Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Up in the Mountains

I recently got the chance to go with members from the San Gabriel Mountains Chapter to their study site in none other than the San Gabriel Mountains. It was wonderful, everything was blooming and the views were lovely. Volunteers visit the site at least once a week and record what is blooming. This is a great project. Thanks for letting me join.
The small and beautiful, Mimulus johnstonii- Johnston's monkeyflower, rank 4.3
I finally got to see it! The Lemon lily, Lilium parryi, rank 1B.2

And also Oreonana vestita, Woolly Mountainparsley, rank 1B.3 was there, past blooming and fruit, but still interesting. It only likes high elevations.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Opuntia basilaris var. brachyclada, Short joint beavertail cactus, rank 1B.2 photo by Don Davis.

To recognize our volunteers we will be giving away prizes to those that have excelled in one of the categories below. To be considered for a prize you must turn in all your forms, photos, and/or volunteer hours to us by October 17th. You can mail them to Winners will be notified by October 23rd and announced November 1st.

The catergories are:

Most occurrences updated

This is our Grand Prize for our Treasure Hunter Extraordinaire

  • Free attendance to one education workshop Or CNPS online store or REI gift certificate- $100 value and
  • One year free individual CNPS membership- $45 value

2nd most occurrences updated

Second Prize - Intrepid Treasure Hunter,

  • CNPS online store or REI gift certificate-$50 value and
  • One year free individual CNPS membership- $45 value

3rd most occurrences updated

Third Prize - Terrific Treasure Hunter,

  • CNPS book (of the choices below) and
  • One year free individual CNPS membership- $45 value

And for our Chapters we have the

Grand Chapter Prize-

Chapter with the most hours and occurrences updated

  • Field equipment for future treasure hunts
  • Bragging rights!

Runner up Chapter Prize
Chapter with the second most combined hours and occurrences updated receives:

  • Field equipment for future treasure hunts
  • Bragging rights!

Best Photo
Enter a photo you have taken of a rare plant, rare plant community or treasure hunt (it doesn't have to be associated with a form or from a specific treasure hunt). We will choose 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners to receive one of the prizes listed below and have their photo displayed on our blog, facebook page and website! Files sizes should be at least 900 KB large. Send them in to the address above. Individuals are limited to 6 entries.

Best Essay
Please send in an essay about your experience with the treasure hunt. This is very open-ended, so be creative! Essays should be from 1 to 2 pages. The winning essay will be featured on our blog and on our website in the section Stories from the Field. The winner will receive one of the prizes listed below.

Prizes will also go to those with the Most field trips led; Most field trips attended; and Most volunteer hours.

These recipients may choose one of the following:

  • a choice of CNPS regional Wildflower posters
  • a choice of CNPS books:
    • California's Changing Landscapes: Diversity and Conservation of California Vegetation
    • The Best Blooms Ever-Why El Nino Makes the Desert Bloom
    • Plants of the Tahoe Basin (softcover)
    • Rare Lilies of California

Friday, August 19, 2011

Desert Workshop

CNPS offers workshops and trainings for professionals and experienced amateurs in the field of botany, biology and ecology. On September 22-24th they will be offering a workshop in the Eastern Mojave taught by preeminent desert botanists James Andre and Tasha La Doux. Participants will learn firsthand about the rare and native annuals and perennials that are primarily only seen in the fall. Participants will also have the chance to stay at the UC Granite Mountains Desert Research Center in the Mojave National Preserve. This should be an amazing workshop and did I mention I'll be there. :)

For more info on the workshop and how to attend go here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Field Trip!

Not many people venture out to the desert in early fall, but it can be a great place to be. I was just out in the Eastern Mojave last week and it was wonderful, warm not hot with a nice breeze and things were blooming! So lets go on a trip...

The Chemeheuvi Mtns got a lot of rain in July and things should be really blooming at the end of August beginning of September. Join us for 1-3 days (September 1st-3rd). We will be doing moderate to possibly strenuous hiking in up to 100 degree weather (probably not that hot though)! But it will be worth it, we'll be exploring a very underexplored area, looking for rare plants and collecting plant specimens. One night will be camping and the other probably at a motel in Needles. This will be the ultimate desert field trip!

We'll meet at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, CA 1500 N. College Ave. on Thursday, September 1st at 7:45 and leave at 8am for the east or you can meet us along the way. Please RSVP to

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Intrepid explorer

Just a quick post to thank our intern from this spring, Duncan Bell. Duncan is an intrepid explorer, enthusiastic advocate of the desert and a talented botanist. He just has a knack for finding things: rare plants, wild animals, etc.

Not only did he help lead trips, document rare plants, collect and identify specimens, and educate people about California's deserts he also managed in his words, "not falling to my death, not being mauled by bobcats, or bitten by the 30 something rattlesnakes we came across, not getting the field vehicle stuck (even though we tried a few times), only losing one tent to the weather, having no volunteers perish, keeping my beer relatively cold most of the time (yay!), not getting lost (even though I had no clue were I was at any given time (somewhere in the desert, right?)) and I guess I finding a couple of really cool plants."

