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Spring 2001 Newsletter


Date Event
Sunday, April 29 South Yuba River Field Trip
Saturday, May 5 Spring Native Plant Sale and Wildflower Show, Sierra College, Rocklin
Sunday, May 13 Hell's Half Acre, Field Trip
Sunday, May 13 Traylor Ranch Field Trip
Wednesday, May 23 Famous and Not so Famous Wildflower Trails of Northern California, Chapter Meeting
Sunday, June 24 Bogg's Lake Field Trip
For late-breaking changes, check our home page.

In light of the decidedly unsettling currents in Washington, let us never forget that as the late John Sawhill of the Nature Conservancy has so wisely observed:

"In the end our society will be defined not only by what we create, but also by what we refuse to destroy."


Saturday, May 5, Sierra College Rocklin
Sewell Hall, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Gazing out my window, I see the products of plant sales past. The Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea) that is native to the central coastal mountains and that I bought last spring at the sale has exploded into riotous stalks of crimson flowers that are luring the local hummingbirds. I smell the sweet fragrance from the bed of native Blue Sage (Salvia clevelandii) on my back slope-another plant sale find- each time I step out my door. Bees are mobbing the periwinkle-colored flowers. My redbuds have just finished bloom. I have found such wonderful plants at our sales. And even though I have less than a green thumb, these hardy plants have by and large survived my stewardship.

Don't miss this chance to make your garden a little different, a little special. We'll be offering trees, shrubs, vines and perennials, including many hard-to-find selections such as tiger lilies, wild iris, redbuds, yarrows, bigleaf maples. Also included will be drought-tolerant, deer-resistant lavenders, thyme and sage. Our wide selection of books, wildflower posters and t-shirts give you creative options for Mother's Day gifts. Moreover, this year we are introducing two new showy posters: California Native Oaks and California Grasses.

This is Cathie Tritel's first time as plant sale chairman, and she has been working very hard to make this event a success. Show your support and appreciation by coming and participating. The proceeds from this sale are funding the Chapter's conservation and book projects.

Even those of you disinclined to garden should not miss the opportunity to behold the concentrated display of wildflowers assembled by Chet Blackburn for his amazing annual Spring Wildflower Show. The plants, which are all identified and labeled, provide a crash course in wildflower viewing. The very plant you've been racking your mind for weeks trying to remember the name of will probably be on display. It is truly a mystery how he can assemble in the neighborhood of two hundred local native plants. He informs me that quite a few are blooming.

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 Sierra College botanist Shauna Martinez. 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.

To get there, use Sierra College Rocklin Campus' West Entrance. From I-80, take Rocklin Rd. exit. Go two blocks east, follow signs to parking lot S.


    WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 7 P.M.

    This promises to be a fabulous and motivating meeting. Karen's talk will focus on a east-west transect across California, starting in Pt. Reyes National Seashore, through the Sacramento Valley and eastward to the Sierra Nevada, including Yosemite and the Mammoth area. She will showcase 20 hikes and provide a handout so folks can take notes on the optimal time for the bloom, directions, and what they may see. Some of the hikes that she will feature include Chimney Rock, Stebbin's Cold Canyon Reserve, Table Mountain, Castle Peak, Sagehen Creek and Saddlebag Lake.

    Besides being a vice-president in our esteemed Chapter, Karen works as a plant ecologist in mine reclamation for the California Department of Conservation. She has a master of science degree from the University of California, Davis in Plant Protection and Pest Management. In 2000, her superb book, Sierra Nevada Wildflowers: A Field Guide to Common Wildflowers and Shrubs of the Sierra Nevada, including Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks, was published by Falcon Publishing . And just to prove that you can never be too busy, Karen also finds time to lead natural history hiking and backpacking trips and own an organic farm.

    The library is located at 980 Helling Way, Nevada City. At the intersection of Hwy. 49 and 20 in Nevada City, turn west toward Downieville on Hwy 49. After approximately one mile, turn right at the Nevada County Government Office Buildings complex. Follow signs to Library.


Everyone is index, non-members included. If you do plan to attend, as a courtesy it is asked that you let the trip leader know so that he or she can gauge how large the group will be. Moreover, due to whims of nature and other forces, it is strongly advised that you always check with the given contact person on any changes in plans that may have occurred.

