Tuesday November 10, 2009
“Wildflowers of the Western Mountains”
guest speaker
John Longstreth

John and his wife Carolyn moved to Inverness three years ago after spending nearly three decades in Connecticut, where John was a banker. He earned his Masters in Environmental Management from Yales School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, then developed and directed a 700-acre nature center for the National Audubon Society. He began photographing nature 20 years ago, starting with birds. Although birds remain his primary photographic interest, he also enjoys shooting wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies, and other critters.

This program will center on a trip this past summer with Bob Stewart to the Sierras north of Yosemite. Carolyn Longstreth is on the board of the Marin chapter of CNPS.


this program was cancelled due to storm – will be rescheduled
Tuesday October 13, 2009
“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 June 8, 2009
“Restoration of Redwood Creek at Muir Beach:
Creating Habitat for Salmon, Frogs, and Native Plants”
guest speaker
Chris Friedel

Join us for a detailed look at the upcoming Muir Beach Restoration Project (formerly known as the Big Lagoon Restoration). This project will transform the way that Redwood Creek flows into the Pacific Ocean at Muir Beach, including the construction of a new parking lot and bridge, a reconstructed creek channel, and expanded wetland habitat for frogs, salmon, and other wildlife. In addition, part of the restoration design will incorporate plants with ethnobotanical significance, to showcase a “living museum” of the Coast Miwok tribes relationship with the landscape.

Chris Friedel, a resident of Muir Beach, has been the manager of the Redwood Creek Native Plant Nursery, located at Muir Woods, since 2005. In addition to propagating native plants, he has coordinated the re-vegetation of several restoration sites in the Redwood Creek watershed. Soon, he will take on a new role with the National Park Service as vegetation ecologist for the Muir Beach Restoration Project.

Chris graduated from Stanford University in 2001 with B.S. in Earth Systems. His appreciation of California native plants began through his work as a docent and environmental educator at Stanfords Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve.


Monday May 11, 2009
“Our Future Flies on the Wings of Pollinators”
guest speaker
Laurie Adams

 

    Did you know?

  • You can increase the number of pollinators in your garden by making conscience choices to include plants, mostly native, that provide essential habitat for bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.
  • The health of pollinators has a significant influence on our ecosystems and agricultural industry.
  • You can find online the “Selecting Plants for Pollinators” Ecoregional Planting guide for your ZIP code. Eventually, 35 guides willG be available for download, free-of-charge from the Pollinator Partnership and the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC).

As Executive Director of the Pollinator Partnership, Laurie Davies Adams has overseen the initial organization and development of the NAPPC, the 120-plus member collaboration of Mexican, Canadian, and US stakeholders that work for a variety of fields including science, the environment, agriculture, and private industry. NAPPCs successes under Ms. Adams include the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council Study on the Status of the Pollinators of North America, the US Postal Services “Pollination” stamp series, and the US Senate and USDA proclamations creating National Pollinator Week.


Monday April 13, 2009
“Geology of Marin County”
guest speaker
Doris Sloan

This talk will give an overview of the Countys complex and fascinating geology, which attracts geologists from all over the world. We will look at the processes that shape Marins scenic landscape, including how the San Andreas Fault and other plate tectonic movements have brought exceptionally interesting rocks to Marin from far distances in time and space.

Doris Sloan is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley. She has a MS in geology and a PhD in paleontology, both from UC Berkeley. She taught for two decades in the Environmental Sciences program at UCB and has led field seminars for Point Reyes National Seashore Association, and several other organizations. She is the author of Geology of the San Francisco Bay Region, published by the University of California Press in their California Natural History Series, and is writing a booklet on Discovering Geology at Point Reyes for the Association. Her current research focuses primarily on microfossils in the sediments beneath San Francisco Bay and what they can tell us about the Bays geologic history.


Monday March 9, 2009
“My Year with the Butterflies of San Francisco”
by guest speaker
Liam O’Brien

Lepidopterist Liam O’Brien spent 2007 combing every bit of remaining open space, park, beach dune, and vacant lot to see exactly what butterflies still fly in San Francisco County. Armed with the historic record, he logged over 200 days in the field, in a city more famous for what is gone (the Xerces Blue) than for what remains. Come see some fantastic pictures and learn for yourself the interesting relationship between host plants and butterflies. Hear some interesting stories about the zones where humans and Lepidoptera converge, and become updated on some exciting new projects to turn the tide of our rapidly diminishing charismatic microfauna.

