Facts about Oaks


Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

IMAGE: By PeterOMalley (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

The greatest girth of a single trunk coast live oak, measured at a height of between 1.3-1.5 m above the ground, is 30. 15 ft. (9.19 m), the tree being “The Grand Oak” at Highland Springs Resort in Cherry Valley, California.

The nemesis of the Coast live oak, as far as sudden oak death is concerned, is California Bay. The record for this tree is a girth of 30.51 ft. (9.3 m), located in the Rancho San Antonio Open Space in Palo Alto.

The Pechanga Great Oak Tree of Temecula is a Coast live oak that is probably the oldest oak in California and possibly the world, dated at about 2,000 years.

Canyon Live Oak is also impressive. The largest is in the San Bernadino Mountains and is 12.7 m in girth. This is also a species at great risk from Sudden Oak Death. although not in drier locations.

The tallest oak Valley Oak, a white oak which are not affected by Sudden Oak Death. The tallest specimen is in the Covelo Valley in Mendocino County, and stands at 140 feet (42.7 m).

The Field Guide to Plant Galls of California and Other Western States (by Ron Russo, U.C. Press) identifies more than 300 species of galls, including 95 found only on oaks. They are created by wasps.


IMAGE: By Alex Wild, part of the University of Texas at Austin’s “Insects Unlocked” project. [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Over 150 species of wasp are known to be associated with oak galls. However just one of these wasp species is associated with another 90 insect species that utilize the gall in some way.

Oak Gall

IMAGE: By Franco Folini from San Francisco, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The round galls, called oak apples, on California Live Oak can be a source of fountain pen ink. Find out how to make it here.

Doug McCreary writes, in Living Among The Oaks, “Oak environments are among the richest wildlife habitats in the state; 110 species of birds use oak habitats during the breeding season, and 35 percent of California’s land mammals utilize oaks during
some time of their lives. California’s deer herds are particularly dependent on oak habitats.”

The oaks (Family Fagaceae, genus Quercus) belong to an old lineage of trees and shrubs that dates back to at least the Late Cretaceous (about 85 million years ago). The oldest fossils are most closely aligned with Fagus, the beeches, but there are also suggestions of chestnuts (Castanea) in some of these ancient materials. These fossils are known, to date, only from Georgia, in the south eastern United States. When it comes to the origin of the oaks (Quercus spp.), there is much better evidence. The fossil record reveals that trees similar to oaks first appear about 32-35 million years ago, and trees related to extant species appear by about 25 million years ago. By about 23 million years ago, trees representative of most major groups of oaks have appeared. Dr. Richard Jensen,Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana

Gardening in deer-prone areas

This article helps you determine if you have a low, moderate, or high level of “browse” and suggests the appropriate methods for combating the problem.

Also included is a  brief list of plants that have shown some success when gardening in deer-prone areas.


Honeybees and Native Plants

It’s no secret, honeybees are not doing well. There are many scientists and researchers working on this problem. At this time there is not a clear cut answer to what is causing what is called “Colony Collapse Disorder” or CCD. Some scientists believe a small parasitic mite is the culprit. Others believe the lack of rain the last three years has impacted wildflower fields and the honeybees are dying from starvation. Lastly, pesticides applied by homeowners and farmers to fruit and vegetables crops are harming bees as they forage for pollen.

So what can we do to help? With winter just around the corner and the possibility of rains, we are once again thinking about what should we plant this year. Keeping the bees in mind, I would like to make some suggestions.

The genus Ceanothus is my first pick. With flower colors of blue and white, the sweet smell draws bees by the thousands. It’s not hard to find a species that can fit in your garden. There are large tree types, shrubs, and groundcovers to pick from. They must be planted in a sunny area.

My second choice is the genus Salvia. Many Salvia species grow in sandy, dry soil types and are well know to attract bees. They do not require heavy irrigation and are free of many pest problems.

Lastly, Eriogonum or buckwheat is a wonderful plant that will grow in many soil types and requires very little irrigation once established. My favorites are E. arborescens, Santa Cruz Island buckwheat, and E. giganteum, St. Catherine’s lace.

So this year while you are thinking about what to plant in the garden, I hope you will consider what you can do to help the little bee.

John Nowak

Spring Wildflowers at La Purisima Mission

Wildflowers at La Purisima Mission

“A Surprisingly Good Display of Spring Annuals”

In spite of a very dry year, the March rains brought out a respectable display of spring annuals in some of the meadow areas on the La Purisima Mission grounds.

On Sunday, April  6, 2014, Connie Geiger and I led our annual early April field trip of around 25 people, this year along “Al’s Flower Trail,” named for Al Thompson, for many years the main Garden Docent at the mission. This trail runs along a slope on the northeast side of the valley, starting from a cistern by a stand of coast live oaks, and meets the trail running along the creek to the “duck pond,” the source on the early water system.

