Student Native Plant Photography Challenge


During our 50th Anniversary year, the Marin chapter of CNPS is sponsoring a Student Native Plant Photo Challenge in conjunction with the Marin Photo Club. The challenge is open to any high school student enrolled in a high school grade during 2024, including those who graduate this spring.

Our goals are to engage students in observing and recording the natural environment around them, with an emphasis on understanding and appreciating it, as they are the future stewards of this world. And to develop their photographic skills in order to show us their vision of our native flora through the lens of a camera, making clear what they value and want us to notice.

Classes will participate in field trips to locations with native flora, where they will be met by CNPS naturalists and Marin Photo Club members who will provide help identifying native plants and some tips on photographing them. Photos can be taken at any time of the year but they must be taken in Marin county. We will be hanging an exhibit of the work at the end of the year.

If you are an educator or a student with an interest in photographing the natural world, please contact us at for more information or to enroll.

Information for Photo Challenge

Flier to Post

Spring 2024 Plant Sale

Spring 2024 Plant Sale

It’s still planting time and that means our spring sale is almost here!

The sale will open for ordering online April 4th at 6pm, through the link posted here. We will have a special emphasis on plants that provide resources for pollinators, birds and other creatures, including narrow-leaf milkweed for monarch butterflies. In addition to live plants, we will also be selling our popular line of locally-sourced native seeds. All of these species offer great choices for increasing the biodiversity in your yard. We’ll also have a variety of shrubs to plant before the weather warms up. Adequate rain this winter means the plants will thrive once planted.

Online Plant Sale OpensThursday April 4 at 6 pm
Online Plant Sale Closes: Monday April 8 at 6 pm

Boxed orders must be picked up on Sat. April 13th between 10:30am and 1:00pm, in the parking lot of Bon Air Shopping Center, Greenbrae.

Plant Sale Now Closed

Shrubs available include 9 species of ceanothus, 5 salvias, spice bush, creek dogwood, Nevin’s barberry and silk tassel bush, as well as trusty favorites like coffeeberry, toyon, Island tree mallow, and Catalina cherry. Perennials include lots of narrow-leaf milkweed, Santa Cruz Island buckwheat (Eriogonum arborescens), 3 monkeyflowers (hybrid and shrub), Yellow Evening Primrose, California phacelia, soap lily, 3 types of gumplant, western goldentop and pipevine. Bulbs include 2 colors of Douglas iris, Golden Brodeia and Triteleia Queen Fabiola.

Among the species being offered for the first time are Giant sunflower (Helianthus californicus), ‘Claremont’ currant (large flower clusters), Heuchera ‘Opal’ (paler pink flowers), Palmer’s penstemon (pink with raspberry streaks), and Ground iris (Iris macrosiphon). We are also hoping to have Western redbud.

We plan to have a number of annual spring wildflowers as well; we’re waiting to see which ones are perfect for planting by the time of the sale.

cephalanthus occidentalis buttonbush

Planting bed at Home Ground Nursery


Marin CNPS Micro Grants for 2024

The Marin chapter of CNPS is happy to announce that we are accepting applications for our 2024 Micro Grants, intended to assist with projects that advance our mission. The California Native Plant Society is dedicated to protecting and advocating for California’s native plants. The Marin chapter focuses on expanding our knowledge about what grows in Marin, advocating for native plants and their habitats, and encouraging the use of native plants in public spaces and home gardens.

Applications are due Dec 16, 2023 and recipients will be announced in February 2024. Please see details about eligibility and application process here.

Recipients of 2023 Micro Grants

Refugia Marin, Larkspur

Refugia Marin is a newly-formed environmental and educational organization that identifies neglected public spaces in Marin for rehabilitation. In the Fall of 2021, we worked with the Town of Corte Madera to plant a new native plant landscape adjacent to Neil Cummins Elementary School. This grant will allow us to restore the untended land adjacent to the school fence and integrate it with the school garden to create a larger garden of richer diversity for pollinators and other creatures.

Future site of a diverse pollinator garden

Coleman Elementary School, San Rafael

With this grant, we plan to establish a native plant teaching garden that would connect to our curriculum, especially for third and fourth graders. In those grades they learn about ecosystems, natural resources and the state’s plants and animals. We are looking to bring to life all of these topics. We will also be including a Monarch butterfly sanctuary which will give us an opportunity to understand how our choices and action help protect essential species.

