For a native plant novice like me, joining the California Native Plant Society seemed like a good idea so I became a member of the San Luis Obispo chapter. My spouse and I attended our first meeting a year ago last October. That is where I met Marti and the real fun began.
When we arrived at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Hall for the meeting, there were several folding tables set up containing bowls, cups, and bags filled with native plant seeds. I spotted a box with little brown envelopes and another with tiny pencils. Some people were pouring small amounts of seeds into envelopes and writing on them.
We did not have any seeds to share so we were standing there not sure what to do when Marti approached me. Marti assured me that it was not necessary to bring seeds to participate and she encouraged us to select some seeds to try growing for our yard.
Walking up to one of the tables, I realized that we might have some difficulty identifying the seeds because the containers were labeled with botanical names. Sigh.
My spouse noticed one that said Lupinus succulentus. Aha, surely that must be a lupine. Every year, I admire the lupines that grow on the surrounding hillsides and I was excited by the prospect of growing some myself. We asked someone and learned that yes, the seeds were lupines. We carefully put some seeds in an envelope and labeled it.
Moving on, I found Marti’s seed stash. I was pleased to see that she had attached pictures to her seed packets and included their common names. I recognized the photo of the tidy tips and we carefully poured some itty-bitty seeds into another envelope.
With help, we identified three more species of seeds to try including California buckwheat, coffeeberry, and purple needlegrass. Why I waited until January to sow the seeds remains a mystery. I placed the pots on the deck outside of our dining room so I would remember to water them periodically.
The day I spotted the first tiny lupine seedling poking its head through the soil, I was almost giddy with excitement. Other seedlings soon joined it. Watching the plants grow, develop buds, and then unfurl their flowers was fascinating. Only one of the California buckwheat seeds germinated. It grew into a small plant that seemed ready to graduate to the yard this fall so I planted it in a small fenced-in section of our yard to safeguard it from hungry deer.
There is something magical about growing a native plant with your own two hands. Perhaps it is because it connects us to a time when people lived in harmony with the rest of nature.
Read the whole story here.
By Linda Poppenheimer
Photo: A buckwheat grown from seed after 8 months, Linda Poppernheimer
Last month we discussed California ground squirrel problems, this month I will focus on the gopher aka Botta’s pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae). For most of us, gophers can sometimes be a headache but a livable one. They come and go between you and your neighbor’s yard, only losing a couple of plants a year. For yards like these I recommend using gopher root baskets. These baskets are designed to last for years and will allow the plants some long-term safety against limited attacks. The wire baskets come in different sizes to fit whatever you plant; 1 qt., 1 gal., 3 gal., 5 gal., and 15 gal. Place the wire baskets around the roots before planting. I prefer never to use gopher poison, as the likelihood of some non-target animal eating the dead gopher is not acceptable.
For those who have a severe problem with gophers, I recommend using a gopher gasser. The gasses will travel down the tunnel and the gopher will succumb to carbon dioxide. The most important thing in using gopher gassers is the soil must be well irrigated. The water will trap the smoke inside the soil particles allowing the gasser to be more effective.
I have to mention gopher trapping. There are many traps to choose from, its up to you to consider trapping. I do trap gophers but only in those yards that have severe infestations.
If you have any direct questions, you can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until then, Happy Gardening;
John Nowak, Plant Sale co-Chairperson
Image: Chuck Abbe [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The cover of this Obispoensis is another beautiful water color by Heather Johnson. When I chose this beautiful and accurate representation, I expected that I could just go to my archive and update an article I had already written. To my surprise, Bonnie hadn’t drawn and I hadn’t written anything about it. I’m going to use the excuse that Hummingbird sage is so distinctive and so common that we took it for granted that everyone already knew it. It was one of the first California wildflowers I learned after I arrived in California from the Midwest. In our area Hummingbird sage can grow in an extensive mat. Its leaves are large (10 in (20 cm) long and 3 in (8 cm) wide). The leaf surface appears quilted. Its family affiliation (Mint or Lamiaceae or Labitae) is shown clearly in Heather’s water color. Its large red, two-lipped tubular flowers appear in our area by March and last well into summer and are borne in tight clusters; the clusters climbing upward resembling the balconies of an oriental pagoda. The two stamens and single style extend from under the upper lip in succession. The stamens appear first and after all the pollen has been removed they are replaced by the stigma at the end the style. Mint family characters also shown are the opposite leaves and the square stem. Unfortunately, the characteristic mint odor characteristic of this family is fruity (I smell lemon), but either way it’s not discernible in Heather’s art.
