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Spring 2002 Newsletter
Vol 11, No.2. March 2002

Chapter meetings

  • Superlatives of the Sierra Nevada

    by Joe Medeiros
    Thursday, March 21, 7:00 p.m.
    Hennessy School, Grass Valley

    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 worlds 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 botanist Joe Medeiros in a slide-illustrated celebration of his love for our nearby mountains. He will review the many aspects, biological and physical, that make this place so special.

    Joe's interest in plant adaptations to mountain environments has taken him to alpine regions in Europe, Africa and Asia. Joe is a former state vice president of CNPS, long time conservation activist, and popular Sierra College teacher. Please join us for an inspirational evening!

    Directions to Hennessy School, located at 225 South Auburn St., Grass Valley: Coming from the south on Hwy 49, take the "Colfax (174), Grass Valley" exit; turn right on to S. Auburn. The school is immediately on the left. Coming from the north on Hwy 49, take the "Colfax 174" exit; continue straight ahead, keeping in the left lane, pass 2 stop signs, straight ahead at the signal to the second signal; turn left onto S. Auburn, going under the freeway the school is on the left.

    There is limited parking in front of the school and more parking across the street at Import Auto Service and the Bodyworks Salon. Use the main entrance to enter the school.

    The Restoration of Ecosystems

    Wednesday. April 24. 7pm
    The Rose Room, Auburn Civic Center
    1225 Lincoln Way, Auburn

    One of the West's leading restoration firms, Bitterroot Restoration Inc., recently opened an office in Auburn and a plant nursery in Lincoln. For our chapter meeting, BRI will present a program about the ecological restoration of natural ecosystems. They will talk about planning and design, plant propagation and implementation, and their local restoration projects. BRI's goal is to integrate the entire ecosystem, including soils, microbes, vegetation, and hydrology based on a careful study of the native ecosystem surrounding the site.

    BRI is on the leading edge of restoration science through their continuing research and development. Their team consists of specialists in native plant production and ecology, plant-nutrient relationships, landscape ecology, wetlands/riparian, phytoremediation, soil bioengineering, weed ecology, erosion control, and wildlife biology.

    Redbud Chapter's Conservation Chair for Placer County, Monica Finn, has arranged for this special presentation. Whether you are a property owner concerned with enhancing your land or a professional involved with restoration projects, BRI's program is an opportunity to learn about restoration science.

    See info on the field trip to Bitterroot's nursery on Saturday, April 13.

    Directions: From Hwy 49 in Auburn, just after 49 passes under I-80, there is a T intersection. Continue straight ahead at this intersection to the Auburn Civic Center. The building looks like an old school. Go to the large parking lot behind the building and look for the Rose Room entrance.

    Upcoming Meeting: more details in next newsletter

    "Rare Plants, Weird Soils, Butterflies, and Urban Sprawl" by Dr. Art Shapiro, UC Davis professor of Evolution and Ecology.
    Tues. May 21, 7pm at Hennessy School, Grass Valley.

    Looking Forward to Our Next Spring Plant Sale-Saturday, May 4, 2002

    Come Join the Fun with Other Volunteers!
    by Cathie Tritel

    This will be the second year that I'll be chairing the Spring Plant Sale at Sierra College Rocklin. Now that I know how rewarding and fun it is, I'm looking forward to the event even more than I did last year.

    There's something about being surrounded by people who appreciate native plants, let alone being with the plants themselves! I helped to cashier last year, and thought it was a great way to learn which natives are available. Amidst the bustle of the sale, we got to chat with other native plant gardeners about where to best place a plant or which plants butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to. Of course, I didn't mind getting a free one gallon plant for volunteering, either.

    If you're looking for a way to contribute, helping out at the plant sale is one of the most fun and rewarding ways you can do something to make a difference. Could you help out with one of the following activities?

    • Picking up plants at the wholesale nurseries for delivery to the sale (need a van or truck with camper shell)
    • Helping set-up the displays, information booth, tables and chairs
    • Putting up signs (the week before, or night before, and morning of the sale) or helping make the signs
    • Making arrangements for coffee and refreshments for volunteers
    • Helping nurseries unload and labeling their plants (a great way to find out what will be available)
    • Helping with the wildflower display (transporting, setting up display)
    • Pre-sale publicity-(do you have any media contacts that you can help us with?)
    • Cashiering (great way to get exposed to native plants)
    • Helping to tear down at the end of the day

    Please give me a call at (530) 878-9116 or email me at if you'd like to help out. All volunteers get a free one gallon plant. You'll have fun; I guarantee it!

