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Fall 2000 Newsletter


Date Event
Wednesday, Oct 18 Managing Sierra Forests For Fire and Ecology,
Chapter Meeting, Grass Valley
Friday, October 27 Made For Each Other-
A Symbiosis of Birds & Pines
Sierra College, Rocklin

Wednesday, Nov 15

Taking Aim at Noxious Weeds,
Chapter Meeting, Rocklin
For late-breaking changes, check our home page.


Congratulations are deserved all around for another highly successful plant sale. The first order of thanks go to the participating nurseries who have been stalwart in their support of the Chapter. These hard-working folks brought an outstanding array of premium native and drought-tolerant plants and bulbs. We know it takes a tremendous amount of work on their end to prepare for and participate in these plant sales, and we thank them for their unwavering commitment-even in the face of less-than-perfect organization on ours. So our sincerest thanks go to:

  • Cornflower Farms, Elk Grove
  • Abacus, Auburn
  • The Flower Mill, Loomis
  • Sierra View Nursery, Loomis
  • Sierra College Environmental Horticulture Department
  • Far West Bulb Farm, Grass Valley
  • Foothill Cottage Gardens, Grass Valley
  • Sierra Valley Farms (would have been there but for a truck engine mishap)

Thanks especially to Ken Menzer of Abacus for making such a generous monetary contribution to the Chapter.

Thanks also to Delo Rio for providing a wonderful selection of wildflower art T-shirts and Karen Callahan for her beautiful cards.

We also can't thank our team of Chapter volunteers enough. They come through when it counts. We just couldn't do it without them. So here's to:

  • Bill & Karen Callahan
  • Chet Blackburn
  • Richard & Mary Hanes
  • Sharon Bailey-Bok
  • Bob & Ruby Foster
  • Vicki & Paul Lake
  • Mark Chainey,
  • Monica Finn
  • Ruth Eckenberg
  • Marie Krause
  • Jane Landry
  • Marsha & Frank Braga
  • Carolyn Chainey-Davis
  • Mary Chrisman
  • Anna Haynes
  • Bobbi Wilkes
  • Julie Miller
  • Lynne Hurrell
  • Joanne Olsen
  • Nancy Bascom
  • Martin Pancoast
  • Marya Miller
  • Richard Thomas
  • Julie Carville
Also thanks to Maureen Gilmer of KVMR, Barbara Neville-Brown of KNCO, the Master Gardeners, and our local Girl Scout Troop.

Finally, thanks to all of you that came, saw and bought. You are really helping to support the Chapter by participating. We receive no funding from the State Headquarters, so all our Chapter activities from conservation efforts to providing educational lectures to the printing and mailing of this newsletter depends on funds generated by the plant sale. Sorry for the periodic long check-out lines. We are working on that. If you have any ideas on how to make the plant sale even better, we would love your input. And let us know how the plants are doing.


Managing Sierra Forests for Fire and Ecology

Wednesday, October 18, 7 p.m.
Union Hill School, Grass Valley

How do wildfires affect California's birds, animals and plants? Is logging beneficial to our forests? Find out the answers to these and other pressing questions about the future of the magnificent Sierra.

Guest speaker, Ted Beedy, brings a biologist's perspective to the problems of management of Sierra Nevada forests. Dr. Beedy will share his slides and extensive research in the Yosemite area and the North Fork of the American River. He earned his PhD from UC Davis in Ecology, is Senior Wildlife Biologist for Jones & Stokes of Sacramento, and serves on the board of Sierra Foothills Audubon Society. He is co-author of "Discovering Sierra Birds" and is currently working on an additional reference volume on Sierra birds.

The meeting will be at Union Hill School, 11638 Colfax Highway (Hwy 174),between Cedar Ridge and Grass Valley. Signs for the meeting room will be posted.