I’ve found three common names for this mint. They are crimson sage, hummingbird sage, and pitcher sage. The first two names are readily explainable. The usual flower color is dark red (crimson) and red is the color of flower that hummingbirds frequently visit. The name, pitcher sage, requires a little history. When I came to California in the late 1960s, the only wildflower books readily available were authored by the Southern California botanist, Phillip Munz, and emphasized Southern California common names. In those books Salvia spathacea was given the common name ‘pitcher sage’. So, we botanical oldsters probably remember it by that name. However I remember that hummingbird sage was always the name used on field trips in our area even then and the name, ‘pitcher sage’ was used for a completely different shrubby mint, Lepechina calycina, which grows in the interior mountains of our chapter area.
Based on my observations and the numerous accounts on the web, hummingbird sage has a place in a California Native plant garden, especially gardens away from the coast. It prefers partial shade, but where it doesn’t get too hot it can tolerate sun. It even does well under oaks. It even prefers clay soils rather than sand. For areas that have many deer, they seem to avoid eating it. Its large flowers with lots of nectar make it great for attracting and feeding hummingbirds. I suspect the best situation in which to plant them would be an area that is visible, but little trod upon. Here it can even become a sort of ground cover. I found no real references for its use in medicine other than for ailments in which its wonderful odor might be helpful. According to the book on Chumash Ethnobotany, the Cumash didn’t have a name for it although the early Spanish settlers did. Some suggested it might make a decent tea. No member of the genus, Salvia, was in any of the indices of books on poisonous plants I have in my library.
Please open up your calendars!! Isn’t that refreshing? I’m NOT asking for money, only a little bit of your time.
You may have noticed the book and tee shirt table in the back of the meeting room each month, it not only serves as a free library before the meetings but it also generates quite a bit of the capital we need to keep our group funded. Problem is, this spring Linda, David, and myself are spread too thin. That’s where YOU come in.
We could use some help behind the counter at some of our meetings and events. You can be as involved as you like: selling and writing receipts, report on the sales after the meeting, even order books. Please consider a few hours to keep us operating! If you’re interested send me a note, and I can give some of the dates and details. I’d love to hear from you! It’s really a task you’ll enjoy- what could be better than talking to other plant enthusiasts and helping them find a suitable book/poster or good looking tee?
AND THANK YOU to all of you that have helped many a cold evening by setting up or packing up our inventory!!! Many hands really does make light work.
-June Krystoff-Jones, Retail Sales Manager
California Dudleyas are easy to grow. Illegal wild collection can be disrupted via legal propagation. I propagate Dudleya with middle school science classes. If seventh-graders can grow these natives from seed, you can too.
Good news on the Sudden Oak Death front. As a result of last spring’s Sudden Oak Death Blitz, and additional collecting by agency staff, we find that. as yet, there were no positive finds in SLO County. In all, 699 trees were surveyed, of which 18.7% appeared symptomatic, but which did not test positive in the lab. It appears that there are other infections of California Bay that appear similar to those of SOD. None the less, as the disease is present just north of the county line on the Big Sur coast, the risk still hangs over us like the proverbial Sword of Damocles.
Bill Deneen, long time CNPS member, Hoover Awardee, and champion of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes died at the age of 93 in September. Bill taught biology at Santa Maria High School for 25 years, during which time he became a passionate advocate for the environment. He worked with Kathleen Goddard Jones and others to keep a nuclear power plant from being built in the Nipomo Dunes, which he loved with a deep passion. Later he was arrested from ‘crossing the blue line’ at protests against the re-siting of the power plant at Diablo Canyon, earning him the title of ‘ecohooligan’ which he wore proudly for the rest of his life. In recent years he opposed the use of OHVs in the dunes, and was on the enemies list of the local OHV community. He founded an Environmental Award which he gave out to encourage conservation action, and in a touching moment in his failing last years was given his own award by his admirers. In a sort-of-goodbye party in 2015 held at the Dana Cultural Center, he received accolades from friends and family to notable politicians like then-Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and Congresswoman Lois Capps. Capps called Bill a ‘national treasure’. Older members of the chapter will remember the many field trips he led into the dunes, and his fierce sense of humor. Bill… we will miss you… and thanks.
