CNPS San Diego Chapter - California Native Plant Society
Chapter Meetings

Chapter meetings are open to the public; there is no charge. Come early and browse our books. Stay after the program for conversation and refreshments. We meet in the heart of San Diego, in Balboa Park, in Casa del Prado, room 101. Casa del Prado can be reached by car from Village Place off of Park Boulevard (served by the #7 bus), and is across from the west entrance of the San Diego Natural History Museum. The meeting room is handicapped accessible. (Balboa Park map and driving directions)

We usually carry a small selection of native plants at our monthly meetings. New members who sign up at the meeting will receive a free plant (if available)

3rd Tuesday of the month.
7:00 pm -7:30 pm is a time for discussion, camaraderie, visiting, and enjoying the sales table.
The meeting starts at 7:30pm
Room 101 Casa del Prado, Balboa Park


New Feature at Chapter Meetings: 

7 - 7:30 pm

Mystery plants identified !

Bring your unknown plant and we will help you learn to identify it!

October 20, 2015

San Diego Native Edibles: A Gustatory Exploration of the Chaparral
Speaker - Marya Nash
Marya Nash

San Diego’s native plants offer a diversity of flavors, even in the driest seasons. This presentation is an introduction to easily identifying and ethically foraging plants with edible qualities. Native Plant enthusiasts will gain insight and learn about tools for finding and preparing unique dishes from Nature’s Pantry.

Marya Nash studied botany at Western Washington University. It is her lifelong passion to learn about and to share wild resources and places with others.


September 15, 2015

Plant Community Garden Design
Speaker - Clayton Tschudy

Clayton Tschudy will discuss garden design by natural plant community focusing on plants available at this year’s native plant sale. Design, installation, and maintenance protocols will be presented, followed by a lively discussion focused on specific plants

September 15, 2015

Plant Community Garden Design
Speaker - Clayton Tschudy

Clayton Tschudy will discuss garden design by natural plant community focusing on plants available at this year’s native plant sale. Design, installation, and maintenance protocols will be presented, followed by a lively discussion focused on specific plants including species from the following genera: Manzanita, Ceanothus, Fremontodendron, Trichostema, Salvia, Eriogonum, Diplacus (Mimulus), Carex, Solidago, Epilobium (Zauschneria), Platanus, Quercus, and many more. Bring your questions with you! Now’s your chance to plan ahead and make the right choices for your native landscape.

Clayton Tschudy is a board member of CNPS San Diego and the Director of Horticulture and Exhibits at the Water Conservation Garden, a 6-acre demonstration xeriscape garden on the campus of Cuyamaca College. The Water Conservation Garden was created during the last drought in the late 90’s, and features a 15-year old Coast Live Oak woodland, and a new Native Habitat Exhibit featuring plant community-based design elements, and a wetland section fed entirely by rain water. Tschudy has been designing native landscapes throughout California for over 10 years and studied botany at Humboldt State University.


July 21, 2015

Habitat Restoration in San Diego County
Speakers - Lee Gordon & Arne Johanson

A number of foot-long springs share about a half-acre with artichoke thistle.
Can you guess what happened here?

Arne Johanson
Arne Johanson

Lee Gordon
Lee Gordon

San Diego County is blessed with enormous areas of open space lands set aside for our county’s amazing biodiversity. This blessing comes with the responsibility that we take care of these lands, much of which is now overgrown by plants that come from far away and displace our native plants. Habitat restoration programs attempt to recover degraded areas and to convert them back into stable native habitats. Healthy native habitats in San Diego County typically hold a diverse range of native plants and animals. One of the joys of walking through native habitats is the constant possibility of finding something new and interesting. When non-native plants move in, they can displace the native plants so thoroughly that all that is left is an uninteresting monoculture of weeds. Many of these invasive plants are just plain unpleasant to be around.

Habitat restoration projects in San Diego County employ different methods, with varying costs and varying results. A lot of money, typically ranging between $2,000 - $5,000/acre/year, is spent to restore habitats using traditional methods involving site acquisition (if needed), environmental approvals/permits, site preparation, grading, installation of fencing/signage/storm water controls/irrigation systems, plant installation, and long-term maintenance/monitoring/reporting. However, there has been too little native habitat restoration performed relative to the large area of disturbance that needs work.

CNPS-SD members involved in volunteer habitat restoration work have been using the Bradley method, and it is our hope to see this method used more widely in the future. The Bradley method, also called the “recruitment method”, consists of suppressing weeds near where native plants are already growing so that the native plants can expand outward, ultimately to fill the restoration area. Eliminating competition from weeds enables the indigenous native plant population to recruit and expand into the areas vacated by the dead weeds. The Bradley method is ineffective where there are too few native plants that can establish natural recruitment into an area. However, in most of the county’s open spaces, it is easily the most effective method available in terms of both cost and manpower.

