Newsletter 2004 March – April

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter

March/April 2004



Spring Plant Sale at Tree of Life Nursery, Saturday, April 3

The Tree of Life Nursery out on Ortega Highway is the primary source for California native plants in our area. In addition to that, it is simply a glorious place to visit. Situated under huge old sycamores are landscapes of mature shrubs, flowering perennials, and seasonal annuals. Mound plantings, a water feature, and a desert area also demonstrate some of the many ways that natives can be incorporated in the landscape. Then there are the charming hay-bale construction buildings. This is a destination in itself.

Tree of Life is a wholesale nursery that caters to revegetation projects and large scale landscaping. On this day, one of their regular seasonal retail Saturdays, the nursery generously shares a portion of the proceeds of the sales to CNPS. Our chapter supplies extra personnel to help with plant selection and the nursery shares funds that help keep our programs going. Visit this beautiful place and pick up a plant or two to tuck into that little bare spot in the garden. If you can’t make it on April 3, the San Diego Chapter will be there the week before, March 27.

Directions:Take Hwy 74, Ortega Highway, east at San Juan Capistrano for about 5 miles. The nursery is on the left. If you reach Caspers Park, you have gone a little too far. The nursery will be open from 9 AM to 4 PM

The Spring Garden Tour Is Coming—Saturday, April 24!

Public and private gardens open for this year’s one-day tour from 10 AM to 4 PM will feature designs that demonstrate integration of California native plants into the landscape. You will find variety and inspiration. Some gardens incorporate natives without sacrificing fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Others show mature groupings of native plants. Gardens familiar from past tours will show growth and change.

Free brochures listing the gardens and their locations will be available after April 1. There are several ways to obtain a copy:
—Send a written request with a self-addressed stamped envelope to OC CNPS, P.O. Box 54891, Irvine CA 92619-4891.
—Visit our website at and click on the Garden Tour link to leave your email address for an emailed copy. The map will be posted on the website on April 23 and 24 only.
—Pick one up at our Spring Plant Sale at Tree of Life Nursery on April 3, 2004.
—Pick one up at our April Chapter Meeting

Thank you, Dan!

In his parting “speech” as president, Dan Songster enumerated the many programs and achievements that have been accomplished by our chapter in the past several years. Be it known that it was through his energy and his commitment that these things happened. Dan’s “I think we ought to…” or “Why don’t we…” were never mere reflections. These were always followed by action and a direction for the rest of us to follow. We have become a more vital organization under Dan’s persistent and perceptive leadership. Thank goodness he is not fading off into the sunset! Dan will remain active in our chapter, as Program Chair, Plant Sale Chair, and Horticulture consultant—and probably anything else he sees that needs to be done.

Calendar of Events

Mar 4………………………… Board Meeting

Mar 6………………. Shipley NC Plant Sale

Mar 13………………………. Modjeska Tour

Mar 18……………………. Chapter Meeting

Mar 20……………… ENC Wildflower Talk

Mar 21……. Laguna Coast Wilderness FT

Apr 1………………………… Board Meeting

Apr 3……………………… Spring Plant Sale

Apr 3…………………. Shipley NC workday

Apr 15…………………….. Chapter Meeting

Apr16………………….. Plant ID Workshop

Apr 17……………… Limestone Canyon FT

Apr 24………………………….. Garden Tour

May 1……………………. Chiquita Basin FT

May 22………………….. Holy Jim Trail FT

Jun 12……………………………… Lichen FT

Jun 26………………. Back Bay Canoe Trip

Thursdays, 10-1………….. UCI Arboretum

Thursdays, 8:30-noon………. Fullerton Arb


Chapter meetings are held at the Irvine Ranch Water District headquarters at 15600 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine. Doors open at 7 PM and the meeting begins at 7:30. Wildflower posters and a wide variety of books are available at the meetings.

Directions: From the Santa Ana Freeway (I 5) exit on Sand Canyon Road west. Pass Irvine Center Drive. Turn left at the next light onto Waterworks Road, then left into the IRWD parking lot. From the 405 exit east on Sand Canyon/Shady Canyon, turn right on Waterworks and left into the parking lot. Enter the building from the rear.

As we continue to support the programs already put into action, we seek goals that will carry us forward. As members of the California Native Plant Society, we appreciate the beauty and importance of our native plants and through our membership fees, support programs to preserve and perpetuate them. But we need to spread our message, by whatever means that takes, so that more people will share our view. Ah! That’s a goal. How best to get there? We invite your suggestions and comments. Visit our website. Email us. Let us hear from you! And say thanks to Dan.

