Happenings and Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Program

October, 2016

  Evening Programs

Beginners and experts, non-members and members are all welcome at our programs and on our outings.  Almost all of our events are free.  All of our events are made possible by volunteer effort.

October 12, Wednesday, 7:30-9:00 p.m. “The Natural History, Botanical Splendor, and Conservation of Mendocino Pygmy Cypress Woodland: A Rare Geobotanical Phenomenon.” Gordon Leppig, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), will take us to one of the rarest and most threatened natural communities in California. The Mendocino Pygmy Cypress Woodlands are endemic to a narrow coastal strip shaped by geological uplift of the land, with strange soil conditions and hydrology resulting in stunted trees. This presentation will focus on the underlying natural history, botanical splendor, and efforts to better understand and conserve this unique natural community.

November 9, Wednesday, 7:30-9:00 p.m. “Fabulous Plants and Stories from the East Bay.” Heath Bartosh, Rare Plant Committee Chair for the East Bay Chapter CNPS and Research Associate at the University, and Jepson Herbaria will present a photographic tour through some of the East Bay’s richest botanical hot spots. He will reflect on colorful botanical personalities of the past and present, identify public lands and trails to enjoy the diversity of plant life, and discuss current conservation issues that put the botanical treasures of the East Bay at risk. The unique geology and botanical convergence in this area provides conditions for diversity of native plants.


Field Trips and Plant Walks

Outings are open to everyone, not just members.  All levels of expertise, from beginners to experienced botanizers, are welcome. Contact the leader before the trip to confirm details. Watch for updates on our website northcoastcnps.org or sign up for e-mail announcements Northcoast_CNPS-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

October 23, Sunday. Crothers Cove Day Hike. Why should we hike this short trail in Prairie Creek State Park? Because we never have! And there’s a small lagoon at the bottom. Even small wetlands hold botanical treasures and these short trails pass interesting plants. This less than 2-mile round-trip trail goes over the ridge from the road and to the beach. Meet at 9 a.m. at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata). Dress for the weather, including the beach; bring lunch and water. Return late afternoon. It helps to know you are coming: Carol 707-822-2015.

November 5, Saturday. Groves Prairie Field Trip. Unusual in our rugged mountains, Groves Prairie is a fairly level meadow at 4,000 ft. elevation and surrounded by Douglas-fir forest, some old growth. We last visited the grove seven years ago, before it served as a fire camp (which hopefully will not be necessary in 2016). Will the species seen before still be there? We will walk one to two miles in and around the meadow to answer these questions, some of it on a trail. Groves Prairie is two hours from Arcata in Six Rivers National Forest, up Forest Service roads, north out of Willow Creek. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata). Dress for the weather (remember that it is higher elevation) and off-trail walking; bring lunch and water. Return late afternoon. It helps to know you are coming: Carol  707-822-2015. 


Finding Rare Plants on the North Coast: Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Program

Members of the North Coast CNPS chapter and regional botanical experts are coordinating to collect current data on historical rare plant populations, in addition to finding new discoveries, as part of the State CNPS office’s Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Program (RPTH). Conservation tools such as the CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants (the Inventory) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) rely on organizations and individuals to submit data on rare plant populations in order to determine each species appropriate rarity status. A species California Rare Plant Rank (CRPR) is determined by the number and quality of occurrences for that species throughout the state. Therefore, it’s important that newly discovered populations are documented and that current data is occasionally submitted for historical occurrences.

Did you know that there are 1,389 occurrences of rare plants that are tracked by CNDDB within Humboldt County? Surprisingly, 504 of those occurrences have a population quality rank of “unknown”, resulting in 36 percent of Humboldt County’s known rare plant occurrences not containing sufficient information to contribute to conservation ranking criteria. Additionally, of the 468 rare plant occurrences in Humboldt County with a rank of “good” or “excellent”, the CNDDB has not received updated information in over 20 years, resulting in data for 43 percent of the county’s rare plant occurrences being considered “historic” and not current.

To aid in the state-wide RPTH effort, the North Coast chapter hosted six RPTH events during the 2016 field season, adding new occurrences for the seaside bittercress (Cardamine angulata), Point Reyes bird’s beak (Chloropyron maritimum ssp. palustre), and horned butterwort (Pinguicula macroceras), to name a few. We have also collected data to provide updated  information of historical occurrences of Howell’s montia (Montia howellii), the two-flowered pea (Lathyrus biflorus), Humboldt Bay Owl’s Clover (Castilleja ambigua var. humboldtiensis), the western sand-spurrey (Spergularia canadensis var. occidentalis), Wolf’s evening primrose (Oenothera wolfii), the seacoast ragwort (Packera bolanderi var. bolanderi), and others! 

In planning for the 2017 blooming season, CNPS will be hosting workshops demonstrating online resources available to correctly identify rare plant species; databases that track where species have been previously reported; and how to analyze CNDDB data to determine which data gaps are most in need of filling. Additionally, a local RPTH committee is being formed to identify untapped sources of data and discuss priority species and locations for future RPTHs. If you are interested in learning more or getting involved at any level, please contact Greg O’Connell at gregoconnell7@gmail.com.