Today, we are finding that many past habitat restoration efforts that did not employ the Bradley method are unfortunately unsuccessful, consisting once again of weed beds. The CNPS-SD Invasive Plants Committee is now responsible for the restoration of 3,000 acres, of which 1,100 acres have been fully restored. Our goal is to increase the rate of native habitat restoration throughout the region, and the Bradley method could make this possible.

Lee Gordon is an engineer and physical oceanographer. He has been a long-standing, vital, and very involved member of the CNPS-SD Native Gardening Committee.

Arne Johanson is Chair of the CNPS-SD Invasive Plant Committee, and is also a long-standing, vital, and very involved member of the CNPS-SD Native Gardening Committee. Last year, Arne was honored with a San Diego area “Cox Conserves Heroes” award, given by Cox Communications and The Trust For Public Lands, for his exemplary community service restoring weed-infested open spaces in San Diego County back to healthy native habitats using the Bradley method.


June 16, 2015

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Reforestation Project
Speakers - Mike Wells & Lisa Gonzales-Kramer

Young conifer saplings begin to overtop the surrounding vegetation.
Seedlings were planted on this site along Azalea Springs Road in 2009 after the 2003 Cedar Fire destroyed 95% of the conifer forest in CRSP.
For more information visit:

Lisa Gonzales-Kramer
Lisa Gonzales-Kramer, Environmental Scientist, California State Parks

Mike Wells
Mike Wells PhD, is a retired Colorado Desert District Superintendent.

The Cuyamaca Rancho State Park (CRSP) Reforestation Project is a California State Parks (CSP) initiative to restore the native mixed conifer forest in CRSP, 98% of which was burned by the catastrophic Cedar Fire in 2003. The fire intensity was so great that conifers within the park experienced greater than 95% mortality. The seed bank and cone-producing forest canopy were nearly destroyed and post-fire surveys conducted between 2004 and 2008 found minimal conifer regeneration on these formerly forested lands, while shrub cover had increased from 3% to 31%. Without active reforestation, site conversion to shade-intolerant brush and exotic annuals was likely to be permanent.

Conifer forest has become a vanishing habitat in San Diego County. Between 2002 and 2007, over 51% of the montane Mixed Conifer Forest (MCF) in San Diego County was burned by wildfires. Prior to the Cedar Fire, CRSP held approximately 20% of the MCF habitat in the County.

In 2007, the Colorado Desert District of CSP initiated a mixed conifer forest restoration project to re-establish native conifer trees at CRSP. The project consists of planting 2,530 acres of formerly forested lands in a mosaic of patches that will become centers for seed dispersal, and are expected to restore the larger conifer forest. The restored habitat will provide important protected areas for a wide variety of native and special-status species which were found in CRSP prior to the fire.

IMPORTANT NOTE: On Thursday, June 18th, CRSP staff are offering to all CNPS members a post-meeting field tour to view selected CRSP reforestation plots and to answer any additional questions. If you may be interested in attending this field tour, please send an email message to

Mike Wells, PhD, is a retired Colorado Desert District Superintendent. He was instrumental in initiating the CRSP Reforestation Project and was also manager of the CSP Prescribed Fire Program for nine years. Dr. Wells is currently a retired annuitant and science advisor to the project. He is an adjunct professor and lecturer at the University of San Diego.

Lisa Gonzales-Kramer is an Environmental Scientist and the Project Manager for the CRSP Reforestation Project. She has been involved in reforestation efforts since 1990 in the Midwest and the west. Ms. Gonzales-Kramer holds a BS degree in Biology from Adrian College and previously worked in plant pathology research.


May 19, 2015

Speaker - Lynnette Short

Overview of the CAL FIRE Urban and Community Forestry Program


Urban Forestry Program logo

In this presentation, Lynnette will briefly touch on the function of CAL FIRE before illustrating the details of the Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) Program which will include a description of California’s Urban Forests. The purpose of the U&CF Program is to establish and maintain optimal urban and community forests to help improve the quality of life of urban citizens and the quality of urban natural resources. To accomplish this, CAL FIRE’s Regional Urban Foresters provide information, education, and assistance to local governments, non-profits, private sector organizations, and the general public that help to advance Urban Forestry per the Urban Forestry Act of 1978, updated in 2010 (PRC 4799.06 – 4799.12). The structure and delivery of the U&CF Program is built upon cooperative relationships with and technical assistance to local governments, non-profit organizations, and private companies. As one mechanism for encouraging better U&CF management practices, the Program provides grants with bond funds for the many economic, environmental, and social benefits that urban society gains from urban and community forests. For example, grants are issued for tree planting, comprehensive urban forest management plans, tree resource inventories, educational programs, and innovative ideas that promote Urban Forestry in California.

