Newsletter 2008 November – December

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter

November/December 2008




Conservation Conference……………………… 1

President’s Message…………………………….. 2

Chapter Meetings…………………………………. 3

Nature Writings……………………………………. 3

Conservation Report…………………………….. 4

OCCNPS Elections………………………………. 4

Announcements……………………………………. 5

Plant Sale Thank You……………………………. 6

Beginner’s Corner………………………………… 6

15-minute Photography………………………… 7


November 6–Board Meeting
November 20–Chapter Meeting
December 4–Board Meeting
December 18–Chapter Meeting

Weed and Seed:

Location, Time, Contact

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

Golden West College; Tuesday & Thursday, 10 – 1; Dan Songster, 949-768-0431

Fullerton Arboretum; any day, 8:30-12; Chris Barnhill

Irvine Open Space;

Bolsa Chica; 3rd Saturday; 714-846-1114

Upper Newport Back Bay; 4th Saturday;

Orange County River Park; Tuesdays 10 – 1; 714-393-5976

Directions to the Duck Club:

Driving south on the 405, exit on Jamboree and turn right. Turn left on Michelson, the first signal. Stay on Michelson. At the 3rd signal turn right onto Riparian View. Pass the IRWD water treatment plant. Follow signs to Audubon House and the Duck Club.

Driving north on the 405, exit on Culver and turn left. At the second signal, which is Michelson, turn right. Continue on Michelson to the third signal, Riparian View, turn left toward the IRWD treatment plant and follow signs to The Duck Club. [Thomas Guide to Orange County, page 859 J-7]


2009 Conservation Conference: Strategies and Solutions

January 17 – 21, 2009, Sacramento, CA

Early Registration Deadline is November 15th

Register early and save. Registration rates increase $40 ($25 for students) on November 16. Go to and register now!

Just Added: Nature’s Refuge Film Screening

Join us for a special screening of Stephen Fisher’s yet-to-be-released documentary, Nature’s Refuge, on Saturday, January 17, 8:00 pm. Intended for broadcast on public television, the film has the endorsement of PBS station KCSM in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nature’s Refuge looks at the evolutionary history of plant and animal species in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of the California Floristic Province, and discusses the role this region may play as a continuing refugia in an era of global warming.

The first public showing of the film will be at our conference, where a condensed version of the hour-long program will be shown. Three primary speakers will briefly introduce the Klamath-Siskiyou region, its rich diversity of plant life, and the film: Dominick DellaSala, scientist for the World Wildlife Fund; David Rains Wallace, author of the classic description of the region, “The Klamath Knot”; and the film’s on-camera host, actor Ed Begley, Jr.

Workshops are filling

Register early to ensure your space in the post-conference workshops, January 20 & 21. Go to and register now!

Poetry Reading confirms nationally recognized poets

This just in! On Saturday, January 17th, at 8:00 pm. CNPS is pleased to welcome poets Linda Noel, Kirk Lumpkin, and Susan Kelly-Dewitt to join our Poetry Reading. Readings by these nationally recognized poets will be included with open-mike-style reading. Everyone is welcome to participate by sharing their own original poem or just listening to others.

Program includes many experts and conservation leaders

Both national and statewide conservation leaders are presenting in our concurrent and poster sessions. Notable presenters include Michael Barbour, Robin Cox, Tom Griggs, Richard Halsey, Linnea Hanson, Susan Harrison, Robert Holland, Todd Keeler-Wolf, Jon Keeley, Scott Loarie, Connie Millar, Richard L. Moe, Bart O’Brien, Tom Parker, Bruce Pavlik, John Randall, Jon Rebman, John Sawyer, Dieter Wilken, Carol Witham, and many, MANY MORE!

Don’t forget our Plenary Speakers Jerome Ringo, Stephen Hopper, and John Muir Laws.

Reserve your room at the Sheraton Grand Hotel at the special conference rate

Rooms are still available in the special rate room block for the CNPS 2009 Conservation Conference. Staying in the official conference hotel keeps the conference registration rates down and ensures you will be close to all of the conference events, many of which take place well into the evening and start bright and early in the morning. Special conference rate of $127 ends December 19 and is subject to availability so register early. Go to, click on the conference logo, Directions & Lodging.