  • Common Riparian Plants of the South Yuba River
    Sunday, April 29, 9 a.m.-Noon (or later)
    Bridgeport State Park on the South Yuba River

    This joint venture of CNPS and the South Yuba River Citizen's League (SYRCL) is available to CNPS members and SYRCL "river monitors" and is geared to teach participants how to identify common riparian plants of the South Yuba River-- and to basque in the beauty of its colorful and diverse upland flora. What is riparian vegetation and why is it important? Learn the common trees and shrubs found on the Yuba River here and throughout the region-buttonwillows, wild grape, sandbar willows, arroyo willows, Fremont cottonwood, Oregon ash, white alders, rushes and sedges, native grasses, willow-herbs, and many more. Handouts on common riparian plants will be available, as well as a checklist of plants found in the Yuba River canyon. Displays of flowering upland shrubs and perennials in bloom should include the cantaloupe-colored blooms of the bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), azure blue to violet penstemons (Penstemon laetus), amethyst-purple spires of silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons), scarlet-orange flowers of canyon dudleya (Dudleya cymosa), wispy sprays of the canyon alum root (Heuchera micrantha), Pacific stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium) and dozens more.

    Meet 9am at the Bridgeport State Park on Pleasant Valley Road at the crossing of the South Fork Yuba River. Bring water and a sunhat, lunch, hand lens or magnifier, and a note pad. There is no charge for the workshop and a small donation is appreciated, but not required, for the handouts. The field trip will be lead by Carolyn Chainey-Davis and assisted by other members of CNPS. For more information, email Carolyn at, or call Karen Callahan at 530.272.5532.

  • Hell's Half Acre, Nevada County
    9 a.m.-Noon, Sunday May 13th

    Carolyn Chainey-Davis has worked tirelessly for the preservation of Hell's Half Acre, a wonderful example of volcanic mud flow wildflower habitat that is on the edge of the city of Grass Valley. She loves the area passionately and has been its greatest champion. You can enjoy some of her boundless enthusiasm on this Mother's Day wildflower walk. This easy walk is expected to be during the period of peak color of meadowfoams and madias, white hyacinth, purple butterfly weed, meadow rue, pygmy sedum, lupines and colorful clovers. Meet at the end of Gold Drive at 9 or at 8:30 a.m. at the Flour Garden Bakery on Neale Street in Grass Valley. For more detailed directions or information e-mail Carolyn at or call Karen Callahan at 530.272.5532.

  • Traylor Ranch in Penryn, Placer County
    9 a.m.-11 a.m. Sunday May 13th

    Traylor Ranch is an 88-acre reserve, located in Western Placer County, in the community of Penryn. Here, you will find valley oak-riparian,grassland, wetlands and oak woodland habitats that have been set aside for habitat preservation for birds and other wildlife. The former ranch, now a nature preserve, is rapidly transforming into a natural haven for wildlife, but is still several years from reaching its prime habitat potential. Deren Ross, the preserve manager, will take us on a tour and show us the restoration work he has accomplished. Deren has asked assistance from the Redbud Chapter of CNPS to compile a plant species list for the reserve. We will work on this list during the field trip. An April and late May/early June trip will also be planned to pick up additional species. If you're interested in coming out again to help, call Monica Finn.

    Where to meet:Take I-80 to the Penryn exit. Turn left over the freeway. At the next stop sign, turn right onto Taylor Road. At the next intersection, just up the road, make a left on English Colony Road. Continue down English Colony for a mile or two. Turn left on Humphrey Road. Just down the on the right is the reserve and the parking area. Call Monica Finn 530.887.8265 for additional information. There is some possibility that this field trip may be changed to May 27th.

  • Bogg's Lake in Lake County
    Sunday, June 24th

    Covering more than 90 acres at high water, this shallow ephemeral lake is most likely the largest vernal pool in the state and contains several endemic species. Approximately 150 acres around the lake has been set aside as a botanical reserve by the Nature Conservancy. Contact Chet Blackburn at 530.885.0201


Tell me, I forget.
Show me, I remember
Involve me, I understand.

-Eastern Proverb

Redbud Chapter members Karen Wiese, Julie Carville and Kathi Keville are offering a number of other great opportunities to get involved. These women are incredibly knowledgeable and excellent teachers. If you want to develop a deeper understanding of native plants, make time to go on one or several of these outings.

