Newsletter 2002 July – August

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter Newsletter

July/August 2002



A Summer Nap

Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine.”

Alexander Smith Dreamthorpe, First Essay

As the weather warms and the soil dries, late spring blossoms fade and our native gardens grow drowsy. The once green Needlegrass becomes blonde, the fine foliage of our California sagebrush is now coarser, more silver. Adaptable Buckeyes drop their lush winter/spring foliage revealing their summer silhouette. Native bulbs sleep happily beneath their cloak of warm soil and the remaining amber stalks of wildflowers remind us of that recent spring explosion of vibrant color. Even the stately Live Oak now seems to hesitate between its deep, slow breaths, while the normal circus of birds and insects, which call it home, are quieter and less hectic. A slow place exists in the garden, a deliberately slow pace designed to allow our southern California native plants a chance to make it through summer’s heat and drought, eventually landing on the other side of autumn with enough cellular energy and structural integrity to respond to winter’s first rains. In short, to live.

Oh the garden is still a pleasant place to be sure. Not all is drowsy and dry despite spring’s departure. Chaparral Mallow still holds its shell-pink blossoms in long arched inflorescences. Blue Flax provides a cool pure blue despite the heat while the Woolly Blue Curls and Matilija Poppies, nearing the end of their blooms, continue to provide color and fragrance. The Sages, with their now dry but always interesting flower stalks, still have their foliage and the warm summer temperatures intensify their aromatic fragrance, just as that heat ripens the delicious maple syrup scent of Pearly Everlasting’s straw-like blooms. And there are, of course, a few lingering Leopard Lilies, several small but durable sprigs of Blue-eyed Grass which blossom through the heat, the white flowers of California Mock Orange hanging on, and many flowers remaining on the Island Bush Poppy. But the Fremontia, despite a double bloom this year, is finally at rest.

As in any garden there is always the promise of tomorrow. The fierce flowering of Epilobium and Isocoma, Abutilon and Chilopsis, mixed with the long blooming period of Island Snapdragon and Buckwheats are probably weeks away. Yes, the butterflies are certainly about in the sun, the heat seeming to buoy them in the light air as they leap and dance and skip, looking for mates, nectar, or the right place to lay their eggs. And if there is even a trickling water feature in the garden, don’t the birds seem to enjoy it all the more this time of year? Still, the garden—this native garden—for the most part is asleep, conserving its precious energy. Unlike those gardens where something must be blooming all the time, this native garden is given a respite, a space between now and then, a small piece of time to slow down in, relax, and perhaps take a nap.

Might we all be as lucky! Enjoy your summer, everyone.

Dan Songster

Calendar of Chapter Events

July 13……………………………………. San Gabriels Field Trip

July 19…………………………………………………………. Board Mtg

Sept 12…………………………………………………………. Board Mtg

Sept 19……………………………………………………… Chapter Mtg

Chapter Meetings

Our next chapter meeting will take place on Thursday, September 19. The presentation will be related to horticulture of native plants to get us into the mood for fall planting and our ANNUAL PLANT SALE on OCTOBER 5TH.

Conservation Issues in Orange County:

A public meeting will be held on July 2 at 1:30 in the chambers of the Board of Supervisors to present an overview of the progress to date of the SCORE committee. This is a hearing only; no action will be taken. The County Building is located at 10 Civic Plaza in Santa Ana. The Board of Supervisors meeting room is on the first floor.

Weed War continues at UCI Arboretum

Through the persistent efforts of Celia Kutcher, assisted by Seetaram Motupalli, Phil Westin, Steve Hampson, Lily Wang, and an occasional Sarah Jayne, the weeds in the UCI Arboretum’s California Native collection are beginning respond. But the war goes on, Thursdays from 9:30 to 1:30. As summer heats up, long sleeves, sunscreen, hat, and water are a must. Additional crew is always welcome! It’s OK to join the crew for just an hour or so.

