Spring 2000 Newsletter
Calendar of Upcoming Events
For the most up-to-date calendar, check our Web-site at www.nccn.net/cnps
It will be plants plus at our semiannual sale. We will be offering a broad and appealing selection of native plants and drought tolerant perennials. Be sure to check out our native grass selection this year. See page 4 & 5 for some of the offerings at the sale. Many of these plants are often very difficult to find. Included will be plants that attract butterflies and songbirds.
This year the participating nurseries include Cornflower Farms, Elk Grove; Sierra Valley Farms, Beckwourth; Sierra College Horticultural Club; Bitterroot Restoration, Lincoln; Abacus Nursery, Auburn; The Flower Mill, Rocklin; and Floral Native Nursery, Chico. A million thanks to these nurseries for their support of our Chapter and a good cause. Proceeds from out plant sales are recycled into education and conservation projects aimed at increasing the appreciation and protection of California native plants.
Chet Blackburn will again be putting on his annual Spring Wildflower Show, which will probably include the very plant you've been racking your mind for weeks trying to remember the name of. Experts will also be on hand to answer any question on native plant culture and design. There will be a free wildflower walk around the Rocklin campus led by a Sierra College botanist. So , take this fine opportunity to increase your knowledge about California native plants-whether you're curious about a plant on the side of a hiking trail or would like to bring a little of wild California home.
Coinciding again with out plant sale will be a campus-wide open house at Sierra College Rocklin. This will include campus tours, children's activities, a youth job fair, an exhibit hall and live entertainment. Plenty to do for the whole family!
Recommended Guides to Valley, Foothill and Mountain Wildflowers
The list of wildflower guides germane to Northern California continues to grow each year. Our Chapter hopes to add our own guide to wildflowers in Nevada and Placer counties next spring. And our Nevada County Vice President Karen Wiese will have a new Sierra Nevada wildflower book out within a month.
Among our favorite currently-published books:
Long before European settlers arrived, the Spenceville area in Nevada/Yuba Counties was home to native people, the most recent being the Maidu-Nisenan. The Spenceville area, which is comprised of 11,213 acres of public land and located 12.5 miles west of Grass Valley off of Highway 20, is an area of rich Native America history. Some of the most obvious sites left by the Nisenan are bedrock grinding holes where acorns were ground into a flour know as ooti. Less obvious to all but the trained eye, are the earth depressions that held the ceremonial lodge pits. Many of the early village sites are found along Dry Creek and its tributaries, because large amounts of water were needed to leach the bitter tannic acid from the acorn meal. While acorns were the main food source, women also gathered bulbs, roots, fruits, seeds, fungus and insects, such as grasshoppers, and edible and medicinal plants. The men provided the remainder of the diet by hunting and fishing.
Many of the plant seeds and bulbs found in Spenceville were important to the Nisenan. Buttercup seeds were gathered by native people and roasted in flat, tightly woven baskets. The baskets were shaken so that the rocks did not burn either the basket or the seeds. After roasting, the seeds were safe to eat and tasted like popcorn.
Many species of brodiaeas can be found blooming among the grasses. Brodiaeas are a group of plants within the Lily Family that were important as a food source to the California Indians. They gathered the bulbs and seeds of the brodiaeas in the fall. The bulbs were roasted in earthen pits and the seeds were ground into a meal and cooked as a mush or used in unleavened flat breads. To find the brodiaeas, look for flowers with six apparent petals. There are the blue-purple Blue Dicks, Grass Nuts and the Elegant Brodiaea, the creamy-yellow Pretty Face, the lovely White Brodiaea and the interesting, pink Twining Brodiaea, whose long, naked stem climbs and twists up neighboring plants like a snake.
Look also for the shrubs of poison oak, so that you are sure to avoid them. Touching them causes a terrible rash on most people. Indians, who usually were not allergic to poison oak, gathered the leaves and wrapped food in them and roasted the packets over hot coals. The leaves held the contents together and added flavor. Some California Indians used the juice from the stems to dye the tattoos used in body decorating and to darken materials used in the black designs of willow baskets.
