Newsletter 2008 July – August

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter

July/August 2008




July 26–All-day Board Meeting

Weed and Seed:

Location…………………………………………………………… Information:

UCI Arboretum, Thursdays 10-1………… Celia Kutcher, 949-496-9689

Fullerton Arboretum, any day, 8:30-noon…………….. see Chris Barnhill

Irvine Open Space……………………>volunteer

Bolsa Chica, 3rd Saturday……………………………………… 714-846-1114

Upper Newport Back Bay, 4th Saturday……..

Orange County River Park, Tuesdays 10 – 1 Emily Beck, 714-393-5976


President’s Corner.……………………………………………………………… 1

Nature Writings………………………………………………………………….. 1

Conservation Report……………………………………………………………. 2

CNPS Conservation Conference and Photo Contest……………….. 2

CalIPC Photo Contest………………………………………………………….. 3

Carex Workshop…………………………………………………………………. 4

Willow Workshop…………………………………………………………………. 4

What Is That Flower?………………………………………………………….. 4

Field Trips ’08: Adventures of a Couch Potato………………………… 5

Announcements………………………………………………………………….. 7

Letter…………………………………………………………………. 4


Next CHAPTER MEETING, Thursday, September 18.

FALL PLANT SALE, Saturday, October 4 at Tree of Life Nursery.


—Thea Gavin

Recording your observations and feelings about our native flora is a satisfying way to honor and preserve in words what you love about California’s native plants. For future newsletters, please send your three-line glimpses (Poemsis trilineata) to

Here’s three lines from a poem in Carroll Dewilton Scott’s (1878-1970) book California Nature Poems. I discovered this book in a local used book store several years ago; it celebrates both the beauty and fragility of a landscape that was quickly changing as Mr. Scott observed it in the early 1900’s.

from “Death of Miss Wild Flower”

And I saw her ruthlessly swept away

Year after year from her native land

By the devastating fire of the bromes.



Our 2nd annual Chapter Celebration on June 19, 2008 was a big success. It’s a special privilege to gather together with so many members and friends to acknowledge our progress. The Duck Club is a very special venue that provides a great setting for general meetings, thanks to the Irvine Ranch Water District. Congratulations to our deserving Native Perennial award winner, Celia Kutcher.

We are all grateful to Elizabeth Songster, who organized all the good food, and Diane Wollenberg and Kathy Glendinning, who helped her so ably. Suzanne Tolksdorf and Jennifer Mabley were essential, helping me with the Silent Auction and the Raffle. Thea Gavin, Dee Epley, Christiane Shannon, Connie Bowen, Dennis & Susan Keagy, and Diane Wilkinson were all very busy helping all evening. As always, special thanks to Bob Allen who does such a great job with our AV support and of course the special Circumvista allenii presentation about the rare Phacelia find. Thanks to all our volunteers!

None of this could be accomplished without the contributions of the entire board: Rich Schilk for carting the books, helping with book sales and leading the pre-meeting bird walk; Celia Kutcher for her slide show; Brad Jenkins for donations and handling the money; Joan Hampton for nametags and overseeing the membership table; Nancy Heuler for donations and setup help; Dan Songster for planning, setup and donations; Sarah Jayne for donations and general steady leadership; and Jefferson Birrell (thanks to Ethel, too!) for assisting with donations.

And MANY thanks to our other donors: Acorn Naturalists, Connie Bowen, Tree of Life Nursery, Dave Richens of Oneoak, Roger’s Gardens, Veggie Grill, Arriba Baja Grill, Gina’s Pizza & Pastaria, and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Please support the businesses if you get the chance; I already visited one of the eateries and made sure they knew what brought me there! Proceeds from the auction and raffle were about $1,500, which we can look forward to using for our educational and other programs in the coming year.

As we head into our chapter’s “summer dormancy”, your board is busy planning a retreat on July 26th at Starr Ranch. We will be spending the day reviewing our programs and priorities. What is CNPS? What is our chapter’s role in county conservation issues? What can each member do to support the preservation of native plants and promote their use in the landscape? These are some of the questions I have as we look forward to our retreat and think about the new year ahead. If you have ideas or would like to participate in the retreat, let me know. I look forward to sharing our discussions and goals with you in future newsletters.