  • Wild Oak Outings with Karen Wiese

    Karen is offering a variety of Sierra hikes now throughout the summer. These include;
    • Relief Hill Trail on the Yuba River near Nevada City on Saturday, May 12
    • Sagehen Creek near Truckee on Saturday, June 9
    • Showers Lake via Schneider Cow Camp at Carson Pass on Saturday, July 21
    • The Meadows at Mt. Rose on the north shore of Lake Tahoe on Saturday, August 25
    Hikes are a great bargain at only $15 apiece. Contact Karen at or call 209. 286.1435 to check on availability.

  • Herb Walks with Kathi Keville

    Kathi will be offering herb hikes near Nevada City on May 5, May 12, and June 3. Kathi is a local herbalist and author of 11 books . She teaches a week-long course on Plant Use of Native Sierra Plants for San Francisco State University each year. Contact her at 530.265.9552

  • July Wildflower Workshop in North Tahoe with Julie Carville

    Sponsored by the North Tahoe Art Center, this workshop is the perfect midsummer retreat. To be held on July 14 & 15, Julie will guide you through the wonders of wildflowers from 9 to 4 each day.

    She will take you through wooded glens and stream-side gardens identifying plants, while sharing wonderful stories about the plants. She'll also cover Native American plant uses and amazing aspects of botany to expand your eyesight beyond mere physical beauty. Julie offers her students a deeper understanding of flowers and the opportunity to create personal expressions through word and image. Whether you are an experienced botanist or a beginner, Julie will leave you yearning for more! Author of the delightful Hiking Tahoe's Wildflower Trails, Julie has taught wildflower botany and photography field classes in the Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills for various colleges and organizations for almost 20 years. Contact North Tahoe Art Center, Diane Catana, for a flyer or more information at 530.581.2787.


By Richard Hanes, Rare Plant Coordinator

Early in April I volunteered to drive my wife to an appointment at a private residence off of McCourtney Rd. on a private road. The appointment was to be about 1-1/2 hours and I thought it an opportunity to photograph native plants in the area. This was a last minute decision, but I already had my camera bag, tripod, and Jepson Manual in the truck. But in my haste I forgot my handlens (magnifier).

We arrived on time and the owner gave me permission to wander and photograph on her property, which overlooks a lake. I had a good time photographing a Buckeye in bud, an alien vetch, an Iris, Alder with cones, Trillium, and I even tried some Buttercups (my slides were terrible). It was while I was on my knees trying to photograph the Small White Nemophila that I noticed a plant known to me as Sulphur Pea, Lathyrus sulphureus Gray. It was siting up (held by its tendrils on other plants), in bloom, and begging to be photographed. I complied with its wishes.

This pea looked very slightly different than the one I am accustom to seeing in Cedar Ridge and I remembered that there was an old report of a rare variety a few miles south near Lime Kiln Road. Not having my handlens, I collected a small portion of the plant to identify later. Not knowing what I had found, I didn't look for more and continued photographing other plants.

Back home with my handlens I keyed the plant to Lathyrus sulphureus Gray in the Jepson Manual, but there was a difference. The Sulphur Pea is glabrous (not hairy) and my plant was hairy everywhere! I found the variety argillaceus Jeps. described in Munz "A California Flora" as "hairy throughout." Later I found the definitive description in "A Flora of California", 1936, by W. L. Jepson. I had found the Dubious Pea, Lathyrus sulphureus Gray variety argillaceus Jeps. (see accompanying illustration.) It is a native plant endemic to California and is Rare. It is on CNPS List 3, a review list because more information is needed on its rarity and endangerment. The CNPS "Inventory of Rare and Endangered Vascular Plants" (1994) state that fewer than ten specimens exist in California herbaria and it questions the occurrence in Nevada County. Most other sightings are near Redding in Shasta and Tehema Counties; the Inventory also lists Placer County.

To the casual observer an established Dupious Pea is larger than other peas in our area (except the non-native, naturalized, very prolific Sweet Pea). It has 10 to 15 pea flowers densely packed along one side of the stem that are bronze-orange at maturity, drying to tan. The compound leaves have 6 to 12 leaflets on a mid-rib that end in branched tendrils that help it climb other plants. AND the whole plant is hairy, but you need a handlens to see the hairs. It grows with (its parent?) the species and is very similar, almost identical. Which came first, the hairy one or the glabrous one?

The habitat at 1,560 feet elevation is what I refer to as Mixed Oak Woodland. It has Blue Oak, Interior Live Oak, and Black Oak. There is an occasional Ponderosa Pine and Foothill Pine, and Buckeye; a few Greenleaf Manzanita and Buckbrush. The rest is typical Woodland annual grasses and forbs (Snowberry, Poison Oak, Soap Plant, Filaree, Buttercups, and species of mint, vetch, lilies, and Fritillarias.)