Wildflowers Viewed

White flowers included white layia, Layia glandulosa, popcorn flowers, Cryptantha & Plagiobothrys, spp., common yarrow, Achillea millefolium, honeydew (AKA wedge-leaved Horkelia) , Horkelia cuneata, miner’s lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata, California croton, Croton californicus, and morning-glories, Calystegia spp.

Yellow flowers included dwarf golden yarrow, Eriophyllum pringlei; golden yarrow E. confertiflorum, Bigelow’s coreopsis, Coreopsis bigelovii, and assorted DYCs.

Blue to lavender flowers included various Phacelia spp.

Red to pink flowers included purple owl’s clover, Castilleja exserta, prickly phlox, Leptodactylon californiacum, purple Chinese houses, Collinsia heterophylla, among others.

There were bush as well as forb lupines, including silver bush lupine, Lupinus albifrons, costal bush lupine, L. arboreus, dwarf lupine, L. bicolor, and collared lupine, L. truncatus. Along the left side of the trail, were several sand almonds, Prunus fasciculata var, punctata, some in fruit.

At the head of the trail were several stands of cream cups, including the carnival poppy (a color variation alternating
white and yellow petals), Platystemon californicus. Down the slope towards the creek was a stand of goldfields, Lasthenia sp. By the trail up to the cross, were a few black figworts, Scrophularia atrata, and some redberry bushes, Rhamnus crocea, with tiny flowers.

All in all, a very rewarding tour.

– Charlie Blair

April, 2014


Salmon Creek Trail, Cambria

Salmon Creek Trail Wildflowers 2014

Here’s a list of wildflowers seen along Salmon Creek Trail on April 10, 2014, submitted by Amanda Darling

Note from Amanda:

There is still a good amount of wildflowers even after the dry winter 🙂 I hope this information is useful.

Thank you for your efforts,

Amanda Darling, Cambria


columbine (at San Carpoforo)

shooting star – dodecatheon

allium – brodaea?

white star – zygadene





(another berry with broad yellow-green leaves)


indian paintbrush

chocolate bells


morning glory

blue eyed grass

purple nightshade




Opening the World through Journaling

Opening the World through Journaling

CNPS Curriculum – Opening the World through Journaling: Integrating art, science, and language arts

by John Muir Laws and Emily Bruenig

Our parent organization, CNPS, is offering a spectacular curriculum for children that works in a multitude of settings from school yards to CNPS events, to camps and family outings. It is geared primarily towards children age 8 and up, meeting grades 3 through 7 standards but it is easily adaptable for teenagers and adults.

Opening the World through Journaling: Integrating art, science, and language arts, a curriculum written for CNPS by John Muir Laws and Emily Brueunig, teaches children to become keen observers of the natural world by drawing and writing about the plants and animals in situ. In a set of nested exercises, students use games to gain confidence in drawing and writing as a way to gather information. Later, they employ these skills to put together a field guide, make treasure maps, and to write short stories and poems.

“Keeping a field journal develops and reinforces the most important science process skills; observation and documentation. All other parts of the process of science depend on these skills. We assume that we are naturally good observers, but learning to really see is a skill that must be learned and developed. Journal activities tie directly to the State of California science framework content standards and the visual and performing arts framework content standards.” –John Muir Laws

CNPS would like to know who uses the material and how it is used for grant and goal purposes and will send you a request to evaluate the curriculum after using it. For this reason, the curriculum is available only from the CNPS website (link). *This project is funded to date by the JiJi Foundation

Please leave a comment below if you have used this curriculum. Everyone would love to hear about your experience! Thank you.

John Muir Laws

Educational Resources

Contribute to our website

Nurseries and Sources for Native Plants

Nurseries and Sources for Native Plants

CNPS-SLO holds our annual Native Plant Sale the first Saturday of November

The Nipomo Native Garden also holds an annual Native Plant Sale

Nurseries in San Luis Obispo county:

(Call for confirmation of times open to public)

Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery 3232 Las Pilitas Road, Santa Margarita 805-438-5992 (Retail Fri & Sat)
Growing Grounds Farm Wholesale Nursery 3740 Orcutt Rd, San Luis Obispo 805-543-6071 (Retail 3rd Tues of Month)
SAGE Ecological Landscapes, 1301 Los Osos Valley Road, Los Osos, CA 93402 (805) 574-0777
Clearwater Color Wholesale Nursery 2335 Jacaranda Ln, Los Osos 805-528-4458 (Wholesale only)
Native Sons Wholesale Nursery 379 W. El Campo, Arroyo Grande 805-481-9636 (Retail 2nd Sat in April)
West Covina Wholesale Nursery 165 W. El Campo, Arroyo Grande 805-481-7626 (Wholesale only)

