California Native Plant Society - Orange County

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California Native Plant Society - Orange County

Chapter Meeting: February 2016

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Hiding in plain sight: A New Cactus Species From The California Desert

Speaker: Michelle Cloud-Hughes

Date: February 18, 2016 (doors open 6:45 pm, Speaker at 7:30 pm)

Location: Duck Club, Irvine (Directions)

CylindropuMichelle Cloud-HughesMichelle Cloud-Hughesntia chuckwallensis is a newly-described cactus found in San Bernardino, Riverside, and northern Imperial Counties, California. Michelle’s presentation will describe how this historically misidentified cholla was determined to be a distinct new species and the characteristics that distinguish it from similar cholla species. This energetic presentation will provide detailed information on where to see “the chucky cholla” as well as many other intriguing succulents found in the same areas.

Michelle Cloud-Hughes is a botanist and restoration ecologist specializing in desert flora and ecosystems. She worked for the Soil Ecology and Restoration Group at San Diego State University from 1997 to 2013 and spent most of those years doing restoration work in the central Mojave Desert at Fort Irwin National Training Center. In 2010 she started her company, Desert Solitaire Botany and Ecological Restoration, and since then has been involved in many rare plant surveys and other botanical and restoration projects throughout the southwestern U.S. Her main love is Cylindropuntia, but she is also fascinated by other cactus, particularly Echinocereus, Grusonia, Pediocactus, and occasionally even Opuntia.

Conservation Report: November/December 2015

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CNPS/OCCNPS has been asked to join the six-county-wide SCAG Environmental Coalition that OC Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks is coordinating. Over 20 organizations across SCAG’S region already support this effort. 

The Coalition’s purpose is to ensure that SCAG’s (Southern California Association of Governments) Regional Transportation Plan (RTP)/Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) for 2016 includes innovative and meaningful conservation policies. The Strategy does now include a Natural Lands Preservation component, which finally puts Conservation at the forefront of regional planning! 

I am CNPS/OCCNPS’ acting point person to the Coalition. Preferably at least one alternate, for scheduling flexibility, will come from one or more of the 8 CNPS Chapters in SCAG’s region.

Participants in the Coalition will:

• Be a point of contact for the effort;

• Be invited to sign on to support letters for the policies;

• Be invited to speak during SCAG meetings to support the policies; and 

• Get up-to-date information from FHBP on the policies as the process unfolds.

State CNPS has long desired that Chapters engage in RTP/SCS processes as they cycle through CA's 18 Metro Planning Organizations (SCAG, SANDAG, SACOG, etc.). CNPS members with knowledge of botanical priority protection areas within an RTP area can bring that information into the SCS process.

For more about SCAG, see:


Native Gardener's Corner: November/December 2015

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This column is a regular newsletter feature offering chapter members and local experts a chance to briefly share information on many things related to gardening with natives. Answers are listed in the order received.

Our question for this newsletter is: What are some of your favorite native plants in winter and why?

Nancy Harris - “One plant I always consider is Ribes viburnifolium (Catalina Perfume). It creates a lush forest atmosphere, needs little water, grows under oaks or other trees, but can take sun, has lots of berries, easy to prune if needed and is evergreen unlike other Ribes.”

Terry LePage - “Giant Coreopsis. (Leptosyne gigantea) It grows so fast (when it finally wakes up after looking dead for six months) I think you can see it grow by the day. It looks so cheery.”

Ron Vanderhoff - “Many of the Ribes, gooseberries and currents are very early blooming and for me they signify the beginning of the native plant season. The similar looking and similar growing Ribes malvaceum and sanguineum are very popular. I grow our locally native fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, Ribes speciousum as an espalier and love it's golden-tan branches and spines all summer, followed by an incredible winter flower display that hummingbirds cannot resist.”

Leon Baginski - “Ceanothus. Blooms early and strong and leaves look their best with cool nights and winter rains.”

Alan Lindsay - "Winter? What's winter—I don't remember the last winter in Orange County thus making my choice difficult. The only one I can think of is the Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) because of its red berries around Christmas. They not only are attractive but they attract birds. The one in my landscape is the island form, H. arbutifolia varmarcocarpus from Tree of Life Nursery.”