Taking Aim at Noxious Weeds

Wednesday November 15th, 7 p.m.
Science Building Room S-11 (Sewell Hall)
Sierra College, Rocklin

Yellow star thistle (Centaurea solstitialis) now infests an estimated 15 million acres of California, and is probably one of the most dreaded plants in California today. But it is far from the only "bad boy" plant muscling itself into the landscape. Nearly one-fifth of the plants growing in California's "natural" land today are foreign invaders. The more aggressive of these nonnative plants are forcing out indigenous species, bringing ecological havoc in their wake. Find out what is being done to stop the worst offenders. Two experts will offer information and guidance at our November meeting.

Craig Thomsen is a Range Ecologist with UC Davis, Department of Agronomy and Range Science. Craig has direct experience with methods to control yellow star thistle and has written numerous publications on his research. Craig will talk about the various methods available to control yellow star thistle. He will discuss use of an adaptive management technique to develop plans for control of yellow star thistle. Craig has used this goal directed model on the Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Program in Colusa County. The second speaker will be a representative of the Placer/Nevada Weed Management Area group. This speaker will inform us of the projects and activities planned by this newly formed organization.

Lastly, we will take time to identify weeds and discuss problems and eradications methods. Bring your unknown or problem weeds to the meeting!


Another great local opportunity to learn something interesting is at the superb Natural History Seminars at Sierra College, Rocklin. They are held on Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m. in Sewell Hall (Science) 111. Admission is $2 general/$1 students/museum members free. The Autumn 2000 seminars include:

  • Friday, October 27
    Made For Each Other-A Symbiosis of Birds & Pines

    Some trees and birds are made for each other. Take, for example, the Whitebark Pine and the Clark's Nutcracker of the Sierra Nevada. These dwellers of the high mountains provide for each others' posterity, which leads biologists to label their relationship symbiotic, or mutualistic. Ronald Lanner, Professor Emeritus of Forest Resources at Utah State University, now lives in Placerville, California. In his slide-illustrated presentation, he details the fascinating relationship between wingless-seeded pine trees and seed-dispersing members of the crow family (especially nutcrackers and jays). His research shows how mutualism can drive not only each others' evolution, but can also affect the ecology of many other members of the surrounding ecosystem as well.

    Examples will focus on the Rocky Mountains and the American Southwest, but will range as far afield as the Alps, Finland, Siberia, and China --all examples of the phenomenon of co-evolution. Dr. Lanner is the author of the books Made for Each Other (Oxford Press, 1996) and, more recently, Conifers of California (Cachuma Press, 1999). Books will be available for purchase and signing.

  • Friday, November 3
    Reign of the Sierra Storm King: Human and Societal Impact of Historic Weather Events in California and Nevada

    Far West droughts are often broken by flooding rain and heavy snowfall. Extreme weather events are the climatological signature of our regional habitat. Residents of the Sierra Nevada endure some of the most brutal winter storms in the world. Snowfall measured in feet, wind gusts in excess of 180 mph, destructive avalanches and wind chills far below zero conspire to wreak havoc on anyone caught unprepared. Over the years many people have paid with their lives while attempting to pass through the wintry domain of the Sierra Storm King. This lecture presents compelling stories with a graphic slide presentation that brings these amazing events to life. Mark McLaughlin is a weather historian, newspaper columnist, and author living at Lake Tahoe.

  • Friday, December 8
    Placer County is for the Birds

    More than 300 species of birds call Placer County home; at least for part of the year. Many are residents, some migrate vertically (in altitude), others migrate laterally; some for thousands of miles. The birds are here for numerous reasons: food, shelter, favorable nesting conditions, or even for a short rest during a longer migration. One thing for certain, birds are an important component of this county's rich biological diversity. Placer's bird diversity responds to its varied habitats- from valley grasslands and marshlands to chaparral to the broadleaf and conifer forests that spread from the foothills to Lake Tahoe. Brian Williams is a professional environmental consultant who has taught ornithology at Sierra College for many years. His slide-illustrated presentation will include a few surprising finds such as Harlequin Duck, Black Rail, and Arctic Tern, but the focus will be on a selected group of birds under the watchful eye of ecologists who know that birds are valuable "environmental barometers". Local population trends-some quite surprising-of important indicator species like Burrowing Owl, Great Egret, Red-shouldered Hawk, California Quail, and Western Meadowlark will be discussed in the context of historical habitat changes, as will future management in the face of Placer's rapid population growth.


by Richard Hanes

The Yuba Watershed Council has received a $1.2 million grant to fund three watershed monitoring programs and other projects through Proposition 204, the 1996 statewide clean-water measure. There are many objectives, a few are:

  • identify physical watershed characteristics influencing pollutant inputs, transport, and fate
  • identify the status and trends of biological resources in and around an aquatic environment
  • screen for water quality problems
  • establish trends in water quality
  • evaluate the effectiveness of restoration or management practices
  • establish a time-referenced condition of the watersheds.

