Newsletter 2004 May – June

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter

May/June 2004



Now is the time…

This is the time of year when our native plants are at their finest. Even without a spectacular winter rainfall, they are brightened by fresh growth and elaborated by flowers. There’s never a time not to go out into the hills and canyons, but this is the time not to miss. Field trips—this is one of the things that we do.

On a recent trip to Death Valley with the Jepson Herbarium, Panamint Daisy was in full bloom. The best place to see it is along the Wildrose Canyon road on the west side of the Panamint Mountains in the stony, dry canyons at about 4000 feet elevation. Don’t be looking for some puny little flower. The plants are 2 to 3 feet high and are topped by golden yellow flowers 4 to 5 inches in diameter. We had seen it a number of years ago on a field trip to Tetracoccus Peak, Death Valley, in early May. What a treat to see it again!

Check out the Field Trips section for details on our remaining trips. Check on Local Walks. Read about past trips. Opportunities abound to join a group, or just get out there on your own.

Unfortunately, our precious wildlands are being increasingly pressured from all sides. Please read the Conservation Report carefully and take it seriously. Thanks go to Celia Kutcher for keeping us current each month. Involvement in conservation issues is another thing that we do, in fact, must do.

Sarah Jayne, Chapter President

Calendar of Events

May 1……………………. Chiquita Basin FT

May 1…………….. Shipley NC Work Day

May 6……………………….. Board Meeting

May 20……………………. Chapter Meeting

May 22………………….. Holy Jim Trail FT

Jun 3…………………………. Board Meeting

Jun 5……………. Chapter Council Meeting

Jun 5……………….. Shipley NC Work Day

Jun 12……………………………… Lichen FT

Jun 17…………………….. Chapter Meeting

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.

The Spring Garden Tour April 24

On a summery spring day crammed with alternate activities, a hardy group of garden lovers spent hours in their cars making the rounds of the eleven gardens on the tour. How many made it all around? That question remains unanswered, but it would certainly have been a heroic effort.

Our thanks go to all the gardeners who participated: thanks for the extra effort you made to prod out the weeds or mark your garden paths, label the plants or offer refreshments, install new plants or spruce up the old ones. How about re-facing the entire front of the house to compliment the garden! The response from those who visited the gardens was nothing but positive. Many were looking for ideas on incorporating natives into projects already begun. That was exciting and encouraging. Getting the word out about using natives—that’s another thing we do.

If you would like to be on the receiving end in your own garden next year, you may let us know anytime.

The Garden Tour Committee

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

—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:



Thursday, May 20—Birds of Crystal Cove State Park
Speaker: Maya Decker

Plant watchers have an advantage over bird and butterfly watchers: though sometimes difficult to pursue, their targets don’t tend to fly away!

On May 20th Maya Decker will present a delightful program about watching birds at Crystal Cove State Park. Decker, who has served as a nature walk docent at Crystal Cove State Park for 19 years, also travels worldwide to indulge her passion for bird watching. You will be treated to the many varied and colorful birds that inhabit the park through video clips and still shots that Maya has taken over the last ten years. Interesting bird behavior and habitat locations are also an integral part of this presentation.

Maya is well known and respected as an expert birder. To her knowledge, she adds unbounded enthusiasm and a sense of humor. Be prepared for a most enjoyable and informative evening.


Thursday, June 17—Evening in the Garden
Host: Dan Songster

Although this native garden in Huntington Beach is small by public garden standards it is much larger than most residential landscapes. For people interested in growing natives it is the best of both worlds: large enough to allow for a large variety of different species (trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs, grasses, etc) and small enough to show a practical side regarding spacing of plants and overall garden design. The Garden has its share of normal garden pests and soil problems as well as problems particular to natives themselves.

By mid-June, the spring annuals will be long gone, but the trees, shrubs, and perennials are always evolving. Young plants grow, old plants die and are replaced by young plants. Trees mature, bulbs acclimate, annuals re-seed, perennials naturalize. By revisiting a garden each year, the subtle changes become a kind of discovery and surprise. Come and enjoy light refreshments as we wind our way through this collection of textures, fragrances, and colors.

Golden West College is located at 15744 Golden West Street, Huntington Beach. To get there, take Beach Blvd. north off the 405 Freeway. Immediately turn left on McFadden. Follow McFadden to Golden West Street and turn left again. Take the first legal left turn off Golden West into the parking lot and drive across it toward the Automotive Technology Building. Parking will be “citation free” after 6 PM. (Do not park in Staff slots, however.) Follow signs to the garden.


