UPDATE: The April 22nd field trip will focus on Caliente Ridge Road and may include other roads on the west side of the valley. VEHICLES WITH HIGH CLEARANCE (>9″) AND CARPOOLING ARE REQUIRED. Questions to Bill Waycott at contact info below.
Two separate Saturdays (April 15 and April 22) to tour the spring wildflowers of Carrizo Plain National Monument and the backroads of eastern San Luis Obispo County. Destinations will be determined based on weather and road conditions. Trip updates will be posted one week prior to the event on this webpage and circulated via social media and the chapter’s email list. As necessary, additional updates may be posted closer to the Saturday trip especially regarding weather. Please note that ample rain this year makes some roads very muddy and may be closed so it will be important to follow driving instructions per the updated trip details.
Meet at the Santa Margarita Park & Ride Lot just off the Highway 58 exit of Highway 101 (35.383284 -120.628717) at 8:30 am for optional carpool organization. Some stops have limited pullouts for cars so carpooling will be helpful. Remember that this is a day-long event when arranging carpools.
Bring water, snacks/lunch, sun protection, sturdy shoes, and dress in layers for the weather. Walking conditions may be muddy. A plant list for this area can be found on our website here under “Caliente Range”. More information about the area can be found at the Friends of the Carrizo Plain website. Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas, and note that we’ll be traveling in a remote area without nearby services.
UPDATE: The April 15th field trip will focus on Elkhorn Road, as well as a side trip up Hurricane Road to the top of the ridge. VEHICLES WITH HIGH CLEARANCE AND CARPOOLING ARE REQUIRED. Questions to Bill Waycott at contact info below.
Two separate Saturdays (April 15 and April 22) to tour the spring wildflowers of Carrizo Plain National Monument and the backroads of eastern San Luis Obispo County. Destinations will be determined based on weather and road conditions. Trip updates will be posted one week prior to the event on this webpage and circulated via social media and the chapter’s email list. As necessary, additional updates may be posted closer to the Saturday trip especially regarding weather. Please note that ample rain this year makes some roads very muddy and some roads may be closed. This is a remote area with limited towing services and no fuel, food or water nearby. It will be important to carefully follow instructions per the updated trip details.
Meet at the Santa Margarita Park & Ride Lot just off the Highway 58 exit of Highway 101 (35.383284 -120.628717) at 8:30 am for optional carpool organization. Some stops have limited pullouts so carpooling will be helpful. Remember that this is a day-long event when arranging carpools.
Bring water, snacks/lunch, sun protection, sturdy shoes, and dress in layers for the weather. Walking conditions may be muddy. A plant list for this area can be found on our website here under “Caliente Range”. More information about the area can be found at the Friends of the Carrizo Plain website.
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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...
California is a biodiversity hotspot.The San Luis Obispo Chapter teems with it.We save the plants that make it so. We’re on a mission to save California’s, and especially San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara County’s, native plants and places using both...
In our November 2019 newsletter we discussed the Los Osos Habitat Conservation Plan, a plan prepared by the County of San Luis Obispo to address the impacts of development in Los Osos. In that plan there is a great deal of discussion of the Morro manzanita, Arctostaphylos morroensis, a plant that is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as Threatened under the authority of the federal Endangered Species Act. It is also a list 1B species, indicating rarity in California and elsewhere. What may not be as well known is that Morro manzanita is also the dominant vascular plant species of a rare natural community known as Morro manzanita chaparral, the Arctostaphylos morroensis Shrubland Alliance, as deﬁned by the Manual of California Vegetation (Sawyer, Keeler-Wolf and Evens, 2009). This is an example of a natural community that is dominated by a listed species. Not all sensitive natural communities are.
Morro manzanita chaparral has a global ranking of G1 and a State ranking of S1, which is the highest (and rarest) ranking a natural community can have. Remember the Giant coreopsis scrub that we reviewed in our last newsletter? That community was G3, S3, also sensitive, but not as sensitive as the Morro manzanita chaparral, at least according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) VegCAMP program. The Program and the CNPS Vegetation Program review the rankings, which are based on the NatureServe’s Heritage Methodology.
Morro manzanita chaparral occurs in three primary areas in the Los Osos/Montana de Oro area. It occurs north of town in the Elﬁn forest and northeast of the Middle School; south of town on the north-facing slopes above Highland and Rodman Drive; and in two large stands in Montana de Oro State Park. The Plant Communities committee of the SLO Chapter has sampled each of these areas using the Rapid Assessment techniques of the VegCAMP program, and we have found that in the 4 stands sampled, the cover of Morro manzanita varies from 23 to 85 percent, with the average being 53 percent. Other species occurring in these stands include chamise, wedge-leaved Ceanothus (Ceanothus cuneatus), and coast live oak. There are many other species, such as monkeyﬂower, black sage, and phlox-leaved bedstraw (Galium andrewsii), but they occur at very low cover values. The stands are almost impenetrable due to the low shrubby branches of the manzanita, and if it weren’t for already created trails in some of these areas, it would be difﬁcult to walk through them. Two stands we sampled are located on north slopes; one on a south slope, and another on a fairly ﬂat surface. On the Geologic Map of the San Luis Obispo-San Simeon Region (1979), all are shown to be on dune sands, but there are outcroppings of soft shales in the Cabrillo Heights area.