Trained as a professional stage actor, Liam O’Brien had returned to the Bay Area from Broadway in 1996 when a tiger swallowtail flew into his backyard off the Duboce Triangle. It was a life-changing experience. He travelled all over California studying and painting the state’s butterflies and moths. His artwork/journals have been published in many periodicals, most recently Bay Nature (April 2008). After surveying the butterflies of San Francisco, Liam came up with a conservation project in tandem with Nature in the City: the Green Hairstreak Corridor – the restoration of a disappearing butterflys ecosystem in the Sunset District. He runs the annual San Francisco butterfly count and is currently painting wildflowers and natives for some Recreation & Parks signage. He also serves on the board of directors of the CNPS Yerba Buena chapter.


Monday February 9, 2009
“Update on Sudden Oak Death”
by guest speaker
Matteo Garbelotto

Exotic diseases like Sudden Oak Death are among the most destructive forces responsible for major changes in native plant communities. Although an initial flurry of media attention and public interest several years ago brought Sudden Oak Death into the limelight, it has all but disappeared from the news and the general public consciousness of late. But Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen responsible for the disease, continues to spread in northern California, including the North Bay, and the count of susceptible plant species now numbers in the dozens. Fortunately, research on the disease and the pathogen has also been expanding, led by scientists like this months speaker, Matteo Garbelotto.

Matteos presentation will focus on examples of exotic forest diseases and explain how they were introduced and how they may be spreading. In particular he will present the latest published data showing where Sudden Oak Death was first introduced in California, how it has been spreading, and what the natural potential spread of this scary pathogen is likely to be. Answering these questions required dedicated work by many researchers at several universities and included sequencing the entire pathogen genome. Alarming as the pathogen and the disease are, the research and its findings are fascinating. Those who have attended Matteos presentations in the past know he is a dynamic speaker and a brilliant researcher who always provides ample reason for hope.

Dr. Matteo Garbelotto is a plant pathologist who serves as Extension Specialist and Professor of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley. His research interests include ecosystem sciences, forestry, microbial biology, plant biology, Sudden Oak Death, and forest pathology.


Monday January 12, 2009
“Interactive Effects of Nitrogen and Salinity on Salt Marsh Plant Communities”
by guest speaker
Amelia Ryan

Amelias research examines the effects of nitrogen and salinity in salt marsh communities. An essential nutrient for plant growth, nitrogen can have a profound effect on the diversity and structure of plant communities. The effects of excess nitrogen have the potential to be magnified in salt marsh communities because nitrogen is a key component in the plant response to salt stress.

Nitrogen levels have been increasing worldwide since the onset of the industrial age. This problem is pronounced in estuaries such as San Francisco Bay because both direct input and runoff concentrate nitrogen in estuaries. Salinity varies around the bay, but both water diversion and climate change have caused overall increases in bay salinity. These salinity changes could further impact marsh diversity.

Amelia will discuss a series of experiments she undertook in both the greenhouse and at China Camp State Park in San Rafael to try to understand the impacts of these human-caused changes to the estuary. This work was completed as a part of her masters work under Dr. Katharyn Boyer at the Romberg Tiburon Center, San Francisco State University.

Amelia grew up in rural western Sonoma County, where she developed an interest in California native plants at a very young age. She graduated from UC Davis in 2000 with a B.S. in Plant Biology. After leaving Davis, Amelia spent two years as a science teacher in Namibia. Since 2003, Amelia has worked at Pt. Reyes National Seashore as a biologist on the Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project. It was this experience that inspired her interest in marsh communities in particular. In 2008 Amelia was proud to receive a scholarship from the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the CNPS to support the completion of her masters work.


Pomo burden basketMonday, November 10, 2008
“Indian Baskets of Central California:
Ohlone/Costanoan coiled basket Native American Basketry from
San Francisco Bay and
Monterey Bay north to Mendocino
and east to the Sierras”
by guest speakers
Ralph and Lisa Shanks

Is it any real surprise that California Native plants form the basis for our states first and greatest Native American art form? Every Native American basket was created using a remarkable and fascinating array of native plants. California Indian baskets have a rich heritage thousands of years old and comprise the finest basketry in the world. These fascinating baskets achieve their beauty because our rich flora was combined with the artistic talents and cultural needs of the diverse First People of California.

