Cladonia fimbriata
photo by Stephen SharnoffUsnea rubicunda
photo by Stephen SharnoffMonday, November 8, 2010

“A Diversity of Lichens”
guest speaker Stephen Sharnoff

Stephen Sharnoff will present a short, illustrated introduction to lichen biology and natural history, followed by a series of images that show the diversity and beauty of lichens. His emphasis will be on California species, but will include examples from other parts of North America.

Stephen Sharnoff grew up in Berkeley and attended the University of Chicago and UC Berkeley. He has pursued various photography projects while working as a carpenter and building contractor in the Berkeley area for about 40 years. He and his late wife Sylvia Sharnoff did the photographic fieldwork for Lichens of North America, with text by Irwin Brodo, published by Yale University Press in 2001. The volume includes over 900 color photographs, and was described as “the twenty-first-century lichen equivalent of Audubon’s Birds of America” by Thomas E. Lovejoy of the Smithsonian Institution. A photographic guide to the Wildflowers of the Sierra Nevada in collaboration with Joanna Clines of the USDA Forest Service is forthcoming from University of California Press. Sharnoffs photographs have been used in numerous magazines, books, and exhibits, most recently at the Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley. The National Geographic Image Collection and Getty Images represent him as a stock photographer.

Stephen Sharnoff’s website of Lichen photographs

Monarch on Arbutus
photo by Mieko Watkins Bluebird with grasshopper
photo by Bob WatkinsMonday, October 11, 2010

“Winged Visitors in Your Garden Sanctuary”
Charlotte Torgovitsky

Now that you’re gardening organically, and have planted California native plants for their habitat value, you have probably noticed increased activity in your garden sanctuary. Perhaps you would like to know more about all those creatures in your garden !

Did you know that it’s easy to distinguish male from female in some butterfly species, and that some butterflies can emerge from the chrysalis years after going into the pupal stage ? You’ll learn how birds divide habitat resources by using different foraging strategies, and why spiders play an important role in the life cycle of certain birds.

We’ll take a “slide show tour” of beautiful habitat gardens, discuss what makes some plants “habitat heroes” and learn unique and identifying features of the birds and butterflies most likely to be seen in your garden sanctuary. You’ll learn interesting facts about each species, their life cycles, and the important associations these creatures have developed with the native plants of California.

Charlotte Torgovitsky is a naturalist, longtime organic gardener, garden writer and educator. Charlotte currently teaches classes on Bay-Friendly Gardening and Home Composting through the local community college. As Garden Education Manager at the Marin Art and Garden Center from 2001 to 2009, she created numerous California native gardens, a native plant nursery and composting facilities.
photo credits – Monarch on Arbutus by Mieko Watkins; Bluebird with grasshopper by Bob Watkins


Monday, June 14, 2010
“Rare Plants of the GGNRA and Rediscovery of Franciscan Manzanita”
Michael Chass&eacute

Nearly 50 rare plant species can be found within the protected lands of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Of course, finding them is not always easy and can often be an adventure! Michael Chass&eacute of the National Park Service will share his experiences hunting for rare plant treasures with community volunteers throughout Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties. In addition, Michael will provide some of the inside story on the recent discovery and conservation of the Franciscan manzanita (Arctostaphylos franciscana), a species thought to have been extinct in the wild since 1947.

Michael Chass&eacute is an ecologist with the National Park Service at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. He has been involved with community-based ecological stewardship and the monitoring of rare plants for over 14 years. Michael is also a graduate student in the Department of Geography & Human Environmental Studies at San Francisco State University. His research is focused on the restoration of San Franciscos endemic manzanitas.


Monday, May 10, 2010
“Experimenting with New and Old Native Plants and Cultivars for the Home Landscape”
Pete Veilleux

Pete left a 20-year career in social services and international development to pursue his love of gardening with native plants in 2002. Since then, hes founded East Bay Wilds, a landscape design/installation/maintenance company and native plant nursery.

In addition to attending presentations and lectures and collaborating with knowledgeable horticulturists, ecologists, and botanists, he received his education while exploring our local wild places. His favorite places to explore extend from the high Sierra to the Livermore Hills and Mount Diablo.

He considers his most important tool to be his camera. When he started his business, he was a self-professed lifetime cameraphobe, but in those years, hes developed quite a good eye for plant and habitat photography. One of his goals is to help people make the connection between their yards and the greater, wild world around us. He wants people to experience the beautiful harmony that he sees around him when exploring the woods, meadows, and high rocky outcrops around the state.


Monday, April 12, 2010
“A Sampling of the High Country Flora of the Sequoia/Kings Canyon Area”
Aaron Schusteff

Aaron Schusteff, will share photos of many botanical treasures from various Sierran locales: Alta Peak and Mineral King on the west side, and Kearsarge Pass, Humphries Basin, and Mono Pass/Pioneer Basin on the crest.