Natives for the Great Park

According to the Great Park website, “The Orange County Great Park Plan designates approximately 3,885 acres (6 square miles) of the former El Toro Marine Corps Base for park, open space, recreational and educational uses. This represents 83% of the base property.”

The current plan shows potential for creating a premier urban park. Using native plants in the landscape would add significant benefits, and we are starting to communicate that fact early in the planning process. Short informal conversations started with an Irvine Ranch Water District director and a developer interested in Great Park property. Then on Thursday, April 22, a meeting was held with Irvine Mayor Pro-Tem Beth Krom, Fountain Valley Councilman Gus Ayer, and active community leader Elaine Booth.

Three tremendous selling points are being given:

  1. Cohesive Theme: Native plants will differentiate Great Park landscape from malls, corporate plazas, and other man made developments that commonly use a standard set of foreign plants. A variety of landscape habitats can be used to separate zones and small areas, and yet the separate areas can blend together in an overall unifying theme, just as many habitats naturally do in California.
  2. Environment Benefits: Many natives fit naturally with water conservation techniques. Natives generally use little to no fertilizer and pesticide. Many wildlife species such as birds benefit from available plant resources. While not a replacement for lost habitat, use of natives in urban areas can provide extensions to nearby remaining natural ecosystems.
  3. Multiple Uses: Natives are perfect for creating human interest areas such as butterfly gardens, bird habitat, hummingbird territory, aroma areas, shade, wildflower displays, educational interpretation stations, healthy streams, an oasis, flower gardens, meadows for foot paths, visual screens, and eye catching vegetation with unusual textures and shapes.

We plan to meet with more officials and to collaborate with other environmentally minded groups. Our goal is to assist Great Park creators and developers to integrate ecology with urban planning, making the Great Park an outstanding asset for Orange County and a model for urban design.

If you know anyone involved with the Great Park, let them know you support landscaping with native plants. Contact Brad Jenkins ( to arrange for meetings between CNPS Orange County and organizations that can collaborate on environmental issues benefiting the Great Park.

For more information about the Great Park, see

—Brad Jenkins



Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair


  1. The Bush Administration is proposing to eliminate reviews by outside agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the Environmental Protection Agency, of Forest Service projects that may threaten plants or their habitats. Tell your federal legislators that this is a very bad idea!

For more on the Administration’s approach to science, see CNPS’ web pages or , click “Misuse of Science”. It’ll make you angry!

  1. Write a letter today in support of SB 1334 (Kuehl). The full text of the bill is available at, on their “Current Issues” page, as are background and sample letters. Twenty-four well-funded organizations with full lobbying staffs are working hard to defeat this important legislation. Please cc: Senator Sheila Kuehl, your own state legislators, and the California Oak Foundation, 1212 Broadway, Suite 810, Oakland, CA 94612.

FYI: 1000 Weeds of North America, An Identification Guide, the most comprehensive weed identification reference ever assembled for North America, is now available from the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA). This weed identification CD contains 140 grass-like weeds and 860 broadleaf weeds. System requirements: Windows 95 or higher, Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher (free download), 700 megabytes of free space on your hard drive. The CD can also run from the CD drive without installation. For more information on this publication as well as the new book Aquatic and Riparian Weeds of the West see

BOLSA CHICA: The Coastal Commission postponed its hearing on the Brightwater project, proposed for Bolsa Chica’s upper mesa. This is yet another hurdle in this 3-decade preservation battle. Meanwhile, the Bolsa Chica Land Trust is working to get Prop. 50 funds committed to purchase the property. See and

COYOTE HILLS: Work continues towards saving the last parcel of natural open space in Fullerton. More studies are under way and a new EIR will be drafted. Funding sources to purchase the land as a park and nature preserve are being sought. See

DANA POINT HEADLANDS: On April 14, the Coastal Commission directed its staff to finish its rewrite of Headlands findings and get its legal review done before the Commission’s next meeting, June 9 – 11, in San Pedro. The Commission will make its final certification at that time, and is expecting a lawsuit to follow. Surfrider and Sierra Club are working out details of that lawsuit. Contact

PUENTE-CHINO HILLS: Los Angeles County is updating its General Plan, and proposes that most of the remaining undeveloped land in the Los Angeles County portion of the Puente-Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor be included in a Significant Ecological Area, which has more restrictive development criteria. Their Draft Environmental Impact Report is out; comments are due June 1, 2004. See their website,, or email them at

An April 14 article in the Orange County Register disparaged the three-city joint effort to save the “Missing Middle.” Support the cities and reply to the OC Register at See for points to make.