Green Conference Opportunities

Help green the conference, meet other conference attendees, and save money by using Spaceshare to find traveling companions from your region, share hotel rooms, cars, cab rides from the airport, a room/couch in your home, and interests, etc. Find out more by visiting the conference site at

Bring your own coffee cup or travel mug to reduce waste.

CNPS Conservation Conference 2009 is on Facebook!

Visit the CNPS conference Facebook page (still very new) and become a friend.

Josie Crawford, 2009 Conference Co-Coordinator

California Native Plant Society, 2707 K St., Ste 1, Sacramento, CA 95816-5113, (916) 447-2677 ext 205

OCCNPS Offers a Traveler’s Grant!

Are you interested in attending the Conservation Conference but can’t come up with the money? The Traveler’s Grant pays partial expenses for a high school, community college, or university student to attend an outstanding workshop or seminar on native plant-related topics and this one certainly qualifies. You must be currently involved in a horticulture or biology program highlighting native plants and be recommended for this grant by a faculty advisor or teacher familiar with the your work and interests in this field. If this sounds good to you, please contact Sarah Jayne at a.s.a.p.



President’s Message – Stay on the Path!

I recently vacationed in far Northern California for the first time, visiting various redwood state and national parks, and the spectacular coastline in Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

While traveling along the 199 Redwood Highway, my husband and I stopped at a “botanical point of interest” that turned out to be access to a bog of Darlingtonia californica, or California pitcher plant, complete with redwood deck overlooks and interpretive signs. I started thinking about how our access to nature is often restricted by predetermined, roped-off paths. It’s a reflection of an aspect of our job as native plant lovers specifically and environmentalists in general. We have the knowledge, and we have the responsibility, to act as tour guides, and point out the areas that should be saved, where we should “stay on the path.” Some people like to know where there is something important that needs to be preserved. Some resent even gentle advice. Our job is to educate and encourage the ones who care where they step, and oppose and fight those who are indifferent or hostile. And our lifelong job is to educate ourselves so that we have the science, that crucial information, our main tool to help protect our increasingly vanishing resources.

At the Redwood National Park, the legacy of the Johnson and Nixon presidencies lives on. Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson started, and Richard Nixon completed, the acquisition and dedication of that park only 40 years ago. Among Nixon’s other accomplishments was the signing of the Endangered Species Act and the establishment of the EPA. Americans will soon have elected a new president, along with a new Congress. Let us hope that we can return to an era of bipartisan cooperation in valuing and preserving our air, water, land, plants and animals. If we think long-term for our society and our world, environmental protection can be no less than our number one priority.

The old-growth redwood forests in California, once encompassing a stunning two million acres, now number only 100,000 acres as a result of rampant logging in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Everywhere you look the difference in the tree size and density in old growth versus second growth forests is evident. But second growth redwood forests are beautiful, too, and it’s a comfort to think that full regeneration may be possible, albeit in several hundred years. Not all of our landscapes are recoverable. Sometimes, unfortunately, the damage we inflict with bulldozers, fire or carelessness, on precious coastal sage scrub, chaparral and other unique Southern California ecosystems, is permanent. Let’s “stay on the path” and learn together about our remaining native treasures in Orange County and California, and fight to preserve them.

—Laura Camp



Thursday, November 20—Native grasses of California

Speaker: Travis Columbus

Did you ever wonder what part of the state those grasses you grow in your garden came from? Do many of our native grasses look alike to you? Why are some found only in certain areas of our state while others accept only certain soil types? Wouldn’t you really like to better understand one of our most fascinating plant families?

There is a certain pleasure derived from listening to an expert illuminate a subject that is a mystery for most of us. With grasses being the fourth largest plant family in the world, someone special is needed to unravel the secrets. We have that someone!

Travis Columbus, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and engaging, will provide an introduction to the native grasses of California, considering their evolutionary history, classification, geography, and ecology. He received his Ph. D. in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Among other duties and interests, he is currently Research Scientist at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Associate Professor of Botany, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California.