CHAPTER MEETING Nov. 1st 2018 – Thursday – 7:00 pm
Veterans Hall, Monterey and Grand, SLO
Mixer and Browse Sales Table 7:00 pm, Program 7:30 pm
PLANT PROPAGATION by ELLIOT PAULSON
Elliot graduated from Cal Poly in business finance, and horticulture. He established Clearwater Color Nursery in 1987, where he grows annual color, vegetables, Mediterranean type perennials, and succulents along with California Natives. Plants are propagated in plugs, packs and pots both by seed and asexual cuttings. Elliot will tell us what works and what
doesn’t work. He will also engage other plant propagators in the audience. Along with his wife Megan, he runs the nursery on Los Osos Valley road with 13 dedicated employees. The nursery delivers plant material to local retail nurseries, the Central Valley, and Santa Barbara county.
ETHNOBOTANY NOTES: Blue Elderberry (Sambucus coerulea or mexicana) A delicious, wildlife attracting addition to your garden
This last year, I have become the Johnny Appleseed of elderberry plants. Although, I plant the elderberry plants and not the seeds. I have been making Elderberry jelly and tincture for my family for almost twenty years. We gathered them in Cambria just as we did blackberries. Then when I started landscaping seriously about two years ago to help out my mom, I realized that maybe I would not have to drive for miles to gather berries if I just planted the bushes in our yard and in the gardens to which I have access. Last year, I planted several at work, and several on my mom’s property. This year I planted three at my house, and two in my friends’ yards. However, I might have to wait a few years to see the fruits of my labors.
Native Californians also used the hollow branches to make flutes and clapper sticks. They used caution and respect and were aware that there are toxic compounds in the stems and leaves (such as hydrocyanic acid and sambucine.) These are also in the berries, but less so, and dissipate when cooked or dried. Research has found compounds in Sambucus that are anti-viral. They are also high in vitamin C. I’m sure that hundreds of years ago, when Europeans ate the jelly, and drank the wine all winter it helped them to fend off colds. When making jam or wine, the seeds should be strained out.
The flowers are also considered medicinal. They are picked when flowering then dried for tea that is used to break dry fevers and stimulate perspiration. The USDA Plant Database says that “The flowers contain flavonoids and rutin, which are known to improve immune function, particularly in combination with vitamin C. The flowers also contain tannins, which account for its traditional use to reduce bleeding, diarrhea, and congestion.” They can also be prepared as a delicious cordial. Ethnobotanist Michael Moore writes that “ The flowers and dried berries are useful as a diuretic and have been used for centuries as an aid to rheumatism and arthritis. The red elderberries are toxic and should not be used.
The elderberry grows throughout California and can be drought tolerant but will thrive better and grow much faster with some watering. It tolerates clay soils and seasonal flooding, but it also grows in sandy soil in my yard. It can grow to 10 feet tall. It has green foliage which is deciduous and has cream colored flower clusters. It is a great plant to bring birds into your garden. It also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
Elderberry Photos: David Chipping. Flute by SuncrowFlutes
The Nomination Committee presents the following slate of candidates
President: Bill Waycott, continuing
For Vice President: Nishanta ‘Nishi’ Rajakaruna (Thank you David Keil, new CNPS fellow, for your time as VP!)