The Puente-Chino Hills Task Force of the Sierra Club has received funding to hire a team of scientists to perform a scientific study of the resource value of the land above Brea and at the Tonner Canyon under crossing of the 57 freeway.

RANCHO MISSION VIEJO: The Foothill-South Toll Road DEIS/SEIR is expected to be released in the next month or so; it is expected to be complicated and very large. See

SADDLEBACK CANYONS: The lawsuit against the changes to the Foothill Specific Plan (OC CNPS is a party) was heard on April 2. The judge will deliver his decision on May 7. See

SANTA ANA RIVER: 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: Public meetings on the new FOREST MANAGEMENT PLAN for Cleveland Nat’l Forest will be presented by the Forest Service:

May 11 (Tuesday), 6:00-8:30 PM, Corona Public Library, 650 S. Main St., Corona, CA.

May 15 (Saturday), 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, San Juan Capistrano Community Hall, 25925 Camino Del Avion, San Juan Capistrano, CA.

The meetings are an important step in development of the plans that will govern the District (and all the four Southern California Forests) for the next decade and more. Alternative 6 is the most environment-friendly. See .

On March 27, the Sierra Club awarded Celia the Conservation Award 2003 for her hard work on the Dana Point Headlands development issue. Way to go, Celia!


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

Progress Continues on the UCI Arboretum Native Collection Project!

Our team’s three years of diligent weeding have begun to pay off! Weeds are much scarcer this spring than they were the last two years. We have planted a new Native Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden near the Arboretum’s main gate in an area that last year was filled with mustard and star thistle. It’s just great to see Mimulus and sages blooming there instead, and to see the hummingbirds enjoying them! The Otay Mountain Collection, now over a year old, has filled in and looks beautiful. The Coastal-Bluff Collection, planted this winter, has lots of new growth.

Weeds keep sprouting though! Join us on Thursdays between 10 AM and 1 PM to help keep them in hand. 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 first Saturdays of May and June will be regular Restoration Days. Arrive with gloves, hat, sunscreen, etc. to help from 9 AM to Noon. Tools provided. Tours at 11.

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. 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.


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.

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 2 (Sunday)—Plant Walk in Monrovia Canyon Wilderness Park

Identify plants and learn about them from botanist Bob Muns. Meet 9:00 AM first parking area inside the park (there may be an entrance fee).

From I-210 in Monrovia, take Myrtle Ave N to Foothill Blvd., right 4 blocks to Canyon Blvd., N to park. Bring water, lunch, hand lens. Optional $1 for plant list. Rain Cancels. This Sierra Club program is free of charge and open to the public.

Leaders: Bob Muns, Liana Argento

May 8, Saturday—San Jacinto Wildlife Area and Upper Salt Creek Reserve, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

The CDFG San Jacinto Wildlife Area is well known for a diverse alkali playa-grassland flora and a number of sensitive plant species, especially the San Jacinto Valley crownscale (Atriplex coronata var. notatior). The alkali habitats were relatively dry this year, and large wildflower blooms would not be anticipated. However, we will search for a number of species that are sensitive or unique to these alkali communities. These may include the thread-leaved brodiaea (Brodiaea filifolia), Davidson’s saltscale (Atriplex davidsonii), vernal barley (Hordeum intercedens), and the smooth tarplant (Centromadia pungens ssp. laevis).

If the group is interested, we will then carpool to the Upper Salt Creek Reserve, west of Hemet. We will look for a number of alkali playa species, including the little mouse tail (Myosurus minimus var. apus), spreading navarretia (Navarretia fossalis). We will also search for the Parish’s saltbush (Atriplex parishii), which is known from only two or three localities in California.

Meet at 9:00 AM at the Headquarters Parking lot of the San Jacinto Wildlife Area (SJWA). To reach the SJWA take I-215 south to the Ramona Expressway. Continue along the Expressway for approximately seven miles to Lakeview. At Lakeview turn north (left) onto Davis Road and drive north some 2.3 miles to the Reserve entrance. The headquarters buildings are on the east side of Davis road, and there are signs noting the entrance to the reserve. We will meet at the parking lot adjacent to the Reserve Headquarters.