Lynnette will also discuss the sustainability component of the Program, as well as her work with other State agencies and researchers to develop a carbon sequestration protocol and companion accounting protocol for U&CF in the emerging carbon credit trading market. These protocols have been officially adopted by the California Climate Action Registry and the California Air Resources Board.

Lynnette Short serves as the State’s Regional Urban Forester for San Diego, Imperial and Orange counties. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry & Natural Resource Management from Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo. She started her career with CAL FIRE in 2003 as a firefighter and later took a Resource Management position in San Diego. She has been with the U&CF Program since 2006.


April 21, 2015

Speaker - Tom Oberbauer

Obscure Islands of the Pacific Coast of Baja California
Agave shawii

The Pacific Coast of Baja California is home to a number of islands that range in size from a few acres to Cedros Island that is nearly 350 sq. kilometers.  A number of islands are little known and little explored scientifically, beginning with the Coronado Islands that are visible off shore just to the south of Point Loma.  Others include Todos Santos Islands off Ensenada; San Geronimo near El Rosario; San Martin, a volcanic crater near San Quintin; and Natividad and the San Benito group near Cedros Island.  Many of them support endemic plants, and in particular, the Genus Dudleya is well represented on the islands.  Each island was formed under different conditions ranging from volcanic to odd mixes of rock material that has been smashed together in ancient continental subduction zones and later pushed to the surface.  Each island is a spectacular visual feast.
In early April, Tom Oberbauer will join a small expedition attempting to land and explore these islands.  He hopes to bring back many new pictures of the islands, but also has beautiful pictures from previous trips.  He has extensive experience examining Baja’s islands’ botanical resources over the past 36 years. He gave a presentation about Guadalupe Island to our chapter in 2010.


March 17, 2015

Speaker - Dylan Burge

Diversification of Ceanothus
Dylan Burge
Dylan Burge

The genus Ceanothus is highly diverse in California, with more than 50 species known from the State. Diversification of this ecologically and horticulturally significant group of plants is strongly associated with the unusual climates and geology of California, with many extremely rare species limited to small areas with unusual weather conditions and rock strata. This presentation will focus on the interesting story of Ceanothus diversification involving new research findings from several fields, much of it carried out by the presenter Dylan Burge. Many fascinating Ceanothus species found in San Diego County and northern Baja California will be discussed, including their evolutionary history, distribution, and ecology. Photographs of rare Ceanothus species in native habitats around California and San Diego County will be featured.

Dylan Burge grew up in rural northern California, where he developed a love for biodiversity very early on. He attended UC Davis and Duke University; conducted post-doctoral research in Australia and British Columbia; and performed field work around the world. In addition to botanical research, Dylan likes to spend time hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, and taking photographs of plants in the wild.


February 17, 2015

Speaker - Jay Wilson

Mission Trails Regional Park Has Something for Everyone

Jay Wilson
Jay Wilson

There is much more to do at Mission Trails than climbing Cowles Mountain! Jay will give an overview of Mission Trails Regional Park with its unique treasure-trove of Natural Resources which includes gems that appeal to everyone: engaging in nature activities in the Visitor Center; participating in free monthly art exhibitions and concerts; communing with nature at the Kumeyaay Lake Campground; learning about native plants and wildlife during guided nature walks, while meeting new friends with similar interests; exploring the “West Sycamore” Nature Area, the most recent addition to the Park consisting of over 1,000 acres; and much more. The presentation will emphasize endemic plant species in the Park and spur a spirited information-sharing discussion about the “natural treasures” encountered during Park excursions by audience members.

Jay Wilson is Executive Director of the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation. A native San Diegan, Jay spent 10 years in the Marketing Department for Sea World and 5 years as Director of Marketing for the Zoological Society of San Diego. Recently, Jay worked 14 years as with Councilmembers Judy McCarty and Jim Madaffer. He enjoys computers, technology, and his grandchildren.



January 20, 2015

Speaker - Don Rideout

All about the Garden Native Tour 2015
Garden Native
Photo by James Nyun

Don Rideout will give a presentation about the Garden Native Tour 2015
to be held on Saturday-Sunday, March 28-29,9:30am-4:30pm.   
Featured gardens will be in the Cities of San Diego and Poway.  FALL IN LOVE with gorgeous gardens.  
Each landscape embodies Southern California outdoor living in a unique and personal way.