—Sarah Jayne, President


Chapter Meetings

Thursday, March 18—An Overview And An Update On The NCCP

Speaker: Fred Roberts

The Natural Communities Conservation Program (NCCP) is derived from the California Endangered Species Act. An NCCP is a process with the goal to protect an area’s biological diversity while also allowing reasonable development. This is to be accomplished by preserving the area’s important wildlife corridors and habitats in order to protect its core populations of “special-status” plant and animal species. Development is then allowed on the rest of the land. Find additional information at

The complex Southern Subregion NCCP has been under way for some time. See It covers 91,000 acres in southeastern Orange County, encompassing an array of mountains, foothills, coastal bluffs, and beach, and an equally diverse array of plant associations and species. The area’s undeveloped portions contain some of the highest quality shrub, native grassland, and woodland communities remaining in southern California. The largest privately owned undeveloped portion, which has been called an open-space jewel, is part of Rancho Mission Viejo. Fred will take us on a tour the region with an eye to its diverse plant associations and the plant specie that call it home.

Fred Roberts, a botanical consultant as well as Rare Plants Co-chair for OC CNPS, was a botanist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has extensive experience with NCCPs and similar processes.

Thursday, April 15—Local Butterflies And Their Larval Food Plants

Speaker: Dr. Peter Bryant

Dr. Bryant has photographed many of our local insects and spiders. His talk will focus on local butterflies and the plants they eat during their larval stage. We have over 50 local butterfly species, many so small that you may have missed them. Dr. Bryant’s photographs will help you to appreciate the beauty of these tiny creatures and perhaps to spot them on future hikes. He will also highlight the specific plants upon which these little beauties depend in their larval stage.

Dr. Bryant is a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. He runs a research lab investigating cancer genetics using fruit flies as an experimental model system. He also runs the first-year Graduate Program in Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Biochemistry

He teaches a course on Biological Conservation for students on campus that is also available on-line to students throughout the world. It is part of an innovative interdisciplinary curriculum in Global Sustainability offered at UCI.

Dr. Bryant is active in many conservation societies including the American Cetacean Society and the Natural History Foundation of Orange County. His website about the natural history of Orange County is at:



Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair

CONSERVATION COMMITTEE CHANGES: Robb Hamilton and Fred Roberts have been the Chapter’s official Conservation Co-Chairs for many years, and in that capacity brought their considerable expertise to bear on many issues. But all good things must come to an end.

Robb, now deeply involved with Western Field Ornithologists, writing a book, and with marriage and work responsibilities, finds he must step down from an OC CNPS position. We give him many, many thanks for all he’s done for OC CNPS over the years, and are grateful that we can still call on his expertise informally.

Fred, with too many professional commitments to list here, finds that his real OC CNPS interest better fits our Rare Plants Committee, joining Dave Bramlet. We are glad that Fred will continue to be part of OC CNPS’ board, and give him many, many thanks for all he’s done for OC conservation and rare plants already.

On January 16, Celia Kutcher, Fred Roberts and Bob Allen gave a flying tour of south Orange County environmental hot spots to Pam Muick, CNPS Executive Director. The itinerary mostly roamed around the borders of Rancho Mission Viejo, with a stop at Tree of Life Nursery and for Mexican food in San Juan Capistrano before delivering her to the airport. Pam said that this tour, along with an equally quick tour of the Saddleback Canyons area with Dan Songster the previous afternoon, gave her a much better handle on conservation issues facing OC CNPS. We hope to do a more extensive tour, hitting coastal, central and northern hot spots, in the near future.

GENERAL: The Ecological Society of America adopted a statement on fire management in April 2003. It virtually mirrors CNPS fire management policy. See In addition, this site has statements on many other wide-interest environmental issues.

On May 1, the Great Earth Walk will be held across the state of California. It will serve both as a fundraiser for local groups and as a conscious raiser. There will be hiking sites throughout Orange Co., sponsored by various environmental organizations. Contact for more information.

See how much power and wealth is arrayed against our environmental laws at Discouraging and angering!