Bring a hand lens, water, and a sack lunch. The trip will consist of some light walking around the reserve.

Leader: Dave Bramlet (Southern California Botanists)

May 15 (Saturday)—Santa Ana Mountains Car Caravan Trip, 8 AM to 4 PM

Sponsored by the Natural History Association of Orange County, this all-day car/truck tour of the northern Santa Ana Mountains in the Cleveland National Forest explores geology, plants and wildflowers, birds, insects, and other wildlife along the route. High clearance vehicles are required to traverse the rough dirt roads. Some carpools are available. Bring lunch, water, hat, binoculars, etc. There are no bathrooms along the route. Hiking will be minimal.

Meet at the Albertson’s shopping center at the corner of Jamboree/Chapman and Santiago Canyon Roads at 8 AM. Departure time is 8:30 AM sharp. Extra vehicles will remain in the parking lot. Space is limited to 10-12 vehicles so register early.

Fee: donation of $10 without guidebook, $30 with guide

Contact Lee Shoemaker at or phone him at 562-420-8174

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. Right after the bridge crossing Trabuco Creek, turn left onto the dirt road into Arroyo Trabuco. The road is very rough; low-slung cars will not make it, so arrange to carpool if need be. The drive in takes about one hour. 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 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 13 (Sunday)—Plant Walk in Arroyo Seco Canyon

Identify plants and learn about them with botanist Bob Muns. Meet 9:00 AM parking area at intersection of Windsor Ave and Ventura St. in Altadena. Bring water, lunch, hand lens. Optional $1 for plant list. This Sierra Club program is free of charge and open to the public.

Leaders: Bob Muns, Liana Argento

June 26 (Saturday)—Upper Newport Back Bay Canoe Trip
Chapter member Todd Heinsma has once again arranged a canoe tour of the Back Bay. We hope that UNB naturalists, experts on the flora and fauna of this unique region, will join us. Expect to see plenty of garden escapees and invaders, but also pure stands of upper salt marsh flora up close and a “deep inside” view of the Back Bay as a vital botanical sanctuary amidst suburbia.

Meet at 9:00 AM at Shellmaker Island, 600 Shellmaker—down the little dirt road that veers left from Back Bay Drive as soon as the marsh begins. Todd will place himself conspicuously in the parking lot 30 minutes before the meeting time. There are 9 canoes available at 2 people to a canoe, so the trip is limited to 18 persons. Boats, vests, and paddles are provided gratis. We will all need to sign a waiver at the start so please arrive promptly. RSVP required.


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

More Opportunities and Events…

Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary—The Jewel of Modjeska Canyon

If you’re looking for a place to get away and experience the peaceful serenity of nature, Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary owned and operated by California State University, Fullerton, may be just the place for you. Located in nearby Modjeska Canyon, the Sanctuary’s 12 acres sit at the edge of the Cleveland National Forest, which is easily accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders via the adjacent Harding Truck Trail.

The Sanctuary itself includes tranquil pathways, hiking trails, two ponds, a natural history museum/interpretive center, a shaded picnic area, and a quiet bird observation porch positioned directly in front of the sanctuary’s feeders. Known for its tremendous diversity of birds, the porch is a perfect place to escape the fast pace of the city while enjoying the whir of hummingbird wings as they dash from feeder to feeder.

Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and is free of charge, though donations are gratefully accepted. Guided group tours led by our qualified naturalists are available upon request for $6.00 per person. For more information, go to or to make reservations, call (714) 649-2760.

The Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy
May 2004 Events–Enjoy the splendor of spring!

May 1 Water Awareness Day (9:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
May 8 Richard & Donna O’Neill Garden Tour (9:00 – 11:00 AM, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM, or 2:00 – 4:00 PM)
May 9 Mother’s Day Nature Walk (9:30 – 11:30 AM)
May 15 Tree of Life Nursery Native Plant Sale (9:00 AM – 4:00 PM)
May 21 Astronomy Night (8:00 – 10:00 PM)
May 22 South Coast Audubon Bird Walk (8:00 – 11:00 AM)
May 22 Trail Clearing (8 – 11:30 AM)
May 28 “Nature at Night” Walk (7:30 – 9:30 PM)
May 29 Family Nature Walk – Exploring Insects (2:00 – 4:00 PM)

For more Information contact Laura Cohen at 949-489-9778 or visit

Reservations are required for all events



Field Trip Reports: Adventures of a Couch Potato

by Joan Hampton

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, 21 March 2004

Our tour was conducted by Bob Allen from the Department of Biological Science at Cal State Fullerton, and was advertised as a search for the Chocolate Lily, Fritillaria biflora. The chapter newsletter advised participants to “Bring lunch if you like, but this will not be an all day affair nor particularly strenuous.” Of course, not everyone would necessarily agree on the definition of “strenuous.”

