be summarized as CA4 CO4 A8/G 4 . CA is short for calyx which is the collective term for the sepals. CO stands for the corolla, the collective term for the petals. A is the abbreviation for andrecium, which translates as all the “male things,” the stamens. G stands for gynoecium (female thing), which represents the four-parted ovary, style, and stigma. The circled 4 indicates that the four subunits (carpels) that make up the gynoecium are fused into a single pistil.

Why did Dr. Peter Raven separate the sun cups from the evening primroses when they share so many family characters? First and most easily observed is the stigma. A look at Bonnie’s drawing will show it to resemble a single, wide, hemispherical cap as opposed to the four hair-like stigma branches found in the true evening primroses. A second trait is harder to determine. True evening primroses produce their flowers at dusk and bloom through the night and fade in the morning. Sun cup flowers open at dawn and bloom during the day. This means the two genera have different pollinators since their flowers are open at different times of the day.

Evening primroses would be expected to be visited by night-flying animals such as moths whereas sun cups would be visited by day-flying ones. While researching tidbits to include about beach sun cups, I came across the discussion of the species in the book by Mary Coffeen titled Central Coast Wild Flowers. In it she reprints part of an article about the Morro Bay Sand Spit by my friend and former Cal Poly professor, Wayne Williams. In it he describes the pollination of beach sun cup and as follows:

“The plant’s bright yellow flowers cover new sand deposits everywhere along the sand spit, enhancing dune stability. Its blossoms face down wind. The pollinator is an exceptionally large bumblebee (Bombus sp.). We have all heard how bumblebees manage to fly despite the aerodynamic engineering theory that would render them landbound because of their weight and size. These bees deftly approach the beach primrose flowers by flying upwind for greatest flight stability. Their powerful thorax muscles and large size allow them to survive within this niche, gathering food and pollinating, because of the downwind direction of the primrose corollas. Since the primrose is decumbent where wind speed is slowest, the bees can also work over large territories. I have watched these bees and have never seen any other species pollinating beach primroses at the sand dunes. This symbiosis between plant and insect allows both the plant and the bumblebee to thrive and reproduce.”

Just imagine how much observation time required to allow one to come up with this kind of natural history fact. There are lots more yet to be discovered. That’s why natural areas like the Elfin Forest are so important.

by Dirk Walters, illustrations by Bonnie Walters | Dirk and Bonnie Walters are long-time CNPS-SLO members, contributors, and board/committee participants. In addition to his work at Cal Poly, Dirk is the current CNPS-SLO Historian.

Book Talk, December 2011

Glenn Keator has agreed to be our guest speaker at the upcoming January SLO-CNPS banquet in Morro Bay. Our December meeting at the SLO Vets hall will be your only chance to pick up his books if you don’t already have them on your bookshelves.

The Life of an Oak, an Intimate Portrait*, by Glenn Keator, author, and Susan Bazell, illustrator, California Plant Families by Glenn Keator and Designing California Native Gardens* by Glenn Keator and Alrie Middlebrook are available on our December book tables (*and website).

If you ever run across Complete Garden Guide To The Native Shrubs of California and Complete Garden Guide to the Native Perennials of California, both by Glenn Keator, grab them and run. These are books to treasure. In Full View is another of his books that has gone out of print and is hard to find. Great read.

The new Jepson Manual will arrive about mid December. Unfortunately they won’t give us a price break and this tome is a big one. I’ve ordered 5 copies, price is $125 each. Ouch!

See you at the book table. -Heather Johnson

The Life of an Oak

Click image to view in bookstore

Designing California Native Gardens

Click image to view in bookstore

Chapter Meeting, December 7, 2011

Chapter Meeting, December 7, 2011

Thursday, 7 p.m., December 1, 2011. Veterans Building, 801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo

Program – Calflora’s Integrated Mapping Platform

Using Calflora’s integrated mapping platform to understand and conserve California flora: recent results and prospects for further future improvement.