BOLSA CHICA: The Coastal Commission will take up the Brightwater project, proposed for Bolsa Chica’s upper mesa, at its April meeting in Santa Barbara. This is another hurdle in this 3-decades long preservation battle. Meanwhile, the Bolsa Chica Land Trust is trying to get an appraisal of the wetlands’ value. When Prop. 50 passed, the Huntington Beach City Council launched a new effort to pin down mesa purchase funds. Orange County’s legislative members also formed a “historic consensus” supporting the mesa’s purchase. See

COYOTE HILLS: The public hearings on the Coyote Hills Specific Plan, expected in January 2004, have been delayed indefinitely while Fullerton City staff and consultants prepare responses to comments made to the plan’s EIR. See

DANA POINT HEADLANDS: The California Coastal Commission approved the Headlands Development & Conservation Plan, with a few modifications, in January. This was despite a strong report by the Commission’s own staff that the plan violates six Coastal Act policies, and strong recommendation for denial. And also despite strong pro-denial presentations by Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club and many individuals. For OC CNPS, Fred Roberts reiterated the importance of the site’s Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area. State CNPS submitted a letter supporting denial. The plan as approved is different enough from that approved by the City of Dana Point in 2002 that it must go back to the city for re-approval before the Commission can give its final approval. Surfrider and Sierra Club are discussing next steps. Contact

PUENTE-CHINO HILLS: Window decals are now available. They stick on the inside of a window via static electricity, hence can be removed and reapplied. See and order at

Three meetings of note happened in February. Check the website above for followup information.

February 11: The first public meeting of the Open Space Committee (new name to be decided) was held in Brea. This committee derives from the four “hillside” cities’ decision last fall to hire a PR firm to help with public education on the value and opportunity of saving the hills above Brea. Meetings from now on will be held every second Wednesday at varying locations throughout the hills. Hillside preservation supporters need to attend, to reassure the City Councils that they are moving in the right direction and have strong public support to preserve the Aera Energy property.

February 11: The Department of Parks and Recreation held a public scoping meeting on the plan to improve the steep, narrow and unpaved vehicular access road to Chino Hills State Park from the Chino Hills side. Funding to improve access was approved in recent Park Bond Acts.

February 24: The Puente Hills Landfill Native Habitat Preservation Authority co-sponsored “On The Edge: People and Wildlife Program.” This is a collaboration of existing organizations and agencies that have goals to promote public understanding about the value of wildlife and habitat, to offer ways to reduce the human-wildlife conflicts and to encourage lifestyle changes that foster stewardship of our natural heritage.

Upcoming: The Wildlife Corridor Conservation Authority is putting together a Conference to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the effort to save the Wildlife Corridor. In ten years, the early, disjointed, efforts have been pulled together into what is now a well-known and successful effort that has preserved most of the hills by buying from willing sellers. The campaign has been written about in National Geographic, Sunset Magazine and Discover Magazine. Its video has been seen on fifteen public access channels and is still being used in university and high school classrooms. It has even changed the way the state looks at acquisitions—now they consider connectivity as a high priority. Only the “Missing Middle” remains to be saved.

RANCHO MISSION VIEJO: The Foothill-South Toll Road DEIS/SEIR is expected to be released within the next few months and to be complicated and very large. See

SADDLEBACK CANYONS: Lawsuit settlement efforts have failed; trial is currently scheduled to begin on March 12. There are now two lawsuits: the first challenges the specific plan amendment (re-zoning), the area plans, and the EIR; the second challenges the subdivision maps that the County approved in November. Efforts are in process to consolidate these into one case. It is hoped that enviros can really pack the courtroom. See

SANTA ANA RIVER: Encroachment by adjacent homeowners has subverted a couple thousand square feet of Fairview Park to private use. If the City of Costa Mesa does not eliminate such encroachments, a precedent will be set that reduces the land area of Orange Coast River Park and eliminates the possibility of widening Fairview Channel to reduce the grade of the levees so as to create a natural wetland.

The Banning Ranch Task Force is working to identify, among the multiple-member partnership owning Banning Ranch, partners who are interested in facilitating public acquisition. See

TRABUCO DISTRICT, CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST: The DEIS for the Revision is expected to be published in April, with public hearings in April and May; the public comment period will run through July. Alternative #6 offers the greatest conservation of resources in the District and all the four Southern California Forests.

Plans that would drown upper Morrell Canyon for a hydroelectric scheme have been in process for several years. These plans received a setback in December, when the California Water Resources Control Board told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that the proposal is “patently deficient.” Now Elsinore Valley MWD will have to revise the plan, probably heavily; but the plan will be back. See

If one of these issues is in your back yard, consider getting involved. Contact Celia for more information.