Given his dual expertise in botany and entomology, Bob Allen is a top-notch tour leader, the best I have ever seen. He regaled us with numerous anecdotes, such as the R-rated mating habits of the Western Tussock Moth, Orgyia vetusta. He brought tiny flowers and inconspicuous insects to our attention, and explained their ecological role in this landscape.

Flora we saw during our walk included the Blue Fiesta Flower (Pholistoma auritum), Johnny Jump-Ups (Viola pedunculata), Collar Lupine (Lupinus truncata), Arroyo Lupine (Lupinus succulentus), and California Scrub Oak in full flower (Quercus berberidifolia). Also in flower were annuals generally known as Popcorn Flowers, such as Common Cryptantha (Cryptantha intermedia) and its smaller relative, a member of the genus Plagiobothrys.

Other species we observed included California Toothwort (Cardamine californica), Coastal Paintbrush (Castilleja affinis), California Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides), acres of Red Maids (Calandrinia ciliata), a sandy-topped hill full of Southern Suncups (Camissonia bistorta), California Goosefoot (Chenopodium californicum) and the Fuchsia-Flowered Gooseberry (Ribes speciosum).

But what about the Chocolate Lily, the goal of our expedition?

Maybe I should explain that our party could be categorized in three groups; the mountain goats, the couch potatoes, and those in between. We couch potatoes could use our advanced years as an excuse, although in my case I have to admit that sedentary lifestyle is also a factor. The pace of the hike was relaxed. As Bob pointed out, the pleasure in a nature hike is to go slowly, to enjoy all the small surprises in the native landscape.

The entire group ascended the main trail then branched off to the left at the “T” intersection. From this point, we encountered hill and dale. And more hills. And more dales, although they seemed outnumbered by the hills. We couch potatoes staggered and gasped as we dragged ourselves up and down. Meanwhile, the mountain goats went bounding up hillsides, eventually taking a detour that led them to the location of the Chocolate Lilies, which—as it turned out—had not yet peeked above ground.

The parking lot at Laguna Coast Wilderness Area is not especially attractive, yet it was a welcome sight by the end of the hike. The trek was not always easy, but it was a rewarding and satisfying adventure for everyone.

Limestone Canyon, 17 April 2004

Leaders for this outing were Bob Allen and Chris Barnhill, co-authors of an upcoming book Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Orange County. They brought to the trip their combined knowledge of local entomology and flora, along with a store of anecdotes and general zaniness. They had prepared a four-page, illustrated handout for us, listing the typical flora of Limestone Canyon.

Weather reports had warned of possible rain, but I have lived in this area long enough to know how unlikely a storm would be this time of year, and how ridiculous it would be to burden myself with rain gear.

Limestone Canyon is one of the Irvine Ranch areas managed by The Nature Conservancy. Participants in today’s outing included TNC docents Len Gardner and Dick Newell—themselves OC CNPS members—along with TNC Senior Project Ecologist Trish Smith.

What were some of the thrilling moments of the hike? If you weren’t there, here is what you missed: You could have been standing under an oak tree, waiting for a sprinkling of Deer Louse Flies (Lipoptena depressa) to dust your arms. You could have gathered with us in a circle, craning to get the best view of a pile of coyote “donations.” Bob shared a quote from Cal Poly (SLO) Bacteriology Professor Mark Kubinsky: “Everything eats something else’s waste product—and likes it!” The diners here were Coyote Scat Beetles, Trox gemmulatus, members of the Family Trogidae, the Skin Beetles.

Then the rain came. Being hardy sorts, we did not let the light downfall disturb us—not until it suddenly turned into a deluge. Did we all start running for our cars? Well no, because the dirt trail we had been following suddenly turned into a muddy skating rink. Clutching our inadequate clothing, we gingerly trudged and skidded our way back to the parking area. The vehicles were parked two deep in the confined area, with a rise in front and a drop-off behind. Multiple accidents were waiting to happen, but none did, thanks to Dick, Len and Trish, who stood in the downpour, directing traffic, until everyone else had safely departed.

