2nd Mondays
January – June
October – November

The Redwoods
40 Camino Alto
Mill Valley

5:45 p.m. Join friends and meet our speaker for a no-host dinner at Gira Polli of Mill Valley, 590 East Blithedale Ave. at Camino Alto. Please call Gerd or Kristin Jakob at (415) 388-1844 at least one day ahead to be assured of a seat with our group.
7:30 p.m. Meet at the Redwoods retirement home, 40 Camino Alto, Mill Valley.
Books, posters, and cards will be for sale before and after the meeting.
8:00 p.m. Main Program

Yokuts basketWestern Mono basketMonday, November 14, 2011

“New findings in California Native American basketry and native plants uses”
speakers – Ralph and Lisa Woo Shanks

Learn about California Indian cultural and basketry from the Bay Area south to Southern California at a lecture presented by Ralph and Lisa Woo Shanks. This presentation will offer exciting new material about California native plants and their use by Indian people. Ralph & Lisa Shanks will base their talk on their new book California Indian Baskets. Shanks, a noted anthropologist, and his wife will discuss California Indian Baskets from the Bay Area south to Southern California. The Shanks are experts in the field of Native American baskets and will be discussing their new book that honors the basketry of the southern half of California including the Chumash, Salinan, Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, Cupeno, Kumeyaay, Kawaiisu, Paiute, Panamint Shoshone, Serrano, Tataviam, Tubatulabal, Western Mono, Yokuts and other native people. Members and guests will be able to learn about basketry types, cultural uses, weaving techniques, technical features, and rich native plant material choices used by the Southern California Native Americans.

Right image: Western Mono basket
Left image: Yokuts basket

honey bee with wings over backmechachileMonday, October 10, 2011

“The Great Sunflower Project:
Pollinator Conservation by the Public”
speaker – Gretchen LeBuhn

Data from several places around the world suggests that pollinators are disappearing which has serious implications for our food supply and ecosystem health. The Great Sunflower Project empowers people from pre-schoolers to scientists to do something about this global crisis by identifying at risk pollinator communities. Using sunflowers as standardized thermometers for each site where they are planted, citizen scientists time how long it takes for five bees to visit their sunflower, effectively creating an index of pollinator service. When managed well, the return on investment for this type of science is potentially huge. The Great Sunflower Project has over 90,000 people signed up to receive seeds-creating the first social network designed to map pollinator service at either a regional or continental scale. This talk will cover the basics of the natural history of bees, the evidence that bee populations are struggling and then introduce the Great Sunflower Project.

Gretchen LeBuhn Gretchen LeBuhn has been a member of the biology faculty at San Francisco State University since 2001. Four years ago, she founded the Great Sunflower Project, one of the largest citizen science projects in the world with over 100,000 participants. The Great Sunflower Project engages participants from pre-schoolers to our most senior of citizens in collecting data on pollinators in their backyard gardens identifying the areas where pollinators are struggling and promoting conservation of pollinators. In addition to her work leading citizen science, she has done research on vineyards, mountain meadows, hummingbirds in the Andes and urban parks. She is the author of over 30 papers and recently published a book for gardeners called Attracting native pollinators. She received her PhD from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1998.

Monday, June 13, 2011

speaker – Eva Buxton, Marin Chapter Conservation Chair

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.” Aldo Leopold

Plants that are not indigenous to an area can become invasive and can outcompete the natives that coevolved with the local fauna. Weeds grow in most plant communities and Marin County has an exceptionally large percentage of these non-native species. As Leopold put forth at the beginning of the last century, many people are not aware of weeds and their degradation or destruction of our natural communities. Its important that we learn to identify these plants and understand the role they play in the environment.

Eva Buxton, our Conservation chair, will illustrate and discuss some of the worst offenders.

Eva became interested in plants as a young child growing up in Sweden. She has an M.A. in Ecology and Systematic Biology with emphasis on botany, and worked as a botanist for an environmental consulting firm for 16 years. She volunteers for many environmental organizations in Marin County.

Monday, May 9 2011

Streptanthus Species of Northern and Central California”
guest speaker Richard ODonnell

Dick ODonnell is a retired economist who has scientifically determined that it is cost-effective to talk about what he comes across while hiking the hills and valleys of Napa and Lake Counties. He has published articles in Madrono, The Four Seasons, and Manzanita on various botanical subjects, including the genus Hesperolinon and edaphic endemism (the ecological state of being unique to areas of a specific soil type).

Streptanthus of the North Bay will illustrate the amazing amount of infraspecific variation in the genus and speculate about why some of the species are so rare. It may be because many of the species in the genus are still diversifying, while at the same time, their habitat is being degraded, leaving less habitat into which to diversify.

Monday, April 11 2011

“Reimagining the California Lawn”
guest speaker Carol Bornstein

Californians are avid gardeners, and for good reason. Throughout much of the state, outdoor gardening activities are enhanced by mild weather, frost-free nights, and relatively fertile soils. Like elsewhere in the country, water-loving lawns have been a major element in our gardens. Turfgrass lawns seduce us with their seeming simplicity and versatility, but our reliance on them comes at a high cost. After considering the resources and maintenance that most California lawns demandfrom heavy irrigation to regular applications of fertilizers to frequent mowing with power equipmentone conclusion becomes inescapable: we need to find alternatives to turfgrass that are more environmentally sound.

