Newsletter 2002 March – April

California Native Plant Society

Orange County Chapter Newsletter

March/April 2002



California Native Plants in Home Gardens Tour!

Mark the Date: Sunday, April 28, from 10 to 4. The Orange County Chapter of the California Native Plant society is sponsoring a tour of home gardens that feature native plants.

Gardens will be located throughout the county. Some feature habitat-type plantings, some feature natives from around the state, some exhibit a mix of natives and exotics. Each garden is as unique as the personality of the gardener.

Here’s a sampling: “This garden [in Laguna Niguel] is a mix of over 100 species of California natives as well as other drought tolerant plants. The garden design and plant selection provides excellent habitat for frogs, toads, numerous bird and insect species as well as reptiles….”

“This garden is an eclectic mix of over 400 plants including California Natives, fruits, vegetables, and a few ‘typical’ garden plants on a 1/3 acre lot in the middle of urban Fountain Valley….”

“More than one hundred species of native plants, hybrids, and cultivars are thriving in this 32 x 37 backyard in Irvine….”

We’d like to add your garden to the list! If your home landscape features California native plants, please consider opening it to an appreciative public. Welcomed are every garden from the 100% pure bioregional plant community to the integrated garden featuring native specimen plants performing with exotic pals. Please contact Sarah Jayne at 949-552-0691, to add your garden to our list.

Of course we want tour participants, too! Maps will be available through the mail at our chapter address, by phone and e-mail (see above), and at four sites on the day of the tour: There will be no cost. Our goal is to demonstrate to as many gardening folk as possible that natives can work in the home garden. Please help us make this a great event!

Chapter Meetings

March 21 (Thursday)—Flora of Ventura County

Speaker: Rick Burgess

Ventura County is home to almost 2000 different kinds of plants. This rich botanical diversity is the result of numerous habitats that are exploited by plants from sea level to the highest peaks. Join Rick Burgess for this slide-illustrated lecture that will cover some of the common and not so common wildflowers that occur in Ventura County.

Rick is an Environmental Biologist and Botanist and is employed by the City of Thousand Oaks as an Environmental Planner, a position he has held for fifteen years. Associated with many environmental groups, Rick is past president of the Channel Islands Chapter of the California Native Plant Society and has been a Director-at-Large of the State organization. He and his wife, Trisha, are currently working on A Flora of Ventura County and vicinity.

April 18 (Thursday)—Serendipity While Plant Hunting—Tales of a Botanist in Southern California
Speaker: Steve Boyd

Steve is the Curator of the herbarium at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and has been working there for seventeen years. He is also affiliated with the Jepson Herbarium at UC Berkely as a Jepson Flora Project Editor. He is a native and current resident of Riverside and has a BS in Biology and an MS in Botany from the University of California, Riverside.

For 20 years he has been studying the flora of southern California and is currently working on a new manual of the plants of southern California in collaboration with Andy Sanders, Curator of the Herbarium at UCR. He will bring along reprints his floristic work in the Santa Ana Mountains as well as his flora (for purchase) of the Liebre Mountains.

New at our meetings…

As a fund-raiser for the chapter and as a service to our members, we are presenting a monthly Silent Auction of rare or out of print books at each of our chapter meetings. A review and a starting bid price will be displayed with each book. Dan Songster has picked up these books at bargain prices in various stores throughout the state and will be happy to answer questions about them. Feel free to call or e-mail him—his address is on the back of this newsletter.

Some examples are:

Native Plants for California Gardens, Lee W. Lenz, published in 1956 and long out of print,

Hortus Third—A concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada, still in print but very costly new.

Bring your curiosity and your checkbook to our next meeting—you may run into the very book that you can’t live without

And Spring Arrives!

I’ll be the first to admit that it was not much of a winter, but spring has come and one of the busiest seasons for your CNPS chapter begins. March and April, and May for that matter, are just crammed with exciting, educational, and just plain fun activities. Events such as our many Field trips—pick a favorite or two and come along!—our spring plant sale at Tree of Life Nursery, excellent speakers at our general meetings, outreach activities such as the Earth Day event at Shellmaker Island, and, new for this year—a tour of Orange County native plant gardens!