Laura Camp, Chapter President



Congrats to our own Bob Allen, who recently found Santiago Peak Cluster Flower, Phacelia suaveolens ssp. keckii, on Santiago Peak. The plant had not been recorded as seen since 1990. If you attended OCCNPS’ End-of-Season Bash on June 19, you saw Bob’s entertaining and instructive presentation on his hunt for and rediscovery of this rare native.

The California Oak Foundation will soon publish “An Inventory of Carbon and California Oaks” as an addendum to its Oaks 2040: The Status and Future of Oaks in California (2006). The inventory points up how important the state’s oak woodlands and forests are for carbon sequestration, adding to the importance of preserving them.

ALISO CREEK AREA: The latest revised Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) for Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park was released on June 12; see The document includes a new Water Quality Technical Memorandum that provides a programmatic approach to evaluating water quality projects to be proposed, within the park and/or on adjacent property, which may impact Park resources.

BANNING RANCH: The 412-acre Banning Ranch, located alongside the Santa Ana River in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, is OC’s last large parcel of privately owned coastal open space. About half the site is riparian wetlands that would be restored by the property owners if they are allowed to develop the remainder, on the mesa, as homes, a coastal inn and commercial space. However, the City of Newport Beach’s General Plan calls for the entire property to be preserved as open space. To that end, the Banning Ranch Park and Preserve (BRPP) Task Force has set up the Banning Ranch Conservancy and is working to preserve the property as a public wilderness park/wildlife preserve. Two upcoming events to help:
– July 21, 6:30-9:30 PM, BRPP Planning Workshop at Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave, Costa Mesa.
– August 16, 7 PM, Fundraising Concert at eVocal, 814 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa.
More info at

SAN MATEO CREEK: On July 25th, at UC Irvine’s Bren Events Center, the Secretary of Commerce will hold a public hearing on the OC Transportation Corridor Agencies’ appeal to override the California Coastal Commission’s 8-2 rejection of the 241 Toll Road’s “preferred route.” Commission staff’s findings thoroughly detailed that the route, through the Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy and along San Mateo Creek through San Onofre State Beach, would be so environmentally damaging, so contrary to the Coastal Act, that no amount of mitigation could offset it. The route’s worst effect is that it would set the extremely bad precedent of allowing public, preserved, land to be taken for the profit of entities that are not accountable to the public. ACTION NOW: Plan to attend! Contact or 949-361-7534 to be put on the list to get time, agenda, and other details still TBA at newsletter deadline. It’s essential that 3000+ anti-toll-road attendees again make the same resounding statement against the “preferred route” that was made at the Commission’s hearing last February. The enviro community must stand up and stand firm against this route and the damage it would do!

Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair



CNPS Conservation Conference 2009—Strategies and Solutions, January 17-19, 2009 in Sacramento, California.

Call for Papers deadline extended to July 25, 2008

Early Registration July 1-November 15, 2008

The Call for Papers has been extended! Please submit an abstract before July 25 for an oral or poster presentation for the 2009 CNPS Conservation Conference. Abstract submission instructions and session information can be found on the conference website:

Accepted authors will be invited to publish manuscripts in the conference proceedings. We welcome submissions from a wide audience of researchers, practitioners, students and professionals alike. Our ability to achieve the mission of our society is impelled by a unique collaborative effort of interested and involved persons. We hope that you will contribute your plant conservation efforts to our conference.

The main goal of this conference is to identify and promote science- and policy-based strategies and solutions to improve the conservation of California’s native flora and natural landscapes. To learn more about the principal objectives of the conference and additional information, please visit

Registration for the 2009 Conservation Conference opens after July 1, 2008 and more details will be posted to, as they become available.

Thank you,

Josie Crawford

Plant Science Training Coordinator

California Native Plant Society

2707 K St, Ste 1

Sacramento, CA 95816

(916) 447-2677


CNPS Conservation Conference: Strategies & Solutions, PHOTO CONTEST

Sponsored by CNPS and Lowepro

1st Prize- $750, Lowepro Primus AW recycled material backpack, photo published in Fremontia, & 2 complimentary tickets to Conservation Conference banquet.

2nd Prize- $500, Lowepro Primus AW recycled material backpack, photo published in Fremontia, & 2 complimentary tickets to Conservation Conference banquet.

3rd Prize- $250, Lowepro Primus AW recycled material backpack, photo published in Fremontia, & 2 complimentary tickets to Conservation Conference banquet.