After searching my records I was out the next day looking in previously reported areas. No luck! There was a sketchy report in 1916 and a doubtful report in 1980 for Nevada County. The Sulphur Pea is abundant this year and stopping to look at each plant with a handlens is time consuming.

I finally returned to my original find and brought along a pair of younger, sharper eyes in the person of Karen Callahan. After photographing, we estimated there were over 50 plants in a 100 ft. circle and about one third of those were hairy. We identified the associated species and described the habitat in preparation of making a report to the Natural Diversity Data Base and CNPS. On the way home you would have seen us driving slowly, stopping suddenly, one of us jumping out of the truck with a handlens, examining a plant, and saying "glabrous" as we returned to the truck. We did say "hairy" one more time when we found another Dubious Pea about a mile from the original population (another report to make).

If you find a Dubious Pea please let me know, and REMEMBER THE HANDLENS!


Two years ago in a moment of weakness and impulse at the plant sale, I bought a Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia californica), a wonderful native pipevine that is festooned with little meerschaum pipe-like flowers in March and that is home to the larva of the black swallowtail butterfly. Not being sure if my resident herd of deer would find it as irresistible as I did, I stuck my Dutchman's pipe in a pot with a trellis in the relative safety of the area near my back door. Despite a little casual nibbling by my hoofed friends, the pipevine has thrived in its pot and this year I was rewarded with an exuberant spring display of miniature meerschaum pipes. Many of our native plants can be cultivated successfully in pots and tubs. Virtually all native plants can be grown in containers, but bulbs, grasses, succulents, perrenials, and subshrubs are best suited to this method. And the results can be spectacular.

To be successful, just keep a few things in mind:

  • Most native plants in containers demand good drainage. So chose a pot with a hole and use a fast-draining light-weight potting mix.
  • In general, you should care for container-grown natives as you would other potted plants. The soil should not be permitted to dry out completely between watering, nor should it remain waterlogged.
  • Containers with thick walls help insulate the roots from temperature extremes. Container size will depend on the type of plants you are growing. Succulents thrive in small containers, but perennials should be planted in pots no smaller than 12 inches in diameter. Shrubby plants and plant combinations perform best in containers at least 18 inches in diameter. Avoid the black or dark green plastic containers for any length of time. These colors absorb the sun's heat and cause containers to become too hot for sensitive feeder roots.
  • Always water from the top,and provide enough liquid so that some flows out the through the drainage hole. This method ensures that the soil is thoroughly moistened, and excess water carries harmful water-soluble salts out of the container.
  • Remember that plants that are drought tolerant will need significantly more water when grown in containers than in the ground.
  • Don't overfertilize. Controlled release fertilizers used sparingly and infrequently are preferable. Remember most of these plants are adapted to spartan environments.
  • Always keep in mind the natural habitat of your plant, and adjust your care accordingly. Does it like sun or shade? Does it normally grow on dusty hillsides or on lush streamsides?
  • To maintain a neat, compact appearance, many flowering perennials and shrubs should be cut back and shaped when their flowers fade.
  • There is no rule as to the frequency plants should be repotted. Some plants thrive if root-bound and others do not. If root growth is restricted, the plants will grow more slowly and probably will not become as large as they would in a natural habitat.
You can easily grow everything from California fuschia to Cleveland sage on your patio or deck. Bring a bit of wild California up close.


By Richard Hanes

The answer is a lot of history! I am talking about the name or abbreviated name that follows the scientific name of a plant. These are the names of the botanists that described and named the plant. No scientific name is complete without the author citation, since this provides the reference point to the name published in the scientific literature. It should be noted that the botanist describing and naming the plant is not necessarily the botanist who first found and collected the plant.

What do these two plants have in common?

  • Lupinus chamissonis Eschsch.
  • Eschscholzia californica Cham., "California Poppy"

Both were described and named by Russian naturalists. Adelbert von Chamisso and Johann Friederich Eschscholz both arrived in what is now San Francisco, in October 1816, aboard the Russian ship "Rurick." I assume that Chamisso collected the lupine and that Eschscholz described and named it after his colleague. And the California Poppy was collected by Eschscholz and described and named by Chamisso.

Lathyrus splendens Kellogg. This takes us to Dr. Albert Kellogg. He was a physician by profession, but a man with wide interests, particularly in botany. He collected throughout California and Oregon. In 1853, he was among the founders of the California Academy of Sciences.