Nurseries outside of our county:

(Call for confirmation of times open to public)

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden 1212 Mission Canyon, Santa Barbara 805-682-4272 (classes)
Matilija Nursery 8225 Waters, Moorpark 805-523-8604
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden 1500 W. College, Clairmont 909-625-8767 (classes)
Theodore Payne Foundation Nursery 10459 Tuxford, Sun Valley 818-768-1802 (classes and seed sales)
Tree of Life Nursery 33201 Ortega Hwy, San Juan Capistrano 949-728-0685

If you can’t find what you are looking for, ask your nursery to order it for you

Additional Sources

You may also find California Natives at these local sources

BenJoy Nursery 2168 Lopez, Arroyo Grande 481-7488
Cherry Lane Nursery 436 Traffic Way, Arroyo Grande 489-1809
Miners Ace Hardware 186 Station Way, Arroyo Grande 489-9100
Miners Ace Hardware 9370 El Camino Real, Atascadero 466-0270
Bay Laurel Nursery 2500 El Camino Real, Atascadero 466-3449
Windmill Nursery 925 W. Hwy 246, Buellton 688-3993
Cambria Nursery and Florist 2801 Eton Rd, Cambria 927-4747
Los Osos Valley Nursery 301 Los Osos Valley Road, Los Osos 528-5300
Miners Ace Hardware 520 Highway 41, Morro Bay 722-2233
Nipomo Old Town Nursery 323 W. Tefft, Nipomo 929-1084
Whispering Tree 110 Norris, Orcutt 937-3808
Farm Supply 675 Tank Farm, SLO 543-3751
Miner’s Ace Hardware 2034 Santa Barbara St., SLO 543-2191

Do you have a nursery or source for California Natives that isn’t listed here? Or an update to this information? Please enter a comment below and we will update this page …

Native Plants for School & Urban Gardens

Native Plants for School & Urban Gardens


By Betsey Landis

Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter, California Native Plant Society


August 2011

This book is written for teachers and school garden educators and planners. Anyone can download all or parts of the book for free from CNPS Chapter websites. However the book may not be printed and sold without the express permission of the Los Angeles/Santa Monica Mountains Chapter of CNPS. We have discussed printing small special orders but we do not plan to do any more printing of the book in the hundreds or thousands.  I understand what I have written on those first two pages is a type of “creative commons” copyright.  -Betsey Landis  (the author)

Download Here

Because of the size of this book, we have created four separate PDF files for viewing on the web and for download:

Section I

Section II, part a

Section II, part b

Section III

Table of Contents

California Native Plant Society Teachers Resources

Please Add Your Comments

Have you used this resource for your school or public garden? Please share your experience in the comments below …

Pine Forest Mushroom List

Pine Forest Mushroom List

Pine Forest Mushroom List for Cambria, CA


Compiled by: Mark Brunschwiler, David Krause, Dennis Sheridan


If you are interested in local mushroom hunting, consider attending our annual Fungal Foray field trip, held in the fall in Cambria.