Besides being much published, much awarded, and much traveled, Travis is well known for his two-day workshops on California grasses and is well respected in the world of botany and beyond. His studies have concentrated on grasses as evidenced by his 1988 co-authoring of “New Mexico grasses: A synopsis of the classification and a key to the genera” published in the New Mexico Journal of Science. In 1993 he wrote the treatment of Bouteloua and of Pleuraphis in the Jepson Manual, and he is still at it, preparing work for inclusion in the next Jepson Manual.

He is an engaging speaker, who knows his subject well, and who fears no grasses. His notable pressed collection exceeds 5300 plants, but his real claim to fame may have been his 2004 appearance with Huell Howser on a California’s Green show about the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Herbarium.


Thursday, December 18—It’s Your Turn Again!

Share some of your favorite photos of native plants—in the wild or in the garden, local or anywhere in the world. Bring ten to fifteen, or twenty if they’re spectacular. These could be a plant you’d like to have identified (no guarantees), one you’ve seen out of its known range, an interesting plant/bird/insect relationship, good field trip shots, just a lovely picture, or a slide that makes you laugh! We’ll have equipment for both the slide and digital formats. Digital photos can be brought on a flash drive, CD, or DVD. (Please let us know if you need special equipment.)

If you don’t have pictures you’d like to share, come and enjoy the variety and surprises. There will be new books and other items for last minute gifts.

Your board members will be providing a festive spread on the hospitality table. If you would like to add a special cookie or two, feel free (and include the recipe!) Come join us for a light-hearted and relaxing evening.



Rules of Engagement

inspired by Mike Evans, Tree of Life Nursery

Plant natives in your yard or patio.

Feel late summer in a shriveled sage leaf.

Bury your beak in minty monardella.

—Thea Gavin

Treat yourself to Thea’s website at Read another poem inspired by Mike Evans, and naturalist Joel Robinson: There Goes the Neighborhood.

For future newsletters, please send your three-line glimpses (Poemsis trilineata) to


Thank You, Mike Evans

In these newsletters we usually discuss topics for upcoming speakers, not those from previous meetings. But the September presentation by Mike Evans made some important points that are worth emphasizing.

He talked about the experiences of modern children, growing up in a structured, high-density urban milieu. They get plenty of exposure to television and video games, but what about the world of growing plants? For some, there may be no exposure whatever. Others are limited to artificial environments such as gated developments or industrial “parks.” An amazing number of children, and adults as well, have no knowledge of even the existence of natural habitats here in Orange County.

Mike believes that this has created a void in the kinds of experiences and interactions that are a necessary part of childhood development. We owe our children more, and he suggests that one solution is the establishment of backyard habitats, microcosms where they can observe growth, pollination, and other natural events. The small details of even a pocket garden—with its plants, insects, birds, soil and rocks—provide a laboratory in miniature.

Gardens, he says, are not just to be looked at, they must also be experienced. This kind of interaction happens when a gardener, young or old, becomes not just an observer, but also a participant in the ongoing spontaneity of a native habitat, no matter how small.

Without lecturing, he bolstered his argument with photographs of the hummingbirds, butterflies, and the various other insects that find a home in the natural garden. His scenes capture the interaction between intimate gardens and the children who live in them, a home garden that is a world to be experienced—up close and personal.



SAN MATEO WATERSHED: The long-awaited Commerce Department hearing on the proposed SR 241 toll road was held September 22 in Del Mar. The hearing was for info-gathering only. The Secretary of Commerce has until January 7 to make a decision on whether the route fulfills all three required criteria:

  • It’s needed for national security.
  • The need for national security outweighs the environmental damage it would do.
  • There are no other places it can go.

OCCNPS’ comment at the hearing:

The Orange County Chapter of the California Native Plant Society finds that the Transportation Corridor Agency’s Preferred Alternative route not only does NOT further the national interest, it is in direct opposition to the national interest.

Our national interest is expressed by our great national environmental-protection laws: the Endangered Species Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Water & Clean Air Acts, and the Coastal Zone Management Act. They express our national interest, our national need, to preserve our nation’s, our planet’s, natural ecosystem.