Thanks Duncan for all you did and didn't do! The year wouldn't have been the same without you.One of Duncan's finds, Tetradymia argyraea (Striped horsebrush), rank 4.3, Photo by Duncan himself. The photo at the top is Duncan chatting with a Nolina plant (Beargrass), taken by Amanda Bell.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Thrill of the Hunt

Swertia neglecta, the rare Pine green gentian (Photo by Don Davis)

I asked one of my volunteers to write about his recent experiences with the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt. He has done a lot of great work this year and taken many beautiful photos. You can check out his photostream at

"My name is Don and I am a telephone man currently living in Southern California with my wife and son. I found out about the California Native Plant Society and their Rare Plant Treasure Hunt program a little over a year ago. I attended my first treasure hunt on April 30, 2011 and absolutely fell in love with plants!

This was my first experience with anything of this nature. I had taken a prior botany course and I have always had an interest in science but never imagined that someone such as myself could contribute to science, boy was I ever wrong. This program has given an incredible amount of incentive and inspiration to me, so much so that I have gone back to school to study horticulture/botany.

I spend a lot of my own free time studying plants and characteristics that define a particular species and take one day out of my weekend to do my own little hunts. I have started going places on my own to find rare plants. I even started climbing and hiking to search for rare plants, all the way to Mount San Antonio and Mount Baden Powell in the San Gabriel Mountains, which were both very personal accomplishments for me.

I have met some of the nicest people through this program. I always have people ask me on my hikes what I am writing down or what am I photographing and I get to explain to them a little about my interest in plants and the California Native Plant Society and their effort to document rare plant species. This weekend on Mt. Baden Powell, I actually got to point out two rare plants to a young man hiking with his brothers Boy Scout Troop, Oreonana vestita, and Eriogonum umbellatum var. minus, It was neat to see a young person so interested in plants. He was even interested in going on a treasure hunt one day.

I am so appreciative to all at the CNPS and the RPTH programs, especially the coordinator, Amber. She is always willing to take time out of her busy schedule to answer questions and even provide a little education now and then. Even if this program were to stop today, I would still have an undying interest in plants. Thank you for such a wonderful program!"

Thank you Don for sharing your story. I am interested to see what you do in the future. You really are a budding botanist!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Highlights of the Season

Here are a few highlights from the desert this season:The rugged beauty of the Desert Mountains is a wonder. These are the Marble Mtns in the Eastern Mojave.Of course finding rare plants is always a highlight. Above is a tiny plant in the Phlox family- Linanthus maculatus, Little San Bernardino Mtns linanthus, rank 1B.2. Each plant is an inch to less than an inch tall. We found several new populations just at the tail end of their blooming and fruiting season. In another two weeks they would have been dried up and gone! We also collected seed to be preserved in a the seed bank at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. This was the first collection of seed ever made of this rare plant! (Photo by Duncan Bell)This little Liveforever, Dudleya abramsii var. affinis is only found in the Northern San Bernardino Mountains and we found the first known population of it on BLM land.
Another highlight has been the animals we've come across. I posted a photo already of the baby bobcat Duncan found. We also found this great desert tortoise sunning himself near his burrow. And I will never forget almost running into two rattlesnakes in combat, check out the video here.Finding a wild saguaro, Carnegiea gigantea, rank 2.2, was exciting because it hadn't been seen in over 20 years and it is at farthest western end of it's range. This is somewhat of a maverick cactus. There are no other saguaros nearby, actually not for 10 miles or more. How did this cactus make it all the way out there and survive?
The native plant flower show at the Maturango Musuem in Ridgecrest was a highlight because we got to collect flowers for the show and help identify ours and others. The flowers were displayed by family and each one was labelled with its name and where it was collected. A great refresher course on desert plants. (Photo by Kathryn Kvapil LaShure) And to close this is my favorite desert plant, Arctomecon merriamii, the rare white bear poppy, rank 2.2. Maybe we shouldn't have favorites but this plant is so beautiful and elusive. I've gone in search of it four times, but only found it twice. This year we found a new population.

There are many more things I could add to this list, but this is a good overview on what you can find out in the wilds of the California deserts-AMAZING!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In the San Bernardinos

Two trips this summer to the San Bernardino Mountains have been successful (and great fun). In the southern foothills we found this beauty, Calochortus plummerae, Plummer's Mariposa Lily, rank 1B.2.
Our next excursion was with the US Forest Service surveying near Bluff Lake. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we found 7 different rare plant species. Damsel flies (perhaps some kind of Bluet) were around the lake en masse-lovely!

Here is the rare Sidalcea pedata, Bird foot checkerbloom, rank 1B.1

And just for fun, take a look at the mycoparasitic Snow plant, Sarcodes sanguinea. So unusual.

For more photos of the plants of the area check out this photo gallery by our volunteer, Michael Charters. An amazing photographer!