Many interesting mushrooms, bryophytes, and lichens occur in this community.
One of my favorite lichens is the pixie-cup lichen (Cladonia sp., see photo), which can be found on the moist soils alongside the trails beneath and sometimes on the lower bark of the Morro manzanitas. There are several species in the area. One very rare species, Cladonia ﬁrma, occurs primarily in the coastal sage community just north of the Morro manzanita chaparral in the Morro Dunes Ecological Preserve, but it also ﬁlters into the chaparral in some areas where the two communities intermix as a mosaic. A unique mushroom I found two years ago in the stand south of Highland Drive is the coral mushroom (Ramaria sp., see photo). I almost felt as if I was underwater when I saw it! It was growing under the manzanita in colonies with other mushrooms.
Also occurring within this community is the Indian Knob mountainbalm (Eriodictyon altissimum), a species that is listed by the USFWS and the CDFW as Endangered. It is also a 1B species. This species occurs in only a few other areas in San Luis Obispo County, at Indian Knob near San Luis Obispo, and in Hazard Canyon at Montana de Oro. It appears to establish clones from rhizomes, and, like the Morro manzanita chaparral, is ﬁre-dependent.
Morro manzanita chaparral is a very rare natural community that is seriously threatened. It’s location near Los Osos provides a unique habitat for contemplation, exercise, and enjoying nature. However, in some areas, it is being loved too much. Individual plants are being trimmed haphazardly by unofﬁcial trail makers. Erosion of the very sandy soils is sometimes severe, creating extensive scars, exacerbated by foot and horse trafﬁc. The issue of ﬁre clearance to keep the public safe needs to be studied and addressed if it proves to be detrimental. And, although some populations are preserved, as always, we need to be ever vigilant of development being proposed within the area.
Photo Credits: Inside the Manzanita Canopy: David Chipping, Coral Fungus: Melissa Mooney, Morro Manzanita Flowers: David Chipping, Cladonia sp. Melissa Mooney
Two components of the Morro Manzanita Chaparral Natural Community. Left: Galium andrewsii; Right: Ceanothus cuneatus var. fascicularis Photos: David Chipping
What should I plant in my yard this fall before the rains begin? People are often asking me this. I like to consider what Doug Tallamy told us at the CNPS state conservation conference a couple of years ago about planting trees and shrubs that are foraging hubs for insects and birds. He mentioned several genera that fed lots of caterpillars, which in turn feed lots of birds.
One of these was the genus Prunus. You may recognize this as a fruit tree genus including cherries, apricots, plums, and peaches. It attracts butterflies, bees, and pollinating flies. One of my favorites is the Prunus lyonii, or Catalina cherry. It has beautiful green foliage, is drought tolerant, and according to Las Pilitas nursery, it tolerates clay soils well. It is closely related to the native shrub called Islay (Prunus ilicifolia). Islay was harvested for the kernels inside of the pit. Jan Timbrook notes in Chumash Ethnobotany that one hat of islay was worth two hats of acorns.
The kernel of the cherry needs to be removed from the pit (you may eat the thin skin of fruit in the process if it is ripe first). Then you must boil the kernels and rinse the water several times, then smash the kernels and then leach like acorns to remove the cyanide that naturally occurs in the kernels. Since the native Islay was not available at the time, I decided to try this with the Catalina cherry growing in my Mom’s yard. (Catalina cherry is used in the horticultural trade and can be bought and planted easily). I gathered the pits that had accumulated on the ground, cracked them open, boiled and leached the kernels, then made little balls out of them. They kind of tasted like cooked beans, bland but nutritious. My curiosity was satisfied. I’m not crazy about the kernels as food, but I love the shrub with its gorgeous bright green foliage. The pictures below are from Morro Bay State park where it was planted between the campsites.
As I am writing this, I am thinking about the fact that we have our annual native plant sale coming up on November 2. I have been planting the plants that I have written about over the last year in my own garden, and I hope that you find some that will be perfect for yours as well. I’ll see you there on November 2.
our chapter had the opportunity to work with Bev Gingg and Learning Among the Oaks, a program that has been working to introduce young children to the oak woodland community at the Santa Margarita Ranch, and, more recently, at the Pismo Preserve
The LA County Board of Supervisors will consider whether or not to approve the proposed Centennial development next Tuesday, December 11.
Although this project is located in LA County, we believe this is an issue that impacts all of California, both in terms of our biodiversity and the precedent it sets for sprawl at the Wildland Urban Interface. Tejon Ranch is one of the most biodiverse areas of California, containing 14% of California’s native flora and a third of our native oaks. What’s more, it’s situated in a high fire hazard severity zone, putting future residents in harm’s way. We are advocating for the conservation of this land in its entirety.
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.