The Donna O’Neill Land Conservancy and San Onofre State Park are expressions of that national interest. They preserve natural lands that were set aside as mitigation for development elsewhere. Routing the toll road through them would violate the agreements under which the set-asides were done as well as violate the integrity and permanence of the habitats they protect.

Even more important than that violation, the preferred route violates the national interest. It would set a very dangerous precedent for disregarding environmental protection laws in favor of projects to produce private gain. All parks and protected areas everywhere would be at risk of having their integrity and permanence shattered by private projects. It would have very serious reverberations for environmental protection laws at all levels nationwide. Weakening our environmental laws is not consistent with the national interest.

The Orange County Chapter of the California Native Plant Society urges the Secretary of Commerce to uphold the national interest in strong environmental laws and to DENY the Transportation Corridor Agency’s appeal to override the Coastal Commission’s denial of consistency certification.

SANTA ANA RIVER: A great opportunity has arisen for OCCNPS to have native plant input into positive, local community-serving projects! Three Santa Ana River Parkway projects are among 20 statewide grant winners in this year’s California River Parkways Program. All three projects call for improvement of access to the Santa Ana River Trail, installation of various trail-related amenities, and some level of riparian habitat restoration.

ACTION NOW: If you live near any of the following project sites, and/or bike or hike these sections of the river trail, please get involved in the projects’ public processes (just starting) and advocate that appropriate native plants be used in both landscaping and habitat restoration.

  1. Anaheim, Burris Basin Interpretive Loop Trail, $2,500,000, 2.6 miles of trail. Burris Basin (aka Burris/Burrows Pit or Anaheim Coves), located between Ball and Lincoln Roads, can best be seen from Rio Vista St. Contact: Marty Desollar, External Affairs Manager, 714-765-5092,
  2. Santa Ana, 17th Street Triangle Trail Access Site, $187,000, half-acre parcel at the corner of W. 17th and Fairview Sts. Contact: Carla Thompkins, Management Aide, 714-571-4222,
  3. Santa Ana, Edna Park Trailside Rest Area, $400,000, half-acre parcel at Edna Park, 2140 W. Edna Dr. Contact as above. —Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair




Nominating Committee Is Formed

Several years have passed since our chapter conducted an official election. All our board members have been serving faithfully without sanction of the membership. Therefore, the board has appointed a nominating committee of Laura Camp, Sarah Jayne, Brad Jenkins, and Dan Songster, to recommend officers and board members for 2009-2010 terms. Nominations will be announced on the website and voted on by the membership at our December general meeting. If you would like to nominate yourself or another worthy member for consideration, please contact a member of the nominating committee by November 15, 2008. We are particularly looking for candidates for secretary and treasurer. Chapter involvement is fun and rewarding! Don’t hesitate to call or email any member of the nominating committee if you have questions about how you can contribute to CNPS Orange County.

Chapter By-laws

Over the summer, various board members worked to put together by-laws to define the purpose and activities of our chapter. The board has accepted a final version—after many revisions and much wordsmithing—that will be presented to the membership for acceptance. Due to the length of the document, it will be posted on the website. Print copies will be available at the November chapter meeting or may be obtained by contacting Sarah Jayne (949-552-0691 or Job descriptions for the board positions will also be posted.



“Unless we take action now, it is possible that we will have destroyed 2/3 of the plant species we currently use and enjoy by the end of the 21st century.”

Peter Raven, Ph.D.

Director, Missouri Botanical Garden



Can you help the Golden West College Native Garden grow?

—Dan Songster

Volunteer workdays. Yes, budget cuts are terrible and my campus responsibilities have broadened lately (taking me away from the garden for longer periods of time), but for quite a while my co-director, Rod Wallbank, and I have wanted to renew a weekly workday in the garden.

Now is the time! Believe me, now is a great time to start such needed and rewarding work. This spring, the garden and OC-CNPS will be hosting a one day symposium on landscaping with natives, a Tuesday afternoon docent program will begin, and our botany classes are already increasing use of the garden as part of the curriculum. Furthermore, the latest Fremontia Journal (Vol. 36, Number 2-3) features the Golden West College Native Garden as its lead article, prompting several requests for garden tours next spring by native plant aficionados from throughout the state. The garden needs to be at it best!