From the 405 Freeway, take Jamboree Road south to Campus Drive. Turn east on Campus, very shortly turn right onto a campus service road, then left into the Arboretum’s drive-in gate. Park in the gravel area behind the greenhouses. If that’s full, park in the campus lot across the way and feed the meter (parking passes may be available).


For more information or to rsvp call or e-mail Sarah Jayne at (949) 552-0691 or Non-members are always welcome.

July 13 (Saturday): A Walk in the San Gabriels with Paul Campbell

Despite the huge surrounding human population, vast areas in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains retain resources that were available to native Californians who lived there. Many plants were used for food, fiber, implements, weapons, shelter, and medicine. A rich fauna provided a varied diet. Paul Campbell, author of Survival Skills of Native California, has walked and studied in the San Gabriel Mountains near his home for many years. He has learned where to find and how to use many, perhaps most, of the resources found there. On Saturday morning, July 13, he will share his knowledge with us.

We will meet at the Short-cut Ranger station at the con-junction of Big Tujunga Canyon Road and the Angeles Crest Highway. From there, we will go up the water shed on the little-used Silver Moccasin Trail toward the headwaters of Tujunga Creek. This trail is very wild and untrammeled; signs of bear far out weigh signs of humans. Pools of water may still remain, even in this dry year. Among the trees are a huge Incense Cedar with a 26 foot circumference and an almost equally enormous Big-Cone Douglas Fir. Lots of plants used by the Native Californians are found there: on the south-facing slope are yucca, oak, and scrub oak while the north-facing slope is heavy with oak and pine and lots of Indian Hemp. This area is a snapshot of old California, where the downed trees stay and nature takes its course.

This will not be a major hike, but rather a walk of exploration. The distance is only about a mile in and out, taken at a very slow pace. Some scrambling is involved (long pants and sleeves are recommended) but as Paul says, “The more we poke around, the more wildlife we scare up.”

Since animals are more active in the morning, we will try to get as early a start as possible. Meet at 8:00 AM. Bring plenty of water and lunch. We’ll be out for four to five hours.

Directions: Choose the best route for you to get to La Cañada. From the I-210 there, exit onto the Angeles Crest Highway, CA-2. After 17 or 18 miles, Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road intersects on the left. Take this road for about ½ mile. Right after the bridge that crosses Tujunga Creek, there is a ranger station (which doesn’t appear on any map!) There’s plenty of parking space there. Allow about 1 and ¾ hour for the trip. Adventure Pass required.


Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Summer Programs
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
1500 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711

Full information about these programs is available on the web at or by calling (909) 625-8767 x224.

Horticulture Classes

Native Plant Gardens in the Summer
Saturday, August 24, 8:00 – 11:00 a.m.
$19 ($15 for members of RSABG)
Limit: 20 people

Making a Trough for a container garden.
Saturday September 14, 8:00 a.m.—1:00 p.m.
$52 ($45 for members of RSABG)
Limit 10 participants

Field Trips

San Miguel Island Camping Trip
Friday August 30—Monday September 2
7:00 a.m. Friday—8:00 p.m. Monday
$220 ($190 for members of RSABG)
Limit 12 participants

An Art Class:

Capturing Flora in Watercolor
Saturday and Sunday, August 17 and 18
9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. each day
$85 ($86 for members of RSABG)
Limit: 15 participants

A Seminar on Air Pollution:

Smog: An Afternoon of Seminars on the Bane of the South Coast Air Basin of California
Sunday, September 15, 1:00 – 4:00 pm
$12 ($9 for members of RSABG)


Enrollment is limited and pre-registration is required unless otherwise indicated.

To register, call the Garden at (909) 625-8767 x224 for charging your class registration to Visa or Mastercard by phone or to ask for a class brochure for mail-in registration.


Speaking of field trips…

Everything I know about native plants I learned on field trips. I have always loved the out of doors. My early classrooms were the oak-studded ‘hollers’ and ‘cricks’ of West Virginia and a wonderful Girl Scout camp set deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains above the Allegheny River (“Peace, I ask of thee oh river,…”). Later, it was the rolling hills of the Brandywine Valley in Delaware where as a family we took long walks among fall leaves and canoed in the summer.