Daniel Gluesenkamp is Executive Director of the Calflora Database, where he helps the leading source of California wild plant information to develop innovative new mapping, data analysis, and management planning tools. Prior to joining Calflora Dan worked for Audubon Canyon Ranch, habitat protection and restoration work across 30 properties and conducting research on invasive turkey impacts and nitrogen deposition impacts on vernal pools. He earned his Ph.D. in 2001 with “The ecology of native and introduced thistles,” and in 2009 discovered a Franciscan manzanita plant growing on a traffic island at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Daniel Gluesenkamp is a founder and past president of the California Invasive Plant Council and co-founder of the Bay Area Early Detection Network (BAEDN).

Calflora started as an 8-character dos code for a database available only floppy disk. The emergence and expansion of the World Wide Web has made Calflora’s services widely available to nearly 19,000 registered users. The nonprofit is now an important source of wild plant information for thousands of citizens, educators, researchers, and conservation professionals, who use depend on Calflora for location information, species information, photos, and other resources.

In 2006 Calflora began working with the Bay Area Early Detection Network (BAEDN) to build neoGIS tools for use by conservation professionals reporting and managing harmful invasive plants. This collaboration has grown into an integrated mapping platform that brings together a great diversity of field data collection methods to move plant occurrence information into the shared cloud database, and then provide users with a growing set of powerful visualization and resource management tools. Recently, supporting partners (including BAEDN, Cal-IPC, CNPS, and NRCS) have invested in data compilation efforts, as well as exciting new tools that give land managers and scientists improved ability to map, manage, and understand our changing flora.

This talk will provide an overview of Calflora’s suite of tools, including Android and iPhone mapping apps, geotagged photo submission tools, GIS upload and display tools, and even tools for planning and tracking conservation action. Finally, we will discuss upcoming projects, how these tools and information can be applied to solving growing conservation challenges, and talk about what it will mean when we know where all California’s plants can be found.


I would like to thank all of you who turned up to the South Bay Advisory Council to support Audubon’s proposed removal of eucalyptus from the eastern end of the tidal marsh. Unfortunately our ecological arguments did not win the day, which fell to poems, odes to the joy of seeing the trees, false claims of their biological value, and accusations of racial profiling of Australian natives, etc. This was only the first round, and the issue will move to regulatory commissions, where we have another chance.

On a good note, NRCS has some funds to treat Cape ivy infestations of the Chorro Creek Wetlands Restoration area, and Linda Chipping and I went with them to GPS infestation locations. We also have some interest from State Parks in treating fast-worsening pampas grass infestations on the Coastal Terrace north of Arroyo de la Cruz. Our involvement with the County Weed Management Area committee is so useful in regard to notification of agencies and getting action.

We might have seemed to have lost when the Local Agency Formation Commission approved bringing large hunks of Price Canyon into Pismo Beach’s sphere of influence, which we opposed, but than LAFCO placed so many stringent restrictions that any development will be much much smaller than envisioned by the developer-land owners.

–David Chipping

President’s Message

I think our November meeting was the highest attendance we have ever had at a regular meeting, thanks mostly to the host of Cal Poly students. Randy Baldwin’s fine presentation of plants that are “in the trade” and the human interest of their history of introduction might reinforce the notion that study of native plants is not just about learning latin binomials. The key now is to find activities that will hold the interests of these students. Ideas?

As I noted earlier, we are starting to mount plant lists on the web site on the Growing Natives page. I have added a scan of historical plant lists produced in the 1970s by Bud Meyer. Dr. Keil has contributed a Checklist of the Plants of Shell Creek with Jepson-2 nomenclature, and I have found checklists of plants in vicinity of the Dairy Creek Golf Course taken from environmental reports. I have started working on a Coon Creek trail guide. If you have anything that might remotely be of interest and worth posting on our site, please send it to me.