What? It is a fun day of light to moderate outdoor work that will have you looking forward to coming back to the Golden West College Native Garden: labeling plants, light pruning, raking, sweeping, weeding, watering, and wandering—with a chance to sip your coffee and chat with others who also like native plants. It’s a great chance to learn more under our somewhat loose tutelage, while helping the garden return to its former splendor!

When? We are considering Tuesday and Thursday workdays depending on the number of people who wish to help.

How? Simply contact me at work by email, or at home in the afternoon/evenings by phone; 949-768-0431.

Saturday, November 8, 9 – 12—Get Acquainted With The Garden Day. Please RSVP to Dan.

Orange County Natural History Lecture Series:

Lectures are held the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the Santa Ana Zoo. Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm (front entry gates are open from 6:30 – 7:15 pm) No fee.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008: So You Wanna Take A Hike?

Speaker Bob Allen will offer an armchair tour through the Santa Ana Mountains with his typically spectacular photography.

Invasive Weed Removal?

Are you interested in helping to monitor and control invasive wildland weeds? Can you and friends volunteer four mornings per year (likely on the weekends) at an Orange County park? Hand-pulling of younger weeds would be the most likely focus, with light labor required.

If there is sufficient interest, we would like to follow our October speaker Bill Neill’s example and advice and help control weeds at the following parks in 2009: Carbon Canyon Regional Park, Featherly Regional Park, Peters Canyon Regional Park, and Caspers Regional Park. Please indicate at which park(s) you might assist and email your interest to Bill Neill at or Laura Camp at

Laguna Coast Wilderness Nursery Schedule:

Contact Robert Lawson, Volunteer Nursery Manager, to find out what’s happening when at the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Nursery.

Nursery Link: email:



Plant Sale—Thank You!

Customer Andre Attai and TOL staff Patty Roess

The chapter benefit Fall Plant Sale at Tree of Life Nursery October 4th was a big success. We had a wonderful turnout of volunteers, several of whom stayed all day. Many thanks to Bob Allen, Mary Arambula, John Bellendir, Julie Brodhag, Sally Davis, Dee Epley, Kathy Glendinning, Greta Helphery, Jennifer Mabley, Christiane Shannon, Yumi Sheih, Helen Wood, and Dennis and Susan Keagy for volunteering your valuable time, and to Diane Wollenberg, who did a great job coordinating the volunteers. Board members Sarah Jayne, Dan Songster and Joan Hampton were in charge as always! And special thanks to Gene Ratcliffe, Nancy Heuler and Brad Jenkins for the interesting panel discussion “Native Plant Gardening Myths and their Solutions” attended by a great crowd of 35 people. Thanks to Tree of Life Nursery for their donation of $1,900+, and to manager Patty Roess and all the staff at Tree of Life. And finally, thanks to all of you who came, attended the panel discussion, and purchased plants. Without you this fundraiser would not be possible.

Laura Camp



Beginner’s Corner: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Concluded

By Joan Hampton

(Do you glaze over when anyone mentions “chromosomes” or “meiosis“? If that describes you, skip down to “THE DILEMMAS RESOLVED.”)

The process of meiosis (sexual reproduction) in plant cells is not cut and dried. During meiosis, the DNA in the cell nucleus forms into sets of two chromosome strings (representing genetic contributions from mom vs. pop).

One significant complication relates to games that chromosomes play. Picture the Mom-string and the Dad-string doing their graceful mating dance. Let’s pretend that they are a pair of simplified skeletons. During meiosis, a lot of unexpected things can happen. For example, a spine can turn itself upside down, reversing the order of its DNA. Or Mom’s shoulder blade might swap places with her knee cap—or Dad’s knee cap. These are just two examples of mutations that frequently occur during meiosis.

How many chromosomes are there in the human genome? You are correct if you guessed that there are 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs. Technically speaking, humans have a haploid or 1n number of 23, and a diploid or 2n number of 46.

But how about plants? How many chromosomes do they have?