Runners-up (3)-Lowepro Fastpack 250, and photo published in Fremontia.

“Conference Choice”- The cover of the CNPS 2009 Conservation Conference: Strategies & Solutions Proceedings to be published in 2009.


Subject: California Native Plants. Photos must be taken in California (or California Floristic Province) and feature plants native to the state. Images may be species specific macro shots, wide angle landscape photos, or pictures of people or animals interacting with the natural environment of California. Photos may be of—but are not limited to—rare or common plants, flowers, trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, bryophytes. Surprise us!

Digital or Film: Photographer’s Choice, however entries must be accompanied by high resolution digital copies of photos on CD.

Size and Format: 5×7”or 8×10” photos. (Slight variations in size will be accepted.) Please, no mats, no frames, no glass. Photos must be mounted on foam core or backing mat board and enclosed in a clear poly envelope for display at conference. Please mark back of entry with title of the piece and name of photographer.

Deadline for Entries: November 15, 2008. Entries will be accepted by mail September 15 – November 14, 2008, and for drop-off Saturday, November 15, 2008 at the CNPS state office in Sacramento, CA.

Deliver/Ship to the state headquarters of CNPS at the following address:

Photo Contest
2707 K Street, Suite 1
Sacramento, CA 95816

Entry form specifics: Please type or write legibly on entry form. All fields must be completed including: name of photographer, full mailing address, phone number with area code, email, specific location and date photo was taken, brief description of subject matter, photo title, type of film (if applicable), and brand of camera photo was taken with. Entry form will be posted on web site as contest submission deadlines approach.

Entry fees: $20 per entry or $10 per entry for conference attendees. Submit with entry: Entry form (one for each entry), CD of digital images of entry or entries for publicity and potential use in Fremontia and conference materials, and a check for entry fees payable to The California Native Plant Society. Please be sure to name the digital files with the same title used for photo entries on CD and to label the CD with the photographer’s name. Photographers who want their photos returned to them by mail after the conference may also enclose a self-addressed, postage paid manila envelope. SASEs that do not have the correct postage will not be returned.

Photo Pick Up and Return: Photographers wanting to pick up their work may do so at the CNPS state office during business hours January 20-February 20, 2009. Photos not picked up after 30 days will not be returned. Contestants who enclosed postage paid return envelopes with their entries will have their work mailed back to them during this time.

Awards: Winners will be announced at the CNPS 2009 Conservation Conference banquet at the Sacramento Convention Center on January 17, 2009. Prize winners will be contacted around December 15, 2008 to be given complimentary tickets to attend the banquet.

Right of Use: Photographers will maintain copyright of their work, however the CNPS reserves the right to unlimited use of winning entries and runners-up for publicity and advertising. Winning photographers relinquish any right to royalties from CNPS or any form of reimbursement other than contest awards. CNPS cannot guarantee the quality or appearance of your photo on digital media or in print. Photographer credit will be given when possible, but is not guaranteed.


Nick Jensen is an avid and enthusiastic amateur photographer of California’s flora. He has worked for CNPS since 2006, and is currently the Society’s rare plant botanist. In his free time, Nick enjoys hiking in California’s majestic landscapes witnessing and photographing the state’s spectacular biodiversity.

Sally Mack discovered a love of photography as a result of signing up for a photojournalism class in college. After shooting 35mm black and white film for years, she switched to color film, then to medium format, and now uses a 1979 Hasselblad with its standard 80mm lens. She’s had annual exhibits at The Faculty Club at UC Berkeley for the past six years, as well as one woman shows at SEAM and Thoreau Galleries in San Francisco and the Water Resources Center Archives Library on the UC Berkeley campus. She and her work have been featured in publications such as the San Francisco Chronicle and The Berkleyean.

Ree Slocum a former photojournalist, began her business, Arcadian Images, in 2003. She specializes in macro flower photography and documentary/photojournalism. Her studies of flowers invite us to visit the rich micro worlds around us. She enjoys working with natural light and f-stops to create her images, sometimes touching on the ethereal.

[Go to the web address listed below to see examples of their work.]


Email Stacey Flowerdew at for answers to your questions.


4th annual Cal-IPC Photo Contest

This is your chance to join the likes of John Knapp, Greg Archbald, and Jim Dempsey (among others) in the ranks of the famous Cal-IPC Photo Contest winners.