Your chapter board works hard to provide what we feel are worthwhile activities. It takes a lot of time and energy to arrange these seemingly casual events, and we DO hope you enjoy them. But what about assisting in making these activities successful? Your efforts as a volunteer help more than you might realize. At a plant sale, for instance, just one or two more persons helping makes a really big difference. During an outreach event someone who can take a turn at the table handing out brochures and answering simple questions allows others a break and makes the event more enjoyable for all. During workdays at the UCI Arboretum any assistance is appreciated; by the way, join Celia’s weeding party on Thursdays. Imagine the newsletter. After Sarah Jayne puts the whole thing together and receives the flat copies back from the printer we still need to fold, seal, label, and stamp them. There is a small but happy group that helps do this in the afternoon; if you can help, give Sarah Jayne a call! Look in the back of the newsletter and see how many jobs are accomplished by just one person. Could you help with one of them? For example our Vice-President, Celia Kutcher, would love someone to aid her with public relations! Bill Neill, our invasive exotics chair, would love volunteers to help with the weed wars which are coming as the year warms. Our board meetings are normally recorded by a secretary, but currently that position is being filled by Sarah Jayne, (who has so very much on her plate already). Would someone like to help out?

I know helping out is second nature to many of us and we really appreciate all the help WE DO GET! But perhaps some of you can do more and are just waiting to be asked….Well, consider yourself asked!

Allen Lacey, a great gardener and garden writer once wrote something to the effect that no single group bound by a common interest exhibits more kindness and generosity towards each other than do gardeners. I agree. Those of us in love with the growing and living world of native plants are a generous group and I know that you will respond to help the Chapter thrive in the coming months and years.

Thank you very much,

Dan Songster, President

Any questions? Feel free to call me or Sarah Jayne.

Conservation Issues in Orange County: the SCORE Report:

The first meeting of the SCORE Land Use Task Force for Rancho Mission Viejo has been held. SCORE (South County Outreach and Review Effort) was initiated by Supervisor Tom Wilson (5th District) to bring the community into the beginning stages of the planning for Rancho Mission Viejo’s future, rather than at the end as in the usual EIR process. The two dozen Task Force members represent a broad spectrum: adjoining cities, local agencies, several environmental groups, and also several development-oriented groups. The general feeling was hope and optimism that SCORE will result in a better plan than would an EIR process. Meetings will continue every other Thursday for several months.

Celia Kutcher, Chapter representative to SCORE

Recent Discoveries of Native Plants

by Glenn Keator, in Mazanita, newsletter of Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley CA

It was inevitable that whenEuropeans first explored California’s wild areas thousands of new species would be found and described. But we tend to think that by the latter half of the 20th century, every plant native to California had been found. That this is not the case may come as a shock, but the fact is that newly described species crop up every year. Some arise as the result of splitting well-known genera—as more knowledge becomes available, one species turns out to be two. But some recent discoveries have yielded startling surprises—species unlike others or even new genera! And though it seems that new plants should come from remote areas where few have explored before, this is not always the case: wholly new species may turn up in well known places, even near roads that are ext3ensively traveled. I will cite two cases.

The first is close to my home: the Tiburon mariposa (Calochortus tiburonensis) is restricted to nearly barren serpentinite slopes on the upper part of Ring Mountain at the west end of the Tiburon Peninsula in Marin County. Surrounded as it is by many houses, and frequently walked by hikers, birders, and nature lovers, it is all the more surprising that this mariposa was unknown until early 1970. Perhaps it’s because Tiburon mariposa doesn’t bloom until June when grasses have turned brown and most other wildflowers have gone dormant or died. Perhaps it’s also because the flower color is in muted shades of green and dull red and tends to disappear against its sere background.

Whatever the case, Dr. Robert West, a physician who lives in nearby Corte Madera, happened to be walking the brown hills in this area one June when he spotted this flower for the first time. New to science, the species was subsequently described by A. J. Hill in 1973. The finding of this mariposa has caused quite a stir among native plant lovers, for it is at once beautiful and unique, yet easy to find if you know where to look. Calochortus tiburonensis stands up to a foot high on a tough, wiry stalk whose leaves have generally faded by bloom time. Earlier, you’ll find a single, basal, strap-shaped, glossy, dark green leaf. Each stalk carries from one to several two-inch blossoms that open out like shallow saucers. The petals are generally of a green background but spotted and sprinkled with dark red spots and lines (the amount varies from one plant to another). Dense, curled, dark red hairs also surround the nectar gland on each petal. The dark red stamens and stigma stand erect in the flower’s center and are positioned some distance above the petals.