-David Chipping

Atriplex watsonii

Atriplex watsonii

Watson’s Salt Bush

The plant featured on this cover of the Obispoensis would not generally be considered worthy of presentation to a general audience. Its flowers are tiny; its appearance mundane. It belongs to a plant family past students in Cal Poly’s Field Botany class nick named the “Uglyaceae.” It grows along the uppermost edge of coastal salt marshes and edges of coastal sand dunes. However, even though it is a salt marsh plant you probably won’t have to worry about getting your feet wet. This is because it grows where it gets inundated only by the highest of tides. It is Atriplex watsonii, or the Watson’s salt bush or Watson’s orach. The model for this plant was growing in the in the uppermost reaches of Morro Bay salt marsh.

The recognized common names are just translations of the scientific name which often happens to nondescript looking species. Watsonii is named in honor of Sereno Watson (1826-1892) who worked as a curator in the Gray Herbarium and was a student of plants of the Western United States. He was a participant in the Clarence King expedition that studied the natural history, especially geology, of California in the middle of the 19th Century. He published the Botany of the King Expedition in 1871.

Orach is derived from the Middle English common name for the plants included in this genus. Salt bush is the more contemporary common name applied to all members of this genus. This is in spite of the fact that not all of them grow in salty soils or are bushes. It is true that most members of the genus do favor or require salty or alkaline soils. The habit of this salt bush is a prostrate to mounded perennial herb. It has very thin stems, that spread out latterly, becoming mounded only in the center. At its tallest it is less than 10 inches tall. However, individual plants can grow to several feet in width.

Watson’s Salt Bush (Atriplex watsonii)

Watson’s Salt Bush (Atriplex watsonii)

The drawn plant is in fruit. Why show it in fruit? Well, the most obvious reason is that as this is written it is fall/winter and this is when it is in fruit. But, more important, it would be even less exciting when it is in bloom as the flowers are very tiny. Male (staminate) flowers are borne on separate plants from the the female (pistilate) plants (dioecious). The male flower clusters are located in the axils of leaves and are in the form of short, dense spikes. The plant shown is pistillate. We know this because there are clusters of small, paired bracts in the angle between stem and leaf base (axils). Bonnie has drawn one of these “bract sandwiches.” One would expect to find a dry, single-seeded fruit between the two bracts, but most of the bract pairs are empty. Like many plants that occur in difficult environments, such as salt marshes, most of their resource budget is expended on just surviving rather than on sexual reproduction. A second evolutionary consideration is that the probability of a new individual plant’s establishment in difficult environments is itself extremely low. So, why waste energy producing seeds when they will have an extremely low probability of finding an available site in which to germinate and grow.

Some may have noticed that I have not identified the family to which salt bushes belong. This is because my old taxonomy texts and the upcoming Jepson Manual are going to place it in different families. Classically, before DNA sequence data, salt bushes were placed in the goosefoot family, Chenopodiaceae. When the DNA sequence data became available, it was noted that genera of the mostly temperate zone chenopods and the mostly tropical family, Amaranthaceae, came out together. This led to some taxonomists to combine the two families into one. Since Amaranthaceae is the older name, it had “priority” over the name Chenopodiaceae. Therefore, if the two families are combined, then the Rules of Botanical Nomenclature require that Amaranthaceae be used. The classical Amaranthaceae contains only three genera in California (only one of them the very common & weedy pigweeds, Amaranthus) In contrast, the classical Chenopodiaceae loom large. It consists of at least 17 genera and many species.

Although most common in deserts, the family is found in many other habitats as well. In other words, the classical Chenopodiaceae contains many species that dominate many habitats in California, whereas the classical Amaranthaceae are minor components which most of us see only in our weedy flora.

by Dirk Walters, illustrations by Bonnie Walters | Dirk and Bonnie Walters are long-time CNPS-SLO members, contributors, and board/committee participants. In addition to his work at Cal Poly, Dirk is the current CNPS-SLO Historian.

Book Talk November, 2011

Books for All-Native Gardeners

If you like to putter in the garden with native plants these two books need to be on your bookshelf.

California Native Plants for the Garden, Bornstein, Fross and O'Brien

click the image to see this book in our bookstore

The first is California Native Plants For The Garden by Bornstein, Fross and O’Brien.