For more information or to RSVP, contact Sarah Jayne at 949-552-0691 or Water, sunscreen, hat, and sturdy shoes are recommended for all trips. A plant guide and hand lens are good additions.

March 13 (Saturday)—A Visit to Arden, the Helen Modjeska Historic House and Gardens

Though not our typical field trip, this is a special opportunity to visit this historic site not generally open to the public. The house was built in 1888 as a retreat for Madame Modjeska, a renowned Shakespearean actress, and her husband. Theodore Payne was a gardener on the estate for a time and developed his interest in California native plants there. Now under the management of the County Parks Department, the gardens are being restored and Dan Songster has been helping out.

The tour starts at 10 AM and lasts for 1½ hours. Native Plant Society members will be allowed to linger on the grounds afterward to get a better look at the gardens. There is an entrance fee of $5 per person, which helps with the maintenance of the house and grounds.

A maximum of 40 people are allowed per tour. Another group has booked for ten people so we may bring up to 30. Parking is limited; carpooling is strongly recommended. An RSVP is essential so that we can keep count!

Arden is located just off Modjeska Canyon about 1.5 miles from the turn off Santiago Canyon Road Road. Pass the Modjeska Country Store then veer to the right and go over a small bridge. Go left around the tree in the road (!). Just past the fire station on the left, turn right on Olive Hill Road. The gate to Arden will be on your left. Park immediately to your left in the grassy lot.


March 21 (Sunday)—Laguna Coast Wilderness Park: in search of Chocolate Lily, Fritillaria biflora

Meet at 8 AM in the parking lot, which is along Laguna Canyon Road, about 40 feet southwest of El Toro Road. There is a parking fee of $2 or use an OC park permit.

Bob Allen, who along with Chris Barnhill and Fred Roberts is working on a photo guide to the native plants of Orange County, promises that he has seen the lovely and graceful Chocolate Lily in this location. If we don’t find it, there’s lots else to see. Expect to spend three to four hours in this pursuit. Bring lunch if you’d like, but this will not be an all day affair nor particularly strenuous.
Leaders: Bob Allen and Chris Barnhill


April 17 (Saturday)—Limestone Canyon in search of grassland wildflowers

Meet 8 AM at the north parking lot, which is easy to miss. It is about 1/2 mile west of the turnoff to Silverado Canyon on Santiago Canyon Road. Don’t be too early; there is not much parking outside of the gate. We’ll park there and walk or carpool downhill to the grasslands. Bring a lunch along with the other necessities; we could be out 5 – 6 hours, depending on what’s to be seen. RSVP
Leaders: Bob Allen and Chris Barnhill


May 1 (Saturday)—Chiquita Basin

Meet at 9:00 AM at the dirt lot at the entrance to Blue JayCampground. Anyone who drives should have an Adventure Pass—carpooling is a good idea. We don’t have a specific quest for this location. However, if it lives up to past experience, there will be an exciting variety of plants in bloom, from a green-flowered gentian (Swertia parryi) to the rare San Miguel Savory (Satureja chandleri). Bring lunch and, because of the drive time, expect to devote most of the day to this trip. RSVP; Adventure Pass
Leader: Fred Roberts


May 15 (Saturday)—Santa Ana Mountains Car Caravan Trip

Save the date! Details for this trip, sponsored by the Natural History Association of Orange County, will be available in the next newsletter. For more information, call the Orange County Natural History Museum at 949-831-3287 or visit their website at

May 22 (Saturday)—Holy Jim Canyon—in search of Piperia leptopetala & Castilleja applegateii ssp. Martini

Meet at 7 AM in the large parking area at Alder Spring, near the information sign. Do not drive into Holy Jim Canyon. To get there, drive along Live Oak Canyon Road, near Trabuco Canyon, east of O’Neill Park, and then drive up the dirt road into Arroyo Trabuco. The road is very rough; low-slung cars will not make it, so arrange to carpool with someone if need be. We’ll hike up the Holy Jim Canyon Trail to Bear Springs (5 miles each way), searching for orchids and paintbrushes—and other beauties of course—all along the way.