Ring Mountain is the only known locale for Tiburon mariposa, but there is more than one population there. Most occur near the top of the mountain and are completely restricted to rocky, serpentinite slopes. Tiburon mariposa grows in company with Allium lacunosum. Oddly, despite other serpentine outcrops occurring on the Tiburon Peninsula as, for example near the town of Tiburon at Old St. Hilary’s Church, the mariposa is missing. In fact, a visit to the preserve around the church reveals other special plants that are restricted to serpentine, including the black jewel flower (Streptanthus niger). But the only mariposa there is the common golden mariposa (C. luteus).

The second recent discovery is the Shasta snowwreath (Neviusia cliftonii), which grows near Lake Shasta and was first accidentally collected just off Hwy. 299. Botanists Dean Taylor and Glenn Clifton had been looking for plants on a limestone outcrop across a stream but en route had needed to push through dense brush. They collected samples of the brush, which later turned out to be a genus new to California. Despite its proximity to a major highway, no one had previously noticed it.

There is one other Neviusia located over 1,000 miles away in the southern Appalachians, and a couple of closely related genera known from eastern Asia.

Shasta snowwreath is now in cultivation—it’s actually quite easy to grow—and provides one more small, handsome, deciduous native shrub. The arching branches carry narrowly ovate, deeply notched and irregularly toothed leaves. In spring, sprays of frothy white flowers briefly make their appearance.

Why Shasta snowwreath is so restricted and so far from its nearest relative is unknown, but a good guess is that it’s a relict from a time when the climate across the country was moister and milder. Glaciations during the Ice Ages also doubtlessly played a role, eliminating many plants between the two areas where neviusias currently reside.

The important lesson here is that there are still tantalizing discoveries awaiting the curious nature lover, whether strictly amateur or professional botanist.



Many of our field trips consume most of the day, so prepare accordingly. Always bring plenty of water and some form of sun protection. For more information call or e-mail Sarah Jayne at (949) 552-0691 or Non-members are always welcome.

Thursdays, 10AM to 1 PM—Weeding in the Natives Collection at the UCI Arboretum.

Join Celia Kutcher each week for a concerted attack upon the rampant weeds in the native plant section of the arboretum. Progress is happening, we are gaining ground, but persistence is essential. Even an hour or two will be helpful.

Tools are supplied, but if you have a favorite weeding device, bring it along with water and sun protection. Of course, we’d love to be rained out one day…

March 9 (Saturday)—Behind the Scenes with Bart O’Brien at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
This garden is huge! There are many out-of-the-way corners and projects underway that the casual visitor will miss entirely. Join Bart O’Brien, RSABG’s lively and informative Director of Horticulture for an expert’s tour of our premier local native plant garden.

Meet at 9:30 AM in the parking lot for about two hours of easy walking. Bring rain gear if the weather is dubious looking. RSABG is located at 1500 North College Avenue, Claremont, CA. To get there, get on the 57 (Pomona Fwy.) and stay on it through its confusing blend with the 60 until you reach Interstate 10. Go east to the Indian Hill Boulevard, Claremont. Go north about 1.5 miles to Foothill Boulevard. Turn right on Foothill and go east 3 blocks to College Avenue. Turn left and proceed north to the RSABG parking lot.

This is a joint field trip with the San Gabriel Mountains chapter.

March 23 (Saturday)—Anza Borrego State Park

We hope rains will bring a wildflower show, but abundant wildflowers or not, Anza Borrego State Park is a desert wonderland. Take this opportunity to explore the park and learn desert plants and wildflowers from very knowledgeable leaders, Jim Dice and Larry Hendrickson.

Meet at 9 AM in the parking lot of the Anza Borrego State Park Visitor Center. From north Orange County take I 15 south from Corona. At Temecula, takeHwy 79 east to S 22 to Borrego Springs. From south county, take I 5 to Hwy 78 at Carlsbad. Take S 3 to Borrego Springs. Follow signs to the Visitor Center. Allow about 2-1/2 hours for the trip. Car pooling is advised. We need to know to expect you; please RSVP to Sarah Jayne.

This is a joint trip with the Riverside/San Bernadino chapter.

March 30-31 (Saturday & Sunday)—L.A./Santa Monica Mountains Chapter’s Annual Wildflower Show

The show is held from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Malibu Bluffs Park on the ocean side of the intersection of Malibu Canyon road and Pacific Coast Highway. Wildflower walks are scheduled in the partk at 1 PM both days. There will be lots of native flowers courtesy of local gardeners, plants for sale, books, posters, and more! Parking and admission are free. For more information call 310-317-1364.

