June 10: CNPSers hiked up Clover Gulch (near Ruth Lake) and discovered an oak-covered knoll by a mossy rock outcrop, all sparkling with pale violet Ithuriel’s spear (Triteleia laxa), a native, edible bulb. It is a “geophyte”, the subject of our October evening program. Right: Ithuriel’s spear. Photos: Carol Ralph.
August 12: CNPSers hiked on the ocean bluffs of Point St. George in Crescent City. On the bluff where we sat and ate lunch, we discovered numerous secretive flowers of clustered broomrape (Orobanche fascicularis), a purple-flowered form of this achlorophyllous (chlorophyll-lacking) parasite of the gumplants (right).
September 1-3: CNPSers stayed at the Mattole Camp and Retreat Center while exploring the Mattole River, the Lost
Coast Trail, and the Mill Creek Trail. Both Humboldt County fuchsia (Epilobium septentrionale), the bright red flowers on this rock by the Mattole River (photo below), and the similarly colored redwood keckiella (Keckiella corymbosa) in the same substrate were blooming, lighting up our botanizing while we splashed in the river on a hot day (100 degrees F!) below the camp. The chapter propagates this California fuchsia from “captive” plants and sells it at our plant sales.
At the Six Rivers Masonic Lodge, 251 Bayside Rd., near 7th and Union, Arcata. Refreshments at 7 p.m.; program at 7:30 p.m.
October 11, Wednesday. 7:30 p.m. “The Wonderful World of Geophytes.” The flower-covered landscapes of pre-European California included a colorful, diverse, and abundant group of plants whose survival depended on underground bulbs and tubers. These plants, referred to as geophytes (“earth plants”), included lilies, fritillaries, brodiaeas, and many other species, many of which were important food sources for Native Americans. An abundance of evidence now suggests this group is declining rapidly. Based on 35 years working in this area, Dave Imper, retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife ecologist, and the local “Mr. Lily,” will highlight the exceptional diversity of this group locally, explain the large-scale changes that have affected their habitats, and tell what management actions could slow the loss of these treasures. The recent Fremontia issue (journal of the California Native Plant Society) devoted to geophytes will be available for purchase.
November 8, Wednesday. 7:30 p.m. “Ancient but Still Evolving: the Ferns among Us.” Ferns are a fascinating group of plants, with rich, and often bizarre, ecologies and natural histories. Carl Rothfels, Assistant Professor and Curator of Ferns and Lycophytes at the University Herbarium, U. C. Berkeley, will take us on a meander through ferndom from a slightly evolutionary perspective, starting at the broadest scale (What are ferns? How did they evolve?) and ending closer to home with a tour of Northern California fern diversity. Along the way, he will touch on ferns’ secret double life, on the wonders of “instantaneous” speciation, the trick to being a fern in the desert, the challenges of fern taxonomy (Why do these names keep changing?), and more.
Field Trips & Plant Walks
October 8, Sunday. Inland Fall Day Trip. Driving east along Highway 299 we will see fall color of Big-leaf Maple, Poison Oak, and Oregon White Oak. We will stop at all the vista points, summits, campgrounds, and rest areas, taking in the season as presented by the fading winter-deciduous species, the freshly washed evergreen species, and the sprouting annual or summer-deciduous species. We might get as far as Burnt Ranch Campground. We will make short walks from the cars; be prepared for the weather. Bring lunch and water. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata) to carpool. Return late afternoon, or possibly in the evening after dinner in Willow Creek. Tell Carol if you know good places to stop, or if you are coming: 822-2015, firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 4, Saturday. Patrick’s Point Day Hike. Patrick’s Point State Park, north of Trinidad, is surely one of the best state parks of all. It has wonderful, varied, native plant habitats. We will traverse Sitka Spruce and riparian forests, meadows, rock outcrops, and ocean bluffs, walking about four miles. We will see eight species of conifers, including Bishop pine, up to 10 species of ferns, including grape fern, a spikemoss, two common succulents, a curious manzanita, and much more. Dress for the weather, including wind; bring lunch and water. Meet at 9:00 a.m. at Pacific Union School (3001 Janes Rd., Arcata) to carpool or at 10 a.m. at the Bishop Pine Picnic Area. There is an entrance fee per car. It’s good to tell Carol you are coming, in case plans change: 822-2015, email@example.com.