Buck Brush is one of the many species of wild lilacs that grow in California's foothills. This evergreen shrub grows from 3 to 8 feet tall with small gray-green leaves that are loosely spread along the branches. Its white flowers bloom in early spring and are very attractive to bees, helping to nourish them at a time when few flowers may be in bloom. Native people gathered its flowers to use in shampoos because it lathers in water. In some tribes, the flowers of the wild lilac were used as part of the wedding ceremony to wash the beloved's hair, an act of intimacy and tenderness that was a symbol of their commitment. Try it yourself by taking a few blossoms to the stream and rubbing them in your hands with water, and you'll see the lather appear.
Gray Pine grows with great vigor in Spenceville with a trunk that is often forked and bends in graceful forms that gave rise to a story that the Nisenan used to tell to their children. They said that this tree came into its own at night and danced with great joy all night long. But when the first rays of sunlight crept over the hilltops, it shyly stopped its dance and froze in whatever position it was in when the day dawned and there it stood in its graceful, held position under night's darkness once again freed it to dance with such delight. The seeds of the Gray Pine were gathered and eaten by native people and also used to decorate the women's dance dresses. They would attach the seeds with string made from the iris and as they danced the seeds would click together to make a rhythmic, rattling sound. The seeds are also eaten by squirrels and other animals. The Acorn Woodpecker drills holes in the dead trunks of Gray Pines and jams in acorns, using the trees as storage units for its winter food year after year.
The California Buckeye is a shrub or small tree that blooms in April or May at Spenceville with rich green leaves made up of 5 to 7 leaflets. Its fragrant clusters of small, azalea-like flowers are attractive to insects. After fertilization of one of the flowers in the cluster, the other flowers lose their ability to reproduce and so only one large, brown, rounded seed pod is formed from each cluster. The seed pod "resembles" a deer's brown eyes and thus its name Buckeye. Its seeds were eaten, after processing, by the Nisenan when other favorite food wasn't available. They also crushed the seeds and added them to slow moving pools in streams. The crushed seeds released a substance into the water that stupefied the fish, allowing the people to scoop them up with their hands and toss them onto the shore-a quick and easy way to gather the salmon, trout and other fish that ran in these streams.
From their homes in Spenceville, the Nisenan could view the Sutter Buttes, which they called Est-Yamani, the place where their creator Atkat kept his spirit house. Most Nisenans were forced into reservations by 1857, although some remained in the area until the 1870's because they were indexd to remain on their land by the Nichols family who had purchased property, in what was to become Spenceville, from a French fur trader in 1854. Great Grandma Nichols learned the native language and in friendship shared the land and her freshly baked bread with the Nisenan. The Nisenan lived at Spenceville for hundreds of generations before the coming of westerners, before they were forced off their land. Little is known of their culture by most people living in Nevada and Yuba counties today. Returning to Spenceville will help you to feel more connected to a people and a way of life that sustained generations through the richness and beauty of the oak woodlands of Spenceville.
If you want to know more about the fascinating subject of ethnobotany, take note of this upcoming lecture at Sierra College Museum. Renee Shahrokh, a botany professor at American River College, will discuss the traditional uses of native plants by tribes of Central California. California's natural resources of plants, animals and minerals provided almost unlimited materials for utilization by its native peoples. Plant species utilized for food, medicine and material culture will be discussed. How were these plants gathered? How were they processed? Edibles, such as fruits, bulbs, algae and even poisonous plants will be reviewed. $2 general admission.
If you are in the valley or foothill grasslands, or openings in oak woodlands, the first part of the plant you would see is the yellow sunflower blossom about 2 to 3 inches across. It flowers from March to June.
The stems are 8 to 24 inches tall and are finely hairy and glandular (sticky). They are usually without leaves, except at the base, and have only one sunflower on a stem. The huge leaves emerge from the rootstock at the base of the plant and are 8 to 20 inches long and 2 to 8 inches wide. They are slashed or divided to the midrib into many lobes (pinnate to bipinnate). The leaves are covered with dense, fine, and generally white hairs.
If you see it, you have found Balsamorhiza macrolepis var. macrolepis, otherwise known as Big-scale Balsamroot. It is the largest species of the genus Balsamorhiza and has been reported to be in Placer Co. (and 6 other counties). It is a perennial herb endemic to California, and is Rare & Endangered. Endangerment is probably from development, but all classes of livestock eat this plant with fair to moderate relish.