Astragalus coccineus Brandegee. Katharine Brandegee is thought by some to be the most colorful lady botanist anywhere anytime. She was curator of botany at the California Academy of Sciences from 1883 to 1894. Mrs. Brandegee's collecting spanned the years 1882 through 1918, and she collected in almost every county in the State. In 1891 she founded the California Botanical Club, the first one in the State. And from 1890 to 1908, she published "Zoe", a general journal of natural history.

Lathyrus brownii Eastw. Alice Eastwood described and probably named this plant for the collector H. E. Brown. Miss Alice Eastwood succeeded Katharine Brandegee upon her retirement as curator at the Academy in 1894. Miss Eastwood herself did not retire until 1949, at the age of 90. There has probably been more written about Miss Eastwood than any other resident western botanist. She became something of a legend for her heroic action in saving plant specimens at the Academy during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

These are just a very few names representing a segment of California's botanical history. The author citation can lead one on a long historical journey, if you can find the appropriate publications. I have a few used books, but they are difficult to find. Most of the information in this article came from "Botanical explorations in Washington, Oregon, California and adjacent regions," by John H. Thomas, preprint from HUNTIA 3: 5-62. 1969.

Try these web pages for botanical books:


At our February Chapter meeting, Ed Pandolfino of The California Wild Heritage Campaign proved beyond doubt that we don't have to go far to find the tonic of wilderness. The California Wild Heritage Campaign is a coalition of local, regional and natural conservation groups that are trying to ensure the permanent protection of California's remaining wild public lands and rivers. Ed's fascinating presentation covered possible wilderness candidates in Placer County. Duncan Canyon was awesome! If you don't know about this special place, you should. The following description was taken from the Campaign's Website: Visit the Website and visit Duncan Canyon.

Duncan Canyon is one of the last remaining examples in the Sierra Nevada of untouched, old-growth mixed conifer forest. Nearly all other mid-Sierra forests in this 5,000-7,000-foot elevation range have been severely impacted over the last 150 years. The fact that this area remains in a pristine state is truly extraordinary.

The forest consists mainly of red and white fir, with many huge sugar pines, incense cedars and yellow pines as well. Streamside forests of conifers and hardwoods, dappled with shrubs and small plants, grow thick along Duncan Creek and its tributary streams. The numerous seeps and springs that dot the north slopes of Red Star Ridge create lush micro-environments that support dense thickets of mountain alder, extensive patches of bracken fern, and a great variety of grasses and forbs.

The Canyon also provides critical and increasingly scarce habitat for wildlife species that are rapidly declining in California. Those species include California spotted owl, northern goshawk, Sierra Nevada red fox, Pacific fisher and American marten. Even that most rare and elusive of Sierra carnivores, the wolverine, has been found in this area in the recent past.

Two trails cross the 9,000-plus acre Duncan Canyon area: the principally north-south Western States trail and the southwest-northeast Tevis Cup trail. By diversity of its rich diversity and its location at a relatively low altitude, Duncan Canyon provides a rich backcountry experience, with a stunning variety of wildflowers, birds and mammals. It allows visitors to see what this part of the Sierra Nevada looked like before the days of extensive logging and fire suppression.

The easiest way into Duncan Canyon would generally be via the northern end of the Western States Trail. Take Foresthill Divide Road (paved) east from the town of Foresthill approximately 25 miles to Robinson Flat.

by Joe Medeiros
Friday, May 18, 7:30 p.m.
Rocklin Campus, 111 Sewell Hall, 5000 Rocklin Rd

Called the Range of Light by John Muir, California's premier mountain range was named "La Sierra Nevada" or the snowy range by early Spanish missionaries. Four hundred miles long and more than 2 1/2 miles tall, it is the home of the world's largest trees (Giant Sequoias) and is carpeted by rich forests of conifers and broadleaf trees. From its highest glacially-carved granite peaks to its deep-soiled foothills, the Sierra has provided humans with riches and resources and a pivotal place in American history. Join Sierra College biologist Joe Medeiros in a slide-illustrated celebration of our nearby mountains. From incredible winter storms with deep snows to balmy summer backpacking we'll review the many aspects, biological and physical that makes this place so special. Migratory birds, rare mammals, and unique amphibians are among the topics discussed as we celebrate the past and present of the Sierra, as well as plan and prepare for its viable and sustainable future. General Admission $2/Students $1/Museum members free

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Last updated
May 1 2001