If you’re not familiar with the Holy Jim Trail, don’t be intimidated by the mileage. The first 1.5 miles are pretty flat, with stream crossings and some poison oak. The trail up the mountainside is one of the loveliest in the Santa Ana Mountain. Gentle switchbacks ascend through chaparral and into forest as it reaches the Main Divide Truck Trail. Bring lunch; this is another day-long trip. RSVP; Adventure Pass
Leaders: Bob Allen and Chris Barnhill


June 12 (Saturday)—Black Mountain, San Jacinto Mountains—Lichens and Wildflowers

We’ve all admired colorful lichen “blooms” on boulders and trees. Charis Bratt introduced us to the amazing variety of lichens last year. Now we have the opportunity to go into the field with an expert lichenolgist to learn how observe and identify lichens. And Black Mountain is a beautiful place to spend the day.

Meet at 9 AM at the Forest Service Headquarters in Idyllwild on Route 74, located on a corner as you start to pass out of town. From there we will caravan to Black Mountain. We can take up to four 4-wheel drive vehicles and are restricted to about 15 people. Carpooling will be essential—especially if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle and can take passengers. Hiking will be minimal, allowing lots of time for close-up work on hands and knees. A hand-lens is recommended, as we will be looking mostly at crusts on rocks. We’ll have time to look for montane wildflowers as well. The Forest Service has asked us to announce that collecting is not permitted. This trip will occupy the better part of a day, so bring a lunch along with other essentials. RSVP; Adventure Pass
Leader: Kerry Knudson


June 26 (Saturday)—Upper Newport Back Bay Canoe Trip
Save the date. Details in the next newsletter.

Local Walks

Laguna Coast Wilderness: 949-494-9352. Now open on the weekends without reservations. $2 parking fee.

For walks in the Northern and Southern Reserves call The Nature Conservancy at 714-832-7478.

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park:

Thomas Riley Regional Park: 949-728-3420

Rancho Mission Viejo Land Conservancy: 949-489-9778

Crystal Cove State Park: 949-497-7647
Docent-led hikes in the backcountry every Saturday and Sunday. Meet at 8:30 AM at the Ranger Station inland of PCH at El Moro School, between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach. Parking is $5.

Caspers Wilderness Park: 949-923-2210


Plant A Seed Or Pull A Weed—Put A Shovel In The Ground…

Progress Continues on the UCI Arboretum Native Collection Project!

Around 300 plants were installed in the UCI Arboretum’s new Coastal-Bluff Scrub Collection in January and February, just in time to be watered-in by the recent rains. The 110 students in Arboretum Director Peter Bowler’s Restoration Ecology class did most of the planting. Our Thursday Weed Crew also got to plant some, as well as doing much preparation work. The plants were grown at the Arboretum from documented seed wild-collected by Arboretum Curator Mark Elvin. A new Native Butterfly Garden will be planted during March. If you’d like to help with the installation, contact Celia for date and time.

The recent rains will also bring on a new crop of weeds, and the Weed Crew will be at work removing them! Every weed removed before it can reseed means hundreds or thousands fewer weeds next year. Join us on Thursdays, between 10 AM and 1 PM. Hat, gloves, sturdy work shoes, sunscreen, and water are advised. Cancelled if more than 1/4 inch of rain falls within 24 hours beforehand.

Directions: From 405, go south on Jamboree to Campus Dr. Turn left on Campus, then immediately right on an unnamed campus service road. Turn left into the Arboretum gate, park on the gravel behind the greenhouse.


Shipley Nature Center

The Shipley Nature Center at Huntington Central Park will hold a California Native Plant Sale, rain or shine, at the March 6 Restoration-Planting Day, 9 AM – 3 PM. The sale will emphasize plants that attract butterflies and birds; many will be drought tolerant. You will also be able to see the Butterfly experts will be on hand with live eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalis of butterflies from 10:30 AM to 1:30 AM.

The first Saturday of April will be a regular Restoration Day. Arrive with gloves, hat, sunscreen, etc. to help weed or plant, from 9 AM to noon. Tools provided. Tours at 11. April 3.

The third Sunday of each month is Nature Center enjoyment day. Gates are open from 10 AM to 3 PM for strolling and talking with docents. March 21 and April 18. For more information visit

Directions: The Shipley Nature Center is located in Huntington Central Park. From PCH, go north on Goldenwest, west on Garfield, and north on Edwards. From the 405, take Beach Boulevard or Brookhurst south to Garfield. Head west on Garfield, north on Edwards. From Edwards, turn right on Central Park Drive. Park in the lot at the end of the street. Follow the painted line to Shipley Nature Center.