April 6 (Saturday)—Spring Sale at Tree of Life
Although Fall through early Winter is the best time to plant most natives, many will do very well with Spring planting, especially those that like water. Save your Spring purchases for this event. Tree of Life will donate to our chapter a percentage the purchases made by our chapter members that day. If you have never visited the nursery, this is a good opportunity to do so. It’s in a lovely location and its own gardens are charming. Volunteers are needed to assist with sales.

To get to Tree of Life Nursery, take the Ortega Highway (Hwy 74) east at San Juan Capistrano for about 5 miles. The nursery is on the left. If you reach Caspers Park, you have gone too far.

April 13 (Saturday)—Southern Maritime Chaparral in San Diego County.

Southern Maritime Chaparral (SMC) is one of the richest and most diverse plant communities in southern California. Orange County has only a small amount of this interesting, relatively low chaparral. San Diego County, however, supports nearly 2,000 acres. Most of this habitat is concentrated along the coast from Encinitas south to Torrey Pines. Unfortunately, it is highly endangered. Fred Roberts will lead us as we make a number of stops to view this vegetation and its plant species. Here Xylococcus bicolor, Yucca schedigera, Dendromecon rigida, and Cneoridium dumosum mix with the more common Adenostemma fasciculata and Ceanothus tomentosa.

Among the species expected to be seen are the federally listed endangered Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. crassifolia and Baccharis vanessae. Other rare plants include Quercus dumosa, Comarostaphylis diversifolia, Selaginella cinerascens, Corethrogyne filaginifolia var. linifolia, Dudleya brevifolia, and Ferrocactus viridescens. One of California’s rarest plants, Chorizanthe orcuttiana, might be seen at Oak Crest Park!

Meet at the La Costa Park and Ride on the inland side of I 5 at the La Costa offramp in Leucadia at 9 AM. Bring water and lunch.

This is a joint trip with the San Diego chapter and Southern California Botanists.

April 14 (Sunday)—Spring Walk in Aliso/Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

We’ll follow the West Ridge Trail for a look at the plant life in the higher elevations of the park. The walk of approximately three miles roundtrip ranges from “easy” to “medium”. In other words, there will be a few ups and downs, but nothing really strenuous. We should be back by noon.

Meet at 9 AM at the Cholla Trail gate at the west end of Hollyleaf Street. To get there, take Canyon Vistas Street off Pacific Park Drive. Turn left onto Silkwood, right onto Bottle Brush, then left onto Hollyleaf. Park there. (Thomas Bros. Map page 921, B-4)

This walk is sponsored by the Orange County Natural History Association which requests a small donation to the museum fund.

April 20 (Saturday)—Earth Day, Upper Newport Back Bay, 10 AM to 3 PM
Many environmental groups will display their activities; Friends of the Back Bay is sponsoring a native planting; food venders will offer tasty treats. Come say “Hi” to members of your CNPS chapter and enjoy a lovely day by the bay.

The event is located on Shellmaker Island, close to the west end of Back Bay Drive, not far from Jamboree.

April 21 (Sunday)—Five Miles of Fun: Little Sycamore to Laurel Canyon, this year’s “Hills to Gills”. We will meet at Laurel Canyon and shuttle to Little Sycamore to start the walk there. This trail is not often used because of the shuttle problem.(as a round trip, Ranger Larry Sweet calls it “Ten Miles of Terror”!) From Little Sycamore, the trail goes up to a ranch road that follows the ridgeline and provides a sweeping view of the other side of the mountain (now under development). The route goes under the toll road, using the wild animal underpass, and descends into Laurel Canyon through a group of very large oaks that are not included in the usual tour of Laurel Canyon.

Meet at 8:30 AM at the Laurel Canyon entrance to the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, just west of the intersection with El Toro Road on Laguna Canyon Road. A $2 donation is requested by the park for each participant. Bring water and lunch.

April 27 (Saturday)—San Jacinto Wildlife Area

Dave Bramlet, will lead this trip to examine the unique alkaline wetlands found in the San Jacinto Wildlife Area. This reserve contains a number of unique plant communities found within the floodplain of the San Jacinto River, including alkali grasslands, playa lakes and vernal playas. We will examine these interesting habitats and look for a number of rare and unique plant species that occur within the reserve. Some of these are the federally endangered San Jacinto Valley crownscale, Atriplex coronata var. notatior, Davidson’s saltscale, Atriplex davidsonii, Coulter’s goldfields, Lasthenia glabrata ssp. coulteri¸ smooth tarplant, Hemizonia pungens ssp. laevis, spreading navarretia, Navarretia fossalis, vernal barley, Hordeum intercedens, and thread-leaved brodiaea, Brodiaea filifolia.