One of the areas to be planted at Coleman school

West Marin Monarch Sanctuary, Bolinas

The West Marin Monarch Sanctuary is an extensive planting created on private land in Bolinas. The restoration is aimed at providing for the needs of migrating Monarch butterflies, which used to overwinter there in earlier decades but have been seen only in small numbers lately. We will use the grant to host events to educate and inspire the public about native plants and ways to meet the needs of Monarchs and other pollinators. We will also create signage in the sanctuary listing the different sections (grassland, wildflower, riparian, etc.) and the fifty plus species of native plants growing there.

Ole Schell, founder of the Monarch Sanctuary

Order “Plant Communities of Marin”


Do you want to learn more about the diverse plant communities of this special county ?

Plant Communities of Marin County written by David Shuford and Irene C. Timossi and illustrated with exquisite black and white photographs of the communities and their member species, is an excellent resource. Send your check payable to CNPS for $10 per copy (shipping, handling& tax included) to:

Phyllis Faber, 212 Del Cosa Drive, Mill Valley, CA 94941

Enclosed is $____________. Please send

me ___ copies of “Plant Communities of Marin County”




Invasive Plants Threaten Biodiversity

Invasive Plants Threaten Biodiversity

Invasive plants can significantly impact many of the complex relationships in California’s beautiful and biodiverse landscape.

California is home to some of the most beautiful and biodiverse areas in the world: oak woodlands to redwood forests; serpentine and valley grasslands to alpine meadows; coastal wetlands to riparian corridors. These communities support an astonishing variety of insects, plants, and other animals in a diverse, interdependent web of life.

Carpobrotus edulis Cape iceplantCarpobrotus edulis – Cape iceplant (Vernon Smith)Unfortunately, invasive plants can significantly impact many of these complex relationships. Invasive plants such as water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) blanket waterways; iceplant (Carpobrotus edulis) smothers dunes. Weeds like blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) and Acacia spp. from Australia, African veldt grass (Erharta erecta), French broom (Genista monspessulana), pampas grass (Cortaderia spp.), and poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) invade grasslands and forests. Grasslands once comprised of native annual grasses, perennial bunchgrasses, and annual and perennial wildflowers are now dominated by annual grasses and forbs from the Mediterranean region. Roadsides are now being invaded by rampant stinkwort (Ditrichia spp.).

Invaders displace native plants and animals. They diminish forage for livestock, native fish, and wildlife. Some invasive plants consume enormous amounts of water; some block natural waterways causing flooding. Many increase wildland fuel loads, making adjacent residential neighborhoods and wild areas more fire-prone.  Erharta erecta IMG 8683Erharta erecta – African veldt grass (Vernon Smith)Our warming climate may cause invasive plants to expand into new areas posing an increasing threat to biodiversity.

How do non-native plant species get here?  International travel, shipping containers, and imports of agricultural products can spread propagules (seeds or plant parts that grow into new plants), but the greatest culprit is the horticultural trade. Gardeners find many of these invasive species attractive, providing a market for commercial growers and nurserymen to supply. Property owners and landscapers often lack information about a plant’s potential to spread outside landscaped spaces.  In the past, even landscape restoration projects used invasive plants such as cordgrass (Spartina spp.) and ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) to control erosion quickly.

Not all non-native species are invasive, but those that are have a competitive edge for several reasons. They often lack natural predators to hold them in check.  For example, no insect in sufficient numbers and no browsers in Marin eat French broom, a shrub that continues to invade our wildlands. Many invasive species are strong colonizers, easily dominating damaged or denuded landscapes.Genista monspessulana IMG 0688cGenista monspessulana – French broom (Vernon Smith)

CNPS works with its partners Cal-IPC and Calflora to monitor and map rare and threatened plants and plant communities, identify immediate and potential threats of new invasive plants, promote restoration of native plant ecosystems, and encourage horticulturalists to use California native plants (locally sourced when available). Marin Chapter members have successfully lobbied to require 70% CA native vegetation for new developments in the recently approved update to the Housing Element (see pg. 62) of the Marin Countywide Plan.

Spartium junceum Spanish broomSpartium junceum – Spanish broom (Vernon Smith)

Ditrichia graveolens stinkwortDitrichia graveolens – stinkwort (Vernon Smith)

Mats of ice plant cover huge parts of the Point Reyes dunes. Photo: Laura Lovett