What an unexcelled combination: the most complex Native American cultural region interacting with the flora of California. Each Indian basketry tradition reflects the plants of the region where the baskets were created. And how surprising these baskets are: there are baskets so small they can sit on the head of a pin and some so large it took four strong men to carry them when filled. Many kinds of baskets were used by both women and men throughout all aspects of their entire lives. To make these baskets required great knowledge of California native plants. No wonder California Indian people became expert ethnobotanists.

Ralph Shanks, M.A., author of Indian Baskets of Central California, will present a beautifully illustrated slide show on the Indian baskets of California. Ralph is president of the Miwok Archeological Preserve of Marin (MAPOM). He has a long-time interest in native plants dating from his first published article in Fremontia in volume 1, number 1. Ralph and his wife recently completed studies of very early California baskets at Harvard University, the Museo de American in Madrid, UC and other collections.

Lisa Woo Shanks is a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service area resource conservationist who covers environmental projects in the Bay Area and Delta. She is editor and photographer and will show you slides of many of the finest and rarest Indian baskets ever created including seldom seen very early baskets from East Coast and European museums. The Shanks will emphasize native plants uses in Indian basketry and the role both plants and baskets play in California Indian life yesterday and today.

The Shanks will have copies of their beautiful book, Indian Baskets of Central California, available for sale and signing. See Fremontia (Summer 2007 issue) for Steve Edwardss outstanding review of the book.

Right image: An Ohlone/Costanoan coiled basket from the San Francisco Bay Area, decorated with olivella shell disc beads and woodpecker feathers.
Left image: This Pomo burden basket has a background of sedgeroot with redbud designs, plus a few clamshell disc beads for decoration.


Monday June 9, 2008
“Creating California Native Gardens”
Illustrated presentation
by guest speaker
Glenn Keator

We in California are lucky to find ourselves in a climate that is gentle enough to allow us to include plants from all over the world in our gardens. But should we? There are compelling reasons to turn to California natives, which are already adapted to our habitats and microclimates. California native gardens give us a sense of place, low maintenance, and great beauty. Glenn Keators talk will feature Marin County plant communities as inspiration to create appropriate local gardens. Well visit the hot, dry chaparral; the cool, shady redwood forests; the open oak woodlands; and the wildflower-filled grasslands.

Glenn Keator is a freelance teacher, botanist, and writer specializing in California native plants and their garden culture. He teaches at San Francisco Botanical Garden, Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Merritt College, and College of Marin. Glenn has written several books on natives including The Life of an Oak, Introduction to Trees of the San Francisco Bay Region, and a pocket guide called Trees and Shrubs of Mt. Diablo. His newest book, Designing California Native Gardens, with Alrie Middlebrook (UC Press), forms the basis for this talk. A limited number of copies of the book will be available for purchase (at a discounted price) and signing after the presentation.


Monday May 12, 2008
Our May speaker succumbed to the flu, and was unable to give us his update on Sudden Oak Death. We wish him a speedy recovery, and will try to line him up to speak in November or January. Meanwhile we are very grateful to our Rare Plants chair, Doreen Smith, who very ably filled in with a program on rare plants of Pt. Reyes.


Lester Rowntree and Skimpy near Piute Pass in the 1930sLester RowntreeMonday April 14, 2008
“Lester Rowntree and Hardy Californians: A Woman’s Life with Native Plants
Illustrated presentation
by guest speaker
Lester B. Rowntree

Lester Rowntree was a pioneer in the study, cultivation, and conservation of California native plants. While remembered today primarily for her 1936 classic, Hardy Californians, which UC Press recently republished in an expanded edition, Lester also authored over 700 popular articles and gave hundreds of public lectures as she tirelessly promoted the cause of native flora. Besides her botanical and horticultural messages, the public seemed equally enchanted by Lester’s gypsy lifestyle and her irrepressible personality, empowered as it was by a mystical blend of natural philosophy and religion that was enriched by her outdoor life. In this talk her grandson, Lester B. Rowntree, will talk about this fascinating woman’s life with native plants. The talk will be illustrated with pictures from the Rowntree family archives, as well as with original photographs taken by Lester herself.

