Invasive Species of the Month – Cortaderia jubata

Invasive Species of the Month – Cortaderia jubata

Invasive Species of the Month

Jubata grass (Cortaderia jubata)

Mark Skinner

There is an intense infestation of Jubata grass on the California coast. As almost everyone knows it mars the most
beautiful places such as Big Sur. On their web site California Invasive Plant Council (CalIPC) describes that Jubata grass is native to northern Argentina, Bolivia, Peru Chile and Ecuador. It was grown in France and Ireland from seed collected in Ecuador. It may have come to California from France and was first seen in 1966. Jubata grass has been called the “marriage weed” as honeymooners dragged the plumes behind their cars in Big Sur. Oy! What a mess!

Jubata grass flowers from late July to September. No pollination is necessary for reproduction. Flowers are female
only, which produces viable seed. Each plume may contain 100,000 seeds! Plants may have 1 to 30+ plumes. I started removing Jubata grass in the mid 1990’s with Jack Biegle and John Nowak, just north of Oso Flaco boardwalk.
I’ve been at it ever since and removed hundreds from the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, San Luis Obispo, Cambria and
Vandenberg. I’m happy to report that from the many hundreds that were in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes there are only about twenty remaining.

Sudden Oak Death (SOD) in SLO County

Sudden Oak Death (SOD) in SLO County


Terrible news for the Coast Live Oak and Tanbark Oak of our County. CNPS was a major contributor to the collection of leaves on possibly suspect oak and bay trees. Locally organized by CNPS’ Lauren Brown and Cal Fire’s Kim Corella , volunteers sampled bay trees as ‘carriers’ of the disease’s spores, which up to this year did not come south of Monterey County. The leaves were sent up to the labs in the Bay Area, and for the first time there were a large number of infections found, especially along Santa Rosa Creek. Other sites were Vineyard Drive, Cypress Mt. Rd., the west side of Atascadero, Cal Poly in Stenner Creek amd Leaning Pine Arboretum and on Prefumo Canyon Rd. This was a major shock, primarily because of the breadth of the newly found infections.

There is no cure. Prevention is through good sanitation in limiting the transport of spores. To learn more about the visible symptoms on infected leaves, go to the SOD website:

Image is of the Bay tree, courtesy of Marlin Harms


Suzette and I would like to invite any and all members, new or old, to please volunteer to help at this year’s annual plant sale on Saturday, November 5th.

There are many jobs to be done and I can always match you to something that fits best for you. Some jobs are setting up chairs and tables, un-loading plants, directing traffic, assisting with plant sales, and answering plant related questions. It’s a great way to meet new people, talk to old friends, learn plant names, and get some exercise. We will have books, posters, T-shirts, … ooh did I forget to say volunteers get first pick on plants before the sale starts. e-mail John Nowak or call 805/674-2034 with any questions. Just indicate hours that you can help. We will also be at the Chapter Meeting on the 3rd. Until then Happy Gardening,

John and Suzette

Generous Donation

Our Chapter would like to thank the anonymous donors of $1,000 to the Malcolm McLeod Scholarship Fund. This fund supports student research and has aided many students in projects that have contributed greatly to our knowledge of the flora. If you would also like to help students in their research, please look at our web page on the fund.


There will be a selection of seeds that were left from the seed exchange available at the plant sale. Many of these are
seeds that are not available commercially. It will be your chance to experiment with growing natives from seed. Our seeds are collected from member gardens, or, in a few cases, from other areas with permission. Seeds are sometimes from cultivars. Plants in garden environments often have ample opportunity to hybridize and some do so readily. For those reasons what might grow might not be exactly what you expect.

Our seeds are not subjected to germination testing. In many cases seeds will germinate readily. Some are known to be difficult. For advice on what might work see the book Seed Propagation of Native California Plants by Dara E. Emery (often available from our book sale). Wildflowers are usually reliable though much depends upon the environment where you are trying to grow them.

Some of the seeds may have been damaged by insect activity. I have tried to not include those but some may have escaped my attention. I do appreciate some of the insect activity because it means our natives are supporting the insects that are needed by other creatures that live with us. Most birds, even the nectar consuming ones, raise their
babies on insects.

For all the reasons above our seeds are inexpensive and the numbers of seeds in the packets are usually very generous. There are no guarantees however.

Chapter Meeting

Nov 3, 2016 – Thursday – 7pm

Dave Fross of Native Sons Wholesale Nursery will give a presentation entitled “Home Ground, Forty Years Among the Natives.”

Meet at the Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo.

Chapter Council Meeting recap

For those who were unable to attend last month’s CNPS Chapter Council meeting in Morro Bay, I will to share with you my take on the research data presented during the Conservation Symposium and its framing of the impacts of climate change on possible California native plant migrations.

The morning started off with the research of Ellen Cypher of the Endangered Species Recovery Program at CSU Stanislaus. Her work focused on the preservation of the endangered Bakersfield cactus (Opuntia basilaris var. treleasei) and the two options of either working with the few existing natural populations that still exist within the habitat range or establishing new populations outside its range. Due to advances of land development in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, populations of this cactus have been severally reduced and biologists are testing the concept of assisted migration by planting new populations to prevent species extinction. At this time, her attempts to extend the range with new, permanent populations has been only partially successful due to several factors, the greatest of which is the ongoing drought.