Fullerton Arboretum Native Plant Section

Work with Chris Barnhill on Chaparral Hill, Thursdays 8:30 AM to Noon.

Upper Newport Back Bay Report

The ROOTS group at the Back Bay, has been very active over the past few months under the direction of Kristina Finstad. Kristina has put together a summary of their accomplishments and it is an impressive achievement!

“The rains have given our plants a vibrant shine (rain helps sequester otherwise unavailable nutrients as it picks up airborne particles); we’ve done heaps of seeding since they started last Wednesday. The plants from last month are doing really well, better than we expected with those compact soils, close to 90% survival (wow).

I did some number crunching to share with you our victories: 8.9 acres were restored from Oct 2002 to Feb 2004. 41,000 pounds of non-native, invasive plants were removed. 1,100 natives were planted. 1,259 natives were grown from Bay seed. 10.8 additional acres are proposed for restoration in 2005-2006.

For reference, an acre is 43,560 square feet, or about 0.8 of a football field. In total, we’ve raised the ecological function of an area equivalent to a little more than 7 football fields. Way to go!”

Kristina Finstad, 949-640-0286

Give her a call if you can help out there.


More Opportunities and Events…

March 20 (Saturday)—Wildflower Talk and Walk at the Environmental Nature Center, 10 AM to 11:30 AM

Celia Kutcher will present a slide show then lead a short walk through the nature center.

Directions: From Pacific Coast Highway just to the north of Newport Bay, turn inland on Dover Drive to 16th Street. Turn left; ENC is on the left side of the road.

April 16 (Friday)—Plant Identification Workshop at Crystal Cove

Fred Roberts will teach basic skills of plant identification in this fund-raiser workshop offered by the Crystal Cove Interpretive Association. A classroom session will cover plant anatomy, using a key, and basic plant terminology. Skills will be put to test on a short walk.

The cost of the workshop, which runs from 9 AM to 1 PM, is $25 and will include extensive handouts. Reservations are required. The class is limited to 20 people. Contact Winter Bonnin at or call 949-497-7647 to reserve a place.


TPF’s First Annual Native Plant Garden Tour

On Sunday, March 28, 2004, the Theodore Payne Foundation is offering a self-guided tour of twenty gardens in and around the Los Angeles area. For ticket purchase, program, and tour details, check their website at

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Spring Plant Sale, Saturday, April 3. Members only 9 – 10, general public 10 – 2. For more information call 909.625.8767 x224 or visit the website at

Spring Classes at StarrRanch

Field Natural History and Ecology, Dave Bontrager

Sundays, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

March 28, April 4, May 2 & 9, June 13 & 20, July 18 & 25

Cost: $75

Class Limit: 20

For more information, call 949.858.0309. To make reservations, call 949.858.0131. Visit the Starr Ranch website at

Adult Research Class Spring 2004—Effects of Habitat Restoration on Wildlife Communities
The staff at Audubon’s Starr Ranch Sanctuary invites adults ages 16+ to participate in a pilot study that will examine techniques for monitoring birds, small mammals and invertebrates in coastal sage scrub restoration sites. Starr Ranch protects 4000 acres of wildlands in southeast Orange County.

Learn about our artichoke thistle control and restoration efforts. Compare the diversity and abundance of wildlife in artichoke thistle-invaded habitats with pristine and restored coastal sage scrub habitats. Assist biologists Sandy DeSimone, Gail Hall, and Matt McGee in collecting data for monitoring birds, mammals, and invertebrates.

Sundays—May 2, 9, 16, 23, 8 AM – 12 PM, $80/person. Information: 949-858-0309. Reservations: 949-858-0131. Visit

The Jepson Herbarium Public Programs

While most of the workshops take place in and around Berkeley, weekend workshops occur in a variety of locations.

Death Valley’s Endemic Flora
April 8 – 11, 2004
Death Valley National Park

Spring Flora and Ecology Across Kern County
May 6 – 9, 2004
Kern County

Biogeography and Endemic Plant Communities of the Big Bear Valley Area
May 20 – 23, 2004
San Bernadino Mountains

Contact Cynthia Perrine, or Staci Markos, or call 510.643.7008. Website:

Golden Trout Natural History Workshop
Each summer the Golden Trout Natural History Workshop conducts three, one-week camps at a hike-in wilderness camp at 10,000 feet near Mt. Whitney. In addition to meals and tent cabin space for guests, the fee includes daily naturalist-interpreted hikes and evening talks by professional botanists and geologists, among others. The Workshop provides an economical and unique High Sierra experience, which, in the past, has been attended primarily by members of the California Audubon Chapters, Native Plant Societies, and Sierra Club chapters. Originally, in fact, the Workshop was affiliated with the Audubon Society.