Nishi Rajakaruna fell in love with plants at a young age during a visit to Sinharaja Rainforest, a lowland tropical rainforest in Sri Lanka. He received a BA in human ecology from College of the Atlantic (Maine) and conducted his post-undergraduate practical training in plant ecophysiology at Harvard University. His research on the evolutionary ecology of the Lasthenia californica complex earned him a MS and a PhD in botany from the University of British Columbia, Canada. Nishi conducted post-doctoral research in plant ecology at Stanford University. His research examines how plant diversity, ecology, and evolution are influenced by serpentine and other ‘unusual’ soils, including those with heavy metals. He has taught botany at College of the Atlantic and San José State University for 12 years and spent a year as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Sri Lanka and India. He is currently an associate professor in plant biology at California Polytechnic State University where he teaches general botany and biogeography.
Nishi has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on plant-soil relations of serpentine and other harsh edaphic settings in California, Maine, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Iran, and Russia and is the co-editor of two key treatments on plant life on serpentine soils [Serpentine: Evolution and Ecology in a Model System (2011) and Soil and Biota of Serpentine: A World View (2009) and a book titled Plant Ecology and Evolution in Harsh Environments (2014). He has served on the scientific advisory committees of the International Conference on Serpentine Ecology since 2006 and was the Recording Secretary of the California Botanical Society 2009-2010. He has been the Editor-in-Chief of Rhodora, the Journal of the New England Botanical Club, since 2014 and a member of the CNPS, SLO Chapter since Fall 2017.
Treasurer: Dave Krause, continuing
For Secretary: Cindy Roessler. I have been a member of CNPS for decades and moved to San Luis Obispo County about a year ago so now I am ready to help out the SLO Chapter by serving as a local officer. I have served on numerous boards and committees for conservation groups, so I have the experience and commitment to do the “boring” organizational work along with attending our local beautiful hikes and surveying our rare plant communities. In my professional career over 35 years, I’ve worked as an ecologist managing natural public lands in Florida and California. I am very familiar with California native plants, how to identify, find and enjoy them, and how they contribute to the ecology, beauty and economic stability of our state. Most of my experience is with oaks, grasses, ecological restoration, and control of invasive plants in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am amazed at how different the plants are in San Luis Obispo County, just 200 miles south of my former region of expertise, so I have been attending local trainings and hikes and it’s exciting to be a student all over again. You can find out more about me by checking my natural history blog www.dipperanch.blogspot.com or my LinkedIn account. As Secretary for the SLO Chapter, I foresee keeping records of the board meetings and handling other clerical duties so that the chapter can smoothly pursue its conservation and educational goals. I am particularly impressed with the participation of students and young people in the SLO CNPS chapter and will look for ways to support young people joining the organization.
Digitization of herbarium specimens—capturing images and label data in digital formats—remains an enormous task for the world’s herbaria. For 22 institutions in the U.S. state of California, this job has become easier with a new 4-year, $1.8 million National Science Foundation grant (Award # 1802301) to establish a new California Phenology Thematic Collections Network (TCN). Spearheaded by Dr. Jenn Yost, Director the Hoover Herbarium at the California Polytechnic State University, this new network aims to image over 900,000 herbarium specimens from the oldest records, the most diverse families, and most threatened families in California. California is a biodiversity hotspot and home to more than one third of all U.S. plant species, emphasizing the need to understand this diverse and changing flora through herbarium records. The region’s herbaria already have a strong history of collaboration in the Consortium of California Herbaria, and this project aims to strengthen and expand the capabilities of this community of universities, research stations, natural history museums, and botanical gardens.
The project is trailblazing not only in its ambitious digitization goals and cast of collaborating institutions, but also in its research aim: to better understand flowering time shifts by recording flowering (i.e., phenological) data for each specimen digitized over the course of the grant. Flowering time is an important biological phenomenon for science, society, and biodiversity, and herbarium specimens can provide rich data on how flowering times vary across time and space. This project builds upon recent advancements in standardization and sharing of phenological data, including the Plant Phenology Ontology and data standards developed in collaboration with the New England Vascular Plants TCN, to capture phenological data. Furthermore, the project will digitize specimens of 250 taxa currently monitored by the California Phenology Project and National Phenology Network, empowering future cross-comparisons of specimen-based and observational phenological data. The institutions involved in this project will explore several workflows for capturing phenological data: from specimen sheets during imaging, from label text using a new Attribute Mining tool, and from images using crowd-sourced Notes from Nature expeditions that engage a broad audience of citizen scientists, students, and volunteers to produce phenological scorings. With the efforts of this community of California herbaria, the project hopes to build a strong foundation for the future of capturing phenological data from herbarium specimens.
