Why would anyone in their right mind keep a collection of dead plants? A visit to the herbarium at UC Davis.

In natural history museums around the world are collections of dead plants that are curated by scientists called plant taxonomists. These collections are known as herbaria (in the plural) – a single collection is called an herbarium. If you go to see a bug museum, you say you are going to an entomology museum. If you go see the collection of dead plants, you say you are going to the HERBARIUM! This is generally confusing, because the name makes people think that it is a collection of living herbs – like oregano. But no, it is dead and flattened plants.

Miller Mountain

By Tom Oberbauer, Vice President CNPS-San Diego

The far northern part of San Diego County includes land that is north of Camp Pendleton under the ownership of the Cleveland National Forest.  A portion of the Cleveland National Forest is the San Mateo Wilderness Area, a series of canyons including Devil’s Canyon.  In Riverside County, several volcanic plateaus exist, including Mesa de Colorado and Mesa de Burro.  These are volcanic plateaus consisting of a cap of volcanic rock that was laid down during the upper Miocene (8 million years ago, Kennedy 1977).  The once continuous mesa formed by the volcanic flow was divided by erosion into a series of separate mesas.  Nearly all of them are located in Riverside County, except one, Miller Mountain.  The peak is 2,953 feet, with a mesa portion at 2,946 feet in elevation. 

Watering Strategies from South Bay Botanic Garden

By Susan Krzywicki

from grownatives.cnps.org

After so much debate about how to water native plant gardens, you’d think it had all been said. Let me add some tips and techniques from Eddie Munguia, who is the Horticultural Lab Technician at the South Bay Botanic Garden, located on the campus of Southwestern College in Chula Vista. Eddie installed a native garden over four years ago and one of the key objectives of the botanic garden is to do just this sort of closely observed research and analysis.

Exploring Seldom Visited Areas of the Restoration

By Arne Johanson, Chair Habitat Restoration Committee

We were to have an adventure – just two boys going out alone in uncharted territory. Andy is a 5-year old neighbor and this was our first time out with just the two of us. His mother packed water and a snack in his backpack. He added sunglasses and a notepad just like he has seen grownups do. Then we went exploring in some seldom visited parts of a 400-acre open space that our CNPS group has restored. 

Contribute Today to Southern California Conservation: The Elizabeth C. Schwartz Fund

California has a long history of protecting our natural resources, and now more than ever, we must stand strong to protect our wild spaces. Today, the California Native Plant Society has a unique opportunity to do our part. 

Thanks to the generous bequest of Elizabeth C. Schwartz, CNPS now has the seed money to fund a Southern California Conservation position. The rest is up to you! Please help us double the impact of Elizabeth's contribution, so we can cover this much-needed role for years to come!

Elizabeth C. Schwartz - A Conservation Legacy

Elizabeth Schwartz was a Southern California native plant legend. After practicing law for 15 years, she fell in love with native plants and became a certified horticulturist. In this second career, she engaged thousands of plant lovers as executive director of the Theodore Payne Foundation, board president of the Southern California Horticultural Society, staff of the Botanical Garden at UCLA, and via numerous lectures and articles on native plants. Liz died suddenly on August 12, 2015 while hiking in Arizona. She was 66. 

Liz named CNPS as a beneficiary of her IRA retirement account. After talking with her husband, UCLA  astronomer Ben Schwartz, it was decided to apply a portion of Liz's gift to create a fund that would honor her memory and dramatically increase CNPS Conservation work in Southern California.

Busy Spring: Del Mar Mesa Development 1 and Mission Trails Revamp

Busy Spring: Del Mar Mesa  Development 1 and  Mission Trails Revamp

By Frank Landis, Conservation Chair CNPS-San Diego

Wow, what a busy winter. As I write this, I'm checking the news periodically to see whether the Oroville Dam fails, or whether the engineers keep the Sacramento Valley from trying to turn back into the "Inland Sea" it was before the 1920s. This is hopefully irrelevant, but I have my doubts, because I'm reading the EIR for Merge 56, the first development slated for the eastern edge of Del Mar Mesa. The problem isn't particularly a CNPS concern. Their design, as I feared, has Deer Creek routed through a basin and storm drain through a pile of fill, and because the channel at that point makes a "Z," the culvert turns at a sharp angle from the upstream and downstream flows. Atop that fill is the southward extension of Camino Del Sur. I've protested this design for years, because most of the watershed above Deer Creek is paved over by Rancho Peñasquitos. As a result, we don't really know how high that creek can flood. While we can make some guesses based on 100 year floods and so forth, I keep wondering how it will handle a tropical storm or hurricane, or even a big atmospheric river getting weepy. Presumably their system will clog and the water will start chewing through the fill holding up Camino Del Sur. If the road/dam breaches, all the crap goes down canyon, chewing up those Nuttall's scrub oaks I've been trying to protect for years. Nothing big like Oroville, but as with the Oroville Dam's problems, which were predicted by environmental groups in 2005 (and ignored), it's a fairly predictable disaster.

Styles of the New California Garden

Peyton Ellas, Quercus Landscape Design

It used to be that a California native garden meant only a wild-looking, informal garden, or that you could add some California native plants among your existing non-native (exotic) plants in standard planting beds. California landscaping has gone through a phase where a dry creek had to be part of a native-plant garden, and I still add dry-creeks and similar water-theme features in some of my landscape designs, but it’s no longer mandatory. We’ve seen wildflower meadows and native-grass-as-turf-substitute styles come and go.

The Beauty and Wonder of Seeds

The Beauty and Wonder of Seeds

By Michael Wall, mynativeplants.net

The latter part of my working career, maybe the best part, was curating the extensive seed collections at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. My favorite activity? Opening up newly arrived 'packages' of seed. To me this was like being a little boy again on Christmas morning. These seed packages, other wise known as fruits, to the inquisitive reveal a thrilling diversity of nature. Often the seed packages themselves were the focus of my wonder and discovery. Most all seeds however are terribly small and while I could enjoy their tiny beauty through my dissecting scope they were often pretty much invisible or nondescript to the unaided human eye. With whom could I share this joy and exciting adventure I was on?

Baja California: Renewable Energy in Natural Areas

By César García Valderrama, President of CNPS-Baja California chapter

Article at CNPS

The CNPS Baja California Chapter shares the biodiversity of the California Floristic Province and the Sonoran Desert that ignores national boundaries. We also share common problems—including habitat loss, urban sprawl, and climate change. Recent proposals for renewable energy projects in Baja California exemplify how these issues are presenting new challenges on both sides of the border.

Weeding, or The Story of Bob Smith and Sondra Boddy’s California Native Garden – Part Three

By Sondra Boddy, CNPS-SD Garden Native Committee Member

With over 16 inches of rain since October, everything in our California native garden is growing – including a bumper crop of weeds!  Before we can sit back and enjoy the spectacular spring wildflower display, we are working on getting rid of these annoying trespassers. Hand-weeding is our preferred eradication method in late winter, when the ground is soft and the weeds are large enough to be pulled out from the roots. Pulling weeds might not be your idea of fun, but it is very important and there are ways to make it easier and more enjoyable. It can even be good for you. How? Read on, California Native DIY Gardeners!

Why Native Plants Are Better for Birds and People

Why Native Plants Are Better for Birds and People

Article from Audubon.org

By Marina Richie

Your garden is your outdoor sanctuary. With some careful plant choices, it can be a haven for native birds as well. Landscaped with native species, your yard, patio, or balcony becomes a vital recharge station for birds passing through and a sanctuary for nesting and overwintering birds...