Sessions are June 27 – July 3 and July 4 – July 10. Fee: $395 adults, $250 children 5 – 12. Reserve early, space is limited. For brochure call 805-688-8344, or e-mail Website

Wildflower Hotlines

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Death Valley National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Theodore Payne Foundation


Beginner’s Corner: Learning More About Native Plants (Part 2 of 3)

—Joan Hampton,

In the last issue, I listed books and websites for photo-identification of plants. If you missed it, it is available online at Click the Newsletters, January/February 2004, and scroll down to the article. In this issue, I will talk about resources for the more technically minded: checklists, Latin terminology, and keys.

Checklists and scientific nomenclature:

Beginners normally hate scientific names, preferring the common ones. But common names are “fuzzy”: the same name can be applied to different plants, and one plant can have multiple common names. Scientific names, on the other hand, are extremely useful for plant identification. They consist of a Latin “binomial: the genus followed by the species. As an example, Phacelia grandiflora belongs to the genus Phacelia, and the species grandiflora. The Latin name here gives a broad hint as to the common name and appearance: large-flowered phacelia. Closely related plants belong to the same genus and very often have a similar appearance.

My absolute favorite book for looking up the meaning of Latin names is the 1985 McGraw-Hill edition of Donald J. Borror’s Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms, which contains “special reference to biological terms and scientific names.” According to, it is finally back in print.

Checklists are another useful resource. They contain a list of all the plants for a given park or region, and are often available free for the asking. Available at our chapter meetings is the excellent 1998 edition of a county-wide list, A Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Orange County, California, Second Edition by Fred M. Roberts Jr., published by the author. It is organized by family, but different checklists may be organized by other criteria.

The prolific Bob Muns publishes a wonderful series of pamphlets, including checklists for a number of Southern California areas. The ones specific to Orange County are available for Bolsa Chica (revised in 1999) and Upper Newport Bay (1991). They are available from Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden in Claremont or online at In addition to his regional lists, he publishes California Genera of Vascular Plants and California Flora: Summaries of the Major Plant Families, both dated1986.

Books with plant keys and line drawings:

Photo ID books are the easiest tools for the beginner, but they have their limitations. Generally, there is only one photo per plant. Try identifying a photo of an entire tree when you are looking at one leaf. A photo of a flower is useless if the plant is not currently in bloom.

For this reason line drawings, once you become accustomed to them, are really more useful than photos, since they include all vegetative parts of the plant, not just flowers. The McAuley book (listed in Part 1 of this article) combines the best of both worlds, since it includes both photos and line drawings.

The more scholarly books are characterized by line drawings, descriptions that can range from accessible to highly-technical, and identification keys for diagnosing the family, genus and species of a plant.

Plant keys:

Keys look something like this:

1A—Scale-like leaves present… Go to 2

1B—Leaves entirely absent… Go to 5.

Are all plant keys the same? By no means. They can be organized by flower, by vegetative characteristics, by a combination of these, or by whatever the author prefers. Furthermore, all plant groups contain exceptions to the patterns laid out in keys. A given specimen may also lack some of the identifying parts that are essential to diagnosis in the given key. At my present stage of development I sometimes use keys, but I still find them intimidating.

Very often, the title of the book gives a hint as to the orientation of the keys. A Flora of Southern California, by Philip A. Munz, University of California Press, 1994, is organized by flower characteristics, whereas shrub-titled books are likely to be organized by vegetative characteristics.

A pair of books by Barbara J. Collins, both out of print and both organized by vegetative groups, are 100% key-oriented. They are Key to Trees and Wildflowers of the Mountains of Southern California, California Lutheran College,1974, and Key to Coastal and Chaparral Flowering Plants of Southern California, Second Edition, Kendall/Hunt, 1987. I learned about them when fellow CNPS member Sarah Jayne pulled out her tattered and dental-flossed copies.