    Vernal Pools Update: Lawsuit filed against UC Merced

    Three San Joaquin Valley based groups filed a lawsuit on Feb. 19, against the Regents of the University of California, Merced County, the Virginia Smith Trust, and the Merced Irrigation District, charging failure to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act; the segmentation of project components; and piecemealing of the review process.

    The suit filed in Merced County Superior Court, by San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center, Protect Our Water, and Central Valley Safe Environment Network, asks the court to set aside and void all approvals by the Regents relating to the project, and seeks a permanent injunction against defendants engaging in any activity connected with the project unless and until the court finds that project approvals are in full compliance with CEQA and all other applicable laws.

    Visit to keep up to date on the issues and debates surrounding the UC Merced project. Anyone interested in contributing toward the litigation fund for the CEQA lawsuit should contact Carol Witham at and she will send the pertinent information.

    CNPS Discussion Boards

    by Richard Hanes

    Have you discovered the CNPS Discussion Boards? Go to the CNPS web page,, and you'll find these boards:

    • Conservation Issues
    • Growing Native Plants
    • K-12 Topics
    • Great Wildflower Spots

    You can ask a question, post an answer, or just read what others are discussing.

    You can find locations, tour information, requests for information, or a note from someone that visited a Great Wildflower Spot. Would you like to visit the Jepson Prairie Preserve? You can find directions and tour information. At, you'll find photographer Carol Leigh's "California Wildflower Locations" with current reports on places to visit.

    There are many questions and answers about Growing Native Plants; a few examples were available at our January meeting on Propagation. An example of the information on the discussion board: a person asked for help because a Flannel Bush (Fremontia) was dying. It had grown from 8 inches to 3 feet in 7 months, but the leaves started yellowing and falling off about 2 weeks after it had been watered during a hot spell. The answer from a knowledgeable CNPS'er was "Many California natives that are adapted to hot fast draining slopes (as well as other plants) react to hot weather by clamping closed their stomata (breathing pores) to stop transpiration and conserve moisture. When this happens, the roots stop taking up moisture and the water (from irrigation) just sits at the roots, resulting in rot. ... Often plants will wilt when the hot weather hits but they will perk up once the transpiration adjusts, if you don't rush to water them. In general, if you are trying to get a native established and need to give it some summer water, try to wait for a summer thundershower and supplement the rain with a little irrigation."

    The K-12 Topics contains information for students and teachers. You can find links to more help or information such as, which is a project-based learning adventure for teachers and students; or, a watershed education program that explores the diversity of life in local (Sacramento) aquatic ecosystems, including vernal pools and streams.

    Next time you sit down at the computer, take a few minutes and log on to

    Redbud Chapter Field Trips

    Field trips are free and the public is invited. Bring food, water, and sun protection. Trips will be cancelled in event of rain or snow. For more information contact Chet Blackburn, Field Trip Coordinator at 530-885-0201.

    • Fri. March 15, South Yuba River State Park, with Marya Miller, Richard Hanes, and Karen Callahan.
      Marya will show us the Audubon restoration area and the proposed native plant demonstration garden. We'll explore some less-known trails at Bridgeport and enjoy the early flowering plants of the Yuba River canyon-- Dodecatheon hendersonii (Shooting Stars), Umbellaria californica (California Bay Tree), and Aristolochia californica (Pipevine). Meet at 10 am in front of the Visitor's Center, 17660 Pleasant Valley Road, 7 miles north of the intersection of Hwy 20 & Pleasant Valley Rd.

    • Sat. April 13: A Tour of Bitterrroot Restoration's Nursery.
      The nursery is an advanced native plant nursery operation, including greenhouses, propagation and shade houses, which is designed to grow site-adapted plants for a wide range of ecosystems. The tour will allow us to see plant material in various stages and hear about ecological techniques they incorporate into the propagation process. The nursery is located at the southeast corner of Hwy. 193 and Sierra College Blvd., between Newcastle and Lincoln on Hwy. 193. We'll meet at 10 am sharp. For more information call Monica at 530-887-8265.