All specimen images and records produced in this project will be publicly available for research, education, and outreach via the CCH2 portal, an open-source, web-accessible database platform widely used by other collections and TCNs. The project will also develop new tools in CCH2 to mine, explore, and store phenological data, and all data will be aggregated and available through the iDigBio portal. For Cal Poly, this means a lot of great changes. We have hired Katie Pearson as the Project Manager and she is now based here in San Luis Obispo. We have purchased an imaging station to image 40,000 specimens over the next few years. Annie Ayers, a Cal Poly undergraduate and CNPS board member, has been hired as a curatorial assistant. Our workflows are changing and pretty soon, you’ll be able to look at our specimens from the comfort of home!
The project runs from 2018 – 2022. Jason Alexander from UC Berkeley is the Data Manager and Katie Pearson is the Program Manager. The tools, techniques, and data generated as part of this project will expand the value of herbarium specimens in addressing society’s problems. More information can be found at http://www.capturingcaliforniasflowers.org or by emailing email@example.com. This project is funded by the Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections program of the National Science Foundation. Many California herbaria are contributing to this Thematic Collections Network.
Volunteer at the Hoover Herbarium
During the volunteer sessions at the Hoover Herbarium, people can take part in any number of activities. One of our primary responsibilities is mounting new specimens. This involves taking dried and pressed plants and glueing them to paper. When we mount plants, we do it in such a way that those specimens will last for hundreds of years. Each specimen is a physical record of what plants occurred where and when. Without this valuable information we wouldn’t know when a species goes extinct, expands or contracts its range, or where species occur. After mounting, the specimens are databased and geo-referenced. Then they are filed into the main collection. We have over 80,000 specimens at the Hoover Herbarium. We are also working on a SLO Voucher
Collection, which will contain one representative specimen for each species in the county. Volunteers look through our specimens and pick the one that should be added to the Voucher Collection. Additionally, we are actively working on our moss and lichen collections. Volunteers can choose what aspects of the work they would like to participate in. Any and everyone is welcome. The Hoover Herbarium is located on the 3rd floor of the Fisher Science Building (33) in rooms 352 and 359. Starting Sept 18th, the herbarium volunteers sessions will be Mondays from 3-5 pm and Fridays 9 – 11 and 1 – 3 pm.
Parking permits are required Monday through Thursday, 7:00 am through 10:00 pm; and Friday, 7:00 am through 5:00 pm. You can either buy a $6 day pass, a $4 3-hr pass, park in a metered space, or park off campus and walk in. Questions: email Jenn Yost at firstname.lastname@example.org
Acting on the nomination submitted by our chapter, the State Board recognized Dr. David Keil as a Fellow of the California Native Plant Society at its September meeting. He has been an active CNPS member; was a Cal Poly botany professor for over 37 years; and, through research and writing, has made significant contributions to California’s native flora.
Dave earned his B.S. in 1968 and M.S. in 1970 from Arizona State University in Tempe, and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University. Dave joined Cal Poly faculty in 1976, and two years later was appointed Director of the Robert F. Hoover Herbarium. His collection totals over 30,000 specimens, most of them housed at the Hoover Herbarium. He joined CNPS shortly after his arrival, and in 1978, served as the Chapter President. In earlier recognition of his generous contributions to our chapter, Dave was the recipient of the 1989 Hoover Award. He has led numerous chapter field trips for the San Luis Obispo chapter, some planned with detailed plant lists, some spur of the moment.
Dr. Keil has also presented chapter meeting programs and workshops on a regular basis. His broad knowledge of the county flora allowed him to surprise those attending with new discoveries, unusual findings, as well as his great slides. For anyone not familiar with county flora, Dave would answer any question. His small workshops conducted before chapter meetings include oak identification, plant collecting, rare plant training and a new grass identification key. In 2009 Dave’s participation on a ‘quick’ CNPS committee to develop a one page tri-fold of common plants for distribution by the City of San Luis Obispo became the 86 page Wildflowers of San Luis Obispo, California. It was an enormous success. As this nomination is being written, he is doing the proof reading on the revised second edition. After Dave’s retirement from teaching at Cal Poly, he was recruited to serve as chapter Vice President and has done so since 2016. He has always been a chapter resource.