This book is an encyclopedia of the most available and garden friendly natives for home gardeners and gives fine descriptions of each plant with many photos.

Designing California Native Gardens, Keator and Middlebrook

click the image to see this book in our bookstore

The second book is Designing California Native Gardens by Alrie Middlebrook and Glenn Keator.

This wonderful book breaks down the various locales in California and describes plants found in each.

If you live in an oak woodland, redwood forest, grassland, desert, etc. you’ll be able to find the plants which will thrive in each area.

Books for Native + Non-Native Mix Gardeners

Plants and Landscapes for Summer Dry Climates, Nora Harlow, Jill M. Singleton, Barrie D. Coate, Kristine Sandoe

click the image to see this book in our bookstore

If you would rather mix your native garden plants with plants from the Mediterranean climate areas, then Plants and Landscapes of Summer Dry Climates is the book for you.

More Suggestions

Two other books specifically aimed at southern California gardens:

Southern California Native Flower Garden by Susan Van Atta. Susan gardens in Santa Barbara and has put together an excellent little book.

Landscaping With Native Plants Of Southern California by George Miller. This seems to me to be a book appropriate for people living in the drier parts of our county such as Paso Robles, Creston, and Shandon.

So drop by the book table at the next meeting and don’t forget our plant sale. See you soon.

-Heather Johnson

Chapter Meeting, November 3, 2011

Thursday, November 3. 7 pm at the Vets Hall, SLO, Grand Ave. & Monterey St.

Horticulture Program

Randy Baldwin and His Favorite California Native for the Garden

Randy Baldwin is a partner and General Manager of San Marcos Growers, a wholesale nursery in Santa Barbara, California known in the nursery industry for the diversity of plants that it grows and for the introduction of new plants suitable for cultivation in California.

Randy has worked for San Marcos Growers for over 30 years and prior to this worked for a Santa Barbara retail nursery while completing a BA in Environmental Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. In his spare time Randy speaks to groups about his love of plants and writes the web pages for the San Marcos Growers Horticultural web site.

Randy and his family live in a turn of the century farm house on the nursery property. The gardens surrounding the house are a demonstration garden of many of the grasses, flax and drought tolerant plants that San Marcos Growers is known for. These gardens have been photographed often and have graced the pages of several books, magazines and calendars.

Conservation November, 2011

CNPS is supporting Morro Bay Audubon Society’s plans to remove as many eucalyptus tree as possible over an extended period of time that are not contributing toward either bird or butterfly habitat in Los Osos’s Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. These trees are affecting the biological integrity of the native marshland habitat, including a restoration site for one of the rarest plants in North America, the marsh sandwort. Unfortunately some local residents are opposing any tree removal on the basis of some aesthetic arguments that in the past have prevented us from removing eucalyptus in extremely rare Morro manzanita habitat of Montana de Oro State Park. Audubon is hardly likely to destroy bird habitat… duh!.

Is “global warming denial” getting you annoyed? Would you like to partake in a long term experiment to verify climate change? At the state-wide meeting in San Diego last September, we were told of some vegetation monitoring programs to search for gradual shifts of plant species phenology, such as the times of first bud, first bloom, leaf out etc. We are looking for people who regularly pass a point where they can monitor species in the wild. There is more to this that I can disclose here, but contact me if you think this could be interesting. I expect that the program will have to run for many years before trends arise from the scatter of data, but we should start somewhere.

David Chipping

President’s Message

Thanks to all of you who made the “Great Photography and Dessert Bash” a great success. I saw many photographs that better those on the covers of national magazines, including some submitted by a seven year-old child.

As you read this we are gearing up for our biggest fundraiser of the year, the annual plant sale, and our next regular program reflects the importance of horticulture with a presentation by Randy Baldwin, the owner of San Marcos Growers. (more…)

Stachys bullata

Stachys bullata

Hedge Nettle

The plant for the cover of this OBISPOENSIS is found in many habitats from dry to moist and from wood edge to open fields. It is found primarily in the coastal area west of the Santa Lucia mountain divide.