    • Sat. April 27, Hell's Half Acre, Grass Valley, with Carolyn Chainey-Davis.
      If you've never been to Hell's Half Acre, treat yourself to a spring field trip. Carolyn's fascinating guided tour of HHA will introduce you to the ecology and botany of this beautiful volcanic wildflower field. Bring your hand lens-the small flowers are a world in miniature. Meet at 9 am at the end of Gold Drive. From Rough & Ready Hwy west of Grass Valley, turn left onto Squirrel Creek Rd, just past Lyman Gilmore School. Look for Gold Drive, a residential street, on your right. Drive to parking area at the end of Gold Drive.

      "Saving a Mehrten Meadow" is a new photo essay about Hell's Half Acre by Karen Callahan at

    • Sat. & Sun. April 27-28, Bear Valley, Colusa County, led by Peter Warner.
      Peter is a resource ecologist for CA State Parks. This is a joint field trip with the Milo Baker Chapter, CNPS, which we can join for the whole weekend or either of the 2 days. Bear Valley is located about 2.5 hours west of Grass Valley on Hwy 20, and is a famous wildflower area in a beautiful secluded valley. Peter's trip will also include Walker Ridge, a nearby extensive serpentine area. "Wildflowers of Bear Valley" is an illustrated book about the area. For more details contact Vicki Lake at 530-274-2080.

    • Weds. May 22. Barrens and Butterflies with Art Shapiro.
      To illustrate the concepts from his evening presentation, Dr. Shapiro will lead us on a field trip to several serpentine and gabbro sites in the Grass Valley area. His recent research in the Sierra Nevada has centered on butterfly species dependent on Cupressus macnabiana, (McNabs Cypress), and Quercus durata, (Leather Oak). We'll meet at 9am at Flour Garden Bakery, Neal St., Grass Valley (next to Safeway).

    Events and Field Trips of Interest

    • Weds. March 6, 1-2 pm.
      Paul and Vicki Lake present "Gardening with Native Plants" at the meeting of Meadow Vista Garden Club. Location: Placer Hills United Methodist Church, 17250 Placer Hills Rd., Meadow Vista. The Garden Club has been working with other groups to create a Meadow Vista Arboretum with CA natives & drought tolerant plants at the MV park.

    • Fri. April 12. 7-8pm.
      "Wildflowers", a presentation by botanist Monica Finn at the Maidu Interpretive Center, 1960 Johnson Ranch Drive, Roseville. The new Center and a 30-acre park are at the site of an ancient village with over 300 bedrock grinding rocks and petroglyphs. Phone 916-772-4242 for information about the Center's museum and trails. Monica's talk is free for Redbud members.

    • Sat. April 20.
      Celebrate Earth Day 2002 with Julie Carville at Bridgeport. Julie is the author of the classic natural history book "Hiking Tahoe's Wildflower Trails", and her guided walks are inspirational. For Earth Day Julie will focus on plant identification and Native American uses. Trip is a benefit for the Deep Ecology Institute & costs $15.00. Call Marge Kaiser at 530-265-6649 for a reservation.

    • Sunday, May 5.
      Hell's Half Acre with Carolyn Chainey-Davis. Carolyn's field trip is sponsored by the Nevada County Land Trust, a partner since 1997 with Redbud Chapter in the effort to create a preserve at HHA. Call 530-272-5994 for reservation. The Land Trust has many field trips scheduled in their Treks through Time series.

    • Kathi Keville, nationally-known herbalist and author, has a full schedule of classes for 2002. Learn about medicinal uses of native plants, creating herb gardens, and much more at Kathi's Oak Valley Herb Farm near Cedar Ridge. For information call 530-274-3140 or go to

    • The Lichen Society of California sponsors classes and field trips in northern California. Contact Judy Robertson at 707-584-8099. The CALS website is:

    At the January Board Meeting

    • Redbud Board of Directors meeting schedule was approved for April 13 in Grass Valley, June 15 in Auburn, Sept. 28 in GV, and Nov. 16 in Auburn. All members are index; contact a Board member for the location.
    • A policy was developed for the review of letters to be sent in the name of the Redbud Chapter. Comments on environmental impact documents must be reviewed by the President, Vice Presidents, and Conservation Chairs, and possibly by other appropriate Officers. Signature will be by the President and possibly by the Vice Presidents, Conservation Chairs, or other appropriate Officers.
    • The Spring plant sale date was set for May 4, in Rocklin at Sierra College; the Fall plant sale is set for Sept. 21, in Grass Valley at Sierra College.
    • It was decided to accept a subvention from the State CNPS.
    • The 2002 Budget proposed by Treasurer Chet Blackburn was approved with the addition of income from the subvention, the establishment of a fund to pay expenses for speakers, and an increase of plant sale expenses for better signs. There are funds available for Rare Plant, Conservation, and Education activities.