Scientific Name

Common Name


Agaricus augustus Prince Roadsides and disturbed areas
Agaricus californicus Mock meadow mushroom Roadsides and disturbed areas
Agaricus campestris Meadow mushroom In grassy areas at edge of woods
Aleuria aurantia Orange peel fungus
Amanita calyptrata Coccora
Amanita gemmata Gemmed amanita
Amanita muscaria Fly agaric
Amanita muscaria Yellow form of fly agaric
Amanita ocreata Destroying angel
Amanita pachycolea Western grisette
Amanita pantherina Panther amanita
Amanita phalloides Death cap
Amanita rubescens Blusher
Amanita velosa Springtime amanita
Aqaricus silvicola Woodland agaricus
Armillaria mellea Honey mushroom
Boletus chrysenteron Cracked-cap bolete
Boletus dryophilus Oak loving bolete
Boletus edulis King bolete
Boletus piperatus Peppery bolete
Boletus satanus Satan’s bolete
Boletus zelleri Zeller’s bolete
Cantharellus cibarius Chanterelle
Chrooqomphus visicolor Wine colored pine spike
Clitocybe dealbata Sweat-producing Clitocybe
Clitocybe nuda Wood blewit
Coprinus atramentarius Inky cap
Cortinarius species Purple cortinarius
Cortinarius species Rimmed cortinarius
Craterellus cornucpioides Black trumpet
Crucibulum laeve Bird nest fungus
Cryptoporus volvatus Cryptic globe fungus
Daldinia grandis Crampballs
Ganoderma applanatum Artist’s conch
Geastrum species Earth star
Gymnopilus spectabilis Laughing Jim
Gyromitra californica Umbrella false morel
Helvella lacunosa Fluted black elfin saddle
Hericium erinaceus Lion’s mane
Hygrocybe conica Witches hat
Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca False chanterelle
Hypomyces chrysospermus Boletus eater
Laccaria amethysteo-occidentalis Amethyst gilled laccaria
Laccaria laccata Lack luster laccaria
Lactarius alnicola Golden milk cap
Lactarius chrysorheus Yellow staining milk cap
Lactarius deliciosus Delicious milk cap
Lactarius rubidus (fragilis) Candy cap
Lactarius vinaceorufescens Yellow staining lactarius
Lepiota rachodes Parasol mushroom
Leucopaxillus albissimus Large white leucopaxillus
Leucopaxillus amarus Bitter brown Leucopaxillus
Lycoperdon foetidum Black puffball
Lycoperdon perlatum Common or Gemmed puffball
Marasmiums ordeades Fairy ring mushroom In grassy areas
Mycena purpureofusca Grows on pine cones
Mycena species Little brown mushroom
Naematoloma fasciculare Clustered woodlover
Omphalotus olivascens Western jack-o-lantern mushroom
Panaeolus campanulatus Bell-shaped panaeolus
Phaeolus schweinitzii Dyer’s polypore
Pistolithus tinctorius Dead man’s foot
Pleurotus ostreatus Oyster mushroom
Poria species
Ramaria rasilispora Yellow coral mushroom
Rhizopoqon rubescens Blushing false truffle
Russula albidula White russula
Russula emetica Emetic russula
Russula rosacea Rosy stemmed russula
Russula species Brick capped russula
Sparassis crispa Cauliflower mushroom
Suillus brevipes Short stem slippery jack
Suillus luteus Slippery jack
Suillus punqens Pungent slippery jack
Trametes versicolor Bracket fungus or turkey tails
Tremella foliacea Brown witches butter
Tremella mesenterica Witches butter
Tricoloma species
Pine Forest Mushroom List

Native Plants with Fragrance



Gardening for fragrance opens up another dimension of gardening. You can be whisked back to another place and time or other remembrances by the fragrances given off by your plantings. Once you start noticing aromas, you will quickly come up with your own favorites. Since everyone’s sense of smell is different, fragrances are open to different interpretations.

Photo courtesy of Gerald and Buff Corsi
© California Academy of Sciences


These plants are fragrant when you are near

Brickellia californica

Calocedrus decurrens (incense cedar)

Oenothera caespitosa (evening primrose)

Philadelphus lewisii (mock orange)

Pinus Jeffreyi (Jeffery Pine)

Ribes viburnifolium (evergreen current)

Salvia Clevelandii (Cleveland sage)

Solanum species (nightshade)

These plants are fragrant when you are very close

Calycanthus occidentalis (spice bush)

Carpenteria californica

Fragaria californica (Woodland strawberry)

Keckiella antirrhinoides (snap dragon)

Rosa species (rose)

These plants give off scent when you brush against

Artemisia species (sagebrush)

Calocedrus decurrens (incense cedar)

Cupressus species (cedars)

Juniperus species (junipers)

Lepechinia species (pitcher sage)

Mentha arvensis (mint)

Monardella species (Ca. pennyroyal)

Myrica californica (Ca sweet bay)

Ribes species (currants)

Salvia species (sages)

Satureja species (Yerba Buena)

Trichostema lanatum (wooly blue curls)

Umbellularia californica (Ca bay-laurel)

These plants are fragrant at dusk or night

Oenothera caespitosa (Evening Primrose) Solanum species (nightshades)

Carpenteria californica

Fragaria californica (woodland strawberry)

Keckiellia antirrhinoides (snapdragon)

These plants give off a sweet fragrance

Brickellia californica

Philadelphus lewisii

Rosa species (rose)

Solanum species (nightshade)

These plants give off a sage-like fragrance

Artemisia species (Sagebrush)

Juniperus species (juniper)

Lepechinia species (pitcher sage)

Salvia species (sage)

Trichostema species (wooly blue curls)

Miscellaneous fragrances

BAYBERRY Myrica californica (CA sweet bay)

BAY-LIKE Umbellularia californica (CA bay-laurel)

INCENSE Calocedrus decurrens (incense cedar)

INCENSE PLUS LAVENDER: Pinus Jeffreyi (Jeffery pine)

SPICY Calycanthus occidentalis (CA spicebush)

Ribes viburnifolium (vergreen current)

Ribes species (current)

WINE Calycanthus occidentalis (CA spicebush)

MINT Mentha arvensis (field mint)

Monardella species (CA pennyroyal)

Satureja species (Yerba Buena)

Courtesy of Las Pilitas Nursery. Edited by Al Naydol with permission from Bert Wilson.