Always eager to know what I was seeing, I began my education in earnest with my first field trip with Irvine Valley College—five days in Death Valley in the spring of 1985. I was hooked, on Death Valley and field trips, and for many years, ‘majored’ in field trips, each adding a few more plant names to my vocabulary.

Somewhere along the line, I chanced upon a CNPS field trip. Dave Bramlet, substituting for Fred Roberts, led that hike up into Pine Canyon out of Silverado Canyon. What a trip! It was March of a wet year. I didn’t know there were so many interesting and beautiful native plants or that any one person could know so much about them. I immediately became a CNPS member.

The Orange County chapter of CNPS was considering its own demise at the time that I became a member. Fortunately, a new burst of enthusiasm in the person of Charlie O’Neill, a curator at the UCI Arboretum, turned the tide. Offering field trips to a wide variety of habitats has been an emphasis of our chapter since that time.

On our most recent trip, to Crab Flats in the San Bernardino Mountains, Steve Hampson (Steve helps plan the field trips) and I were speculating as to why there aren’t more people who want to learn about native plants. Despite the dry year, we were enchanted to find plenty to look at, from the ubiquitous Indian Paint Brush to a very unusual aquatic ranunculus and the elegant and classy Lemon Lily. After two or three hours of poking about, we spent delightful hours pushing plants through the keys to bestow upon them their proper genus and species. Because there were little pools of water and patches of mud in the streambed, we were treated to a cascade of butterflies whose colors rivaled the flowers. We were a group of seven. Why weren’t a hundred more people (or ten or even five) there to indulge in nature’s glorious display?

Southern California is a wonderful place to be. Right here in Orange County we have the diversity of coastal, foothill and mountain habitat, with elevations ranging from 0 to a mile above sea level. Several plant species live nowhere else in the world. Within easy range for a day trip lie the intriguing plant suites of San Diego County, deserts both high and low, and the Transverse Ranges with steep canyons and peaks over 11,000 feet. It’s one great big classroom out there with no end to the possibilities of acquiring new knowledge. Come along with us sometime.

Sarah Jayne, Field trip Coordinator

The high points of our spring field trips were many, despite the low rainfall. We were delighted not to be rained on for our first outing, the second annual Winter Stretch on the Beach where geology was a better show than plants. At Anza Borrego, we performed forensic botany on last year’s flowers with two excellent leaders. It was dry. Fred Roberts led us on a very interesting tour of San Diego Maritime Chaparral. There were no annuals there either, but the time was not at all wasted. A Spring Walk in Aliso/Wood Canyons Wilderness Park was also devoid of annuals, but quite well attended. Five Miles of Fun on April 21, led by Tony Bomkamp, was short on annuals and people. The ridgeline from Little Sycamore Canyon to Laurel Canyon is remarkably unspoiled. Otay Mountain with Mark Elvin offered up its specialities: Otay Mountain Lotus, Pickeringia, Tecate Cypress, Cleveland Monkeyflower, and lots more. A Santa Ana Mountains car trip with the Orange County Natural History Association from Black Star to Tin Mines Canyon yielded a paucity of blooms, but at the very end of the trip a CNPS List 4, Horned Polygala, Polygala cornuta ssp.fishiae, was found. Oddly, on a car trip to Santiago Peak with the North American Butterfly Association the following week, the flower scene was excellent. The same could be said for Rancheria Road, which Steve and I thoroughly enjoyed. The weather was gray and moist for our Catalina Conservancy Work Party, but we put in many hours of good work in the Native Plant Nursery and managed to do some hiking, too. We’ve had a lot of fun!


Laguna Coast Wilderness: 949-494-9352. For walks in the Northern and Southern Reserves call The Nature Conservancy at 949-832-7478.

Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park: 949-831-2790

Thomas Riley Regional Park: 949-728-3420

Rancho Mission Viejo Land Conservancy: 949-489-9778

Crystal Cove State Park: 949-497-7647