Jessica Wright of the Pacific Southwest Research Station, US Forest Service was next, speaking about her work with valley oak, (Quercus lobata) in an attempt to identify elite strains that are better adapted to changing climates. Several valley oak populations were sampled throughout California in 2012 by collecting acorns and measuring the mother trees that produced them. Subsets of the acorns were extensively planted at two locations in 2013 in Northern California for observation. Those trees are now three years old and are being measured for growth parameters (size and architecture) as compared to the mother trees. DNA of these young trees has also been sampled in order to measure genetic similarities between each acorn subset and the investigation any connection with field performance. In the end, it is hoped certain subsets can be identified having adaptive capabilities for use in maintaining the overall health of valley oak as it is subjected to climatic changes.

The next presenter was Todd Esque of the Western Ecological Research Center, US Geological Survey speaking about the migration of Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) towards more northern and cooler (higher elevation) environments. His research surveyed all of the
Joshua tree habitat throughout the Mojave Desert in California and southwestern Nevada, with preliminary findings that indeed this species is not reproducing well across most of its range, except in areas with higher elevation and/or more northerly locations. These data suggest that global warming is having a significant impact on the reproductive proficiency of the trees.

Alexandra Syphard of the Conservation Biology Institute was next to present, speaking about her extensive work in making comparisons between climate changes models. I found her work fascinating, noting how complex these models can be – requiring super computers to crunch hypothetical scenarios with multiple factors. The bottom line of her talk was that as the number of variables
increases (urban growth, fire, invasive species, climate change, habitat loss, etc.), the modeling of plant species distribution gets affected by each and every factor simultaneously, thereby demanding extremely accurate inputs to generate these models which we really don’t have at this time. Thus, the modelers continue, looking for the exact combination of factors to mimic what we see
going on in nature.

The Symposium concluded with a talk by Jerre Stallcup, Chief Resources Officer and Senior Conservation Ecologist in San Diego County, giving a history of land preservation efforts in Southern California. She spoke of the successes and failures in land conservancy, stressing the need to stay intimately involved in the stewardship of each protected parcel long after its acquisition, lest the quality and productivity of each land holding becomes compromised, ultimately losing a great portion of its value to the community.

Bill Waycott


Bill Waycott

President, CNPS SLO Chapter

Tips for Buying the Right Plant for Your Garden

After last week’s hot spell (last week of September) when Los Osos hit 98°F in the shade; a good feeling came over me. Back in the day when I was a kid I always remember a hot Indian summer before a normal rainy year. So keeping this in mind I’m hoping this fall will bring lots of the wet stuff and get all the plants you purchased at the sale off to a good start. So I’m going to go over some of the basics for buying the right plant for your garden.

First, it’s important to think of others that come to visit your garden. I’m not just talking about your friends but other critters, such as birds, squirrels, gophers, moles, deer, rabbits … you get the picture. If you have a deer problem, it will limit your selection. Likewise, if you want to bring bees, birds, and beneficial insects to your garden such as Monarch Butterflies you can do this by selecting your plants ahead of
the sale.

Second, most important, if the rains don’t come you will need to be Mother Nature and water until the plants become established. This would mean a good soaking over the Winter, twice a month until April. After that pay attention and water at least once a month over the first Summer depending on your soil type. Los Osos, Nipomo, etc. more water and clay soils less water every three weeks during the summer, just watch closely.

If you’re lucky and you already have established plants then the idea would be to select something that can co-exist with what you already have. Remember like playing music, less is best. Avoid the temptation to create a botanical garden and focus on simple design. Also, remember that bugs always want to destroy our best intentions. I like to use water spray on leaves to control aphids, spider mites, thrips, and to knock down oak moth caterpillars. If needed, consult your local nursery for other options.

Lastly, picking the right plant for the right spot. Sounds simple, but this is the most difficult task. Like a small boat on a large sea, the wrong plant in the wrong spot will die for sure and you won’t be happy. Going back to my first topic, look at the big picture, sun, shade are very important. Soil, drainage, are number two on the list. Think about when you go out on a hike, what’s growing on the trail. Well-drained, sunny slopes have manzanita, ceanothus, buckwheat, and lupine but shady areas have more organics, oaks, ribes, ferns, coffeberry, and hummingbird sage, love it there.

So in conclusion, I’m expecting a good chance of rain, if my gut feeling and childhood memories come through. Of course, we will have lots of good people working the sale this year so if you have special plant request, email me at and I will see what I can do. For now, happy gardening; Suzette and I will see you at the plant sale.


Ceanothus hearstiorum

Ceanothus hearstiorum


October and November are when our Chapter gets serious about growing native plants. We have a November meeting devoted to it as well as our annual plant sale. This got me to remembering some articles written and drawings drawn by Alice G. Meyer that are in the Historians files. The mechanical typewriter written and her hand drawn copies on are on 8½ x 14 paper. I don’t think they were published in our chapter newsletter as I don’t remember us ever using that format. I think Alice may have produced them back in the 1970s or 1980s for the Morro Coast Audubon Society. If so, I hope they will forgive us for reprinting them. They’re too good to lie forgotten in a file somewhere.