All projects of this scope need a good acronym, this one is CRMP (pronounced "crimp") for Coordinated Resource Management Project.

The watershed areas to be monitored are:

  • YUBA RIVER: includes the drainage basins for the South, Middle, and North Yuba Rivers, as well as the "Lower Yuba" below Englebright Dam to the Feather River; 18 sites will be monitored.
  • BEAR RIVER: from Hwy 20 to the Feather River, including major tributaries such as Greenhorn Creek and Wolf Creek; 28 sites will be monitored
  • DEER CREEK: it runs through Nevada City; we are trying to make contact with the leader. Monitoring is done by adult volunteers and students; sites are measured monthly. All the Yuba River sites are measured the same day, on a Saturday. The Bear River sites are measured on various weekdays.

Both the Bear River and Yuba River groups would like to have a plant list for each site. They are particularly interested in identifying non-natives. These are all riparian sites and the plant list will be used to assess changes in vegetation over time. In the future they may be asking for advice on native plants for restoration projects. Plant lists may be started now and refined next spring and early summer when more plants are blooming.

Would you like to refine your plant ID skills? See new country? Spend some time by the river? Locate new plant walk sites? Call Richard Hanes, (530) 477-0643 or email, if you would like to help make plant lists.


by Leslie Saul-Gershenz, CNPS Yerba Buena Chapter

We have been misled. Many people, nature phobics and plant lovers alike, respond to insect visitation with alarm, suspicion, and sometimes physical aggression and often-unjustified retaliation. While inundated with negative press on the one percent of insects that cause economic or medical problems, we are seldom reminded that 99% of the interactions between plants and insects are either beneficial or neutral. Beneficial interactions primarily involve native insects and native plants (no offense meant to the heroic European honey bee, Apis mellifera, which pollinates many of our commercial crops in California).

The vast majority of flowering plants rely on insects for pollination, while many insects rely on plants for food, domiciles, and as a source for chemical compounds used in defense, pheromone production, and other activities. As testimony to the beneficial and faithful quality of the relationship, a single female of a solitary bee (Habropoda sp.) may visit more than 620 virgin flowers for pollen to provision a single nest, and over her lifespan she may visit 50,000 flowers, producing more than 6,000 berries.(1) These berries are of course then used by other animals including humans. The story of the interrelationship between the monarch butterfly and the milkweed plant (Asclepias spp.) is well known, but few people are aware that the major pollinator of milkweed is the bumble bee (Bombus spp.)

Many different kinds of insects pollinate plants. Bees always come first to everyone's mind. However, flies, beetles, wasps, moths, and butterflies also are important insect pollinators. This interrelationship between plants and insects has influenced flower shape and three biochemical factors in plants: scent, flower color, and the nutritional value of nectar. In short, plants and insects have contributed to each other's evolution; our native plants have evolved closely with our native insects. The two are inseparable.

  • Scents

    Probably the first signal that a plant sends out to attract an insect pollinator is an olfactory cue. Insects "learn" to recognize the smells of flowers. Scents, at least from a human perspective, are broken into two categories: pleasant and unpleasant. Not surprisingly pleasant odors produced by plants have received more research attention than unpleasant odors. Bees are especially tuned into flower scents which would be perceived as pleasant by humans. Scent is of primary importance to nocturnal pollinators such as moths. Unpleasant odors that are utilized to attract flies for pollination actually represent chemical mimicry; the plant produces a smell that mimics the smell of decaying meat or feces to persuade carrion or dung beetles and flies to focus attention on its flowers. Scent production by plants is closely synchronized with the activity patterns of their pollinators.