Entries will be displayed at the 2008 Symposium in Chico. Attendees will vote for “Symposium Favorite”

The Cal-IPC Photo Contest has two purposes:

1) To be fun;

2) It’s a way for Cal-IPC to collect some of the great photos our members have taken that can be used in outreach, educational, and other Cal-IPC materials. It really helps the organization to have these terrific resources at our disposal. (Of couse, that means if you enter a photo into the contest, you’re giving us permission to use it in these types of materials. Please don’t send us anything copyrighted.)

Contest Categories:

Landscape: Lots of plants, demonstrations of serious invasions

Specimen: Close-up of a plant or part of a plant

Impacts: Capturing the ecological or economic cost of invasions

Before/After: Show us your weed control successes

Weed Workers: Two legs, four legs, or more legs—anyone or anything working on weeds

Humor: You should see the entries we get in this one. Let’s see yours

How to enter:

Email your digital photos (JPEG or TIF, preferably 300 dpi or higher resolution) to:

Sharon Farrell:

Each photographer may submit up to 5 entries.

Please let us know the following about your entries:

Photographer; category; location; species; what’s happening in the photo

Feel free to include a fun title or caption

Deadline for entries, Monday, September 1, 2008

See this announcement in color at

Questions? Ask the Photo Contest Chair, Sharon or contact Photo Gal Bree Richardson at


Learn while you vacation!

Please join the California Native Plant Society for a Carex Identification and Ecology workshop to be held at the Sagehen Creek Field Station in the northern Sierra Nevada, July 22-24.

Participants will learn:

  • To decipher the often difficult morphological characters of the genus Carex
  • Quick and easy ways to key to taxonomic group
  • To understand the language in the keys (what is pithy tissue?)
  • To navigate the troublesome Group 9
  • Habit and ecological factors for many California species
  • To recognize some species without keying (field identification of some common species)
  • To love and understand Carex

For full details and registration go to

The University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum will present a workshop on the Willows of the Sierra Nevada, also at Sagehen Field Station, July 25-29.

Come join us for a rare look at high elevation willow species and explore the Northern Sierra high country. The workshop will begin Friday evening with a brief introduction to the willow family, willow anatomy, distribution and ecology. The rest of the long weekend will be spent at various sites and altitudes in the field.

For full details and registration go to and register with the UCSC Arboretum by calling (831) 427-2998 or emailing



Dick Newell


uests on my wilderness hikes frequently ask how to get started in understanding the basic concepts of botany. While they don’t want to become botanists, learn Latin or even take college level classes they would like to learn the fundamentals and be able to identify a particular plant when they come across it in the field. Where do they start?

Along the trail I support their early interests and try to make botany as much fun for them as it is for me and I do this by keeping it simple. I casually introduce them to some of the plant families we encounter using their common names at first. I also talk about the past uses of many of these plants and then I dissect a bloom and explain the role of the basic parts of a flower. Using word pictures and colorful stories helps them to recall those terms. Other suggestions I offer these future botany aficionados include:

1) Buy an inexpensive hand lenses or magnifier and always carry it with you in the field. Get a thin leather string from a bead store or a shoelace and make a necklace that will allow you to carry your lens around your neck. Plastic lens with a maximum of 10 power are available in the five to six dollar range. More power is definitely not better in this case. Potential vendors include hobby shops, sporting goods stores and coin or stamp shops. Bausch and Lomb has several models available on line and Acorn Naturalists has a 5x/10x dual folding pocket magnifier for under $5.00.

2) Carry a small notebook and a pencil or waterproof pen with you in the field to record your observations and to remind you of things you may need to look up later. The use of a small digital camera is another way to capture the details of your flower until you get home. I say this because if you really love the flowers you will resist the urge to pick them thus preserving them for others to enjoy in the future.

3) Buy a basic plant guide that covers your local area, if one is available, and start to learn the basic parts of a flower. Flowering Plants of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Nancy Dale, works quite well for Orange County. This field guide is available at the online CNPS bookstore at:

Another field guide for those in Orange and Riverside Counties is the Flora of the Santa Ana River and Environs: With References to World Botany by Oscar F. Clarke. Copies are available at:

In the near future Orange County plant lovers will be able to find a new text entitled Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Orange County, California, and the Santa Ana Mountains. Bob Allen, the lead author of this book is an outstanding photographer and it will be the book to have if you live or visit anywhere near this geographic area. The author has a web page with samples of a few of the chapters at:

Residents of San Diego County will want to look at San Diego County Native Plants by James Lightner, also available at:

Remember, by using a guide designed for your local area you are much more likely to find the same species in the book as the one you are seeing in the field.