Alice, along with her husband, Henry (Bud), were our Chapters first members to be elected Fellows of the State CNPS. Alice was extremely interested in native plant gardening and had a fantastic native plant garden in her Los Osos back yard.


Alice and Bud Meyer: Fellows of CNPS

It was Alice who suggested in the Early 1970’s that our Chapter have a Native Plant Sale! She then went ahead and planned it. The first one was small and contained only plants grown by Chapter members as well as a few plants propagated by Cal Poly Students in a Native Plants Class several years before and that were scheduled to be thrown out. It was quite successful! The Chapter has had a plant sale the first Saturday in November ever since.

Alice ran the sale until 1990 when the current plant Sale Chair, John Nowak, took over. Note, we have had ONLY two plant sale chairs since the early 1970s. This points out one of the strengths in our Chapter. Our member often have a long term commitment to the tasks required for running a CNPS Chapter.

Enough history, let’s let Alice tell us about a fantastic native garden plant in her own words.

Dr. Dirk Walters


Ceonothus hearstiorum

by Alice G. Meyer

The Hearst mountain lilac grows on low hills near the coast, just north and south of Arroyo de la Cruz on the Hearst Ranch. It is not known to grow anywhere else, and, is a rare and endangered plant. It is a spreading prostrate shrub, known botanically as Ceanothus hearstiorum (See-an-OH-thus hearst-ee-OH rum). Horticulturally, it is an ideal ground cover, 4 to 8 inches tall, handsome all year , but especially when it flowers in March and April. The shrub is not widely available, but some growers do propagate it.

Hearst mountain lilac grows best on the coast, in full sun. Inland, it prefers filtered sunlight, and should have some supplemental water during the hot months. Once established, it will survive on the coast with normal rainfall, but will tolerate some summer water. In dry years it needs extra moisture to maintain it best appearance. An observant gardener will note stress and take necessary action. Inland supplemental water during the hot months is a must.

Wherever it is grown, good drainage is important, and there should be no basin around the shrub as water standing around the trunk will cause bacterial problems. When planting, it is better to plant it on a slight mound, so that water runs outward towards the drip line, but the soil should not be piled up around it higher than it was in the container.

ceonothus hearstiorum
Photo by Stan Shebs
  • The edges of the dark green leaves are curled downward between the veins, making them seem notched and giving the leaves a crinkled appearance.
  • The deep wedge-wood blue flowers are in tight, upward facing racemes ½ to 1½ inches long.
  • Each flower is no more than 1/8 inch across.
  • If you remove one flower and inspect it with a magnifying glass you will find that it has a stem (pedicel) of the same color as the flower, and the five pointed sepals fold inward to the center around the three-parted stigma.
  • The spaces between the petals are like five rays extending from the center to the edge of the flower.
  • Near the outer edge of each ‘ray’ a yellow stamen rises, and at the very edge another petal extends outward. This petal is thread-like at the base, and at its outer edge it widens out to a spoon-like shape with a bowl about 1/16 inch long.

Because the flowers are so small, a great many are crowded into each raceme. The groups are beautiful, but close inspection of an individual blossom reveals its complex structure.

Should you grow this shrub, it is advisable not to let too many layers of branches build up on top of the shrub, as it will tend to die out underneath. Keep the shrub very prostrate. Where the plant is native, it is browsed by deer and cattle, and this tendency is thus resolved.

Management of Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge

An update from our Conservation Committee on the management of Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been developing a management plan for the wildlife refuge, and CNPS conservation committee gave input. To put it very simply, they presented three alternatives (A) keep on doing what they have been doing (B) Do more (C) Do less. They opted for (A), while CNPS wanted (B).

USFWS tacked on a few items from the (B) list, including wild pig control and predator management to aid snowy plover and least tern, but seem to be cutting back on some critical things. They “would reduce …. invasive vegetation control to when staffing resources or partnerships allow. We would annually monitor for the listed La Graciosa thistle and marsh sandwort” As invasive veldt grass is the greatest threat to the entire dune system, any reduction of control will, in the end, result in loss of the dune ecosystem. All this is, alas, budget driven..

–David Chipping

Justin Winery and the Draft Native Tree Interim Zoning/Urgency Ordinance

An update from the Conservation committee about Justin Winery and the Draft Native Tree Interim Zoning/Urgency Ordinance

As most of you know, Justin Winery, part of Estate Vineyards LLC (a division of the Resnik family’s Wonderful Corporation agricultural conglomerate), destroyed 100 acres of dense oak woodland. Neighbors in the Adelaida were enraged, and the County halted further work. Sadly, the removal of a couple of thousand oaks was NOT against county rules, but the illegal grading was, as was the construction of a large agricultural pond that was to be filled from local groundwater supplies.

CNPS went to the initial hearing at the Board of Supervisors calling for adoption of an Urgency Oak Protection Ordinance that had been quickly written by county staff. The Board approved it on a 4 to 1 vote. The ordinance was just for 45 days, and CNPS conservation committee members worked very hard to make sure it would be renewed in August. We needed 4 of the 5 supervisors for an urgency ordinance and made personal contact with supervisors and rallied speakers to come to the second hearing. The Urgency Ordinance has been extended a further 9 months, with county staff tasked with crafting a permanent ordinance.