There will be plenty of floral treats, ranging from the low-montane to the high alpine communities. This will be a chance for you to enjoy sky pilot (Polemonium eximium) and alpine gold (Hulsea algida) without huffing and puffing to the highest crest! There may even be some vertebrates and invertebrates thrown in for a bit of biological balance.

Aaron Schusteff was born in Chicago. When he was five years old his family moved to the west (initially Tucson) – at which point, for him, the world changed from black and white to Technicolor! Hes had a lifelong love of mountains, deserts, and nature in general. In 1998, after spending too many years indoors studying and teaching mathematics, he immersed himself in a passion for field botany. This provided a richly fulfilling experience of beauty and fascination – and a good excuse to spend lots more time out in the wild! Aarons study of botany began with evening classes from Glenn Keator at the California Academy of Sciences, and has been immensely enriched by countless CNPS field trips and members. Many of Aarons plant photos can be viewed on the CalPhotos website.

Monday March 8, 2010
“Native Bees are a Rich Natural Resource in Urban California Gardens”
guest speaker
Gordon Frankie

Evidence is mounting that pollinators of crop and wildland plants are declining worldwide. A research group at UC Berkeley and UC Davis led by Dr. Gordon Frankie conducted a three-year survey of bee pollinators in seven cities from Northern California to Southern California. Results indicate that many types of urban residential gardens provide floral and nesting resources for the reproduction and survival of bees, especially a diversity of native bees. Habitat gardening for bees, using targeted ornamental plants, can predictably increase bee diversity and abundance, and provide clear pollination benefits.

Gordon Frankie is Professor of Insect Biology in the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1968. His research interests are in plant reproductive biology, pollination ecology, and solitary-bee ecology. His field research time is split between California and the seasonally dry tropical forests of Costa Rica. He teaches several lecture and field courses in applied conservation biology and environmental problem solving at UC Berkeley. Dr. Frankie is currently working on a new book on urban bees and their host flowers in California with three other colleagues. The book will be published by UC Press in the Natural History Field Guide Series, with a hopeful publication date of early 2011.

Monday February 8, 2010
“California Mosses: An Introduction”
guest speaker
Jim Shevock

Mosses differ from the seed plants in profound ways. They can be defined as plants lacking flowers and fruits, roots, and a defined system of vascular tissues for transporting fluids throughout the plant. They reproduce not by seeds, but by single-celled spores. Besides sexual reproduction by spores produced by a sporophyte plant, mosses have a wide array of vegetative (gametophyte) propagules to assist in species distribution and colonization of new habitats. Because they have no roots, mosses are not confined to living on soil; they are quite content to live on rocks, tree trunks, and rotten wood.

With nearly 1,200 species of mosses recorded in North America, over half are documented in California. Many mosses in California occur as widely disjunct populations, and a few species are either California or Pacific Coast endemics. Jim Shevock will present an overview of California mosses, where they occur, and the need for ongoing inventory and conservation.

After a botanical career spanning more than 30 years between the USDA Forest Service and the National Park Service, Jim retired from public service in 2009. He is currently research associate with the Department of Botany, California Academy of Sciences and the University Herbarium, UC Berkeley.

Initially a vascular plant taxonomist with a focus on the flora of the southern Sierra Nevada, Jim migrated to the study of bryophytes (primarily mosses) in the late 1990s. His plant collections, currently at over 34,000 specimens, are housed at the herbarium of the California Academy of Sciences with selected duplicates provided to major bryophyte herbaria around the world. His most recent work, California Mosses, was co-authored with Bill Malcolm, Nancy Malcolm, and Dan Norris and published in the fall of 2009. With nearly 2,200 color images, this book provides a portal into the wonderful diversity of California mosses. Copies will be for sale at the meeting.

Monday January 11, 2010
“Acorns – The Original California Cuisine:
Oak Ecology, Land Management, and Acorn Food”
guest speaker
Jolie Egert

Humans have managed oak ecosystems for thousands of years. Before the gold rush, acorns were a staple food for the majority of all California Indians, and their relationships with oaks and acorns were an important part of their Native culture. Human relationships with oak landscapes and management regimes continue to evolve and change today. These changes are mirrored in our oak landscapes.

In 2007, our speaker, Jolie Egert, set out on a journey to explore acorn food (the original California Cuisine) and understand oak ecology at a deeper level. This talk will present her research into the ethnoecology of oaks in California and will weave human relationships into the complex ecological web of oak habitats, focusing on past and present management of oak ecosystems, acorn culture, Sudden Oak Death, and traditional and modern-day acorn food preparation.

Jolie Lonner Egert, M.S., is our newest board member. She is a forest ecologist, ethnobotanist, and herbalist. She is principal at Go Wild! Consulting, a business that restores the land and our connections to it. Jolie currently leads field classes in botany and medicinal and edible plants throughout Northern California. She has worked on ethnobotanical and restoration projects on four continents and can often be found grinding acorns and eating wild foods.

free download of 50-page “Acorns and Eat ‘Em” from California Oak Foundation website

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