Uh…which plant? Researching common edible plants, I learned that a potato has the same count as humans (2n = 46), but for cabbage 2n = 18, for bread wheat 2n = 42 and for corn 2n = 20. However, it gets even more confusing.

Another complication can (and often does) occur during meiosis in plant cells. Instead of passing on one chromosome string for Mom and one for Pop, a double set can be passed on from Mom, or Dad—or both! Instead of a normal, diploid offspring, we get one with a triploid (3n) or tetraploid (4n) set of chromosomes. In general, this phenomenon is known as polyploidy. Furthermore, polyploid individuals can breed with diploid individuals or with other polyploids, increasing the ploidy level even more. Unlike the famously sterile mule, polyploid hybrids are able to breed successfully with one another, complicating the effort to trace evolutionary descent.

Species listed in Jepson (online at contain many instances of elevated ploidy levels, such as the fescues (grass family). As an example, the entry for Festuca rubra (Red Fescue) shows that “Chromosomes: 2n=14, 28, 42, 56, 70, 128.” Notice that these are all multiples of seven, the haploid (1n) number.

In the Onagraceae (Evening Primrose family), Jepson indicates that the chromosome count for Oenothera elata is 2n=14. But for its close relative, Oenothera speciosa, Jepson lists chromosome counts of 2n=14, 28, 42. Again, these are multiples of the haploid number 1n = 7.

Remember the last time that you went on a botany hike, and the field trip leader made you taste Common Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata ssp.. perfoliata)? For this species, Jepson notes that “Polyploids are derived from hybridization with subspecies mexicana, C. parviflora, C. rubra.” But perhaps you are more cautious, and your diet is limited to produce you can get at the local supermarket. You can’t escape polyploidy even there! Most of our common fruits and vegetables, especially those in the mustard family (such as cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli) are polyploids that were bred as such for the table. Remember what your grandmother told you: “A polyploid a day keeps the doctor away.”

THE DILEMMAS RESOLVED: Finally, what about the questions raised at the beginning of this essay? The short answer: molecular data is the driving force behind all the reclassifications. The Flora of North America database (, an excellent site for information on individual species, notes that the DNA of Hesperoyucca whipplei, “supports its recognition…at the genus level…Several characteristics of Hesperoyucca whipplei are not typical of Yucca and could justify its removal from Yucca.”

Among our local families, the most bruised and battered is the Scrophulariaceae. The Mimulus genus has been moved to the Phrymaceae (Hopseed Family). You don’t recognize that family name? No surprise, because until now it had no California representatives. The Castilleja (Paintbrush), Cordylanthus (Bird’s Beak) and Pedicularis (Indian Warrior) genera are now in the Orobanchaceae (Broom-Rape Family), whose members are hemi-parasites; their roots burrow into other plants to steal moisture. Orthocarpus (Owl’s Clover), renamed, is now part of the Castilleja genus. The Antirrhinum (Snapdragon), Collinsia (Chinese Houses), Keckiella and Penstemon (Beardtongue), Plantago (Plantain), and Veronica (Speedwell) genera have been moved into the Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family), leaving only the Buddleja, Myoporum, Scrophularia and Verbascum genera remaining in the original family. For a detailed explanation of changes to the Scrophs, see “Whatever Happened to the Scrophulariaceae?” by Richard G. Olmstead: Fremontia, April 2002, Vol. 30, No. 2 That same issue contains two other excellent articles about taxonomic revisions to California species. (

The Scroph reorganization, in my opinion, is by far the most confusing change. Apart from that, the most noticeable change is that a number of families have either been split apart (most notably the Liliaceae) or merged (lumped) into other families.

How are we supposed to keep up with all these changes? The easiest way is to purchase Fred Roberts’s new book, hot off the press: The Vascular Plants of Orange County, California An Annotated Checklist (2008), available at chapter meetings. This brand-new publication is based on APG II. Unlike previous editions, this one contains an index to genera at the back (bless you, Fred!). The index includes the many older names (such as Isomeris for Isomeris arborea, now renamed as Cleome isomeris). Similarly, the family table of contents includes those that have been eliminated, i.e. merged into other families. In both of these lists, obsolete names are shown in italics, which is very helpful in navigating the Cronquist-to-APG transition.