CNPS is currently making a list of things we need to see in a permanent ordinance. In doing this we must address the concern of landowners that a poorly written ordinance could interfere with ranch operations requiring minor oak removals, as we would prefer the ‘carrot’ over the ‘stick’. I think most county
residents think Justin should get the ‘log ‘rather than the ‘stick’, but until this moment there is little to protect trees on private lands.

CNPS tried hard for an ordinance in the 1990s, but were stymied by opposition. At this time the Board of Supervisors is balanced between environmental
sensitivity and property rights concerns, but this election might bring a change in balance that could put a permanent ordinance in jeopardy.

–David Chipping

Invasive Species of the Month – Erigeron bonariensis

Invasive Species of the Month – Erigeron bonariensis

Erigeron bonariensis

Hairy Fleabane or Flax Leaved Horseweed
Family: Asteraceae, Place of Origin: South America
Hairy fleabane is aptly named: it is strigose (set with stiff bristles or hairs) throughout the plant – stems, leaves, flowers.

Hairy fleabane is an low annual, (about 8″ to 3′) and thrives in disturbed areas. I’ve seen it emerge in cracks in pavement and in areas formerly occupied by European beachgrass in the Dunes. Often, it is present with Erigeron canadensis (Horseweed), which is native to North America. Horseweed, along with another native composite, Heterotheca grandiflora (Telegraph weed) are the most unattractive weedy natives in California.

Hairy fleabane produces many urn or barrel shaped flowers, the fluffy seeds are sandy colored and distributed by the breeze. In the Dunes it is competing with other composites such as Dunedelions and Cudweeds and should be removed.

Mark Skinner

Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve on the Rocks (or sand)

Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve on the Rocks (or sand)

When CNPS Conservation team members John Chesnut and David Chipping joined with Marla Morrissey to form the Morro Estuary Greenbelt Alliance, the non-profit brought government agencies together to secure funds to protect rare dune habitat surrounding Los Osos. As a result of that effort, the Powell Properties north and east of the Los Osos Middle School, and the Butte property at the end of Butte Drive near Shark Inlet were brought into the State Parks system, as well as the ‘Bayview Property’ which is now called the Morro Dunes Ecological Reserve and under the management of California Dept. Fish and Wildlife. Unfortunately the funding to manage these parcels has either been sparse or non existent.

A CNPS conservation team has been cleaning out abandoned homeless camps within a literal stones throw of one of the two stands of Indian Knob mountain balm, and directly within a stand of Morro manzanita. There was evidence of fires and other scary things. The photos below show cleanout of one of the several piles of crud ata one site. A greater threat comes from thoughtless actions by the equestrian community that is cutting new trails in the fragile sand, cutting manzanita to allow horse access, and not yet responding to CNPS requests for dialog. CDFW attempts to manage trails consisted of a sheet of paper stapled to a pole ‘closing’ a trail and which vanished in days, and lately a bit of paper not much larger than a fortune cookie that was pinned to the post with partly penetrating thumb tacks.

There have been no efforts to control veldt grass, which is taking over habitat of the rare lichen Cladonia firma. In North America Cladonia firma is known from only four populations in California on the southeast side of Morro Bay, in Los Osos and at Montana d’Oro State Park in San Luis Obispo County. Interestingly, the species responds to fog. The picture below show Cladonia firma green after a foggy night in early September.

October Seed Exchange

October Seed Exchange

A seed exchange is planned for the time slot from 6:00 to 7:15 before the October meeting. If you have been hard at work collecting this spring and summer, the time is almost here to part with those seeds. If you are interested in growing from seed, here is your chance to obtain free seed to try your hand at propagation.

Just a cautionary note: Plants grown from seed may not come true. Many of our natives hybridize so that the seed of the Mimulus aurantiacus growing near the Mimulus puniceus may produce some interesting flower colors. The result may not be what you expect. It might be delightful or it might not. These garden produced seeds will generally not be appropriate for use in restoration projects. If you are willing to devote your time and effort and take a chance on
garden grown seed then this is the before-the-meeting event you want to attend.

The plan is that we will set up tables and anyone who brings seed can place it on those tables. The seed from one collector will all be kept in the same area so if you have a box or a tray to contain your seeds that might prove helpful. You may stay with your seed to educate those interested or you may go ‘shopping’ to see what is available. It would be best if seed was parceled out into quantities that a person could walk away with and the packets labeled with genus and species.

You should be able to supply the information of the date of collection and location of collection. But if you don’t want to go to that effort bulk seed will be
acceptable. Please have it cleaned to the best of your ability. Also please supply as many envelopes as possible. Those who are ‘shopping’ may need to bring their own envelopes. Most of us get plenty of envelopes in junk mailings. Let’s repurpose those into seed envelopes. You may also need a writing implement to label those envelopes.

Seeds will not be sold. This is a free exchange. Tables will need to be put away before the actual meeting begins so this will be a rather quick event. Hopefully we will all enjoy it and we will want to try it again next year.

Left over seed will be accepted for possible packaging for the plant sale in November. Seeds appropriate for the propagation group experiments might be sequestered for those members.

See you there.

