Spring 2001 Newsletter
"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
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.
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.
Tell me, I forget.
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.
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:
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?
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: http://www.californiawild.org/loc/arw/index.html. 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.
THE SIERRA NEVADA NATURAL HISTORY LECTURE