4) See if your local park, landowner or forest ranger has a plant list or guide of the flora for their property. These are frequently available at no cost and are often quite good. Professional “checklists” or inventories are also available at a reasonable fee. The Vascular Plants of Western Riverside County, – An Annotated Checklist by Fred M. Roberts is a fine example:

A 2008 edition of Roberts’ Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Orange County is also about to be published.

5) Join your local chapter of the California Native Plant Society and go on a few of their field trips. For the most part their members are amateur plant lovers like yourself and you may find them to be a fun group as well as a great resource. Membership in CNPS is available for $25 for those on limited income or $45 for regular annual memberships. Go to and click on Join CNPS. CNPS will automatically assign you to your local chapter if you don’t specify one.

6) Consider volunteering at one of your local parks as a land steward. Many pleasant hours can be spent while helping to ensure that our native plants will be here for future generations to enjoy and at the same time, enhancing your knowledge of the plants.

7) Try growing a few native plants in your own garden and you will really get to know them. A good place to buy native plants and to learn more about them is the Tree of Life Nursery in Orange County.

8) Another great web site for viewing spectacular pictures of the flowers and a site that will also help you learn to pronounce their Latin names is available at and no student of botany should fail to visit Professor Wayne Armstrong’s online text book of natural history at:

If you encounter difficulty in understanding some technical terms in describing parts of the plants I strongly recommend purchasing Plant Identification Terminology, An Illustrated Glossary by James Harris.

9) When students ultimately want to begin to learn how to use a plant key I encourage them to look at a very basic and easy to use key entitled Shrubs and Trees of the Southern Chaparral & Mountains, an Amateur Botanist’s Identification Manual by Jim W. Dole and Betty B. Rose, which is available on line from CNPS for $18.95:

This key for shrubs and trees was designed for beginning students and its authors use everyday terminology in describing the plant parts. This key is actually fun to use and may help prepare you to make the big step up to the state-wide flora that is available on line at:

When you start getting comfortable using The Jepson Manual you will have long since passed the need to read articles like this one, but take time along the way to have fun and smell the roses.

Dick Newell is an Orange County naturalist extraordinaire and an amateur student of botany. He can be reached at


Field Trips ’08: The Adventures of a Couch Potato

—Joan Hampton


here were you these beautiful spring weekends, when we were out glorying in the best wildflower displays seen in several years? Perhaps you thought that spectator sports would be more interesting. (My personal favorite is golf, because it makes me appreciate that there is something more boring than TV commercials).


This first excursion, in mid-February, was led by Lois Taylor, whose love for the area and detailed knowledge of its flora and ecological relationships were evident. We viewed exhibits on local geology, flora and fauna within the museum itself, then hiked through the center and out to Barbara’s Lake.

The next two field trips, in early March, were led by Joel Robinson. As a roving naturalist, he consistently demonstrates an amazing in-depth knowledge of any area where he conducts a tour.


The first was to Trabuco Canyon, where we experienced beauty and ugliness. The “beauty” was the lovely creekside trail, lush with riparian vegetation. The “ugly” was the fact that we had to share this narrow trail with bicycle racers going round and round and round and… While many of those fellows were courteous, it was still immensely annoying—or occasionally worse.

Also ugly is the rugged access road into the area, only accessible to high-clearance vehicles. In certain places, drivers had to speed up to traverse jagged irregularities in the roadway. The continual jounces were often severe enough to cause the heads of rear-seat passengers to repeatedly bounce off of vehicles’ roofs. My recommendation: if you have a history of spinal problems, try to score a front seat, where the suspension is usually better.


A week after Trabuco Canyon, Joel led a field trip at Santa Rosa Plateau. We saw many chocolate lilies in flower, but none were growing directly by the trail, and park regs do not allow visitors to leave the marked path. Other plants we saw in abundance included Blennosperma nanum var nanum (Common Blennosperma), and Dodecátheon clevelandii (Padre’s Shooting Star).