Marti Rutherford

Solidago californica

Solidago californica

California Goldenrod (Solidago velutina ssp. californica or S. californica)

The photo by Dr. David Chipping that accompanies this note are of the California goldenrod (Solidago velutina ssp. californica or Solidago californica). According to Dr. Hoover in his Vascular Plants of San Luis Obispo County, California goldenrod is found primarily in sandy soils in the western portion of our county.. It prefers open grasslands or edges of wood and shrub lands. It never seems to me to be overly abundant. The currently recognized species (S. velutina) can be found throughout the Western North America from Mexico in to southern Canada. As might be expected of a species with this wide a range, it has been subdivided in a number of sub-specific units. And this is certainly the case. Only two of the subspecies are likely to be encountered in California (S. v. ssp. californica and S. v. ssp. sparsiflora). Subspecies sparsifolia need not concern us here as it is found primarily in Eastern California and
adjacent states. Subspecies californica is found throughout California (except the S.E. Deserts) but is especially common in the California Floristic Province
which includes essentially all of California west of the Cascade, Sierra Nevada, and Peninsular Range axis. In the Morro Bay area I’ve seen it in the grasslands around Shark Inlet.

In Dr. Hoover’s Flora this plant is recognized as S. californica. In the most recent Jepson Manual, S. californica has been reduced to a subspecies of S. velutina. How can this happen? Is it just the whim of the experts? According to the internet, relatively recent numerical taxonomic work on a number of similar, but separately described species of goldenrod indicated that they were more closely related than previously thought. That they were separately described as species should be expected. Until recent advances in communication, taxonomists tended to do plant identification studies primarily on the
plants of their immediate area. They would have had little opportunity to travel and visit reference collections far from home. They would encounter forms of plants that were readily distinguishable from other plants in their area. So why not describe them as a new species. Now, of course, taxonomists have many more tools to help them find characters unknowable to earlier workers. Mass transit and communication help modern taxonomists to know what others have done or are doing. Equally important they have computers to help analyze all this data. So why not expect lots of changes.

In my limited search of the literature and internet, I found three common names. These are velvety goldenrod in Jepson and California goldenrod or 3-nerve goldenrod everywhere else. The name goldenrod I think refers to my observation that most of them produce clusters on unbranched stems (= “rods”) topped with clusters of bright golden flowers (i.e. ‘gold bearing rods’). Most of the plants answering to the California goldenrod subspecies have densely fuzzy or velvet leaves. 3-nerved golden rod refers to the fact that a ‘few’ of the larger plants produce leaves with 3 major veins running from base to tip. I suggest this is not the best common name as it is misleading as only a few of the largest plants produce 3-veined leaves. California goldenrod is the best as this subspecies is essentially restricted to our state.

California goldenrod is highly recommended for the native plant garden. It prefers moist soils but is relatively tolerant of drier soils from sandy to light clay. It’s going to do best in sunny locations. It is attractive to a number of different classes of pollinators so it is great for those who would like to encourage beautiful, beneficial insects to visit their garden. Lastly, one internet site showed pictures of yarn dyed a beautiful yellow color using extracts from California goldenrod..
One last thing about goldenrods in general. Where I grew up, in the Midwest, there were a large number of species of goldenrods and they were exceptionally widespread and numerous. Many species could even be said to be ‘weedy’. Like a lot of members of the sunflower family, they tended to bloom in the late summer into fall. This is also when another member of the sunflower family bloomed-rag weed (Ambrosia trifida among others).

Rag weeds are unusual composites in that they produce tiny, wind pollinated flowers. Rag weeds were nearly as or more common than goldenrods but because of their tiny flowers many didn’t even recognize they were blooming. However they were blooming and they produced exceedingly huge amount of wind-borne pollen. This made rag weed pollen a major component in allergy forecasts. Unfortunately, announcers would say, “the rag weed and goldenrod pollen counts were high”. I had a botany professor who told the class that goldenrod were included in the forecasts only because it was common and
conspicuous. Goldenrods are insect pollinated and therefore would produce little pollen and that wouldn’t have been released into the air. In fact, it would be sticky so it could stick to the pollinator’s bodies.

Dr. Dirk Walters

August in the Sierra Nevadas

August in the Sierra Nevadas

Diana and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Sierra Nevada Mts. in mid-August this year. We chose to backpack to the lakes and peaks accessible from the Lake Sabrina trailhead, west of Bishop, CA. I thought it would be a good idea to present some photos of our trek, since many of our chapter members may not have been as fortunate as we in reaching the higher elevations of the Sierras.

During our six-days on the trial, we were treated to a visit to 12 lakes in the basin, many being snow fed and having that blue color one never cannot forget once seen. It was magical!

The photos presented here are of species that are found at timberline, roughly 11,500 ft. above sea level. These plants were all in full bloom at the time of our visit, meaning “spring” had finally reached these high elevations by mid-August.

Bill Waycott

President, CNPS SLO Chapter

CNPS Conservation Symposium and Field Trips

CNPS Conservation Symposium and Field Trips

It’s time to register for the CNPS Conservation Symposium and field trips to be held in Morro Bay from 8th to 11th September. The field trips are scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, with the Conservation Symposium on Saturday at the Morro Bay Vet’s Hall, 209 Surf Street. These events are free and open to the public – Members are encouraged to attend so please register at the link below.


