CANCELED: Back Roads of the Carrizo Plain

CANCELED: Back Roads of the Carrizo Plain

THIS TRIP HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO FORECAST OF RAIN. Possible rescheduling of this Carrizo Plain trip in late April. Check back here for details. In the meantime, we recommend you check our calendar here for the many other hikes, wildflower show, native plant sale, workshops, and meetings CNPS-SLO and others are sponsoring in April and May. You can also plan your own trip to the Carrizo Plain and we encourage you to check the BLM Carrizo Plain National Monument website and social media for most up-to-date information on the status of the wildflower bloom, and travel and safety conditions at this beautiful remote area.

Remember, seasonal wildflower blooms can vary from year to year even week to week. They are not simply a theatrical production for human enjoyment. They are important ecological events when plants use flowers to create seeds for their future generations. The flowers deviously attract and feed butterflies, native bees, birds and other animals to increase their seed production. Recent weather events like rain, drought, wind and freezing temperatures along with longterm climatic change and human activities can affect the amount and types of wildflowers that bloom at any one point in time. We encourage you to enjoy the variety of a bloom when you are hiking, look for animals visiting flowers, and see if you can detect subtle changes and how environmental conditions are shaping that bloom. As the season progresses, you can also look for and learn about the interesting shapes and sizes of developing seeds. Protect the bloom by staying on trails.

—————————————————BELOW CANCELED——————————————————

This year, the chapter’s spring field trip to the Carrizo Plain will focus on the southwestern side of the valley, as well as a possible ascent up Caliente Mountain Road. This outing will last the entire day. Only vehicles with high clearance (HCV) can be used on this field trip. HCV ground clearance should be 9 inches or higher. Please make carpool arrangements on your own before the event if you do not have a HCV. Limited seating in an HCV may be available at meet-up location, but not guaranteed.  Otherwise, participants without space in an HCV may wish to tour on their own the main roads in Carrizo Plain that do not require an HCV. Many roads in the Carrizo Plain can be difficult to travel after recent rains. Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas as this is a remote area without nearby services.

Meet at the Santa Margarita Park and Ride Lot on the Santa Margarita/CA-58 East exit off Highway 101, Lat/Long 35.383290, -120.628037.

Please sign the liability waiver HERE to register for this event.

A plant list for the Caliente Range of the Carrizo Plain can be found on our website here. You can also go to our website here to purchase wildflower books for Shell Creek, Highway 58 and the Carrizo Plain; some items are ebooks which need to be downloaded before you hit the trail. Some of the ebooks are free!

Bring water, lunch, snacks, hat, sturdy shoes, and dress in layers for changing weather.  Come prepared because this is a long and fun day. There are limited bathroom facilities along the hike route. Rain or threat of rain cancels or postpones this trip.

Photo: Caliente Range on East side of Carrizo Plain, 2023, Bill Waycott

Family Sketch Hike at Three Bridges Oak Preserve

Family Sketch Hike at Three Bridges Oak Preserve

Native Plants in Winter – Family Sketch Hike at Three Bridges Oak Preserve – Winter is not just bare sticks in the woods, but fallen leaves (some are huge!), nuts and seeds, and textures of bark and lichen. Here’s an upcoming opportunity for us to slow down and look at nature closely. This easy wintertime hike at Three Bridges in Atascadero is an entry-level introduction to both native plants and drawing; no experience in either is necessary. The hike is aimed at kids aged 5-10 years and their families; however, all are welcome. The hike route is stroller-accessible and will be two hours in length. Sketchbooks and pencils included! Free! If you wish to attend, please contact Judy Johnson-Williams to sign up: judy_j-wATixDOTnetcomDOTcom

Bring water, snacks, hat, sturdy shoes, and dress in layers for changing weather.  A plant list for Three Bridges Oak Preserve can be found on our website here. Rain or threat of rain cancels or postpones this trip.

Junge Ranch Hike

Junge Ranch Hike

Join David Chipping on a field trip along the ocean bluffs of the Junge Ranch addition to Hearst San Simeon State Park featuring spring wildflowers in open grasslands above coastal cliffs and tide pools. Meet at 9:15 am at the north end of the property (see directions below). The hike on the coastal bluffs will be mostly flat on dirt trails and less than 2 miles. The views are amazing but it is difficult to get down to the ocean from this trail so we will be focusing on upland plants. Bring water, snacks, sun protection, sturdy shoes, and dress in layers for the weather. A plant list for San Simeon is on our website here.

After the 2-hour hike, consider heading south to the Cambria Wildflower Show to enjoy hundreds of bouquets of local native plants and a well-stocked CNPS sales table with books, t-shirts and other items to help you enjoy and explore the rest of the spring wildflower season.

Rain or threat of rain cancels the hike (but the Cambria Wildflower Show will be indoors all weekend for enjoying).

Optional carpools will meet at 8:30 am in the parking lot to the Spencers Grocery Store in Morro Bay at 2650 Main St (35.38966,-120.85817).

Junge Ranch Hike – Starting Point

Directions: from Highway 1 on the south end of the commercial area (motels) of the small community of San Simeon, turn west on Vista Del Mar Avenue and park alongside the road at the dead end near the ocean (35.60959,-121.14376) in time for 9:15 am start of hike.

Click link for the hike start location

Preserve the Reserve

Preserve the Reserve SAVE THE OAK WOODLANDS, MARITIME CHAPARRAL, RARE PLANTS AND ANIMALS OF THE NIPOMO MESA Proposed Dana Reserve Project Should be Substantially Reduced in Size or Rejected What is the project? According to the recently released Draft EIR, The Dana...