Meet at 9 AM at the park headquarters, 17050 Davis Road, Lakeview. To get there, take Hwy 60 east to Theodore Street in Moreno Valley and head south. Continue on Theodore until you reach a curve in the road whereupon you turn left onto Davis Road. Continue south on Davis for 3.5 miles, past the horse ranch to the reserve headquarters. Go left at the reserve sign into the reserve and, once past the chain link fence, turn left into the parking lot where we will meet.

Bring water, lunch, and a hand lens. Participants interested in learning how to distinguish some of the annual Atriplex species may wish to copy the keys and illustrations from the Jepson Manual and/or the recent draft treatment of this genus for the Flora of North America.

This trip is sponsored by the Southern California Botanists

April 28 (Sunday)—California Native Plants in Home Gardens Tour, 10 AM to 4 PM

May 4 (Saturday)—San Diego County: North Side of Otay Mountain with Mark Elvin, Rain or Shine (Be prepared!)

We don’t have the directions for this trip as yet and the next newsletter will not reach you until after May 4. Therefore, if you want to participate in what is certain to be a very interesting trip, contact Sarah Jayne by phone or e-mail and leave your name and the best manner in which you can be reached.

May 11 (Saturday)—Rancheria Road, Greenhorn Mountains in Kern County

(Please note the change of date from May 18 to May 11). Our previous trips have occurred in June, so we should see a whole new suite of plants at this earlier date. Seems far to go just for a day, but it’s not a difficult trip and we always have plenty of time for botanizing. We will meet Steve Hampson at 10 AM at his dad’s house in Bakersfield. Allow 3 hours for the drive. If you would like to car pool, signify your intentions to Sarah Jayne. Directions to follow in the next newsletter.

May 18 (Saturday)—Santa Ana Mountains Car Trip with the Orange County Natural History Association

This year we will enter from Black Star Canyon and possibly carpool from a nearby shopping center. Meeting time is 8:30 AM. We’ll announce the location in the next newsletter. Forest Services passes will be required for those who are driving. Expect to spend the better part of the day slowly wending our way to the other side of the mountains. We may be able to visit the burned areas, rain and permission provided. Stay tuned…

May 25 (Saturday)—Sulphur Springs, San Gabriel Mountains with Jane Strong

This trip with the San Gabriel Mountains chapter will explore the ecotone where the high desert meets the high mountains. There are several different moist habitats, each with their own assemblage of plants. This area also sports three different kinds of monardellas. For directions, contact Harry Spillman, 626-335-2534 or

June 7-9 (Friday afternoon to Sunday evening)—Catalina Conservancy Work Party

This is a work weekend for the Catalina Conservancy. Volunteer projects may include seed collection, fence removal, non-native plant removal, or restoration of native habitats, depending upon seasonal conditions. The roundtrip boat fare is $42, but except for food, everything else is free. The Laura Stein Volunteer Camp three miles west of Avalon supplies an outdoor kitchen, tents, water, and showers. Bring pillow, sleeping bag, and food.

Departure from Long Beach is at 3:45 on Friday afternoon. The return trip can be scheduled any time after 3:30 PM on Sunday. The group is limited to 10. If you are interested, submit your name early! We will keep a waiting list.

June 22-23 (Saturday, Sunday)—San Bernadino Mountains, Crab Flat-Green Valley Lake Area

This area in the San Bernadino Mountains offers a wonderful variety of terrains, vistas, and places to hike. When we visited in early July last year, lemon lilies and California Dogface butterflies were the stars of the show.

We have been invited once again to the Parker cabin for an overnight stay. This will give us the opportunity to explore in several directions!

Up to ten bodies can be accommodated inside on mattresses and any number can sleep outside. We’ll bring our own food and share the barbecue with the Parkers. Directions in the next newsletter.

June 30 (Sunday)—Back Bay Canoe Trip

Note change in day, from Saturday to Sunday

July: A Walk in the San Gabriels with Paul Campbell

The date and locale has yet to be determined, but the concept is in place. We’ll look for plants that were used by the First Californians—and what ever else we can find—probably in the higher reaches of the mountains. Paul is the author of a book entitled Survival Skills of Native Californians and is adept at making survival tools. He demonstrated some of these at the Environmental Nature Center last December and is looking forward to the opportunity to take us into the wild!


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

Grant applications should be sent to Sarah Jayne, P.O. Box 54891, Irvine CA 92619-4891 or