You are also encouraged to attend the mixer and banquet after the Symposium Saturday night – with our own native plant superstar, Dave Keil, as the banquet speaker – there will be a $30 fee for the catered meal.

Conservation Symposium

Saturday, 10th September, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Morro Bay Vet’s Hall, 209 Surf Street, Morro Bay

This year’s Symposium will address the complex issues associated with climate change, as they relate to California native plant conservation.  The Symposium presentations will focus on three areas:

  1. Hands-on projects that incorporate climate change considerations during planning and implementation
  2. Modeling of future vegetation projects based on climate change projections
  3. How regional planning considers and incorporates climate change.

Area A – Hands-on projects:

Speaker Ellen Cypher: Creating new populations of an endangered species: recovery efforts for Bakersfield cactus

Speaker Jessica Wright: Identifying valley oaks that grow best under projected climate conditions

Speaker Todd Esque: The Race North: Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) and climate change

Area B – Modeling of vegetation dynamics:

Speaker Alexandra Syphard: Modeling vegetation dynamics under global change: Approaches, challenges, and examples

Area C – Regional conservation planning:

Proponents of the new Regional Conservation Framework (California Assembly Bill 2087 and pilot projects) will present the nuts and bolts of this approach to regional planning.  CNPS members from around the state will be asked to discuss how they have engaged in and commented to planning projects, while assessing how the degree climate change thinking has begun to influence planning decisions.

Roundtable discussion:

Speaker Jerre Stallcup, a longtime conservation planner, will share her perspectives on how “doing it the old-fashioned way” has evolved since the early 90’s in Southern California. Key points that help to support plants in any kind of regional planning process will also be presented.  She will help us understand the many facets of how and where climate change thinking is being translated into native plant research, restoration projects, and planning.

Symposium Lunch: ($10 per person, please register), Saturday, 10th September, 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm

Choice of sandwich on baguette, served banquet style with green salad, fresh fruit, chips, and cookies:

  • roast beef
  • turkey
  • veggie

Symposium Mixer and Banquet: ($30 per person, please register), Saturday, 10th September, Morro Bay Vet’s Hall, 209 Surf Street, Morro Bay 

Mixer/Social, 5:30 to 6:30 pm

Dinner, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm

Buffet with:

  • Greek Caesar salad
  • Roasted garlic potatoes
  • Marinated roasted vegetables
  • Assorted rolls and butter

Entree choice:

  • Vegetarian sautéed portabella mushroom stuffed with cheese ravioli
  • Lemon garlic herb chicken with mango q
  • Roasted pork tenderloin with cherry sauce.


  • Linn’s fruit pies with ice cream.

Banquet speaker: Saturday, 10th September, Dave Keil – the Native Flora of San Luis Obispo County  

Dr. Dave Keil is Professor Emeritus of Biology at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.  Dave has had a lifelong interest and enthusiasm for botany.  He received his B.S. and M.S. in botany from Arizona State University and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University.  He has taught courses in general botany, plant taxonomy, field botany, evolution, and biogeography.  For many years Dave served as Curator of the Robert F. Hoover Herbarium at Cal Poly.  He has authored scientific papers, textbooks, and study guides, and has been a major contributor to the Jepson Manual and the Flora of North America. His research interests include Asteraceae systematics and floristics of Western North America.  He edited the Wildflowers of San Luis Obispo and is preparing the second edition of the Vascular Plants of San Luis Obispo County.

Field trip schedule

Thursday – 8th September Morning – 8:30 am to 12:00 noon

East Cuesta Ridge, Los Padres National Forest

Led by Dave Keil, Cal Poly; co-leader Bill Waycott, CNPS

Meet at entrance to East Cuesta Ridge (Mount Lowe Rd.), off Highway 101 at the top of the Cuesta Grade, 30 minutes from Morro Bay.

This is a driving tour along the ridge separating coastal and interior regions in the Los Padres National Forest.  See diverse plant communities and spectacular views of the coastal plain with its nine Morros, the city of San Luis Obispo, and the Pacific Ocean.

No more than 0.5 miles walking; elevation gain no more than 100 feet

Afternoon – 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm

Sand Spit at Montaña de Oro State Park

Led by Michael Walgren, CA State Parks; co-leader: Bill Waycott, CNPS

Meet at the Sand Spit Road parking lot, at the end of Sand Spit Rd., in Montaña de Oro State Park, 15 minutes from Morro Bay.

Start by walking to the beach through a rich stand of coastal dune scrub, then north along the beach to an access trail into the dunes.  Hike across the dunes, observing the fore-, mid-, and far-dune plant communities.  Return through maritime chaparral, via the Old Army Rd..

2.5 miles walking; elevation gain 300 feet

Friday – 9th September Morning – 8:30 am to 12:00 noon

Serpentine plants near San Luis Obispo

Led by Dave Keil, Cal Poly; co-leader: Bill Waycott, CNPS

Meet at the entrance to Bog Thistle Trail, in the Irish Hills Natural Reserve, on Perfumo Canyon Rd., roughly 1.0 miles from the intersection with Los Osos Valley Rd.  The trailhead is on the left. 20 minutes from Morro Bay.

Walk the Bog Thistle and Mariposa Trails.  See plants of the central coast chaparral scrub community adapted to serpentine derived soils, with a handful of rare endemic species native to San Luis Obispo County. 