Also primarily key-oriented and now available locally is An Amateur Botanist’s Identification Manual for the Shrubs and Trees of the Southern California Coastal Region and Mountains by Jim W. Dole and Betty B. Rose, Foot-loose Press, 1996.

All of these books—the Collins and Dole/Rose books—contain a glossary plus scientific and common name indices.

Authors of books on flowering plants are confronted with a dilemma created by the uncertainties discussed here. A consistent system of classification has to be used from one book to another, but what system is that to be, given the many ongoing changes now underway? Furthermore, the agreed-upon system has to make sense, and not just for the scientific community. The older system may contain errors in DNA typing, but it works for ordinary people like us, who must limit ourselves to counting the petals and examining the leaf shapes.

Concluded next issue: Scholarly IDs and Botany Books

Feedback: If you have comments on this article or suggestions for future Beginner’s Corner articles, please email me (see above).


Floras, Checklists, and the CNPS Local Flora Program… Oh My!

By Bob Allen

While most of us know that the word “flora” refers to members of the plant kingdom, it also has a more technical use among botanists. To us, a “flora” is a document written about all plants that occur within a defined region. A flora lists plants by name and includes notes about their distribution and flowering times. They usually provide technical identification keys, often with illustrations, rarely with photographs. Two fine examples include: Hickman, J.C., editor. 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, and Lathrop, E.W. & R.F. Thorne. 1978. A Flora of the Santa Ana Mountains, California. Aliso 9(2):197-278.

Writing a flora requires extensive field and laboratory work performed over many years. To show what work has been done, a flora is often preceded by a shorter publication that lists only the names of the plants found in an area. This “laundry-list” type of publication provides basic data that is extremely valuable, especially for those who plan to write a flora for that area. Botanists call this document a “checklist.” Two valuable local examples are: Jayne, S.B. 1990. Plants of the Crystal Cove Backcountry. Crossosoma 16(3):1-8, and Roberts, F.M., Jr. 1998. A Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Orange County, California, second edition. F.M. Roberts Publications, Encinitas, CA.

Most often, floras are published in book form while checklists are published as scientific papers. These days, neither need be formally published or printed but can instead be posted on a website as an electronic document that anyone can retrieve and use.

In 2002, CNPS launched a new program calling upon us all to research and write our own floras for small local areas. In brief, we should take inventory of the plants in small “bites” and produce what might be called “mini-floras.” Perfectly-sized bites include mini-floras for such places as Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park (which I work on), Limestone Canyon and Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy (projects of Fred Roberts), and Caspers Wilderness Park (the Masters Thesis of OC-CNPS Past-President John Little). Do you have a favorite area that would work well with this concept? Sure you do!

Certainly, the first step toward a mini-flora is to write down the names of plants you find there. Start with the most common ones, then add more as you go. Keep it low-stress and have fun with it. (Time to divulge a “Big Secret”: doing science can be fun!) In order to be more scientific, you should collect a living specimen [permits are required] of each species, press and dry it in a plant press, then affix it to a sheet of herbarium specimen paper, add a specimen label, and deposit it at a qualified herbarium (a plant specimen museum). The largest herbarium in Orange County is the Fay MacFadden Herbarium at California State University, Fullerton (where I happen to work). We would be glad to accept properly prepared and documented local specimens. In fact, I’m coordinating the Local Flora Program here in Orange County. All specimens will be deposited at the MacFadden Herbarium and all mini-floras will be posted on the web as neatly-formatted files for anyone’s use. We’ll continue to discuss this program at future OC-CNPS meetings and in the newsletter.

For information about the Local Flora Program & Vision for an Online Atlas of California Plants go to:


Chapter Communications

We are now using e-mail to send out reminders of upcoming OC-CNPS meetings and events, and to share information. We hope to provide useful services without inflicting unwanted messages or invading the privacy of our members. There are two services; you can join both, just one, or none. Messages sent by both services include instructions for unsubscribing.

Chapter Announcements
Chapter Secretary Mark Rozelle will send out reminders before each chapter event. This is a one-way line of communication from Mark to each member. For the initial e-mail list, Mark is using addresses provided by the State CNPS database. This list contains only names and e-mail addresses. Non-members will be added upon request. Contact Mark at 714-513-4601 or

Discussion Group
Chapter Education & Photography Committee Member Bob Allen has established a separate system for online discussions of native plants. In this system, all members can send an e-mail message to a single e-mail address and it will be sent out to all members.

Please visit for more information on how to join.