California Native Plant Society
Orange County Chapter
President’s Corner.................................................... 1
Nature Writings............................................ ............ 1
Chapter Meetings...................................................... 2
Conservation Report................................................. 2
CNPS General Elections.......................................... 3
Beginner’s Corner..................................................... 5
Letters to the Editor............................ ...................... 7
UCI Arboretum, Thursdays 10-1, Celia Kutcher, 949-496-9689
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FALL PLANT SALE
Saturday, October 4—Tree of Life Nursery
33201 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano
Your Chapter Board held an all-day planning retreat on July 26th. We accomplished a great deal, and I want to thank Sandy and Pete DeSimone for hosting us at Starr Ranch Audubon Sanctuary, and the board members who gave up their day and continue to contribute so much to the chapter: Jefferson Birrell, Joan Hampton, Nancy Heuler, Sarah Jayne, Brad Jenkins, Celia Kutcher, Rich Schilk, Dan Songster, and our Rare Plant Committee expert botanists Dave Bramlet and Fred Roberts.
Dave spotted a rare tarweed at Starr Ranch while we were hiking in the morning before our meetings. He was so excited that he practically ignored the tarantula we saw in our path! It was later identified as Holocarpha virgata. We have launched a “blog” for the chapter at occnps.wordpress.com, and if you go internet surfing there you can see the stunning close-up photo that Bob Allen took of the unusual tarweed after he visited it on August 10th and collected voucher specimens.
As a result of the retreat, we have discussed our local conservation issues in some depth, come close to a final draft of chapter by-laws for adoption by the membership later in the year, discussed new and innovative ideas for publicity and our communications with members and the public, laid the groundwork for a native plant symposium in the spring, set several goals for the upcoming 12 months, and much more.
WE NEED YOU! Please set aside Saturday, October 4, 2008 on your calendars, and plan to be at Tree of Life Nursery for our fall plant sale. We would welcome your participation in any capacity – buying plants, volunteering for a 1/2 day or a couple of hours, or attending the free workshop at 9:30 am entitled “Myths (and Solutions!) of Gardening with Native Plants”. We will have volunteer opportunities available for all levels of knowledge about native plants, including beginners (all volunteers receive a special thank-you gift from Tree of Life); please call or email me to volunteer. Our workshop will be an informative and lively panel discussion where you can bring your questions, too. A percentage of all plant purchases benefits the chapter, and this is one of our major fund-raisers of the year. Don’t miss it!
Laura Camp, Chapter President
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Here's a "poemsis trilineate" that I took from the pages of one of my favorite local history books, "The Shadows of Old Saddleback," by Terry Stephenson (published in 1948). This kind of literary borrowing is called a "found poem," and it's a fun exercise. I’d like to encourage fellow CNPS members to submit their own findings (something from the Jepson manual?) for the next newsletter.
Encino y Aliso
Live oaks and sycamores
rule the lower canyons,
lording it over their minor tenants.
(Found poem, page 14)
For future newsletters, please send your three-line glimpses (Poemsis trilineata) to .
ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT UNDER ATTACK, AGAIN! The Secretary of the Interior has proposed potentially devastating changes to long-standing regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These changes would drastically weaken the interagency consultation provision of ESA—widely considered its most important and effective provision.
Under current regulations, federal agencies must consult with scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine whether a federal project is likely to harm endangered species or habitat. Such interagency consultation ensures that federal projects are independently reviewed by federal wildlife experts, so that project modifications can be made as appropriate to avoid impacts. In the overwhelming majority of consultations, federal projects move forward with few or no significant changes.
The new regulations would:
Another proposed rule change would limit protection of a species only to where it is currently found. Under the current rule a species has protection in its entire historical range. However many endangered species have lost substantial portions of that range. For example: under the proposed changes, prior to being reintroduced, the California condor would only have been listed in zoos.
These changes will almost certainly result in detrimental impacts to special-status species and habitats and an increased tendency to overlook opportunities to avoid such impacts. These are the most significant changes to regulations implementing ESA in more than 20 years. But just 30 days have been allowed for public comment, not the traditional 90, and emailed comments will not be accepted. And, because these regulations are administrative rather than legislative, they won't need the approval of Congress.