Aren’t you sorry that you weren’t there?


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

—Joan Hampton,

Scholarly ID books

For the serious botany students, there are three scholarly plant ID works whose coverage includes Orange County. In chronological order by publication date, the first is An Illustrated Manual of California Shrubs by Howard E. McMinn, University of California Press, 1959, followed by A Flora of Southern California by Philip A. Munz, University of California Press. Both are out of print, but multiple copies are listed at the ABE Books website. The Big Daddy—and not for the faint of heart—is the 1993 The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California by James C. Hickman and Willis Linn Jepson (University of California Press), available new for a hefty list price of $85.00. A well-kept secret is that the Jepson is available online, at (the index) and by clickable links for each genus. For the less-sophisticated reader—and that includes me—the Munz and McMinn books are easier to use. Among these three, my favorite is the Munz, a product of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, since it is the only one that limits itself to Southern California. By the way, please do not confuse the late Philip A. Munz with Bob Muns, mentioned earlier.

If your interest in plant identification has whetted your appetite to learn more about botany, I can recommend some other publications. CNPS fellow-member Lois Taylor introduced me to a book that I now consider indispensable: Plant Identification Terminology: an Illustrated Glossary, Second Edition by James G. Harris and Melinda Woolf Harris (Spring Lake Publishing, 2001). It is currently out of print, but available used, online. Nearly every one of the 2,700 definitions is accompanied by a line drawing. It is divided into two sections. The first lists all terms, alphabetically. The second groups the same terms by vegetative category. Another very useful pamphlet is authored by Bob Muns (hey, I said he was prolific). It has the unwieldy title Plant Identification, Collection of Basic Identification Sheets, 1983. Its 25 pages are packed with sketches, trees, tables and more.

At this point, your appetite may be whetted for a full-scale course in botany, but what does that involve?

Studying botany

A complete course in botany, i.e. plant biology, includes topics such as metabolism, cell structure, photosynthesis, and much, much more. A wonderful, highly readable, up-to-date text is the sixth edition of Peter H. Raven’s Biology of Plants (W.H. Freeman, 1999). However, if you wish to limit yourself to study of the flowering plants, I can recommend an oldie, Flowers and Flowering Plants Second Edition by Raymond J. Pool (McGraw-Hill, 1941, 1957). It is long out of print, but multiple copies are available from ABE Books. The author’s writing is very clear and easy to follow. Line drawings are copious, but some of them are more effective than others. I found it helpful at times to consult my copy of the Harris ID terminology text. Still, this is a minor shortcoming for an otherwise excellent book.

Another outstanding resource for study of the flowering plants is available online. It is Dr. James Manhart’s Botany 301 class, offered by Texas A&M University. The home page is at From there, click on the “Lecture Notes” link. This is a magnificent site, with lecture notes, definitions, line drawings and photographs. Many of the line drawings are clickable links to a matching photograph, and these are all topnotch. The class includes recent material on evolution and the taxonomy of flowering plants, with links to Texas A&M’s Flowering Plant Gateway (more about that below).

Speaking of evolution

I mentioned that the scholarly ID books, i.e. the McMinn, Munz and Hicks/Jepson texts, list plants by family—but the families themselves are not in the same order. They are arranged in evolutionary order, from most primitive to most recently evolved. The problem is that the study of plant evolution is not a done deal—and may never ever be, a fact recognized by every writer. The Jepson is the most recent, but even that is out of date.

Originally, flowers were classified and ordered according to the only method available—comparison of observed characteristics of flowering and vegetative parts. Over time, fossil remains, microbiology, chemical analysis and DNA testing added to the body of available data, leading to ongoing changes in assumptions about the sequence of plant evolution.

Researchers determined that certain characteristics, such as separate (unfused) petals or woody-branched perennials, evolved earlier than, for example, annuals or plants with fused petals. But the waters become muddied because of the phenomenon of convergent evolution, in which distantly related species develop similar characteristics independently of one another, resulting in errors when they are assigned to the same family.

To read more about changes in classification specific to California flora, see the April 2002 (Vol. 30, No. 2) issue of Fremontia, available from the CNPS state office. It contains three articles relating to taxonomy.

Help Wanted: The Environmental Nature Center is looking for a self-motivated and professional individual to serve in the role of Grounds Coordinator. For additional information, contact Bo Glover, Executive Director, 1601 16th Street, Newport Beach, CA 92663 or call (949) 645-8489