Another species may occur in the same habitat, B. hookeri, but it is smaller, with stems 4 to 12 inches tall and leaves 4 to 12 inches long.
If you see the Big-scale Balsamroot please note its location as precisely as possible and notify one of the following members:
The following lists give you a preview of the wide selection of native plants that will be available on May 6 at our plant sale. No matter what landscape design you are creating--from a sunny rock garden to a low-maintenance lawn alternative--you need not come away empty handed. We make it easy to have distinctive native plants in your garden that are the right plant for the right place. And the proceeds from our sales go to education and conservation projects. These lists were compiled by Carolyn Chainey-Davis.
Our scheduled field trips were listed on a recent mailing. So please refer to that for more detailed information on the Redbud Chapters upcoming trips. Relevant dates are listed in Upcoming Events on page 1. Always check our Website for any changes in schedule. All Chapter websites can be accessed through the www.cnps.org.
A number of the other chapters have field trips that may also be of interest. Everyone is index, but you should contact the designated person to alert them that you are coming and to obtain more information about the trip.
El Dorado Chapter
The El Dorado Chapter is centered around Placerville. Check out their Website. Among the upcoming field trips and contact leaders are:
Botanist Kathy Van Zuuk will lead a wildflower walk in the Donner Pass picnic general area on June 24th as part of the Truckee's Nature Day. Contact the Truckee Ranger District Office for more information. She will have a display and make wildflower bookmarks on June 10th at Big Bend as part of Fish Day.
An Invitation from the Milo Baker Chapter: Monitor Pass, Eastern Sierra, Friday-Sunday, July 7-9, 2000
The Milo Baker Chapter is inviting other CNPS chapters to join us on a weekend adventure in the Eastern Sierra. On Saturday, we will botanize the area around Monitor Pass, one of the most scenic of all the Sierran passes. The approach from the west winds through a steep, narrow canyon, but the pass itself, at about 8,000 feet, is an open sagebrush and meadow landscape fringed by groves of quaking aspen. This high elevation sagebrush scrub is enriched with desert and montane wildflowers - golden mules ears, purple lupines, penstemons and larkspurs, lavender monardellas, crinkle-petalled prickly poppies, creamy pink bitter root, and many, many more. Patches of montane chaparral, scattered stands of firs, and rocky outcrops with pinyon pines accent the slopes. On Friday afternoon, we can explore the trails through Jeffrey pine forest and meadows around Grover Hot Springs State Park, near Markleeville, Carson Pass, south Lake Tahoe, and the Sweetwater Mountains are all within a short drive from the Monitor Pass area. We have reserved five campsites (8 people/2 vehicles each) for Friday and Saturday nights. The camping fee is $10/person for one night and $15/person for two nights. Each campsite has a firepit and grill, cupboards, bear-proof lockers and tables, and is near drinking water and restrooms (no showers). The park's mineral springs are channeled into concrete pools, where you can swim or just soak ($4 for adults, $2 for children). Please bring the materials you need for meals and their preparation. Reservations can be made by sending payment (payable to CNPS - Milo Baker Chapter) to: Peter Warner, 555 Magnolia Ave., Petaluma, CA 94952-2080. Contact leaders: Peter Warner, at (707) 763-7405, firstname.lastname@example.org or Ann Howald at 939-0775, email@example.com.
May 5-7, 2000
California State University Sacramento
Do you love lush forests, wild rivers, stark deserts, or stately Oaks? Do you want to see more of them protected in California? If so, attend the California Wilderness. Celebrate the South Yuba Wild and Scenic River and the new Sequoia National Monument with many of those that made it happen. Learn how you can effectively work to protect California's remaining wild heritage. Call 530-758-0380 and register by phone (with a credit card) or download a registration form at www.calwild.org.