At the state level he participated on the Rare Plant Scientific Advisory Committee from 1998 through 2001. Since 2009, he has served as a member of the Fremontia Editorial Advisory Board. From 2014 through 2016, Dave reviewed student grant applications with the Education Program Grants Subcommittee. On an annual basis since 2009, Dave has conducted multi-day plant science workshops on California flora for the State Education Program. For the workshop held in April 2018, Dave watched the county landscapes closely, knowing that the drought was adversely impacting the flora, but he was confident the workshop would be successful, and it was.
In the world of service to botanic science, he had made significant contribution to The Jepson Manual Project. He authored the Key to California Plant Families and served as the editor and primary author of the Asteraceae for both editions of The Jepson Manual. Key writing has always been one of Dave’s strengths, and it is a major part of the long-lasting legacy he has created throughout his career. For the second edition of The Jepson Manual, Dave authored a new key to families that encompasses the major taxonomic revisions that had taken place since 1993 and served as co-editor for the entire manual. His ability to track nomenclatural changes and translate them into meaningful morphological characters in all the major plant families was crucial for the writing of the new family key. Part of what makes Dave’s keys so valuable is that they are written with field botanists in mind, anticipating user misinterpretation on minor characters. This can only be done if the key writer is familiar with every other possible plant, which Dave usually is. Dave has authored over 130 species descriptions mostly in the Asteraceae, but also in the Poaceae and Ranunculaceae. Four taxa have been named in Dave’s honor: Ancistrocarphus keilii Morefield, Erigeron inornatus (A. Gray) A. Gray var. keilii G.L. Nesom, Wedelia keilii B.L. Turner, and Chrysanthellum keilii B.L. Turner.
During his more than 37 years as a professor at Cal Poly, Dave taught courses in general botany, plant taxonomy, field botany and biogeography. He was awarded the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1980. Each year Dave traveled around California with his field botany students, teaching them the elements of California flora. Students have described the course as both the hardest and best course they have taken during their college careers. Classes taught by Dave were often a life changing experience for students. One former student said, “I…was accepted into the ecology program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. During my year there, I took Dr. David Keil’s plant systematics class, which converted me from ecology to botany.”
Dr. Keil joins chapter members Dr. Dirk Walters and Dr. David Chipping as Fellows of CNPS. Past Fellows from the chapter include Dr. Malcolm McLeod and Alice and Bud Meyer.
Dave receiving his award Photo: Melissa Mooney. Laurel wreath: Mardi Niles
California ground squirrel aka Beechey ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi), may look cute or even cuddly, but ground squirrels could be the worst things to hit your garden since your cousin came to visit in his RV. No, seriously, this last year saw an explosion of the squirrel population due to the late but heavy March rains which brought a profusion of good things to feed the ground squirrels. And multiply they indeed did.
First, don’t use poison to control squirrels. The possibility of poisoning another species unintentionally, such as an owl, a hawk, or a turkey vulture is too problematic. Instead, I opt to capture the squirrel in a live trap then remove them to the wild, or to Pacific Wildlife Care to feed their rehab birds. Selecting a live trap can be complicated. I prefer the larger live trap to capture the critter. I use a combination of peanut butter and birdseed to bait the trap, placing it on the trap trigger. Once I catch the squirrel, I cover the trap with a towel so as to calm the little guy down until I can release him in another suitable place, which is up to you.
Next month we will cover gopher control. Until then, Happy Gardening.
John Nowak, Plant Sale co-Chairperson
I’m introducing a new artist with this cover of the Obispoensis. The artist is Heather Johnson, who paints beautiful renditions of California native plants, so I asked her if she would allow them to be displayed on the Obispoensis cover. Thankfully, she agreed and has sent me several. I was really taken by the first one I looked at! It was of a leafy twig of the California grape in fall color. California grapes are widespread through Northern California where they favor, but are not restricted to, stream sides. However, I was surprised by Heather showing them having bright red color. If you are seeing the cover in black and white, I recommend that you go to cnpsslo.org and see them in their brilliant red color. The leaf color rendition produced by Heather closely matches the color of the leaves I saw in photos on the Web.