The abundant spring rain had filled the vernal pools, and we were able to—sort of—watch fairy shrimp. They are the living embodiment of “floaters” (those elusive shapes you may see from time to time when you close your eyes). When you try to look directly at one—floater or fairy shrimp—it moves away.

Fairy shrimp are not the only inhabitants worth viewing at the vernal pools. Also resident is the Western Toad, Bufo boreas. But the best spectator sport here is the interaction of children (who are fascinated by these creatures) with their parents, who invariably take advantage of the teachable moment. Sort of.

Kid # 1: “Mommy, why is that toad with the green fur lying on his back at the bottom of the pool?”

Parent: “It’s taking a nap.”

Kid # 2: “Why are those two toads swimming front-to-back?”

Parent: “They are playing horsie.”

Then there was the garter snake: I enjoy seeing snakes on land, where I expect them, but it creeped me out to see one undulating its way across one of the vernal pools. On his website, Tom Chester notes that they “are usually seen from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. having their tadpole lunches. They are not harmful, but they certainly startle anyone whose face is a few inches from the water when they suddenly emerge from under the boardwalk.”

Perhaps I have seen too many horror movies, where the gigantic, computer-generated snake slithers below the surface of the Amazon to attack the beautiful young hottie while she is taking a dip. I may never swim in a natural body of water again.

We saw another garter snake while hiking through a grassy area. Joel Robinson pounced upon it, snatched it up, and held it out for all of us to examine. That was interesting, but after putting it down, he made all of us smell his hands. Yuck, Joel! I took a pass on that.


Tom Chester led this lovely trip, where we saw various species of phacelia and other fire-followers. Tom is an experienced botanist who makes regular contributions of voucher specimens and plant lists to the Plant Atlas project of the San Diego Natural History Museum. His particular gift is teaching field trip participants ready techniques for distinguishing closely-related species.

In common with Trabuco Canyon, the Santa Margarita River field trip required multiple stream crossings, providing a dandy opportunity for a splendid spectator sport, “Watching Old Ladies Crossing Streams.” Unfortunately, there are a few players who like to spice up the game, by “helping” us across with assurances like “Oh, don’t worry. That log is stable.” Sure it is.


I have taken many hikes through Limestone Canyon and other Irvine Ranch properties, but this excursion was different. Leaders David Olson and Jutta Burger transported us in Irvine Ranch Conservancy vehicles, to look for fire-followers and other flora. In Limestone Canyon itself, we left the main trail and were allowed to hike up a dried stream bed. There, we saw the poppy Platystémon califórnicus (Cream Cups), unusual for that area, plus Antirrhìnum kelloggii (Climbing Snapdragon), Calochórtus catalìnae (Catalina Mariposa Lily), Linánthus floribundus (Many-Flowered Linanthus), Linánthus dianthiflòrus (Ground-Pink), Lupìnus truncàtus (Collar Lupine), Lupìnus succuléntus (Arroyo Lupine) multiple species of phacelia and much more. Another treat was a stop at Jutta Burger’s trap door spider (Bothriocyrtum californicum) research project. She opened the door on one burrow, and gave us the opportunity to view its inhabitant right there on its “porch.” Later in the day, up in Fremont Canyon, we saw a bald eagle on the wing. Great adventures!


All previous field trips in OC CNPS history were devoted to botanizing terrestrial plants. Focusing on marine biology, this trip broke new ground. Leader Trude Hurd taught us about the kelp life cycle and described the habits and anatomy of various marine creatures and other algal species that we encountered as we strolled along the sand. She also discussed the ecology of the marine habitat and various threats to its inhabitants.

Also included was a detailed explanation of tides and reasons behind their daily, monthly and annual fluctuations, illustrated with a tide-table calendar. Like the skilled educator she is, Trude gave each of us a colored brochure illustrated with drawings and photographs, covering the topics discussed during our stroll.


Fred Roberts spearheaded another fire-follower excursion, this one near the international border. Our actual tour guide was Don Martin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Other experts accompanying us were Dave Bramlet and Vince Scheidt. The presence of these seasoned botanists led to Celia Kutcher’s astute field trip observation: when there is one expert, his or her authority goes unquestioned. The presence of two leads to a debate. When there are three (or more) experts, the group is challenged to hike past the first plant specimen.