June 16-18, 2000
"Discovery, Communication, and Conservation of Plant Biodiversity in California " is being held in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Jepson Herbarium. A broad spectrum of experts will discuss the needs and means to refine and expand our knowledge of plant diversity, and to communicate information about the California flora among biological consultants, government agency planners, conservation biologists, academic researchers, private land owners, and the general public. Topics will include the roles of field exploration and systematics for discovery of new biodiversity, the synthesis and distribution of floristic information, and identification of current challenges in conservation of the California flora. Nationwide integration of biologists, their ideas and research is of immediate importance in the current environment of changing landscapes and increasing urban development and resource use. The weekend program will include an open house at the herbarium, scientific symposium, 50th Anniversary banquet and botanical field trips. For more information contact Betsy Ringrose or Staci Markos at the Jepson Herbarium (510) 643-7008, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
by Carol Witham, Sacramento Chapter
The University of California is planning to build a tenth campus in the San Joaquin Valley. The campus is currently dubbed UC Merced and is planned for a site to the northwest of the city of Merced in Merced County. The campus itself will occupy about 2,000 acres and there are plans to develop another 3,000-4,000 acres of the surrounding 8,300 acre parcel into a campus community (as in a whole new town). The 10,300 acres in question sits on the edge of the largest remaining continuous vernal pool landscape in California. According to documents prepared by UC, there are at least 7,000 vernal pools on the 10,300 acre site. Numerous endangered species are also known to occur here. Even though the proposed campus and community will occupy only a portion of this landscape, the indirect impacts to the area will be enormous and it opens the door to further development.
The irony of the matter is that there are several suitable alternate sites for the campus which would not be so environmentally destructive. The UC has apparently targeted this site because the land for the campus will be donated by the trust that owns the surrounding land. The surrounding land will of course be developed into the campus community. However, the current value of the land in question is far, far less than the cost of mitigating for the wetland and endangered species destruction which will occur if it the parcel is developed. And yet, the project is steamrollering ahead with the new UC Merced Chancellor announcing an 82 member board of trustees and the Governor appointing a "red team" to facilitate implementation of the project.
What can you do? Right now you can urge the Regents of the University of California to reconsider this proposed action through letters and emails. You might want to consider circulating a petition among your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. If you belong to another conservation organization, consider asking them to formally adopt a resolution opposing the current campus location. And you could also write or emailthe regulatory agencies to remind them that despite political pressure, the resource protection laws must be enforced. And eventually, if the Regents are not dissuaded, you will be urged to write letters during the public comment period which accompanies each permit or document required by the various resource protection laws.
We lost Kate McBride on February 17. She died unexpectantly at her home in Grass Valley.
Kate was "there" for the Redbud Chapter of the California Native Plant Society from the beginning. She was one of the Chapter's charter members, and over the years she could always be counted on to dive into any project with great Úlan. She was perhaps most in evidence as Plant Sale Chairwoman over the past few years. Her tireless effort made each successive plant sale more successful than the last. She could seemingly magically marshal volunteers, line up the requisite nurseries and oversee the plant sale while remaining remarkably calm. She took great glee in calling everyone after the proceeds were counted to tell them how much had been taken in. Under her watch, the native plant sales became successful enough that for the first time the Chapter had adequate money to finance conservation and educational projects.
But Kate also worked diligently behind the scenes to make the Chapter a success. She was key to getting the newsletter out. She copied, folded, addressed, stamped and dispatched each copy for the past five years. She held numerous Chapter meetings at her house. She helped line up speakers for the Chapter meetings. She was always the one with the circle of friends that could be counted on to serve as volunteers at Chapter activities. Kate was one of the cornerstones of our Chapter.
Kate always kept us laughing with her trenchant and sometimes bawdy wit. She always delighted us with her enthusiasm for trying something new. Kate was ageless to most of us. Perhaps it was her tales of recently camping on the North Coast with her girlfriends, her recounting of her archaeological dig on the Modoc Plateau or her great delight in the bluebirds nesting in the birdhouse on her deck. We are all so shocked and saddened to lose her so suddenly and unexpectedly.
The Redbud Chapter would not be what it is today without the help and guidance of Kate. We have lost an irreplaceable friend. We'll miss you, Kate!!
We need help from someone in the Grass Valley area. It requires a few hours every 4-5 months. We need someone to help mail our newsletter, or postcards. You would pick up the newsletter at the printers, fold, affix labels & stamps, and put in the mail. This task could be divided between 2 people. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Call Bobbi Wilkes at 268-2046.