Cunningham Slide Collection

CNPS thanks Becky Daugherty and others in her family for the generous donation of her father’s botanical slide collection to the SLO Chapter. Craig was a member of the chapter board for several decades and worked with Malcolm McLeod and others in cataloging the county flora.

Craig Cunningham’s photographs were not only excellent in picking out details for keying the species, but were most often works of art. Some of you will have seen them in the program we presented at an Atascadero meeting, a small selection of the approximately 5,000 slides in the collection. We made a DVD of the movie of that slide show and presented it to Craig and his family just before his death.

This is a fitting time to remember not only his leadership of the photographic committee but also the field trips he would lead to his favorite locations, including Carson Pass in the Sierras and along Santa Rita Creek in Templeton. For these trips he created extensive plant lists and a remembered library of little tidbits of information about each plant.

He suffered increasing deafness in his later years, but continued to present multiprojector slide programs with a pre-prepared recorded narration. When I remember Craig it is to think, “What a sweet, kind guy!”

— David Chipping

Chapter Meeting – June 6, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 7 p.m.

Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo

Our June speaker will be Taylor Crow. He is a master’s student at Cal Poly and a previous winner of the Malcolm McLeod scholarship. Taylor will be speaking about his graduate work on the California native coyote mint (Monardella villosa).

Taylor Crow is a second year master’s student at Cal Poly, graduating this spring under the direction of Matt Ritter. Taylor spent his graduate career working on Swanton Ranch because of the wonderful amount of plants and surf breaks. He grew up in Exeter, California on a citrus farm and cattle ranch, and got his start as a botanist in David Keil’s and Dirk Walter’s plant taxonomy class. He will be moving on this summer to Laramie Wyoming, where he will be studying Cercocarpus (Mountain Mahogany) for a PhD.

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The next Chapter meeting is the October “Dessert Potluck,” Thursday, October 3, 2013. Bring a dessert and photos and videos of your summer travels to share.

President’s Message March 2013

Our Past Year in Review

Every year the Chapter President has to deliver a “Chapter Report” to the state Sacramento office, and in doing so I am amazed at what we have accomplished.

  • We brought you eight program speakers, half of which came from outside the county. New this year were the three very successful plant mini-workshops before the main program in May, June and December. Each meeting started with a social time and excellent refreshments.
  • Two scholarships of $500 each were awarded to Cal Poly students through the chapter’s Malcolm McLeod Scholarship program.
  • The Los Osos Middle School’s 7th grade science education native plant propagation and planting program is run and coordinated by our Board member.
  • Plants were provided for Audubon’s Sweet Springs Nature Preserve restoration.
  • We had an incredible twenty field trips during the year, which requires the planning, coordinating and publicizing efforts of a board member. These have given members and the public the enjoyment of beautiful floral discoveries in this county and neighboring ones.
  • CNPS volunteers had booths at Earth Day, the Cambria Wildflower Show, the Santa Margarita Wildflower Festival and Paso Robles Festival of the Arts.
  • A group has worked with the Chimineas Ranch Foundation in planting a native plant garden.
  • Add to that the time taken by volunteers at such events as the plant sale and banquet, the behind-the-scenes work that goes into newsletter production and distribution; the continual updating and information provided on our web site; the financial management by our treasurer, and works by committees such as Conservation and Horticulture.
  • Our  sales selection of nature books is one of the best in the county, if not the state.

In short, volunteers make the chapter. To help things along for 2013, we have received a generous gift from Mid American Solar and Topaz Solar Farms to help our operations.

CNPS is a wonderful organization. Thanks for being a part of it. Now let’s hope the Carrizo Plain gets some rain.

– David Chipping

Book Talk October 2012

We are having a book sale on the following books through October 2012.

1) C A L I F O R N I A P L A N T FAMILIES by Glenn Keator, regularly $30.00, now $20.00.

2) CARE & MAINTENANCE of SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANT GARDENS in English and Spanish, by Rancho Santa Anna Botanic Gardens, regularly $30.00, now just $20.00


California Native Plants San Luis Obispo
California Native Plants San Luis Obispo California Native Plants Ceanothus California Native Plants California Native Plant San Luis Obispo California Native Plants San Luis Obispo California Native Plants California Native Plant Society San Luis Obispo

3) DUNE MOTHER’S WILDFLOWER GUIDE by Malcolm McLeod, now just $9.00 reduced from $13.00 (link)

4) MAMMALS of CALIFORNIA, a UC Press Natural History Guide, regularly $20, now just $15.00 (link)

5) NATURE & LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY, reduced to $12.00 from $20.00

6) REIMAGINING THE CALIFORNIA LAWN, authors Carol Bornstein, David Fross and Bart O’Brien, regularly $28.00, now $20.00 (link)

7) SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANT GARDENS by Susan Van Atta. Reduced from $20.00 to $14.00 (link)

8) TREES & SHRUBS of CALIFORNIA, a UC Press Natural History Guide, reduced to $17.00 from $25.00 (link)

9) CEANOTHUS by David Fross and Dieter Wilken, regularly $40.00 reduced to $28.00 (link)

10) SHARKS, RAYS & CHIMAERAS of CALIFORNIA, a UC Press Natural History book, now just $14.00 from $20.00 (link)

11) GLACIERS of CALIFORNIA, a UC Press Natural History Guide, reduced to $11.00 from $19.00 (link)

I will bring several copies of each book to our Thursday, October 4 meeting at the SLO Vet’s Hall.