2.0 miles walking; elevation gain 500 feet

Afternoon – 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm

Field Trip, Coon Creek at Montaña de Oro State Park

Led by Lisa Andreano, CA State Parks; co-leader: David Chipping, CNPS

Meet at the Coon Creek parking lot, at the end of Pecho Valley Rd. in Montaña de Oro State Park. 20 minutes from Morro Bay.

Walk going east along Coon Creek Trail and return going west via Rattlesnake Flats Trail.  The Coon Creek Trail follows a coastal canyon with a perennial creek and is filled with riparian species typically seen further north.  Rattlesnake Flats Trial returns by ascending the south-facing slope of the canyon with a healthy sampling of maritime chaparral species.

4 miles walking; elevation gain 500 feet

Sunday – 11th September

Afternoon – 1:30 pm Field trip – Morro Bay State Park Estuary

John Sayers, California State Parks, co-leader: Bill Waycott, CNPS

Meet at the parking lot for Morro Bay State Park Marina off Main Street, across from the entrance to Morro Bay State Park Campground.

Visit several access points by car around the perimeter of Morro Bay Estuary.  See and discuss plants growing in brackish water within the tidal zone, beyond the high tide line, and further inland.  Discuss effects to this fragile habitat because of climate change.

0.5 miles walking; elevation gain 50 feet

If you have any questions or need for more information, please contact Bill Waycott, (805) 459-2103,

Also, if you can offer a bed to a member from out of town during the conference, please let Bill know as soon as possible.

CNPS Conservation Symposium and Field Trips Information, schedules, links, and the registration page

Image: By Leif Arne Storset – originally posted to Flickr as Bishop Peak, CC BY 2.5


Restoring Mission Creek

Restoring Mission Creek

The Mission Plaza riverwalk in downtown San Luis Obispo caters to thousands of central coast tourists and SLO community members every year. While SLO creek is widely admired, the riparian and creek bed vegetation leaves much to be desired. The City of San Luis Obispo Natural Resources Manager, Robert Hill, began to talk with the Executive Director of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and Cal Poly Horticulture and Crop Science professor, Bill Waycott, about the possibility of restoration for the riverwalk. This initial talk led to the involvement of others on the project including: Freddy Otte, the City of SLO City Biologist, John Doyle, landscape architect for J. Doyle Landscape and Construction, and Cal Poly Emeritus professor and curator of vascular plants, Dr. David Keil. The group met once to begin making plans but, the project was slow-moving with each member having a tremendous workload to manage for their respective jobs. The passion for the restoration was present; the time for the project work was missing.

For the past two years, Freddy Otte has been a Mentor for the Watershed Stewards Program (WSP) at the San Luis Obispo Steelhead Initiative. At the mention of the need for help with the restoration project, Freddy mentioned the possibility of collaboration to one of the Region II Team Leaders for the WSP SLO Office, Allie Watts. The Watershed Stewards Program is an AmeriCorps program and a special program of the California Conservation Corps whose goal is salmonid habitat restoration throughout California. WSP aims to give young natural resource professionals the hands on experience with experts in fisheries, conservation, and environmental fields during their 10 ½ month service term. Each Team Leader and Member of WSP must complete a watershed restoration project to fulfill part of their program requirements. The SLO Creek Restoration project would be the perfect fulfillment for WSP and truly allow Allie to immerse herself in the SLO community.

After email introductions, Allie began setting up meetings with all the project leaders to put these plans into action. The SLO Creek Restoration project team met several times prior to the first volunteer day on April 27th, 2016. The team decided the first plan of action was to remove the many invasive species throughout the riparian area of SLO Creek from the footbridge near Chorro Street to Broad Street. In general, invasive plants have shallow root structures which cause erosion into the creek in rain events. They also outcompete native plant species which provide valuable habitat for native animals living there, have deep root systems that reduce erosion, and are drought tolerant plants. Common invasive species the team planned to remove included: Vinca (periwinkle), Agapanthus (), and Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven).

Allie, Freddy, Bill, John, and Martha Rutherford, CNPS member, became the core leaders on the team and worked together to recruit volunteers, procure tools and safety gear, and spread the word about the event. On April 27th, 2016, the team’s hardwork was rewarded when over 140 volunteers showed up to remove invasive plants at SLO Creek. The volunteers ranged from Cal Poly students, CCC corpsmembers, community leaders from CNPS and the Downtown Association to local community members and families. While invasive removal is an ongoing process, this volunteer day was an excellent step in the right direction for the health of the SLO Creek riparian area. The shock of bare riparian areas kept the team’s momentum high moving forward.

The following meetings focused on native planting plans. Dr. David Keil provided great insight into the appropriate native plants that would thrive in the conditions at SLO Creek. Using his list, the team decided to reach out to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) student chapter at Cal Poly to acquire a planting palette. Brandon Cornejo, ASLA member, took charge of the project and the team was supplied with a base conceptual planting map and palette to allow the native planting volunteer days at SLO Creek to begin. Using the ASLA map and recommendations from Dr. Keil, the native plants were purchased from local nurseries, Growing Grounds, Las Pilitas, and Clearwater Color, and donated by project leaders. On March 12th, 2016 the team hosted the first native planting volunteer day at SLO Creek. Around twenty volunteers consisting of community members, WSP members, and CCC corpsmembers came out to help plant eighty native species in the first round of planting restoration. All volunteers learned proper planting techniques and the importance of creating a bern around the plant’s base. The bern is essentially a channel around the plant that keeps water close, allowing it to sink in. The berns were especially important for the natives planted on a downhill slope to ensure runoff was not rolling into the creek.