Also available at chapter meetings is the Checklist of the Vascular Plants of San Diego County 4th Edition (2006) by Jon P. Rebman and Michael G. Simpson. The handy preface, available separately online, summarizes all the APG II taxonomic changes.

My favorite general botany textbook, which also contains extensive information on taxonomy, is Peter Raven’s Biology of Plants, published by W.H. Freeman and Company. I am partial to the sixth edition (1999). I also strongly recommend an excellent, online class, Integrative Biology 335, offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It’s all there for your browsing pleasure, and no, you do not need to be enrolled. Go to

The classic textbook on taxonomy and the APG is Walter S. Judd’s Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach: Third Edition (Sinauer Associates Inc., 2008).

The online Jepson is gradually being updated with APG revisions. To look up individual plants online, visit the Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Online Interchange for California Floristics at For a clickable list of updated families and genera in Jepson, go to

A list of the references not cited in this article is available in the online version of this newsletter on the chapter website at

Do you have to learn to love APG? No one can make you do that, but at least recognize that it represents a sizeable advance in our scientific knowledge.


Fifteen Minute Photography: Selecting a Camera by Bob Allen

In In the mood for a new camera but need a little help? Well, here a just a few general suggestions.

Traditional film or digital camera?

There is no question that digital photography is now king and the quality of digital cameras keeps getting better and their prices keep falling. As a result, worldwide film sales have plummeted. It’s safe to say that most folks want digital cameras these days. Without the financial burden of film and developing, they are actually much cheaper than film camera systems. Digital, however, does come with a price: you must have a modern computer system that can handle importing, processing, and storing digital images. You must also have a good printer if you want to make your own prints.

P&S or SLR?

Do you want a Point & Shoot (P&S) or Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera system? P&S cameras are simple to use, often small, and their quality is surprisingly good. They lack most of the advanced controls and cannot use the variety of lenses and flashes found in SLRs, which somewhat limits your creative options. But for most people, their ease of use often outweighs those drawbacks.

SLR cameras have multiple settings that let you use them in super-simple, intermediate, or advanced modes. They can also use a wide variety of lenses and flashes, which provides more flexibility and creativity to the user, but at greater complication, weight, and cost. For passionate amateurs and professionals, the unmatched quality of the images from SLR’s more than makes up for it.

Which brands?

This is perhaps the most subjective topic in all of photography, not to mention in choice of computer, automobile, shoes, field guides, etc. It’s my column, so here is my opinion. When it’s something important to me (like cameras, cars, guitars, banjos, computers), I am a strong believer in buying top-quality name brands. When it comes to photography, there are only two brands to consider: Canon and Nikon. Both are terrific; you cannot go wrong with either of them. Personally, I prefer Canon (again, it’s my column). I like the feel of their cameras in my hands, their layout of controls, and their logical method of operation.

What about makes & models?

We don’t have the space to discuss this in detail. Here is my summary, with suggested retail prices in parentheses.

Digital SLR’s: Canon EOS system. If you’re new to this field, then go for a Canon EOS Rebel model ($700-800) or the Canon EOS 50D ($1400). My next camera is the Canon EOS 5D Mark II (a steal at $2700, it has many of the features of their $8000 camera body). It will be released by Canon in about 4 weeks. Also, as people upgrade, they often sell their older model SLR, if it’s in good condition. I can provide good sources for this (egads, never e-Bay or Craig’s List!).

Digital P&S: Canon Powershot G10 (great for habitats, $500), Canon Powershot S5 IS (great at zooming-in & for great close-ups, $350)


There are too many good sources of camera gear to mention here, so I’ll select two. My favorite mail order source is Hunt’s Photo. My favorite local camera store is Jack’s Cameras (mostly because it’s near Dan’s Songster’s house).

Hunt’s Photo, Boston, MA
Gary Farber
800-221-1830 x 2332

Jack’s Cameras & Video
23811 Bridger Rd #106
(at El Toro Road, near I-5)
Lake Forest CA 92630-3713