To reserve your copy ahead of time, please call me at 528-0446 or send me an email and I’ll have it ready for you to pick up. If you can’t make the meeting we have a great bookstore on our website and you can order it through there. See you at our meeting, don’t forget it is our dessert meeting with pictures of summer adventures!

–Heather Johnson


What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses, Daniel Chamovitz

In less than 200 pages, 140 pages of text, Dr. Chamovitz gives us a simple, accurate, and very readable summary of how plants respond to cues and stresses in their environments; essentially an overview of plant physiology. Although plants lack brains, nervous systems, or sensory organs as we understand them, he brings a very early interest in “parallels between plants and human senses” to understanding of these processes. He uses these parallels as analogies in describing how plants “sense” and integrate information from their surroundings to thrive, grow, and reproduce. Chapters include “What a Plant Sees,” “What a Plant Feels,” “How a Plant Knows Where It Is,” and “The Aware Plant.” Each chapter starts with early observations and experiments in understanding how plants cope with these cues, our increasing understanding of the processes involved, and eventually the genetic and cellular bases of these processes. For example, he starts with how Charles Darwin and his son Francis studied phototropism. He goes on to discuss the differences in physiologic responses to differing light wave lengths and also the effects of light periodicity.

He states that, “Sight is the ability not only to detect electromagnetic waves, but also the ability to respond to these waves.” In the chapter on touch, he describes how the effect of electric impulses on ion transport across cell membranes can result in the rapid response of the Venus flytrap’s ability to catch and feed on the unfortunate insect who strays across its leaves, or how the “shy” mimosa, Mimosa pudica, leaves drop with even the slightest touch. Geotropism (directional growth) in plants is mediated by stratoliths, microscopic bodies in the epidermis of roots and shoots similar to the otoliths in the animal’s inner ear. The comprehensive overview of this book could be of great interest to anyone interested in plants from the casual amateur through the early student to the seasoned scholar. It can be especially valuable to anyone involved in teaching. Published in 2012 by Scientific American and Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York.

— Charlie Blair

Coreopsis Hill

Coreopsis Hill


Sunday, March 23, 2019, 8:45 am

Coreopsis Hill (in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes) 

This hike is sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Chapter of CNPS, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Dunes Center, and will be led by Jenny Langford, Lauren Brown, Dirk Walters, and other local botanists and volunteers.

The hike will begin at 9:00 AM (please plan to arrive between 8:45 and 9:00), leaving from the south end of Beigle Road at the USFWS access road (fenced road). It will be a casual walk through the dunes to the top of Coreopsis Hill. This is a moderate hike, about 3 hours round-trip. Dress in layers, bring water and snacks, and have your “Dune Mother’s Wildflower Guide” by Dr. Malcolm McLeod for the trip. Long pants and closed shoes are recommended as the habitat is coastal dune scrub and there is the possibility of poison oak and ticks in the natural dune areas (we will watch for and point these out so they can be
avoided). For more information call Lauren Brown at 805-460-6329 or 805-570-7993. Heavy rain cancels this trip (light rain, bring appropriate clothing).

NOTE: Pets, smoking, or alcohol are not allowed on the refuge, including the parking area, or other properties accessed during the hike (i.e., State Parks and private property). Pets may not be left in cars in the parking areas.

Directions from the north:  Take Hwy 101 south from San Luis Obispo. Turn right (west) at the new Willow Road off ramp (Exit 180). Proceed west on Willow Road for about 4.3 miles, to Highway 1. Turn left (south) on Highway 1 and proceed for 2.7 miles, to Oso Flaco Lake Road. Turn right (west) on Oso Flaco Lake Road. Proceed west on Oso Flaco Lake Road for 2.5 miles to Beigle Road. Look for a 6’ tall wire mesh fence and steel gate.

Directions from the south: Take 101 north to Santa Maria and take the Main Street exit toward the town of Guadalupe. Turn right onto
Highway 1 and head north to Oso Flaco Lake Road (about 3 miles north of Guadalupe), turn left onto Oso Flaco Lake Road and
proceed 2.5 miles to Beigle Road (on left).

Parking: We will have people posted at the entrance of the USFWS fenced road to direct parking. The gate will be open around 8:30. Please do not park on Oso Flaco Lake Road near the gate as there is not much room and it could be hazardous. There should be plenty of room to park along the USFWS access road. The Oso Flaco Lake State Park lot is another ¾ miles west of Beigle Road, if you need to use a restroom before the hike (there are none along the hike route). Note: Pets, smoking or tobacco products, or alcohol are not allowed on the Refuge, including the parking area, or other properties accessed during the hike (i.e., State Parks and Private Property). Pets may not be left in cars in the parking areas.