The Speaker: After three decades of teaching in San Jose State’s Department of Environmental Studies, Lester B. Rowntree is now a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley where he researches and writes about local and world environmental topics. In addition to editing the recent edition of Hardy Californians, Lester is currently working on a natural history book of California’s Central Coast for UC Press. He is also the author of over a dozen college textbooks. He lives in Berkeley and has long been a member of the East Bay chapter of CNPS.


Living Roof at the new California Academy of Sciences
 photo by Frank AlmedaMonday March 10, 2008
“Sustainability and the Living Roof at the new California Academy of Sciences”
Illustrated presentation
by guest speaker
Frank Almeda

Join us for a lecture to learn how construction of the new California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park was informed by the institution’s commitment to the environment and its sustainability. As eco-friendly continues to take center stage, buildings of all kinds and sizes are going green. Almeda will discuss ways in which the new Academy is setting some of the highest standards for green architecture in everything from water and energy efficiency to natural light and ventilation, recycled building materials, and last but not least the challenges and benefits of a living roof.


Cohopair 
photo by Todd SteinerMonday February 11, 2008
“Salmon Grow on Trees!
How Restoration of Riparian Forests
Can Nurture the Recovery of Marins Coho Salmon”
Illustrated presentation
by guest speaker
Paola Bouley

Lagunitas coho salmon are listed as endangered at the State and federal level and are the largest remaining wild run of coho salmon in Central California. The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) is a 501c3 organization in West Marin working to protect and restore endangered salmon populations and creek ecosystems. Paola Bouley will talk about the importance of riparian forests and floodplains to salmon in California and highlight SPAWNs grassroots efforts to revive and protect local riparian forests and coho salmon in West Marin.

Paola has a M.S. in Ecology from the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies and San Francisco State University, and a B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Over the past 10 years, Paola has worked with the GGNRA, PRBO Conservation Science, and the Nature Conservancy monitoring migratory songbirds and working actively in the restoration of Bay Area wildlands. Since 2004, she has worked as the watershed biologist (that is, a community ecologist) for SPAWN. Working closely with volunteers, she helped launch SPAWNs watershedbased native plant nursery, and helps manage programs to monitor coho salmon and streams, restore native riparian habitat on private lands, and advocate in support of environmentally sustainable land and water management policies.

SPAWN naturalists lead creek walks for the public to view endangered coho salmon in the Lagunitas Watershed through the winter months (November- January). For more information, visit the SPAWN website


Monday January 14, 2008
“2008: The Golden Gate National Recreation Area Endangered Species Big Year”
Illustrated presentation
by guest speaker
Peter Brastow

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area contains more endangered species than any National Park in continental North America: more then Yosemite, Yellowstone, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks combined. This astounding array of imperiled biodiversity – in the midst of the Bay Areas vibrant civilization – is certainly cause for celebration, but also concern, as the species dire status may indicate that something is wrong with our relationship to the Park.

In 2008, CNPS will embark on an exciting campaign to reconnect people with these species: the Endangered Species Big Year. Like traditional listing competitions, the Endangered Species Big Year provides Park visitors with opportunities to see each of the 33 listed species found in the Park, both through individual exploration and guided expeditions. Over a dozen trips are scheduled in Marin County alone, for species such as Northern Spotted Owl, Tiburon Paintbrush, Marin Dwarf Flax, and Mission Blue Butterfly.

But it doesnt stop there: the Endangered Species Big Year also empowers individual competitors to take 33 conservation action items that aid species recovery, reconnecting people with the preservationist values of this urban national park experiment.

Peter Brastow is Founding Director of Nature in the City, the first and only organization wholly dedicated to the conservation and restoration of the Franciscan bioregion. Peter started Nature in the City on the heels of working for the National Park Service at the GGNRA, where he was the Presidio Ecological Restoration Coordinator. He still serves as Rare Plant Co-Chair for CNPS Yerba Buena Chapter, and managed rare and endangered plant restoration and monitoring while working at the Presidio. Prior to his 10-year stint at the GGNRA, Peter did graduate work in biogeography at UCLA, an experience that taught him about both our current ecological crisis as well as its social and cultural origins.