It’s common or California hedge-nettle (Stachys bullata). This species is certainly not rare but it is not overly abundant either. It’s widespread but snooty where it grows. The flower books and floras state that it is found in our shrub lands (coastal scrub, dune scrub & chaparral) as well as oak forests. This is true, but if one wants to find it look in these communities where the soils tend to be moist.

I tend to think of it occupying the drier edge of the riparian habitat. As surface streams dry hedge nettles will move into the stream bed itself. The species can be found in relatively dry areas such as the Elfin Forest and Sargeant Cypress Forest found on West Cuesta Ridge. Both areas have lots of fog and contain plant species that are able to condense fog onto their leaves and stems. Leaves and stems, however are poor absorbers of liquid water, so the water drips off onto the soil surface where it sinks to where the plant’s roots absorb it. Fog drip is a significant source of water.

I remember reading a Cal Poly Biology Department senior project done for Dr. Robert Rodin many years ago. They found that rain gauges placed under the trees recorded over 20 inches more water than ones placed in the open.

The “hedge” part of the common name, I assume, comes from the habit of these plants to grow in fence rows and along roadsides, especially the old world species. The “nettle” part of the common name comes from its resemblance to the stinging nettle (Urtica). The surface of leaves and stems are coated by short stiff hairs. These hairs merely impart a sandpapery feel, but do not cause the rash and itching or pain of the true stinging nettle. I find it a rather pleasant feel and you have to touch them to get the pleasant citrusy odor that arises from the bruised leaves.

Stachys is fairly large (ca. 300 sp. worldwide, 8 CA & 5 SLO Co.) genus of mints (Lamiaceae or Labiatae). It contains a number of plants used as food or medicine, particularly in the Old World. The medicinal plants generally go by the common name of betony while the ones producing edible tubers go by the various names. These include chorogi, Chinese or Japanese artichoke, knotroot. I found no reference to any of our California Stachys species, including S. bullata, possessing either edible or medicinal properties. The closest I came was one suggestion that leaves might to be tried as a poultice. That is, bruise a few leaves in warm water and apply the mixture to minor wounds and rashes. This is how the various betony species are used around the world and is the explanation for another common name for the species in this genus, woundwort.

References to hedge nettles are noticeably absent from my California native gardening books. The current Jepson Manual recommends that they be planted in areas where they get occasional water (3-4 times during dry season). It indicates that native hedge nettles are very hardy and might work in an area that needs stabilization. However, they caution that being hardy, they can become invasive.

by Dirk Walters, illustrations by Bonnie Walters | Dirk and Bonnie Walters are long-time CNPS-SLO members, contributors, and board/committee participants. In addition to his work at Cal Poly, Dirk is the current CNPS-SLO Historian.

Annual Native Plant Sale

Saturday, November 5th, 2011


Please join us at

Pacific Beach High School

11950 Los Osos Valley, Road San Luis Obispo

(At the Target intersection) (more…)

Conservation October, 2011

Our chapter is developing strong ties with the Friends of the Carrizo Plain in developing resources such as a wildflower guide, and providing road and trail logs of vegetation and geology. If you love the Carrizo and want to work with CNPS and FOCP projects contact me or Dr. Dirk Walters. (more…)

Avena fatua & A. barbata

Avena fatua & A. barbata

Wild and Domesticated Oats

One or the other or both wild species, common (Avena fatua) or slender (A. barbata) wild oats are extremely widespread all along the Pacific Coast. They can be found in vacant lots, roadsides, pastures, and yes, even in our beautifully kept native plant gardens. This doesn’t mean that we’re bad gardeners, just that this genus produces very effective weeds.

Identifying Wild Oats

Wild oats are members of the grass family (Poaceae or Gramineae). Oats have some of the largest flowers in this family of otherwise tiny to minute flowers.

Parts of Oats (Avena spp.)

Parts of Oats (Avena spp.)

Their parts are almost large enough to be seen with the naked eye. Individual grass flowers are aggregated into tiny clusters (spikelets). The spikelets are the readily visible units hanging down in the photograph and drawing.