There is a problem with the leaf color however, and trying to resolve it lead me to a very interesting story. This is because the usual fall color of California grape leaves is pale yellow not red. So where did the red come from. It turns out that the entire story of its finding and selection is well known and is worth a google search. In late October 1983, Roger Raiche of the U.C. Berkeley Botanic Garden, first saw a California grape with bright red leaves growing alongside Palmer Creek Road in rural Sonoma County, west of Healdsburg, California. He collected cuttings, rooted them in the green house and finally planted them out in the botanic garden. They grew easily and with minimal care and little water. Later he gave cuttings to a garden volunteer who was also a member of the local California Native Plant Society Chapter. She donated a flat of them to her CNPS Chapter’s plant sale. She labeled the flat simply “Roger’s red grape.” When those plants were sold, the name was born, although the cultivar ‘Roger’s Red’ has never been registered or patented.
So far we find we have a cultivar with very unique fall color that was found growing wild. But, we still haven’t discovered the origin or the red color. It turns out careful observation of the cultivar ‘Rogers Red’ indicated that it’s not pure Vitis californica and that it shared characteristics with the European wine grape (Vitis vinifera). Further observations limited the possible ancestor to a particular variety of commercial vine grape commonly grown for its reddish fruits. The red fruits of this variety were used to add extra color to red wines. This variety was and still is Vitis vinifera ‘Alicante Bouschet’ and has been grown in California for years. As well as reddish fruits, this variety of wine grape produces bright red leaves in the fall. Enter DNA to the story. Several DNA studies proved that the cultivar ‘Roger’s Red’ is truly a hybrid between the native California grape and the European wine grape Vitis vinifera var. Alicante Bouschet.
This California native (hybrid) is extremely popular and is widely available at nurseries and probably CNPS native plant sales around the state. It’s easy to grow and tolerates many different soils, watering regimes and different levels of shade. Its major fault might be its rapid, aggressive growth. It will require taming. Its fruits are edible, but the seeds are large and the flesh is thin. Not a great ‘eat-off-the vine’ fruit but they can be turned into a nice drink.
INVASIVE SPECIES REPORT
Conicosia pugioniformis Narrow leaf iceplant
Conicosia is in the Aizoaceae family. It is a succulent perennial with a crowded basal rosette of smooth, bright green, upright, linear leaves. Clustered with the leaves are stems with brilliant yellow flowers. All this on top of a carrot like root. It’s capsule fruits are dry at maturity.
Conicosia is abundant on coastal dunes. It seems like nearly anywhere I travel in the back dunes from Oceano to Guadalupe—there they are—they’re so darn ubiquitous! Conicosia crowds out native plants and is a prolific seed producer.
Do not step on a plant with dried capsules: the seed will stick to the bottoms of your shoes! Due to a thick root it is hard to pull. If one snaps off the leaves on the soil surface it will grow back, therefore a shovel is best. Chemical control is best achieved by spraying a liquid mix containing 1.5% glyphosate 1.5% surfactant. It is best to spray before flowering. (We caution that the use of glycophosate is under legal challenge as a possible carcinogen.)
THE GARDEN CORNER
With the Fall season almost upon us it’s time to start planning on preparation for the Winter season. The most important item on the list is weed control. By applying mulch now you will save lot of labor in the future (next Spring & Summer).
Any forest product four (4) inches thick will stop weed growth, but it can also affect desirable plants from thriving if you don’t follow the rules. So start by checking and marking any California native plants, like Baccharis, Lupinus, or Eschscholzia californica, before spreading mulch. Once all desirable plants are plotted using marker flags or sticks, spread a thick layer of clean chips of any forest product four inches thick to suppress weed growth. Leave a one-foot space around desirable plants with no mulch. This will prevent trunk rot. While mulching is not always 100% effective for weed control, it can definitely help mitigate the majority of grass weeds.