Following the initial planting, Allie continued to hand water all the plants once a week for four months and monitoring their progress. About 70% of the native species planted on the first volunteer day survived. During these four months, the team continued to meet to discuss the plant’s progress, future planting volunteer days, and future signage for the creek. ASLA and Brandon were instrumental in delivering a large “Back to the Natives” planting sign for SLO Creek. This sign features educational information on native and invasive plants as well as photos of the plants. The final sign is set to be approved by the city in September or October of this year. Upon approval and after more restoration work is completed next year, two large signs will be printed and placed at either end of the project, near the footbridge by Broad Street and past the footbridge near Chorro Street. In addition to the large signs, small native plant signs will be placed near different plant species in the riparian area to help community members and tourists identify California riparian native plants. The goal for all of this signage is to help educate and enhance the visitors experience when walking near the creek.

After a four-month hiatus, the team scheduled another large native species planting volunteer day at SLO Creek. On July 23rd, 2016, around twenty volunteers consisting of community members and families, WSP members, and CCC corpsmembers came out to SLO Creek to help plant 108 more native plants and place bark mulch throughout the planted area of the project to help soak up water and prevent weed and invasive species growth. With one area of the project beginning to adapt to the native plant growth, the project team feels good about the current condition of the river walk but knows there is still more work to do. When asked why this project was so vital for SLO Creek and the city, Bill Waycott explained in saying, “The pristine landscapes of Coastal California are slowly being colonized by invasive plants introduced from other parts of the world. The banks of the perennial creek that flows through downtown San Luis Obispo is no exception. Local residents can make a difference in stemming the tide of invasives by learning what California native plants look like and opting to use them when planting an area. Our mild climate and abundant sunshine provide the opportunity for non-native plants to thrive, having negative consequences. Restoration of SLO Creek at the Mission Plaza will serve as an excellent example of the use of native plants to all who visit our city.” This project will take years to reach its full potential but, this team is all committed to this county and continuing to be a part of the SLO Creek Restoration team. Next October or November the team will be hosting another volunteer event to plant native species, remove some limited invasive growth, and place bark mulch throughout the second area past the footbridge near Broad Street. Moving forward the project team envisions, the removal of the sprouts and large Tree of Heaven near the creek, more volunteer days for native planting in the first area and the second, creekbed invasive removal and native planting volunteer days, and inputting the large and individual educational signage.

CNPS Chapter Council Meeting to be held in Morro Bay!

CNPS Chapter Council Meeting to be held in Morro Bay!

The September meeting of the CNPS Chapter Council will be held in Morro Bay from Thursday to Sunday, September 8-11, 2016.

This meeting is held four times per year in different parts of the state (the last meeting was held near Lake Tahoe), and is attended by delegates and representatives from the majority of CNPS’s 35 chapters statewide, along many CNPS staff from the Sacramento office. The San Luis Obispo chapter is hosting this meeting and we hope our membership will participate in the events being offered. The Morro Bay Vet’s Hall (209 Surf Street) will serve as the location of meetings between Friday noon to Sunday noon.

Meeting Agenda

Thursday and Friday, we plan to offer field trips to choice botanical destinations on the Central Coast. Friday afternoon, the State Board of Directors will also meet between 2:00 and 6:00 pm at the Vet’s Hall, followed by a no-host dinner at a local restaurant. Local members are invited to participate in the field trips, board meeting, as well as “meet and eat” dinner, Friday night.

For Saturday, the session will focus on Statewide Conservation Projects, with a series of presentations devoted to all-things pertaining to California native flora conservation. The Sunday morning session will be devoted to Chapter Council business topics, with another field trip planned for Sunday afternoon. Local members are encouraged to participate in Saturday’s Conservation Symposium as well as Sunday afternoon’s field trip.

An official agenda of the meeting will be circulated by mid-August.


An important tradition of the Chapter Council meetings is the offer by local members of free accommodations to outside participants during the event. If you have the ability to accommodate one or more participants from outside the area in your home, please send an e-mail or call Bill Waycott,, (805) 459-2103, to discuss your offer. In your communication, please indicate the number of persons to be accommodated and whether there is a sexual preference or not.

Current motel prices for that weekend in the Morro Bay – San Luis Obispo area are easily above $150 per night. The offer of a bed with access to a bathroom will go a long way in making the meeting more affordable for those traveling to our area. One never knows – hosting one or more visitors may create a lasting friendship that can be reciprocated in the future. Plus, these folks know their native plants and will be happy to talk about the botany of their area.

Protecting Our Oaks II

Protecting Our Oaks II

SLO County Supervisors are meeting Tuesday August 16 and they need to hear from YOU!

Many voices REALLY DO make a difference!  Especially now that some of the uproar about the Justin clearcutting debacle has died down. (more…)