Peter and Nature in the City are playing a leading role in the GGNRA Big Year Project because of its direct confrontation with our collective relationship with nature where live. Speaking of which, though his work is in the city, Peter recently moved with his wife and two boys to San Anselmo, where Peter hopes to contribute to the regions cultural ecological transformation, including along his own creek frontage!


Monday November 12, 2007
“California Native Shrubs and Companion Plants for the Garden”
Illustrated presentation
by guest speaker
Ted Kipping

Planting with some of our native flowering shrubs and wildflowers can yield three seasons of garden bloom. Come see a sampling of the myriad possibilities. Teds photography is superb, so this presentation will be both informative and visually stunning. Teds interest in the natural world began early and led to studies of natural history and a passion for plants. After working at Strybing Arboretum, Ted founded a tree pruning business, Tree Shapers, and earned a reputation as one of the most artistic of Bay Area arborists. He is an accomplished and widely-published plant photographer, and an avid gardener, active in a wide array of horticultural societies. Teds California native gardens have appeared in three books – one on wildflower gardening. Ted has been a longtime member of this chapter and a frequent presenter at our meetings.


Monday October 8, 2007
Wilma Follette 
photo by Gini Havel“The Poetry of John Thomas Howell and the making of the new Marin Flora”
Illustrated presentation
by guest speaker
Wilma Follette

Co-author Wilma Follette will give a slide-illustrated talk with selected quotes from Howells classic work. As much as possible of the original species discussions, along with his insights and unique – often poetic – observations, has been retained in the new edition. Wilma will share selections of these and relate tales from the 12-year work on the new Flora, a joint project between CNPS Marin and the California Academy of Sciences. Both hardcover and softcover editions of the Flora will be available for purchase (by check or cash) at the meeting, and Wilma will autograph copies as desired.

Wilma is a third-generation, native-born Northern Californian – 44 years here in Marin – with a lifelong interest in the outdoors. In 1973 she was one of the founders of the Marin Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. For this society and other organizations she has led numerous field trips locally and around the state, including weekly trips in Marin during March, April, and May over the past 25 years, identifying spring wildflowers, making plant lists, and monitoring rare-listed species for public agencies. For 11 years, Wilma taught a fall community education class in plant identification at the College of Marin. Since 1979 she has enjoyed working with botanical artists to produce and has overseen the distribution of six different wildflower posters for the state organization of CNPS, for which work she has been honored as a Fellow of the society.

Wilmas husband Bill, who has pursued photography as an avocation since a boy, devotes much energy to flower photography especially, and they travel together throughout the western states pursuing their joint interest. While Bill waits for the breeze to die down and jockeys for the right angle and “most sincere” arrangement, Wilma endlessly keys out and checks references to get the correct epithet on the subject at hand. The result is a collection of over 15,000 slides and great memories of interesting plants in beautiful locations.


Monday June 11, 2007
“California Chaparral: Fire, Water, and Climate Change”
Illustrated presentation
by guest speaker David Ackerly

The California chaparral is a distinctive plant community occupying the Mediterranean-climate zone of coastal California and the Sierra foothills. In this talk, David Ackerly will discuss the diversity of plant strategies for surviving the summer drought, and the role of drought and fire in shaping the evolution of the chaparral flora. In addition, he will share preliminary results of ongoing studies on the potential impact of climate change on endemic plants of California, with an emphasis on the chaparral and other coastal vegetation.

David Ackerly is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, and the Curator of Ecology for the UC and Jepson Herbaria, at the University of California Berkeley. A native of New England, he conducted his Ph.D. and post-doctoral research at Harvard University, including field work in Brazil, Mexico, New England, and Japan. Professor Ackerly and his research group study the ecology and evolution of plant traits – characteristics such as leaf size and thickness, flowering time, and seed size – that reflect the ecological diversity of terrestrial plants. Current projects in his lab are examining vernal pools of the Central Valley, evergreen shrubs in California and Australia, tropical forests in Ecuador, woody plants in the Sierra Nevada, and potential impacts of climate change on the endemic flora of the California Floristic Province. At Berkeley, Professor Ackerly teaches courses on Ecology, Plant Ecology, Biodiversity, and Plants of the UC Botanical Garden. He is married to documentary film maker Noel Schwerin, and they live in San Francisco with their twin seven-year- old boys.