Happy Gardening; John Nowak, Plant Sale co-Chairperson.
We are still awaiting the Draft EIR for the Froom Ranch development at Highway 101 and Los Osos Valley Road. We are also watching very carefully the Trump Administration orders to BLM to examine the oil leasing potential of all of its holdings. This is not a problem for most BLM lands in the County, as most are situated on geology extremely unlikely to contain oil deposits.
The county has been extensively drilled over the last century, with most being dry holes, although there is some potential in northern Santa Barbara County, the Huasna area, and some lands adjoining the Carrizo Plain National Monument. We will address any new lease sales as they occur. There are no chances of Morro Rock being drilled, as some conservation organizations have suggested.
We are also following the Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Process very closely, and attended panel hearings.
Lastly, we are also following developments in the Sustained Groundwater Management Act regarding the protection of surface waters:
Many visitors to the Carrizo Plain in 2018 were expecting to see the showy displays of wildflowers that earned the area the “Superbloom” designation in 2017…but they came away disappointed. So where did all the wildflowers go? In a word:
underground. Most wildflowers in the Carrizo Plain and other arid lands around the world are annuals, a strategy in which the plants complete their life cycle in a single growing season and wait out the dry season as seeds. In the meantime, the seeds are stored in the soil not too far below the ground surface, in what is called the soil seed bank. Those seeds sprout and grow into recognizable plants when temperature and moisture conditions are just right and any additional barriers to germination are overcome.
Some perennial plants do grow on the Carrizo Plain and similar landscapes. This type of plant survives through one or more dry seasons as fleshy roots, bulbs, or similar structures—which also are underground. Among the perennials you can find on the Carrizo are blue dicks, larkspurs, and various wild onions. Even these plants may not show up every year, waiting until years of “normal” rainfall to push stems above ground and produce leaves and flowers.
Each type of annual plant needs a different combination of moisture and temperature to stimulate seed growth. Native
wildflowers (those that evolved in this region over thousands or millions of years) generally do best in years when abundant rain occurs during the cool months of mid-winter. Many native plants produce a cluster or “rosette” of leaves at ground level during the winter and do not send up a flower stalk until the weather begins to warm up in the spring.
The ubiquitous nonnative grasses—most of which evolved in the Mediterranean region of Europe—generally respond to warm fall rains. Some of the more familiar nonnative grasses are red brome, soft chess, foxtail barley, and wild oats. When this area receives early rainfall, the nonnative grasses get a head start on the native wildflowers and turn the hillsides green. By putting down roots early in the growing season, these annual grasses are able to capture and absorb any rain that falls, leaving too little available for the native wildflower seeds to grow or survive beyond the seedling stage. Thus, years when rains begin early while temperatures are still warm and rains come regularly throughout the fall and winter have been called “grass years.”
A different set of conditions is needed to produce the masses of native flowers known as “Superblooms.” These tend to occur in years with abundant winter rainfall that does not begin until the cooler months of late fall and follows several years of drought. Germination barriers can take several forms. Some plants produce chemicals in the seed coat (the outermost layer of the seed) that must be leached out by repeated wetting before the seeds can sprout. Others have such hard or thick-walled seed coats that mechanical action such as rubbing or grinding by soil particles is needed before water can penetrate. And still others—particularly those that grow in vernal pools—need to be immersed underwater for some time to allow fungi and other decay organisms to break down the seed coat. Many years—even 50 or more!—may pass before seeds of a given type of wildflower are ready to start growing again. For this reason, the endangered California jewelflower was thought to have disappeared from the Carrizo Plain entirely, until an observant biologist spotted it in the late 1980s.
In the driest years, annual plants may bloom when they are only an inch or two high, producing only one or a few flowers, and they may or may not live until the few seeds are mature. But because they do produce at least some seeds in most years, usually at least a few of those seeds are ready to grow each year. In the “off” years these small, scattered plants are hard to find, unlike the showy patches that can be seen from miles away in the wetter years. Luckily for visitors to Superblooms come along once every decade or so. We can only guess what type of year 2019 will be….