If you are one of the many gardeners who is thinking about removing or reducing your lawn, we invite you to the northern California premier of the new book Reimagining the California Lawn: Waterconserving Plants, Practices, and Designs. Authored by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart OBrien, it describes hundreds of waterwise plants from California and other Mediterranean climates of the world and provides information on how to plan, install, and maintain an attractive landscape that can replace your lawn. The book is packed with ideas and advice and richly illustrated with more than 300 color photographs. It offers a variety of practical designs and plant palettes to choose from.

Carol Bornstein is a horticulturist, instructor, and garden designer. For more than 30 years, she has been an advocate for sustainable, regionally appropriate landscaping. While Director of Horticulture at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (which features solely California native plants), she managed the living collections, retail nursery, and plant introduction program and selected several new cultivars. She continues to seek out exceptional plants for California gardens and to share her knowledge of plants native to California and other Mediterranean regions through her writing, teaching, and design work. Along with David Fross and Bart OBrien, she is also the coauthor of California Native Plants for the Garden.

Monday, March 14 2011

“David Douglas in the New World 18231834”
guest speaker Jack Nisbet

After making landmark collections of flora and fauna in the Pacific Northwest, Scottish naturalist David Douglas sailed south to California, where he collected from the Bay Area south to Santa Barbara. Although his journals for this period were lost in a canoeing accident, a survey notebook tracks his extensive travels, and the specimens he sent back had a major impact on English gardening and forestry. This slide presentation will follow Douglass adventures and compare his working methods in the Columbia drainage with what he accomplished in Spanish California.

Teacher and naturalist Jack Nisbet graduated from Stanford University in 1971, and for several winters worked as a field assistant on the Farallon Islands. He lives in Spokane Washington, where his books explore the human and natural history of the Intermountain West. The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association named Nisbets most recent project, The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest, as one of their 2010 Books of the Year. To find out more, visit

spring display of Lasthenia californica with  
Leptosiphon parviflorus in the foreground
Edgewood County Park
photo by Ken HimesEdgewood County Park
photo by Ken HimesMonday, February 14, 2011

“Wildflowers of Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve”
guest speaker Ken Himes

Some of you may remember the determined effort by CNPS and 40 other organizations to prevent an 18-hole golf course from being built on the serpentine soils at Edgewood County Park. (See Fremontia vol. 36. no. 1, winter 2008 for the full story.) In 1993, after 13 years, the San Mateo County board of supervisors declared it a Natural Preserve.

Ken Himes will show slides of the diverse flora that occurs in this 467-acre preserve. Over one-third of the area is of the serpentine substrate and supports colorful displays of California wildflowers. In addition, there are 11 plants at Edgewood listed in the CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants (6th edition). Six of those occur in serpentine areas.

Other communities include chaparral, coastal scrub, and large stands of coast live oak woodland. An extensive trail system allows close contact with all of these communities, which add to the wonderful mosaic of vegetation at Edgewood. In addition to the slide show, Ken will announce the schedule of docent-led walks that will occur between mid-March and mid-June in 2011. Exciting additional news will be the dedication of the Bill and Jean Lane Education Center in early 2011.

Ken has been involved with the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of CNPS since 1985. He has held a number of positions with the chapter and was elected a Fellow in 2006. He is currently very active with the habitat restoration program at Edgewood. He will also conduct training sessions for the new 2011 docents.

John Taylor with a burned shrubby Magnolia sporting many small Neurospora colonies
2004 Croatan National Forest, North Carolina
photo by Delia Taylor small Neurospora colonies
photo by John TaylorMonday, January 10, 2011

“Populations of Fungi”
guest speaker John Taylor

The study of evolution is dominated by animals and plants, that is, big organisms. Microbes have contributed less to evolutionary studies primarily because they are too small to see by ordinary means. Beginning in the late 19th century and continuing to the present, microbes have been assumed to be everywhere and spring to action whenever the appropriate environment becomes available. In the past decade, inexpensive DNA sequencing has allowed microbiologists to enter the debate with results that have overturned the idea that, when it comes to microbes, “everything is everywhere.” In fact, several studies will be presented that argue for fungi being the best organisms to turn the normal approach to evolution and ecology on its head in what is becoming known as “reverse ecology.”

John W. Taylor is a Professor of Plant and Microbial Biology and a Curator of the University Herbarium, both at the University of California at Berkeley. Research in his laboratory focuses on the evolution of fungi, including fungal phylogenetic relationships, the timing of deep fungal divergences, species recognition, the maintenance of species, phylogenomics, and population genomics. He received an AB in Biology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1972, an MS in Botany from the University of California at Davis in 1974, and a PhD in Mycology from the University of California at Davis in 1978.

Taylor served as President of the Mycological Society of America and currently is President of the International Mycological Association. He is a fellow of the Mycological Society of America, the California Academy of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Microbiology.

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