Each oat spikelet consists of two large scales (bracts or more specifically glumes) surrounding two to three small flowers called florets. Each floret contains the 3 male organs (stamens) and a single pistil consisting of a basal ovary and two feathery stigmas. The stamens and pistils can’t be seen in the drawings or photo as they are totally hidden between to additional bracts.

The outer (and the only one visible) is the canoe-shaped lemma and a totally surrounded, thin palea. There are no recognizable sepals or petals. In the wild oat species, a stout bristle arises from the back of the lemma. This bristle is known as an awn. After the pistil is pollinated, its single seed matures and fuses to the inner ovary wall to become the unique fruit produced only by the grasses (caryopsis or grain).

The seed coat and ovary walls, when removed from the grain, are the bran we can buy at grocery and health food stores. In oats, the outside of the developing grain adheres to the inside of lemma and palea. This means that seed dispersal in oats (as well as most other grasses) is actually floret dispersal. The awn plays a vital role in this dispersal. The long, stout awns are bent in the middle; they bend or straighten depending on moisture availability. When it is moist, the awns absorb water and straighten at the bend. This causes the floret body (including enclosed seed) to be pushed forward. When it is dry, the awn flexes at the bend. Why doesn’t it pull the floret back? Notice the short, backward oriented “hairs” at the base of the floret. As the floret dries, these flip out and prevent it from being pulled backwards. Thus the floret is consistently pushed forward until it buries itself under a clod or it falls into a crack in the soil. Either way, the process both disperses and plants the oat seed.

Local Oats

There are three species of oats listed in Hoover’s SLO County flora. Two of the species possess a moderate to stout awn. These are the slender oat (Avena barbata) and the common oat (A. fatua). The third species in found occasionally along road sides and in fields where it had been grown. It is the domesticated oat (A. sativa). Domesticated oats produce larger grains and either totally lack an awn or if awns are present, they are weak. The lack of an awn would make the domesticated oats much better for animal feed.


The origin of oats is somewhat controversial. It is for sure, Old World and domestication most likely took place somewhere in the area surrounding the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is rarely mentioned in literature of the early cultures of this area and then only as animal feed. It probably didn’t stack up well against the dominate grains of the area, wheat and barley. It seems to have had better acceptance further north and east in Central Eastern Europe and adjacent Western Asia. Here it became quite important, but not much as a human food but the mainstay of horse diet. It is from this area that the first mounted soldiers arose and horses allowed them readily to conquer the surrounding “horseless” peoples.

The conquering of horseless cultures by horse-mounted armies was repeated whenever it occurred. It even was a factor in Spain’s defeat of the Aztecs and Incas. Interestingly, the re-introduction of the feral horses into North America apparently caused the then agricultural Great Plains Native Americans to become mobile buffalo hunters. Why all this discussion of the horse? Because it was probably the need to bring grain on ships to feed the horses that introduced oats into California and beyond.

Uses of Oats by the Chumash

According to Jan Timbrook, the Chumash used the grains of wild oats and chia (Salvia colunbariae) seeds in a concoction. Wild oats (along with any native grasses growing with them) were beaten or striped into baskets. The chaff was beaten off with a mallet against rocks. The flour was separated from the chaff by winnowing. The flour was mixed with water and chia was added. It provided both energy and protein.

Controlling with Herbicides

There’s one more human-wild oat interaction worth mentioning. The July 2, 2011 Science News reports that herbicide resistant wild oats infects at least 4.9 MILLION hectares. This is over 1 million hectares more area than the second place plant water hemp.

First off, wild oats are not particularly “naturally” resistant to herbicides. Second, the article discusses herbicide resistance that is transferred to wild (weedy) plants from genetically modified crops. The way emphasized in the article, is via transfer of the herbicide resistant genes from genetically engineered crops to the weed via ordinary transfer of pollen. The crops are engineered to have a high tolerance for a specific herbicide. Then the farmer is assured that he may use large amounts of the herbicide to kill weeds without affecting the crop.

