Posts Tagged botany

The 2017 Jepson Herbarium Workshops

The Friends of the Jepson Herbarium recently announced the program for The Jepson Herbarium Workshop’s 2017 series on botanical and ecological subjects. These programs are open to the general public and consist of basic, introductory one- to four-day basic botany workshops and more technical one- to five-day weekend workshops.

The basic botany series includes “Introductory Plant Morphology for the Botanically-Curious” and the not-to-miss “Fifty Families in the Field: San Francisco Bay Area,” an excellent workshop I had the pleasure of taking in 2007 with instructor Linda Beidleman (co-author of Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region: Mendocino to Monterey) (and, in the past, the late ever-entertaining Richard Beidleman, the author of California’s Frontier Naturalists which was reviewed with great enthusiasm here). Among this year’s technical weekend workshop series are such select, wonkish offerings as “Northern California Seaweeds,” “Butterflies: Biology, Behavior, and Identification,” “Exploring the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness,” “Climate Change in California: Past, Present, and Future,” and “Insect-Induced Plant Galls of California.

The workshops run throughout the year, but class sizes are limited and waiting lists back up quickly. Sign up soon.

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The 2016 Jepson Herbarium Workshops

The Friends of the Jepson Herbarium recently announced the program for The Jepson Herbarium Workshop’s 2016 series on botanical and ecological subjects. These programs are open to the general public and consist of basic, introductory one- to four-day basic botany workshops and more technical one- to five-day weekend workshops.

The basic botany series includes “Introduction to Plant Morphology” and the not-to-miss “Fifty Families in the Field: Introduction to Keying,” an excellent workshop I had the pleasure of taking in 2007 with instructor Linda Beidleman (co-author of Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region: Mendocino to Monterey) (and, in the past, the late ever-entertaining Richard Beidleman, the author of California’s Frontier Naturalists which was reviewed with great enthusiasm here). Among this year’s technical weekend workshop series are such select, wonkish offerings as “Exploring the Rise of Land Plants: A Fossil Journey,” “Macrolichens Around San Francisco Bay,” “California’s Native Bees: Biology, Ecology, and Identification,” “The Remote Flora of the White Mountains: Cottonwood Basin or Other Ambitions,” and “Pushing the Boundary: Exploring the Newly-defined Southeastern Klamath Range.

The workshops run throughout the year, but class sizes are limited and waiting lists back up quickly. Sign up soon.

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The 2015 Jepson Herbarium Workshops

The Friends of the Jepson Herbarium recently announced the program for The Jepson Herbarium Workshop’s 2015 series on botanical and ecological subjects. These programs are open to the general public and consist of basic, introductory one- to four-day basic botany workshops and more technical one- to five-day weekend workshops.

The basic botany series includes “Introduction to Plant Morphology” and the not-to-miss “Fifty Families in the Field: Introduction to Keying,” an excellent workshop I had the pleasure of taking in 2007 with instructors Linda Beidleman (co-author of Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region: Mendocino to Monterey) and – in the past, but perhaps not this year – the ever-entertaining Richard Beidleman (author of California’s Frontier Naturalists, reviewed with great enthusiasm here). Among this year’s technical weekend workshop series are such select, wonkish offerings as “Lycophytes: Past and Present,” “Botanizing Baja California,” “Inventorying the Floristic Frontier: A Botanical Expedition into the Eastern Mojave Desert of California,” “Strange Soils and Unknown Plants: Botanical Documentation in the Trinity Alps,” and in a break from the botanical, “Fire Ecology in the Central Sierra Nevada,” “California Naturalist Training,” and “California’s Native Bees: Biology, Ecology, and Identification.”

The workshops run throughout the year, but class sizes are limited and waiting lists back up quickly. Sign up soon.

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The 2014 Jepson Herbarium Workshops

The Friends of the Jepson Herbarium recently announced the program for The Jepson Herbarium Workshop’s 2014 series on botanical and ecological subjects. These programs are open to the general public and consist of basic, introductory one- to four-day basic botany workshops and more technical one- to five-day weekend workshops.

The basic botany series includes “Introduction to California Plant Families” and the not-to-miss “Fifty Families in the Field: Introduction to Keying,” an excellent workshop I had the pleasure of taking in 2007 with instructors Linda Beidleman (co-author of Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region: Mendocino to Monterey) and – in the past, but perhaps not this year – the ever-entertaining Richard Beidleman (author of California’s Frontier Naturalists, reviewed with great enthusiasm here). Among this year’s technical weekend workshop series are such select, wonkish offerings as “Macrolichens Around San Francisco Bay,” “Sierra Nevada Wildflower Identification Made Fun,” “Seaweeds of Northern California,” and in a break from the botanical, the new “Camp Cooking for Scientists,” “Ground Beetles of California,” and “California’s Native Bees: Biology, Ecology, and Identification.”