ACTION NOW: Snail-mail a letter to Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington DC 20240. Reiterate the above points and request that the public comment period be extended to its traditional 90 days. As of now, the public comment period ends September 15. CC your Congressman and Senators.
CNPS SUES FOREST SERVICE, AGAIN! Several years ago CNPS joined other enviro groups in litigation protesting the Forest Service’s proposed Land Management Plan for the four southern California Forests (Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland, totaling 3.5 million acres). Our litigation finally prevailed in spring 2008, whereupon the Forest Service (FS) denied our protest summarily.
CNPS and six other groups have taken up the option to sue the FS for a better plan. The new suit says that the 4 Forests Plan, adopted by the FS in 2005, ignores meaningful protections for environmental resources that are critical to ensure thriving populations of wildlife and healthy forests, and allows damaging resource extraction and recreation uses. The other plaintiffs are: the Center for Biological Diversity, Los Padres ForestWatch, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Wilderness Society and California Wilderness Coalition. They are being represented by attorneys from the group Earthjustice.
—Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair
CNPS is undertaking its elections to the State Board and Chapter Council for terms beginning January, 2009,
The Election Process
The overall process for CNPS election is as follows: Prior to October 1, interested candidates submit their self-nomination petitions to Sue Britting. The petitions and ballots will be assembled and sent to Chapter Council delegates by October 15. The chapters, through their delegates, consider their votes and complete the ballot, which they return to Sue Britting by November 15, 2008. The Leadership Development Committee counts the ballots and announces the result by the end of November, 2008.
Candidates who miss the October 1 deadline can run as write-in candidates. The Leadership Development Committee suggests that write-in candidates circulate petitions on the standard form to the chapter delegates.
The following positions are open beginning 2009:
Board Vice President
One Chapter Council Representative on the Board
Chapter Council Chair
Chapter Council Vice-Chair
Chapter Council Secretary
What Skills and Attributes are Needed on the Board?
Fundamentally, the CNPS board needs people who are thoughtful, willing to work as a team, and interested in assisting with the higher levels of organizational oversight such as maintaining financial health, accomplishment of the strategic plan, and oversight of the Executive Director. We are also looking for people with expertise in fundraising, public relations, publishing, and contacts with other organizations and individuals including business, media, conservation, foundations, academic, and publishing.
These positions are open to any CNPS member. To become a candidate, it is necessary to complete a self-nomination petition with the required endorsement from a chapter or five CNPS members.
Honor All Candidates!
The CNPS bylaws encourage competitive elections. Everyone who runs as a candidate for a CNPS leadership position is to be praised. All CNPS members need to join the Leadership Development Committee in saluting all candidates.
More Information and Assistance
Please call any member of the Leadership Development Committee if you have any questions. Thank you very much!
CNPS Leadership Development Committee
Executive Director Search
CNPS is searching for a new Executive Director.
Save the date!
CNPS Conservation Conference 2009
Strategies and Solutions,
January 17-19, 2009 in Sacramento, California
Go to http://www.cnps.org/cnps/conservation/conference/2009/, for more details.
Want to go but can’t afford it?
OCCNPS offers a Traveler’s Grant for just such opportunities.
The Traveler’s Grant pays expenses for a high school, community college, or university student (or other deserving person) to attend an outstanding workshop or seminar on native plant-related topics. The student 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 student’s work and interests in this field, or be involved in related work.
Conference PHOTO CONTEST
Deadline for Entries: November 15, 2008. Go to the July/August newsletter or http://www.cnps.org/cnps/conservation/conference/2009/ Email Stacey Flowerdew at for answers to your questions.
VEGETATION RAPID ASSESSMENT WORKSHOP
Cabrillo National Monument & Torrey Pines State Park
September 30 - October 2, 2008
Please join the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) for a Vegetation Rapid Assessment workshop hosted by Cabrillo National Monument and Torrey Pines State Park, San Diego County.