Unfortunately, many plant species can transfer pollen BETWEEN DIFFERENT species. Once the gene for herbicide resistance is in the weed, then it will spread rapidly via ordinary natural selection processes. When herbicides are applied wholesale as they are in modern monoculture agriculture, a few individuals that received the genetically modified gene are more likely to survive and produce seedlings that also carry the gene and are therefore resistant also. These seedling grow up and produce more and more resistant plants at an ever increasing rate. If you remember much about evolution, you can see that farmers are both supplying the source of the gene as well as applying a strong selection pressure for the spread of the resistance gene. The last is the same process, by the way, that creates antibiotic resistant microbes when we over use antibiotics. Only microbes often do it in a shorter time due to their faster reproductive rate.

The article talks primarily about a class of herbicides known as glyphosates which is found in a wide variety of herbicides including Roundup. It is this component that crop breeders have been adding to the genome of crops. The article talks primarily about resistance in and around crop fields, especially around grain fields. I suspect Roundup and Fusilade work in your garden because resistance is not universal. It just hasn’t reached isolated areas like your garden. Let’s hope it never does! But I hope it does raise a red flag about over use of any chemical pesticide. There is no genetic resistance to mechanical pulling of weeds!

by Dirk Walters, illustrations by Bonnie Walters | Dirk and Bonnie Walters are long-time CNPS-SLO members, contributors, and board/committee participants. In addition to his work at Cal Poly, Dirk is the current CNPS-SLO Historian.

Book Talk – October, 2011

Hello everyone!

Isn’t it great to come back after a summer of rest, exotic locations, family adventures or whatever else you were doing? I’m looking forward to our meetings.

I’ve picked up some new books and other materials for our book table, so be sure and give yourself time to browse at the October meeting. Also, we will be hosting a booth at the Nipomo Native Garden sale on Sunday, October 2, so come on out and join us. They have a great area to enjoy, and lots of plants for sale.

-Heather Johnson



President’s Message

After the summer break, the SLO Chapter is starting up again with our traditional October Meeting, a dessert potluck and member/guest-contributed slide show.

We had a very productive Board meeting in which plans for additional chapter activities were proposed. (more…)

Want to be our New Plant Sale Co-chairperson?

I would like to take this time to thank Karen Frank for all her help as my plant sale co-chairperson.

Over the years, and I mean years, Karen has put in many hours at the sale and has always been there to help. She and I went to CalPoly together and I am glad that we were able to continue our friendship as members of CNPS. Due to a change in her work, Karen can no longer help and I am looking for a member who would like to take her place assisting me.

The job is pretty simple – mainly just show up the day of the sale and help me get everything organized.

If you think you would like to be plant sale co-chairperson, please give me a call on my cell phone 805-674-2034. I promise that you will have fun and meet many interesting people. It’s also a good feeling knowing that you helped out our chapter in this very special way. Thank you.


Opening the World through Journaling

Opening the World through Journaling

CNPS Curriculum – Opening the World through Journaling: Integrating art, science, and language arts

by John Muir Laws and Emily Bruenig

Our parent organization, CNPS, is offering a spectacular curriculum for children that works in a multitude of settings from school yards to CNPS events, to camps and family outings. It is geared primarily towards children age 8 and up, meeting grades 3 through 7 standards but it is easily adaptable for teenagers and adults.

Opening the World through Journaling: Integrating art, science, and language arts, a curriculum written for CNPS by John Muir Laws and Emily Brueunig, teaches children to become keen observers of the natural world by drawing and writing about the plants and animals in situ. In a set of nested exercises, students use games to gain confidence in drawing and writing as a way to gather information. Later, they employ these skills to put together a field guide, make treasure maps, and to write short stories and poems.

“Keeping a field journal develops and reinforces the most important science process skills; observation and documentation. All other parts of the process of science depend on these skills. We assume that we are naturally good observers, but learning to really see is a skill that must be learned and developed. Journal activities tie directly to the State of California science framework content standards and the visual and performing arts framework content standards.” –John Muir Laws

CNPS would like to know who uses the material and how it is used for grant and goal purposes and will send you a request to evaluate the curriculum after using it. For this reason, the curriculum is available only from the CNPS website (link). *This project is funded to date by the JiJi Foundation

Please leave a comment below if you have used this curriculum. Everyone would love to hear about your experience! Thank you.