    We are all soliciting ideas for speakers and field trips. Please contact any Board member with your ideas.

    Winning the Battle: Brains, Brawn, and Perseverance

    By Vicki Lake

    Can we, as humans, compete with and win the battle against Himalayan blackberry? Perhaps, with a well-thought out strategy, a good amount of physical exertion, and continued diligent perseverance.

    Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor) is a member of the rose family (Rosaceae) and is native to Europe. It was introduced to the U.S. as a cultivated crop in the late 1800's, and by the mid-1950's had become naturalized along the West Coast. It's multiple modes of spread - germinating from seed, rooting from cane tips, sprouting from root crowns, forming adventitious roots, and sprouting from cuttings - has made it amazingly successful. Once established, Himalayan blackberry gains further advantage against native competitors by forming dense thickets and shading out the ground surface, dampening much hope for natives to stake out a piece of territory on which to grow. This activity most commonly occurs in previously disturbed, open areas, such as mesic pastures and along roadside ditches.

    In the summer months the luscious, sweet, ripe, black berries may play with your psyche and entrance you into dreams of blackberry pie, fruit-filled jam, and warm blackberry cobbler topped with vanilla bean ice cream. With any good fortune, these dreams will be abruptly interrupted by the stab of a thorn puncturing your skin to bring you back into reality. Ow! Then, with a tangle of sticky vines grabbing at your pant leg that seek to draw you further into the colony as you struggle to break free, your mind turns to fighting for the cause of native plants once again, and you pull out. Whew!...that was close.

    The battle is on once again. To outsmart this pernicious alien, we have to anticipate its reaction to our control methods and be cognizant of what conditions it considers favorable and what conditions it has difficulty thriving in. Treatment of leaves with a herbicide such as Garlon( will knock back the above-ground stems and prevent sprouting from the root crown, but may stimulate sucker formation on the lateral roots. Thus, the aboveground canes may be killed with herbicide (only where watercourses will not be influenced), or cut and removed or burned (to prevent the cuttings from resprouting), and then the roots dug up. The canes can be cut with a heavy duty brush mower, weed eater outfitted with a metal blade (plastic string can be used in subsequent cuttings), tractor-mounted mower, loppers, pruners, or scythe. Burning is effective in removing large thickets but follow-up treatment is required to control resprouts. The best time to cut canes is at the start of flowering, when food supply in the roots is at its lowest and new seeds have not yet been produced.

    After removing the canes to make the battlefield more accessible and manageable, a choice must be made regarding the type of follow-up treatment. Repeat cuttings will assist in exhausting food supplies. Grazing goats have also proven effective in depleting the plants' resources. For small infestations, hand-digging roots is preferable. Every piece of root that breaks off and remains in the soil may produce a new plant, and so a thorough job must be done. As an alternative after the first cutting, large pieces of overlapping cardboard, ideally 2 or 3 layers thick, can be laid down and then covered with weed-free straw. This technique is effective in starving the plants of all sunlight that could be captured to replenish their reserves. Overlapping the cardboard is important because sprouts can come up through the cracks. Seeds can remain viable in the soils for several years, and after germination require ample sunlight for survival. Thus, planting fast-growing native shrubs and trees to create shade will limit blackberry re-establishment.

    The plan of attack is set. Now, who will win the battle? Are we keener, stronger, and more tenacious than this above-average weed? Let's regroup in about 5 years to discuss the outcome of our collective efforts.

    The Highly Charged Bee

    Almost all pollen-collecting bees are densely clothed in branched or plumose hairs, amongst which the pollen grains become trapped. The effect is enhanced further by static electricity. A flying bee builds up an electro-static charge of at least 45 pC, equivalent to a potential of 450 volts, on its body. Most floral structures, including the anthers, are well-insulated and pollen is attracted to the bee from the anthers, jumping a gap of 0.5 mm. It seems that the stigma of the flower is better earthed than other floral structures, so that pollen grains on an incoming, highly charged bee will be attracted preferentially to the stigma rather than to other parts of the flower.

    From "Bees of the World" by Christopher O'Toole

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Last updated
Mar 2002