  • Colors

    Certain colors are particularly attractive to certain insect pollinators. Very generally:

    • bees prefer yellows, blues, and whites
    • beetles prefer creams or greenish colors
    • flies prefer browns, purples, or greens
    • moths prefer reds, purples, whites, and pale pinks
    • butterflies prefer bright reds and purples.

    However, keep in mind that there are many exceptions. Some flowers (e.g., Eriophyllum, Rudbeckia, Helianthus, Papaver), particularly those associated with bees, have co-pigments that produce nectar guides which guide the bees to the nectaries. Some nectar guides are not visible to the human eye but are detected by the bee eye due to its ability to see colors in the ultraviolet range.

    Some plants even shift their pigment production seasonally to attract different pollinators. When its hummingbird pollinator migrates out of the area, the flower color of scarlet gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata), a California native, shifts from red to pink to white to attract a second native pollinator, the hawk moth (Hyles lineata). In other species, flowers may change color after being pollinated, triggered by the removal of nectar. This directs the pollinator toward the unvisited flowers and improves the efficiency of pollination and nectar gathering. Color shifting has been recorded in 74 angiosperm families.

  • Nectar

    One of the most important reasons that insects visit flowers is to obtain nutrition, primarily from nectar. (Pollen is also an important food source for larval bees and is collected to provision nests.) Nectars consist primarily of sugars in varying proportions of glucose, fructose, and sucrose. There is a relationship between the ratio of sugars present and the type of pollinator partner. Flowers with nectars high in sucrose are generally pollinated by large bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, or moths. Flowers with low sucrose are generally pollinated by small bees, passerine birds, or bats.

    Nectars also contain amino acids, lipids, and occasional toxins. There are ten amino acids which are essential for insect nutrition (arginine, histidine, lysine, tryptophane, phenylalanine, leucine, methionine, threonine, isoleucine, and valine). In fact, all the common amino acids are present in nectar.

    Some insects, particularly butterflies, are almost entirely dependent on nectar for their nutritional needs. The amounts of amino acids are sufficient to provide insects with an essential supply of nitrogen. The variation in amino acids between species can be used as a chemotaxonomic character to distinguish species. It appears that plants have evolved to produce larger amounts of nitrogen in response to the nutritional needs of their chosen pollinator.

    Nectar toxins can have two sides. Some flowers produce toxins that are poisonous to the pollinator (e.g., buckeye, Aesculus californica; some species of Rhododendron); some are secondarily hazardous to humans when they consume contaminated honey, specifically from plants with pyrrolizidine alkaloids. The flip side is that some butterflies (e.g., monarchs and the Ithomiidae in South America) require certain alkaloids found in certain plants (e.g., Eupatorium, Ageratina) to produce sexual pheromones.

    Plants may have other sources of nectar in addition to their flowers. Extrafloral nectaries are sugar and amino acid producing glands which occur on leaves, stems, bracts, or petioles. Their purpose seems to be to attract specific ant species which protect plants from herbivores or seed predators. Although the literature focuses on examples of interactions in the tropics, these relationships most assuredly exist here but are less well studied.

  • Supporting Native Plants

    How do you support native plants and native insects? Plant locally-native plants and declare a truce with your insect neighbors. (That means hold back on the insecticide raids.) The best way to find out what insect-plant associations exist in your area is to go to nearby natural area or an arboretum with a good diversity of native plants on a sunny warm day, preferably between 10:00 am and 2:00 p.m. (peak activity hours for diurnal insects). Your backyard is also a good study site. Take an afternoon and visit another world filled with beautiful colors, wonderful smells, incredible variety, and hard-working inhabitants


by Richard Hanes

The 6th Edition of the CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Vascular Plants of California will be published and made available this fall. In the mean time, a list of taxa that will be included in the 6th Edition is available on the CNPS web site at The List and Red Code for each species are included. The list is 34 pages long.