This three-day course is a combination of lecture and field exercises in fine-scale vegetation sampling
Target Audience: Professional botanists, ecologists, resource managers, and conservationists. Participants should have an initial understanding of the subject matter and basic plant identification skills. This course focuses on sampling plant communities.
Cost: $450 CNPS members; $475 non-members
Reduced or Waived Fees: One or more spaces are available through our Work Exchange Program for this workshop. These are awarded on a first come/first served basis to CNPS members who earn less than $30,000 per year.
Todd Keeler-Wolf, CDFG Senior Vegetation Ecologist
Jennifer Buck, CNPS Vegetation Ecologist
Anne Klein, CDFG Environmental Scientist
Theresa Johnson, CNPS Vegetation Science Program staff
For full information (with enticing pictures) and to register, go to http://www.cnps.org/cnps/education/workshops/index.php
Laguna Coast Wilderness Nursery Schedule:
Sept 11, Thurs, 4pm-7pm—Seed Collecting @ Willow
Sept 18, Thurs, 4pm-7pm—Seed Collecting @ Willow
Maybe Sept 20 or 21 in the AM, Seed Collecting @ Willow
Sept 27, 10am-1pm, Workday @ Nursery
Seed collecting: we’ll be looking for oak acorns, mugwort and cactus fruit. However, we’ll also take what nature offers to round out the seed collection. Come prepared for hiking. The next workday will kick off the new year for our plants. We’ll be doing seed cleaning, planning plant list and any final wrap up. This would be very good time for newly interested volunteers to come by. We’ll do seed flats at the following workday. Dress to get dirty!
If you plan on attending any of the dates, please drop me a line, especially if it is seed collecting.
Robert Lawson, Volunteer Nursery Manager
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park Nursery, since 2003, a Laguna Canyon Foundation project
Nursery Link: http://hijoley.blogspot.com email:
A New Field Guide to Sedges…
The Carex Working Group is pleased to announce the publication of the "Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest." The book is an illustrated guide to all 164 species, subspecies, and varieties of Carex that occur in Washington and Oregon. Botanists will find it useful throughout much of California, particularly in northern California and in the mountains throughout the state.
It contains identification keys, descriptions, color photographs, and distribution maps for each species, along with information about sedge ecology, habitat, and management.
The field guide is available by calling 800-426-3797 or it can be ordered by going to http://oregonstate.edu/dept/press/e-f/FieldGuideSedges.html and then clicking on "Secure online ordering form."
Garden Making California! Style
Explore the opportunities and constraints of garden making California-style at Gardening Under Mediterranean Skies VI: California! Saturday, October 11, 2008. This one day symposium, co-sponsored by Pacific Horticulture magazine and The Mediterranean Garden Society in concert with their international Annual General Meeting, offers a rare opportunity to meet gardeners from other Mediterranean climates of the world. The symposium will take place in stunning Monterey, the first California state capitol and a region rich in history and breathtaking beauty. Gardens have always been an important part of the developed landscape of this region where they compete for attention with the dramatic natural landscape of mountain and coastline, forest and dune.
David Fross, founder of Native Sons Nursery in Arroyo Grande, will present a morning session entitled “An Overview of California Landscape and Flora” followed by “The History of California Gardens” presented by Russell Beatty, Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at UC Berkeley and a consulting landscape architect in Santa Cruz, CA. Issues challenging California garden makers today will also be the focus of lively discussion.
Complementing these programs will be an afternoon tour of gardens in Carmel and the Carmel Valley (including gardens by Michelle Comeau and Bernard Trainor) that demonstrate a clear response to the region’s Mediterranean climate. The day’s events will conclude with an evening lecture by Bart O’Brien, from the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and editor of Fremontia, entitled “Garden Jewels from the California Flora”.