 Monardella undulata ssp. crispaAdditional Information: The Guadalupe-Nipomo  Dunes Coastal Area contains the largest, relatively undisturbed coastal dune tract in California and was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974. Five major plant communities are represented including pioneer/foredunes; coastal dune scrub; riparian woodland; coastal dune freshwater marshes, ponds, and swales; and active interior dunes. The flora includes many endemic plant species and the dunes habitats support numerous rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals.

April Chapter Meeting

April Chapter Meeting

The April Chapter Meeting is held at the Annual Malcolm McLeod Memorial Field Trip Meeting to Shell Creek.
See Field Trips/Shell Creek for information.
There is no meeting at the Vets Hall this month.

Oenothera deltoides

Oenothera deltoides

Desert Evening Primrose (Oenothera deltoides)

Desert evening primrose (Oenothera deltoides) is in full bloom at Shell Creek as I write this. So it
seemed appropriate to resurrect a drawing Bonnie drew back in 1981. It is one of her earlier drawings since it shows a lot of shading. The flowers are white and the plant starts out as a small mound and then spreads-out across the surface of the ground. It can reach several feet across. Fruits are produced along the full length of the branches. However, if you go to Shell Creek in summer and fall you will probably find little trace of it. This is
because as the branches dry out, they turn upward forming what resembles a largish bird cage. Lastly, the dried plant breaks off and joins the other tumble weeds bouncing around and distributing its seeds.

The species has several common names, including birdcage evening primrose, bird cage plant, basket evening primrose, lion in a cage, and devil’s lantern, or as I’ve been simply calling it, desert evening primrose. As my preferred name implies, it’s found in the deserts, from eastern Washington through California, Nevada, Arizona
and into northern Mexico. The common names that refer to “cages” are references to its bird-cage shape the dried plant takes just before it tumbles away.

According to The Jepson Manual, it has five recognized subspecies. This would be expected by a plant occupying such a large range with so many variations in habitat. It prefers well drained soils so it is very common on desert sand dunes thus another common name is dune evening primrose. In our area it is found in the valleys of the interior Coast Ranges, especially in sandy or well drained soils. The area around Shell
Creek is the most northwestern extent of its range of which I’m aware. At Shell Creek it’s most numerous in the sandy alluvial fan east of Shell Creek.

Some of the people on the Malcolm G. McLeod Annual Shell Creek Field Trip might have noticed quite a few of the flowers were fading, desert evening primrose flowers open in the evening and close up in the morning. That is, their large, fragrant, white flowers are open mostly at night when it’s dark.  The white flowers would make them visible in the twilight and darkness. The flowers are very odoriferous at least in the evening. The large, white, night-blooming, odoriferous traits indicate that the species is pollinated by moths, probably hawk moths.

Before 1969, the genus, Oenothera, was huge and included species given the common names evening primrose for the night blooming ones and sun cups for the day flowering ones. Sun cups and evening primroses share, with other members of its family, Onagraceae, four separate petals. In fact, the flowers of the Onagraceae, have a number of distinctive set of characteristics which makes them easy to recognize. They produce flowers that possess four sepals, four petals, eight stamens, attached to the top of a generally thin, often long tube constructed from the bases of the sepals, petals and stamens (hypanthium). The hypanthium arises from the top of the usually four-parted ovary. This means the ovary is said to be inferior or below all the flower parts. This can be summarized asformulaCA4 is short for calyx which is the collective term for the 4 sepals; CO4 stand for the corolla, the collective term for the 4 petals. A8 is the abbreviation for androecium, which translates as the “male things” which are the 8 stamens). G4 stands for gynoecium (female thing) which represents the four-parted ovary, style and/or stigma. The circled four indicates that the 4 subunits (carpels) that make up the gynoecium are fused into a single pistil (visual unit of the gynoecium within a flower). The most conspicuous character that separated plants with the common names, sun cups and evening primroses, is the stigma. A look at Bonnie’s drawing will show it to have four hair-like stigma branches. Only true evening primroses (Oenothera) have this trait. The rest of the old, un-split genus Oenothera display a single wide hemispherical cap. At first, all these species were put into the single genus, Camissonia. Unfortunately this is no longer the case as the knob-stigma species are now scattered into several genera with differences of opinion as to how many. One last point, these are EVENING primroses not primroses. I bring this up because a number of web sites left off the evening in the name evening primroses when giving their lists of common names. I know that common names are not regulated, but to call them simply, primroses, I find totally confusing. True primroses are in the totally unrelated family, Primulaceae. The Primulaceae have flower parts in 5’s. That is, they have 5 sepals, 5 fused petals and 5 stamens placed in front of the petal lobes. The ovary is superior and has only a single cavity, not 4, inside. A common weedy member of the Primulaceae is scarlet pimpernel which is a weed in almost all of our gardens. At least it is in those of us who are not great gardeners.

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




About CNPS & CNPS-SLO ContactJoin The mission of the California Native Plant Society is to increase understanding and appreciation of California’s native plants and to conserve them and their natural habitats through education, science, advocacy,...