Designed with native California and other climate-appropriate plants, all take far less water, effort, and money than conventional gardens and lawns. In fact, our gardens use anywhere from 17% to 100% less water than conventional gardens!

Many homes feature:

•Edible gardens
•Artwork and hardscape from repurposed materials
•Rain barrels and bioswales
•Graywater systems
•Turf replacement
•Solar panels and much more!
TAKE PRIDE in San Diego
The Garden Native Tour represents all regions of San Diego County on a rotating basis. In 2015, we highlight:

•Old Town
•Balboa Park and North Park
•Clairemont and University City
•Carmel Valley and Rancho Penasquitos
•Poway and Scripps Ranch

ENSURE THE FUTURE health and well-being of our communities.  We strive to help people like you make great landscape choices. Your choices lead to cleaner oceans, healthier soils, and stronger pollinators. 



November 18, 2014

Speaker - Sula Vanderplank

When California Plants Go South: Mediterranean Mexico
Sula Vanderplank
Sula Vanderplank leaning on an agave.

Sula will give an overview of the distribution of our California plants in northwestern Baja California, where the California Floristic Province meets the Vizcaino Desert to the south. She will address weather, range limits, endemism, and changes in the biogeography, phenology and phylogenetic affinities of the plants in this ecotone. She will provide a brief look at ongoing projects towards improving our understanding of the flora of this region and protecting it through various conservation initiatives.

Sula is also studying the unique plants that grow on shell middens left behind by the indigenous peoples of the region. Her Master’s research suggests that the flora of these middens is distinct from the surrounding areas and habitats, and warrants further research.

Further, Sula is part of a project to assemble an inventory of all the rare and endemic plants of the California Floristic Province portion of Baja California (i.e., the northwest area of the state). Collaborators in this project include Bart O’Brien (Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden), Jose Delgadillo (Universidad Autónoma de Baja California), Steve Junak (Santa Barbara Botanic Garden), Tom Oberbauer (AECOM), Jon Rebman (San Diego Natural History Museum), and Hugo Riemann (Colegio de la Fronterra).

Sula Vanderplank is a Biodiversity Explorer for the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. Her research has focused on the macroecology of Baja California, with an emphasis on plant distributions along the Pacific Coast of the state of Baja California and the adjacent islands. Sula also serves as Science Advisor for the Mexican land trust Terra Peninsular, through which she is involved in several collaborative projects relating to conservation in northwestern Baja California, with particular regard to the conservation of Maritime Succulent Scrub, an endangered habitat found nowhere else in the world. Collaboration with staff from Huntington Botanical Gardens and Club La Mision recently culminated in a field guide, Quail-Friendly Plants of North-West Baja California, to more than 120 plant species in this region.


October 21, 2014

Speaker - Christina Schaefer

Developing a Programmatic Monitoring Approach for
Vernal Pool Restoration on Otay Mesa
Christina Schaefer
Christina Schaefer

With increasing development pressure on Otay Mesa, a landscape that was historically dominated by vernal pool complexes, vernal pool restoration to mitigate for development projects is becoming very frequent on the mesa. To document the progress of vernal pool restoration projects over time, post-restoration monitoring methods compare data collected at the restored vernal pools (treatment) to data collected in natural vernal pool systems (i.e., control or reference sites). To minimize impacts on the remaining natural vernal pool complexes on Otay Mesa from multiple post-restoration monitoring surveys, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggested that a programmatic reference site be identified for all vernal pool restoration projects on the mesa. The vernal pool complex J-26 is one of the last remaining relatively intact complexes and was chosen to function as the programmatic reference site. Ms. Schaefer developed a programmatic monitoring program compatible with the data collection needs for vernal pool restoration projects. The data are being submitted to the San Diego Monitoring and Management Program multi-taxa database to be available for all entities that need reference data for their vernal pool restoration success monitoring.

Christina Schaefer is originally from Germany where she studied landscape ecology and resources management. As a restoration ecologist, she specializes in the restoration of vernal pools. Christina restored her first vernal pool in San Diego in 1992 with Dr. Ellen Bauder, and has planned and installed many vernal pool restoration projects since then. While preparing the Vernal Pool Conservation Strategy for the North County MSCP, she also assisted Dr. Bauder with data collection for the Hydro-geomorphic Model for vernal pools.  Recently, she assisted SANDAG as expert advisor on the City of San Diego’s Vernal Pool Habitat Conservation Plan.

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[Dedicated to the Preservation of California Native Flora]
California Native Plant Society, San Diego Chapter
c/o San Diego Natural History Museum - P.O. Box 121390, San Diego, CA 92112-1390 -