Try Eating The Weeds

Ethnobotany Notes

Great, now you have planted your native plants, and maybe some vegetables. There are also some wonderful edibles that will come up as soon as it rains which you did not intentionally plant. Planting natives in your garden which you can use is ideal, but then there are also the weeds, which can also be very tasty and nutritious. There are many online and print resources available about eating non- native weeds. There are on-line forums and YouTube videos on how to prepare them.

Dirk Walters wrote about New Zealand spinach as a cooked vegetable used by early explorers. I have occasionally given it to my chickens as an addition to their boring store bought feed. Now I know that I should probably be cooking it first because of the oxalates. (They are happy to eat most weeds that I throw their way.) It can also be grown easily in our area as a planted vegetable. Every spring, my Mom would ask that I let her pick the Dandelion greens before I mowed the lawn at my house up north in the mountains. I also remember drinking Dandelion wine while visiting friends up in Alaska. Dandelions thrive in cold climates, but will also grow here in  places that are watered. Dandelion greens are a great addition to any vegetable stir-fry. The flowers are wonderful in salads and both are packed full of vitamins and minerals.

Stellaria media © 2006 Dr. Amadej Trnkocz (CC
BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Stellaria media © 2006 Dr. Amadej Trnkocz (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Purslane is another great vegetable, which can be sautéed alone or with others. I’ve always pulled it out of my gardens, and was surprised to see it being sold at a farmers market one day. Fennel flower buds are very pungent and can be added to many dishes, or just nibble on it for a quick breath freshener. Wild young mustard greens and flowers are also a nice cruciferous addition to savory vegetable dishes, used in place of kale. Chickweed (Stellaria) is great cooked or fresh in a salad and seems to be becoming more widespread. Eating the weeds is a great way to reduce those plants, which you do not want in your garden, without overforaging in wild areas. Always be sure however that your chosen weeds have not been sprayed with an herbicide previously.

Cathy Chambers

Clarkia unguiculata (Elegant Clarkia)

Clarkia unguiculata (Elegant Clarkia)

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

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

C. unguiculata

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

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

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

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


C. tembloriensis

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

Wildflowers Bundle

Wildflowers Bundle

Two of our most popular publications, bundled together just in time for the Superbloom at the Carrizo Plain and throughout our area.

Wildflowers of San Luis Obispo County

The Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition of our wonderful Wildflowers of San Luis Obispo, California has arrived! 20 new plants have been added, the SLO City open space map has been updated, including trailhead directions. The new cover photograph of Woolly Blue Curls with the distant view of an oak studded grassy hillside puts you on our Central Coast.

Color photos of more than 300 wildflowers that grow in and around the City of San Luis Obispo appear in this field guide, developed by the City of San Luis Obispo Natural Resources program and the San Luis Obispo chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

Wildflowers are organized by color, and descriptions include common and botanical names, general locations, blooming seasons, and brief notes about growing habits, size and protected status. In the middle is a map showing public open spaces and trails.

This book can also be purchased at the following retail outlets in SLO: The Mountain Air, The Crushed Grape, Lincoln Deli & Market, History Center of SLO, SLO Botanic Garden, and Growing Grounds Downtown. It can also be found at the Paso Robles General Store, Coalesce Book Store (Morro Bay), Morro Bay State Park Natural History Museum, Volumes of Pleasure Book Shoppe (Los Osos), Shell Beach Floral Design on Grand Ave, the Dana Adobe Cultural Center (Nipomo), Piedras Blancas Light House (San Simeon), and Nipomo Guadalupe Dunes Center.

Wildflowers of the Carrizo Plain

72 color photographs of wildflowers with common and latin names, and location areas likely to be encountered during the late winter to early summer flowering season. This little gem is a collaborative effort by photographers, botanists and other members of the San Luis Obispo chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Fourteen pages, printed on heavy card stock paper.

Not to be confused with the larger, more comprehensive Plants of the Carrizo Plain ebook.
This small book has a list price of $5 and is not for sale by itself on our website, but can be found at the Visitor’s Center at the Carrizo Plain, Morro Bay State Park Natural History, and The Crushed Grape in SLO.

A Monterey Pine Tree Threw a Seed at Me

Technically, the Monterey pine tree threw the seed at my spouse who was standing on the deck outside of
our house enjoying some sun. After the loud crack of a pinecone bursting open, one papery-winged seed
wafted down onto the deck. Even though we live in the Monterey pine forest of Cambria, I had never seen
a Pinus radiata seed.

I planted the seed in a pot and placed it with the other pots containing native plant seeds I obtained at the
fall seed exchange. In preparation for collecting seeds later in the year, I have been checking out the CNPS-SLO website.

Some of the things you will find on the Resources page are:

  • An explanation of why native plants are important with links to more information.
  • Beautiful illustrations and photos accompanied by detailed information about specific featured plants.
  • Seed Collection and Saving for the Casual Gardener, by Marti Rutherford gives tips for collecting,
    cleaning, and saving seeds.

On the state CNPS website, I found a post entitled California Native Plant Propagation by Matt Teel that
includes seed collecting how-to tips and photos. If you do not already have a copy of Seed Propagation of
Native California Plants by Dara Emery, check out June’s book sales table at the next meeting.

by Linda Poppenheimer

Pinus radiata Radiata_Pine large

A Monterey pine seed with the wing that
enables the seed to flutter downward
slowly like a descending helicopter,
enabling a further dispersal than would
be allowed from just dropping a seed out of
the cone. Photo by Phil Bendle


Seed Exchange

Seed Exchange

I know it seems too early to be thinking seeds. Many of my plants are just starting to bloom. I just wanted to remind those who are interested that the seed exchange is going to take place ate the October meeting before the main program. Let a few of your garden native plants go to seed and bring the seed to the seed exchange. More information will follow in newsletters to come. There is information on seed collection available on the cnpsslo website under the resources/growing natives tab (link). Marti Rutherford


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