For further details or to register for this exciting event please visit the symposium website at http://regonline.com/medskiesvi or call the Pacific Horticulture office in Berkeley at (510) 849-1627
By Joan Hampton
THE DILEMMAS: Why has Yucca whipplei (Chaparral Candle) been renamed Hesperoyucca whipplei, and why is it in the Agave family instead of the Liliaceae? What is the difference between a dicot (dicotyledon) and a eudicot? Why were the Milkweeds (Asclepiadaceae) merged into the Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae) and the Chenopodiaceae into the Amaranthaceae? Many of the Scroph species have a family resemblance to one another, but most of them have now been reassigned to other families, such as the unfamiliar Phrymaceae, the new home for the Monkey Flower. Why are they doing this to us? And by the way, who is this “they”?
Let’s explore the why and the how, and identify some resources to help navigate the new system.
A taxonomist is a person who attempts to arrange or classify organisms in some kind of logical order. The most famous early one was the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), who classified plants by the numbers of the various flower parts. He also originated the use of Latin binomial names. While later taxonomists constructed systems that were more sophisticated, they still largely relied on characteristics that were visible to the naked eye or through a light microscope.
THE CURRENT SYSTEM: Popular local checklists and wildflower guides in current use are typically based on the 1993 edition of The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California edited by James Hickman, which in turn is based largely upon the work of taxonomist Arthur John Cronquist. Evolutionary lineage factors into his system, but it also relies on structural similarities. Cronquist’s system is visually accessible, and we naturally like it that way—because we ourselves are visual, botanizing out in the hinterlands with nothing more sophisticated than a hand lens. Certainly, there are fine distinctions that require a microscope for diagnosis, but for the most part, the naked eye and hand lens will do.
According to the online edition of Jepson, the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG), was developed “by bringing together researchers from major institutions world-wide.” The 29 botanical taxonomists who collaborated on the project “sought to provide a stable point of reference.…This system deals mostly with higher ranks and, as there are still severe limits to our knowledge, a firm classification is not possible in all cases.” The results were published in 1998 and an updated version, APG II, in 2003. It is not the final word however.
The online version of Jepson (http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/interchange/I_treat_indexes.html) is gradually being revised according to the APG system, “to recognize only groups in which all members have evolved from a single, common ancestor (i.e., to recognize only monophyletic groups), insofar as is practical and to the extent that data bearing on this matter are available.”
This means that looking at evolution as a branching tree, it attempts to identify nodes where each new “child” plant split off from its ancestors, creating a new lineage. Each of those descendants must share specified characteristics with its ancestor, or the group has no validity. The monocots, for example, include familiar families such as palms, lilies, grasses and irises. They share characteristics such as parallel leaf veins and three-parted flowers with their unknown monocot ancestor.
Surprisingly however—and this is a major departure from Cronquist—the dicots are not a monophyletic group. A majority of them—called eudicots or true dicots—do comprise a monophyletic group, but well-known local species such as California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia californica) and Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica) are misfits, and hence considered outcasts.
Some of the most significant new discoveries have come from studies of plant cells, using electron microscopes and data obtained from tools such as chemical analyses.
Plant cells themselves have an interesting history. They evolved from primitive precursors that lived underwater or in hostile, anaerobic environments. At some point, those primitive cells ingested certain bacteria, with which they formed a symbiotic relationship. Mitochondria (singular: mitochondrion), the earlier symbionts, are structures responsible for respiration, converting molecules of fuel into energy. Plant cells can contain hundreds or thousands of them, wriggly little structures located where needed around the cell. A later addition was the chloroplast, derived from cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). This is the site of photosynthesis, converting light into sugar and chemical energy. Neither of these structures (organelles) is able to survive independently any longer, existing only as internal endosymbionts.
The largest volume of DNA in a plant cell is located in the nucleus. But chloroplasts and mitochondria also have chromosomes, inherited from each of their separate bacterial ancestors. In each of these, the chromosomes look and behave differently from one another and from nuclear DNA. These varied types of DNA offer valuable clues about plant evolution, precisely because of their disparate origins.
What contribution have fossil discoveries made to the study of plant evolution? There are several problems—and not just environments unfavorable for fossil preservation. First, preservation of soft parts—such as flowers, roots and stems—is rare. Secondly, unlike the s-l-o-w, even glacial pace of evolution (which Darwin referred to as “change over time”) plants can adapt and change rapidly, even within the span of a human lifetime.