Conservation Report: September/October 2015

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Understanding Fire Regimes in the Santa Ana Mountains and Laguna Coast
Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks (FHBP) has announced the publication of this study, which complements earlier in-depth fire-history studies of the Irvine Ranch lands (2009) and Chino Hills State Park (2012). FHBP considered it important to add to the repository of information about wildfires and ignition points by reviewing 100 years of fire data in these two additional areas. Anthropological and paleontological data show that wildfires have long had a role in ecosystem functioning in Southern California. The study shows that fire frequency and acres burned have increased, to the detriment of ecosystem functioning. The increase can be traced to human actions, exacerbated by climate change and non-usual weather patterns. The study can be downloaded at

MORE ON FIRE AND SHRUBLANDS:  Rick Halsey (Chaparral Institute) and Alexandra Syphard (Conservation Biology Institute) have contributed a chapter, High-Severity Fire in Chaparral: Cognitive Dissonance in the Shrublands, to a new book, Nature's Phoenix: The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires. The book presents reports by an international group of scientists on the current paradigm shift in thinking about wildfire and ecosystems. Management of fire-adapted ecosystems has long been mostly focused on fire prevention and suppression. The ecological role of fire has been little studied, especially the importance of high-severity fire to the maintenance of native biodiversity and fire-dependent ecosystems and species. This text fills that void, providing a comprehensive reference for documenting and synthesizing fire's ecological role. The book is available from

BANNING RANCH:  Good News! The State Supreme Court has accepted the Banning Ranch Conservancy’s petition to review the Appellate Court’s decision on the proposed Newport Banning Ranch development. Background:, and,0,2890492.story.


Native Gardener's Corner: September/October 2015

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Native Gardener’s Corner—Members’ Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

This column is a regular newsletter feature offering chapter members and local experts a chance to briefly share information on many things related to gardening with natives. Answers are listed in order received. Our question for this Newsletter is: “What advice regarding installing a new native plant would you give to a new native gardener?

Nancy Harris - ”First, make sure the plant in black pot is totally hydrated or moist. If the soil is difficult to penetrate make a small well in the soil and wet it enough to make it diggable (new word?). Dig the hole (placing back-fill in one spot so it is easy to replace in hole) no deeper than the plant's crown or a little less so the plant's crown sits slightly above the soil line.  Fill the hole with as much water as possible (3 times if possible) and let it drain. This will give you an idea how good the soil drainage is. Remove plant from pot and check and carefully loosen roots at bottom and sides of plant to be sure no root is circling the root ball, which will eventually strangle the plant. Replace the back-fill into hole and tamp down carefully to remove air pockets (watering will also help with this). Water plant again.  I like to place newspaper around the plant a few inches from crown and cover with mulch, but just mulching is good. Use a hand-held water meter to test hydration of plant before watering again.”

Leon Baginski-“If you are compelled to plant in the summer, use a shade cloth over the plant or plants so they don't get roasted by the summer heat while trying to set root. It also allows for less frequent watering and thus less potential for root pathogens.”

Ron Vanderhoff - "In this respect nativesare no different than any other plant: 1) Have a plan. 2) Resist temptation. 3) Read the label. 4) Cheap is not necessarily better. 5) Have fun, lots of fun."


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Our newsletter is published six times a year and is the best source of information about current activities. The newsletter also contains useful and fun articles.



2016 Charlie O’Neill Grant is Awarded!

We are happy to report that Shannon Lynch, graduate student from UC Santa Cruz, has been selected to receive our full $1000 O'Neill Grant to work on Fusarium infections in native trees of Orange County.

It is hoped her work will help advance basic research on the threat of Fusarium dieback (caused in part by the notorious Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer) to the riparian and oak woodland habitats throughout Southern California.

Also, Thanks to our Chapter’s esteemed review committee: Bob Allen, Jutta Burger, Celia Kutcher, Fred Roberts, and Ron Vanderhoff in helping guide the grant process.



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