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California Native Plant Society

Santa Clara Valley Chapter


Castle Rock October 25, 2014

By Dee Wong, Chapter Treasurer at the time, now (Feb 2015) our Field Trip Chair

Our last field trip for the year took us to Castle Rock State Park.

There were 14 in attendance including the co-leaders, Ken Himes and Dee Wong, and with Toni Gregorio-Bunch as our sweep. Thank you Toni! Of the 14 people, there were one new member who joined before the field trip and three that are not members and were enthusiastic to become members of our Chapter. While on the trail, Dee also encountered a young couple from Marin, who were curious about what we were doing, and was handed a membership form and a plant list for this hike. They were so thrilled! We hope this will capture their interest in joining CNPS!

On the morning of the hike, the weather was overcast with light drizzle on and off but cleared to occasional blue skies in the afternoon. The view was quite dramatic with Ken and Dee vocalizing their view of the scenery to be that of the Oregon mountain ranges with mist rising from the forest, rain curtains drifting by in the background, and misty sun rays shining through the clouds.

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Mount Lassen Car Camp - July 13-17, 2014

By Dee Wong, Chapter Treasurer at the time, now (Feb 2015) our Field Trip Chair

Mt. Lassen Car Camp, six people in the shade of a tree. Photo taken by Carolyn DorschDee Wong, Ken Himes, and with the help of Paul Heiple and his wife, Linda (who helped shepard the group to be keep the pace going) successfully co-led the Santa Clara Valley Chapter field trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park from Monday, July 14 through Thursday, July 17.  We camped at Summit Lake South and Warner Valley to see geological and botanical wonders that are unique to this area. Including the co-leaders, there were 19 participating CNPS members mostly from our Chapter, along with Deanna Giuliano, president of the Santa Cruz Chapter who was also there, and made it all so fun.

Photo: from Left to Right: Diana Quon, Patricia Evans, Dave Hershey, Ken Himes, and Dee Wong. Photo taken by Carolyn Dorsch.

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Bean Hollow & Pebble Beach, May 11, 2014

By Toni Corelli, Chapter Chair Rare Plants, San Mateo CountyCoastal flowers overlooking tidepools and Pacific Ocean beyond

The one mile walk along the Arroyo de los Frijoles (Creek of the Beans) Trail between Pebble Beach and Bean Hollow Beach offers a close-up look at tide pools, wildflowers and colonies of harbor seals and shorebirds.

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Cascade Field, Part of Año Nuevo State Park, May 2014

By Toni Corelli, Chapter Chair Rare Plants, San Mateo County

Two pink flowers in grass

Cascade field is the best example of native coastal terrace prairie and associated wildflowers along the San Mateo Coast. Eight people joined California Native Plant Society member Toni Corelli (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and State Park volunteer Avis Boutell on the May 6, 2014 walk along the Atkinson Bluff Trail at Cascade Field.

Blue-eyed grass in coastal prarie

In the past the prairie was managed through fire by the Native Americans to bring grazing animals into the area and enhance desired plants that produce seeds that were gathered for food. Coastal prairies require some sort of disturbance regime to sustain them--either by grazing or fire--or bushes will grow and the prairie will turn into coastal scrubland.

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Sharsmith Herbarium 2013

By Carol Mattsson, Chapter Newsletter Editor

On September 15, 2013 I joined several other Chapter members in a field trip to visit Sharsmith Herbarium at San Jose State University. The trip was led by Curator Toni Corelli and Assistant Curators Teri Barry and Lars Rosengreen.

The herbarium is named for botanist Carl Sharsmith, who started the herbarium and collected and mounted over 15,000 specimens. We started our tour in the room with the many rows of cabinets holding the herbarium sheets.


Removing specimens from herbarium cabinet. Photo: Judith Elaine Bush The curators had taken out several specimen sheets for us to examine Two people examining herbarium sheets. We learned that the most damage to the specimens is from insects. Thus the first step for a dried, pressed plant specimen to become part of the herbarium collection is to freeze it for a week at -20 degrees F. When we examine the specimen we are to keep the sheet specimen-side up, and not roll or bend it in any way. After we examine the specimen we put the sheet in a special case designated for a refreeze before being restored to its permanent cabinet.

I like ferns so I enjoyed a good look at a specimen of Dryopteris arguta. herbarium sheet Dryopteris arguta.  Photo Richard Tiede This specimen had the roots tied to the page with special linen thread, and in other places the specimen was attached to the page with special linen strips. As you can see in the photo, each herbarium sheet has a unique identifying number, called the "accession number." The sheets contain labels identifying the specimen: The lower right is the original label, showing plant name, date collected and by whom, location found, and other information. A second newer, smaller label is being added to all the specimens now, giving the plant's name in the 1993 version of the Jepson Manual.

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Keying With Natives

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Keying With Natives is a Chapter group that promotes plant identification training using botanical keys. Join us as we learn and practice methods of identifying the native plants of our region. From beginners to more advanced, there are challenges for all. Bring in plant samples if you have some or just come and work with the materials provided. We primarily use Jepson Manual, 2nd edition, so please bring yours if you have a copy. Other plant books are welcome as well, and we often practice keying with them. Botanical microscopes are available.

Keying With Natives Lectures

Two online classes go over the basics of Plant Morphology and the basics of Plant Taxonomy. They cover the basic principles of morphology, which is the study of the form, external structure and development of plants; and the basic principles of taxonomy, which is to learn and look at different plant families. The classes form a great crash course for beginners who are enthusiastic about learning how and why some plants are named ̶ and for others they’ll form a refresher. By knowing the basic morphological characteristics of plants, a plant’s name will become obvious. Once the plant has been identified, it can be placed within categories, a plant family, a classification system that is part of plant taxonomy.

Dee recommends these resources for this class: Plant Identification Terminology, An Illustrated Glossary, by James G. Harris and Melinda Woolf Harris, 2nd Edition;; cuttings of your favorite native plants from your garden as samples; and a hand lens.

Dee Himes is a CNPS SCV board member, Field Trip Chair, and former chapter Treasurer (2012-2014) and Field Chair (2014-2018). She is also an active “Weed Warrior” at Edgewood County Park and Preserve. She is now an Adjunct Instructor of horticulture at Foothill College, in their Environmental Horticulture and Design program, which she also graduated from with an A.S. in 2006. Dee is passionate about sharing her landscape and horticultural experiences and expertise in caring for California native gardens that includes sustainable gardening practices.

When health regulations allow, Keying With Natives meets the last Friday of the month at the Peninsula Conservation Center, 3921 E Bayshore Rd, Palo Alto. Join other native plant enthusiasts in a fun and educational atmosphere, as we hone our skills at plant identification (aka “keying”). For details, contact Joe Cernac atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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