John Muir Laws

Educational Resources

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Nurseries and Sources for Native Plants

Nurseries and Sources for Native Plants

CNPS-SLO holds our annual Native Plant Sale the first Saturday of November

The Nipomo Native Garden also holds an annual Native Plant Sale

Nurseries in San Luis Obispo county:

(Call for confirmation of times open to public)

Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery 3232 Las Pilitas Road, Santa Margarita 805-438-5992 (Retail Fri & Sat)
Growing Grounds Farm Wholesale Nursery 3740 Orcutt Rd, San Luis Obispo 805-543-6071 (Retail 3rd Tues of Month)
SAGE Ecological Landscapes, 1301 Los Osos Valley Road, Los Osos, CA 93402 (805) 574-0777
Clearwater Color Wholesale Nursery 2335 Jacaranda Ln, Los Osos 805-528-4458 (Wholesale only)
Native Sons Wholesale Nursery 379 W. El Campo, Arroyo Grande 805-481-9636 (Retail 2nd Sat in April)
West Covina Wholesale Nursery 165 W. El Campo, Arroyo Grande 805-481-7626 (Wholesale only)

Nurseries outside of our county:

(Call for confirmation of times open to public)

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden 1212 Mission Canyon, Santa Barbara 805-682-4272 (classes)
Matilija Nursery 8225 Waters, Moorpark 805-523-8604
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden 1500 W. College, Clairmont 909-625-8767 (classes)
Theodore Payne Foundation Nursery 10459 Tuxford, Sun Valley 818-768-1802 (classes and seed sales)
Tree of Life Nursery 33201 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano 949-728-0685

If you can’t find what you are looking for, ask your nursery to order it for you

Additional Sources

You may also find California Natives at these local sources

BenJoy Nursery 2168 Lopez, Arroyo Grande 481-7488
Cherry Lane Nursery 436 Traffic Way, Arroyo Grande 489-1809
Miners Ace Hardware 186 Station Way, Arroyo Grande 489-9100
Miners Ace Hardware 9370 El Camino Real, Atascadero 466-0270
Bay Laurel Nursery 2500 El Camino Real, Atascadero 466-3449
Windmill Nursery 925 W. Hwy 246, Buellton 688-3993
Cambria Nursery and Florist 2801 Eton Rd, Cambria 927-4747
Los Osos Valley Nursery 301 Los Osos Valley Road, Los Osos 528-5300
Miners Ace Hardware 520 Highway 41, Morro Bay 722-2233
Nipomo Old Town Nursery 323 W. Tefft, Nipomo 929-1084
Whispering Tree 110 Norris, Orcutt 937-3808
Farm Supply 675 Tank Farm, SLO 543-3751
Miner’s Ace Hardware 2034 Santa Barbara St., SLO 543-2191

Do you have a nursery or source for California Natives that isn’t listed here? Or an update to this information? Please enter a comment below and we will update this page …

Native Plants for School & Urban Gardens

Native Plants for School & Urban Gardens


By Betsey Landis

Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter, California Native Plant Society

August 2011

This book is written for teachers and school garden educators and planners. Anyone can download all or parts of the book for free from CNPS Chapter websites. However the book may not be printed and sold without the express permission of the Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter of CNPS. We have discussed printing small special orders but we do not plan to do any more printing of the book in the hundreds or thousands.  I understand what I have written on those first two pages is a type of “creative commons” copyright.  -Betsey Landis  (the author)

Download Here

Because of the size of this book, we have created four separate PDF files for viewing on the web and for download:

Section I

Section II, part a

Section II, part b

Section III

Table of Contents

California Native Plant Society Teachers Resources

Please Add Your Comments

Have you used this resource for your school or public garden? Please share your experience in the comments below …