We did go far enough—at several different locations—to see a rich variety of the local flora. My favorites included Állium praecox (Early Onion), Antirrhìnum nuttallianum (Nuttall’s Snapdragon), Calandrínia breweri (Brewer’s Calandrinia), Crássula connata (Pygmyweed), Lepidium lasiocarpum var. lasiocarpum (Sand Peppergrass), Pentachaeta aurea (Golden-Ray Pentachaeta), Lepechínia ganderi (Gander’s Pitcher Sage), Pediculàris densiflóra (Indian Warrior), Phacèlia grandiflora (Giant-Flower Phacelia) and Zigadènus fremóntii (Fremont’s Camas).


Conducted under the auspices of SAMNA (Santa Ana Mountains Natural History Association), Bob Allen and Debra Clarke shepherded a l-o-n-g vehicle caravan that took us high above the cloud line, where we enjoyed some spectacular views. Species we saw included the rare Viòla sheltonii (Shelton’s Violet).


We joined the Sierra Club Natural Science Section for a field trip led by Liana Argento, Gabriele Rau and Bob Muns. Here we examined a number of species of coastal flora, so different from those we normally see inland.


The Santa Ana River stretches nearly 100 miles in length and was once considered the greatest flood hazard west of the Mississippi River, until the Seven Oaks Dam was constructed in 1999. An unfortunate side effect of the dam is that the Santa Ana River Woollystar (Eriastrum densifolium ssp. sanctorum), which requires annual flooding for germination, became endangered. Contributing to the problem is drifting sand from a surface-mining facility adjacent to the preserve.

Researcher Heather Clayton has spent several years studying the Woollystar and its Riversidean alluvial fan sage scrub habitat. As she took us through the preserve, we learned about ecological relationships among the various species and experiments that are being conducted in an effort to mitigate the damage created by the dam.

Although 2008 has been another drought year—the third in a row—there was enough rain in the spring to produce all the beautiful flowers we saw on this year’s field trips. I hope we get enough rain this winter to nourish our native plants and give us an abundant crop for 2009.




that you can renew your CNPS membership online using a credit card? As an option, you can set it up to renew automatically year after year. It is quick, easy, convenient, and reduces the cost of mailing renewal notices.

Go to

Click on the JOIN button

CNPS Chapter Activities on the Web

It’s really interesting to read about other chapter’s activities—and to be impressed about our own accomplishments. Go online at to see the Annual Report of Chapter Activities. Click on Local Chapters on the menu bar.

Orange Coast River Park Volunteering

I host volunteer hours on Tuesdays from 10 AM – 1 PM. Volunteers help with everything at the nursery, including planting, transplanting, collecting seeds and/or cuttings as necessary, and maintaining the plants. Gloves and tools are provided. I recommend closed toed shoes, and children must be accompanied by a guardian. I would also appreciate a heads up from anyone planning to come, just so I have an idea how many people to expect,

Emily Beck, Nursery Coordinator

Orange Coast River Park


Back to Natives Summer Activities

Back to Natives is offering a diverse selection of interesting natural history events in different locations around the county this summer. For all the details, consult their website at


Letter to the Editor

Let’s adopt

As I finished reading Fremontia, again, I mused. I wonder if our chapter has taken on the care and nuture of a wild place? We are such a bright and involved group! I thought, that we must. So, I asked. And, well, we don’t. And, I wondered why not?

Coincidently, I was walking up the trail from the Nix Center in the Laguna Canyon on a recent Memorial Day weekend, and lo and behold, there was a long lens camera resting in the middle of the trail. How odd I thought; there must be a story here. Sure enough, out of view, on her hand and knees, was Ranger/Naturalist Laura Cohen pulling weeds—Star Thistle to be exact. We made an acquaintance. I had no idea that Star Thistle was right here invading our own backyard!

Several days later I returned with gloves and kneeling pad and in no time gathered as much as I could carry of Star thistle with ripening seed.

How nice it would be if our chapter could adopt this gem right here in our own back yard. We would need a plan, an assessment, and an action [and permission?]. But, right now, quick, before those seed heads let go, action is necessary. A stout bag, gloves, kneeling pad, and don’t forget that hat, sunscreen and water. (If seeds are ready to fly better clip the seed head and carefully put in a bag.)

Immediate action of everyone on every walk would mean a smaller seed bank. For the long run let’s seriously consider adopting the care of one of these gems in our own back yard. I suggest Laguna Canyon Wilderness. Any takers?

Chuck Wright