When a plant evolves, forming a new species (speciation), the older version can either disappear, or can continue to coexist with the new. If a species undergoes a series of changes in a relatively short period of time, there may be too few relics of the intermediate form left to leave evidence. (This, of course, is grist for those who argue that the absence of intermediate forms “proves” that they never existed.)
But there are two hard, durable structures that often do survive: seeds and pollen grains. They are important in different ways. Remember that plants did not develop in a vacuum. To the contrary, they evolved in tandem with insect, bird and mammal pollinators, and with physical and biological agents of seed dispersion. Thus, fossil sites where seeds or pollen are found can enable archaeologists to reconstruct prehistoric environments.
From the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia:
Although pollen grains are microscopic in size and are thus visible to the human eye only in quantity, they are so diversified in appearance that plants are often identifiable by their pollen alone, e.g., by pathology. The waxy outer covering...is marked by characteristic patterns of ridges, spines, and knobs.
Pollen's…outer sheath affords it some resistance to the rigours of the fossilisation process that destroy weaker objects; it is also produced in huge quantities. As such, there is an extensive fossil record of pollen grains, often disassociated from their parent plant. The discipline of palynology [from the Latin word for dust] is devoted to the study of pollen, which can be used…to gain information about the abundance and variety of plants alive—which can itself yield important information about paleoclimates.
In the past, when the best diagnostic tool was a light microscope, only larger seeds could be analyzed. Given that they can range from the size of a dust particle (e.g. epiphytic orchids of the tropical rain forest) to the foot-long seeds of the coco-de-mer palm tree, many could not be examined in detail. But with the discovery of the electron microscope, the tiniest fossils could now be analyzed—and what a wealth of information! In addition to size, seeds come in a wide assortment of shapes, colors, patterns and textures. Furthermore, seeds contain the embryo of the developing plant, and this is the basis for embryology, another valuable resource for tracing evolutionary descent.
There are other uncertainties in determining evolutionary pathways.
Evolution can be bi-directional, muddying the picture. A plant may evolve from free petals to fused petals for example, then revert back to free petals. Furthermore, since plants hybridize much more easily than animal species, a later, evolved form may back-cross with an earlier one. Furthermore, where fossil evidence reveals a series of evolutionary steps (say, A, B, C, D, E), it may not be possible to determine whether the sequence began with A or with E (E, D, C, B, A). Whew!
To be continued…
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This is in response to Chuck Wright's letter to the editor in the July/August issue of the OC CNPS newsletter...
It is very heartening to read of Chuck's enthusiasm for removing non-native weeds in our local wild places. If more people felt as Chuck did then surely our local wilderness areas would have fewer invasives!
I just wanted to respond with one word of caution, though (well, eight words)—If you don't know it, don't pull it! There are many, many native plants that grow in our wild open spaces that LOOK like non-native plants, but really are native. In my experience I've seen well-meaning volunteers remove Giant Wild Rye thinking that it was Arundo. There are native mustards and thistles that look just like the non-native versions. Sometimes only a botanist can tell them apart. Also, when removing "weeds," always make sure that you have permission and guidance from the land manager.
Back to Natives Restoration, in a cooperative agreement with the United States Forest Service in the Cleveland National Forest, leads a free nine month long hands-on training course for restoration volunteers. Participants learn how to remove invasive non-native plant species using tools rather than herbicides. They learn how to keep themselves and others safe in the field, how to manage restoration volunteers, and how to identify native and non-native plants. Individuals interested in attending the next series of classes, which begin on September 27, can download a registration form at www.backtonatives.org/usfs.htm. Volunteers from all wildland agencies, organizations and non-profits are welcome to participate, and then share their new knowledge and skills with others.
8 Cherry S., Irvine, CA 92612
And speaking of Back to Natives…
This organization is involved in many habitat restoration and environmental education projects in Orange County. It needs and deserves a broad base of financial support to continue these efforts. Visit their website www.backtonatives.org to find out how you can help.