In 1980, the 2nd Edition listed 1,383 taxa or 22% of the 6,300 native plants in California. The number of taxa listed has steadily increased since then. The 5th Edition of 1994 listed 1,742 taxa for 27.7% of California's native plants. Will the 6th Edition list one third of California's native plants? Our best efforts to date simply have not been sufficient to stem the further deterioration of what is arguably the Nation's most remarkable flora.

The 6th Edition will list 65 taxa that occur in the Redbud Chapter area of Nevada and/or Placer Counties. A notable addition is Clarkia biloba ssp. brandegeae, Brandegee's Clarkia. It will be listed as Rare and Endangered (List 1B). After a sighting by Kathy Van Zuuk, Karen Callahan and I have identified and recorded 3 occurrences of this plant in Nevada County.

Fritillaria eastwoodiae, Butte County Fritillary, has been upgraded from List 4 (Watch List) to List 3 (Rare but need more information). Gratiola heterosepala, Boggs Lake Hedge-hyssop, has been upgraded from List 4 to Rare and Endangered (List 1B).

The following species have been upgraded from "Not endangered" to "Endangered in a portion of its range": Monardella follettii, Follett's Monardella; Rhynchospora alba, White Beaked-rush; and Trifolium lemmonii, Lemmon's Clover.

Another addition for Nevada County is Rhynchospora capitellata, Brownish Beaked-rush, which will be on List 2 (Rare & Endangered in California, More Common Elsewhere).


Mulcahy Field is a choice 12-acre parcel on Alta Street owned by the City of Grass Valley. The Alta Hill Neighborhood Association, led by Redbud member, Avila Lowrance, is lobbying for the multi-purpose use of Mulcahy Field rather than its development as a soccer field. These neighbors are proposing habitat restoration for wildlife and native plants, pedestrian trails, and any low-impact addition to Mulcahy which enhances its value as a site for the study and enjoyment of the natural heritage of Nevada County. Contact Avila at 530-272-9685 for information.

A Search for Native Gardens....

The Horticulture Committee of CNPS is looking for gardens throughout the state that provide examples of landscaping with California native plants. The committee would like to identify private gardens, commercial landscaping or lesser known public gardens that use California native plants in an appealing way in order to demonstrate what can be done. Any candidates in Nevada and Placer counties? Contact Angelika Brinkmann-Busi, CNPS Horticulture Committee, 2141 West 35th Street, San Pedro, CA 90732, (310) 519-8164, (310) 519-1485 (fax),

Upcoming Jepson Herbarium Courses

The Jepson Herbarium in Berkeley is offering an extensive series of courses that are open to the public. Among the upcoming offerings are:

  • Basic Botany I: Introduction to the Plant Kingdom
    October 14 - 15, 2000 and October 21, 2000
  • Aquatic Plants
    October 28 - 29, 2000
  • Mushrooms
    December 8 - 10, 2000
For more information, contact Staci Markos, Coordinator, Public Programs & Development, Jepson Herbarium, 1001 VLSB #2465, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, (510)643-7008

And thanks to Armida Cervantez for doing the mailing of this newsletter!!

President	Karen Callahan	272-5532

Vice President, Placer County	Chet Blackburn	885-0201

Vice President, Nevada County	Karen Wiese	346-7131

Treasurer	Bob Foster	274-9864

Secretary	Lynne Hurrell	273-5807

Conservation Chair, Nevada County	Carolyn Chainey-Davis	273-1581

Conservation Chair, Placer County	Monica Finn	887-8265

Rare Plants Chair	Richard Hanes	477-0643

Membership Chair	Bobbi Wilkes	268-2046

Plant Sale Chair	Carolyn Chainey-Davis	273-1581

Field Trips	Chet Blackburn	885-0201

Newsletter Editor	Bobbi Wilkes	268-2046

Web-Site Editor	Anna Haynes	265-8207

Seed Chair	Martin Pancoast	878-7412

Posters 	Vicki Lake	274-2080

Books	Bobbi Wilkes	268-2046

Publicity	Carolyn Chainey-Davis	273-1581

Education	Shawna Martinez*	652-0679

*	All phone numbers are in the 530 area code, with the exception of

Shawna Martinez, which is 916.

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Last updated
Oct 18 2000