The workshops run throughout the year, but class sizes are limited and waiting lists back up quickly. Sign up soon.

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Presumed Extinct: Address Unknown

LOST SPECIES OF THE BAY AREA

Presumed Extinct: Palo Alto lost thistle, Pitkin Marsh Indian paintbrush

As with the presumed extinct ivory-billed woodpecker reported in Arkansas in 2004, there is always the chance that a long-lost plant or animal will be rediscovered, thanks to persistent searching and luck. That’s true even in a busy metropolitan area like the San Francisco Bay Area. In May 2005, botanist Michael Park stumbled upon a population of Mount Diablo buckwheat (Eriogonum truncatum) on the slopes of Mount Diablo. The buckwheat was a  species long thought extinct, last seen in 1936 by UC Berkeley botany graduate student (and later Save Mount Diablo cofounder) Mary Bowerman. 

Spurred by the rediscovery of the buckwheat, it bears asking today which plants and animals endemic to – but presumed extinct in – the San Francisco Bay Area scientists continue to search for in the hope they may still be hanging on by a thread, waiting to be found and protected.

Palo Alto lost thistle (Cirsium praeteriens)

Pitkin Marsh Indian paintbrush (Castilleja uliginosa)

Illustration by Devin Cecil-Wishing

The little that’s known about the Palo Alto lost thistle (Cirsium praeteriens) would fit on a postage stamp. This elusive white-flowered thistle was collected by lawyer and botanist Joseph Whipple Congdon in 1897 and 1901 at a location identified simply as “Palo Alto,” roughly mapped at the present-day site of the Palo Alto post office. “It seems remarkable,” wrote Harvard botanist James Francis Macbride, “that this splendid thistle should have escaped notice so long since it grows at the very door . . . of one of the principal herbaria [Stanford’s Dudley Herbarium] of the Pacific coast.” Since we know nothing about the thistle’s habitat, botanists like California Polytechnic’s David Keil, the de facto expert on the species, don’t know where to begin looking. “I would guess that it would be a wetland species, since a number of the other native thistles occur with their feet wet,” he explains, “[but] I won’t go looking for it because I don’t know where to start. Going into an urban area to find a plant is a real challenge.”

Illustration by Devin Cecil-Wishing

The story of the Pitkin Marsh Indian paintbrush (Castilleja uliginosa) is one fraught with tragedy. It was first collected in 1937 by botanist John Thomas Howell from two freshwater marshes near Sebastopol. At Trembley’s Marsh, the paintbrush plants were reportedly common between 1937 and 1950, but vanished altogether the following year. They persisted longer at Pitkin’s Marsh, but by 1971, only a single plant remained. The marsh was fenced off in 1978, and in 1984 the paintbrush’s rhododendron host plant—paintbrushes live in part by parasitizing other plants—was trimmed to reduce shading on the single remaining paintbrush stem. Four weak stems survived but were soon overtaken by rushes and sedges. These too were trimmed, but February rains in 1986 flooded the marsh, wiping the palette clean of all traces of the Pitkin Marsh Indian paintbrush in the wild (some plants still grow at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley).

Field Guide to the Lost Species of the Bay Area

SPECIES: Palo Alto lost thistle (Cirsium praeteriens)

LISTING STATUS: CNPS List 1A (presumed extinctin California)

FIRST/LAST RECORDED: 1897/1901

RANGE: known only from Palo Alto in Santa Clara County

HABITAT: unknown

FIELD NOTES: with nothing but “Palo Alto” recorded for the type specimen’s collection location, botanists know nothing about this thistle’s preferred habitat; notes to the effect that the species represents an introduction from the Old World are unsubstantiated and the species is still recognized today as a native California thistle

RESOURCES:

CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California, Online Edition, 2007, by the Rare Plant Scientific Advisory Committee, California Native Plant Society

Digitized type specimen at Harvard University Herbarium Index of Botanical Species

Flora of North America, Flora of North America Committee

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SPECIES: Pitkin Marsh Indian paintbrush (Castilleja uliginosa)

LISTING STATUS: state Endangered; CNPS List 1A (presumed extinct in California)

FIRST/LAST RECORDED:1937/1986

RANGE: Pitkin Marsh, Trembley’s Marsh in Sonoma County

HABITAT: marshy meadows

FIELD NOTES: the Pitkin Marsh Indian paintbrush grows solely in association with rhododendron plants in a type of hemiparasitic relationship; all known plants were reported on private land, which has prevented further surveys to determine if any unrecorded plants have persisted

RESOURCES:

Indian Paintbrush: The Sunset Shades of Castilleja (Bay Nature), by Geoffrey Coffey

CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California, Online Edition, 2007, by the Rare Plant Scientific Advisory Committee, California Native Plant Society

The account excerpted above was originally featured in the October/December 2007 issue of Bay Nature magazine.

Illustrations by Devin Cecil-Wishing.

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