Monday May 14, 2007
“Treasures of our Local Flora”
Illustrated presentation
by guest speaker Reny Parker

 In 2006 Reny Parker photographed 200 species of flowering plants that were new to her in our area-this after 17 years of photographing wildflowers. Come and enjoy a special slide presentation of the more unusual and difficult to find beauties. Reny will also show us her new photographic guide Wildflowers of Northern California’s Wine Country & North Coast Ranges. This guide contains 358 species of wildflowers in 83 plant families, 272 pages, and 542 color photos. Included are bloom times, habitats, garden tips, native uses, natural history, plant family traits, and 33 wildflower hot spots with maps.

Poppy mural in Exeter, CA.
Photo by Keith R. Parker Reny has lived in rural northern California for 40 years, currently with her husband and two cats off the power grid in northern Sonoma County. She began photographing in 1964; for the past 17 years Reny has focused her lens on wildflowers. Her works have appeared in books, on cards and posters. See hundreds of Reny’s photographs on her web site: Wildflowers – A Closer Look. She is past president of the Milo Baker Chapter (Sonoma County) of the California Native Plant Society. Camera in hand, Reny roams the western states and Canada in spring and summer indulging her passion to capture and communicate the delicate beauty of wildflowers.


Monday April 9, 2007

Macrosiphonia Brachysiphon with Moth
 photo by Bob Stewart
“Southeast Arizona – Flora and other Wildlife”
Illustrated presentation
by guest speaker Bob Stewart
Amoreuxia Palmatifida
photo by Bob Stewart

 When you visit southeastern Arizona at any time of the year, put aside your California expectations and biases. Here, a little over 1,000 miles away, a very different world awaits. The number one rumor to dispel is that this is a very hot, flat, deserty kind of place, therefore boring and tedious. Most people from California think of Phoenix or Yuma when they think of Arizona. But southeastern Arizona is full of high basins and mountains over 9,000 feet, and it borders Mexico. The diversity of flora and fauna is high.

Although there is a general overlap with the California flora, there are many different species and some different families to add spice to a botanical visit. The saguaro, Carnegiea gigantea, a rare plant in California, is strikingly abundant once you cross into Arizona. Many families that occur in California have different genera in Arizona: for instance, Graptopetalum in Crassulaceae; Crotalaria, Desmodium, Erythrina and Mimosa in Fabaceae; Jatropha and Cnidoscolus Euphorbiaceae; Hybanthus in Violaceae; Tetramerium and Anisacanthus in Acanthaceae; Bouvardia in Rubiaceae; and Macrosiphon in Apocynaceae, just to mention a few.

One special species in the Cochlospermaceae, Amoreuxia palmatifida, blooms in the summer and fall. Its yellow petals with two sets of stamens open only at night to be pollinated by moths. Of the approximately 11,500 species of moths in North America, over 3,000 occur in southeastern Arizona!

The most exciting time to be here is during the monsoon season (late June to September), because this is when the most rain falls. At that time the region is a paradise for botanists, birders, and entomologists.

Born in 1936 in New York City, Bob moved on to earn an AA Degree (1956 San Mateo College, CA), a BA Degree in Social Science and English (1960 San Jose State University, CA), a BA Degree in Biology (1962 S.F. State University, CA), and an MS Degree (1965 Oregon State University). He holds a Life Teaching Credential and taught Biology in California public schools from 1962 to 1969. From 1969 to 1979, Bob was Landbird Biologist and Director of Education at the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, where he presented talks for 500 groups and published many scientific papers, including several on the Wilson’s Warbler. From 1979 to 1982, Bob taught Biology at the College of Marin, and from 1982 to 1997 he held the position of Naturalist for the County of Marin, leading over 2,000 free public day outings featuring bird behavior, migration, song and nests, butterflies and other insects, spiders, grasses and other flowering plants, mushrooms, lichens, habitats, and general ecology. From 1973 to the present, Bob has also led numerous private birding and natural history tours to various locations in California (mostly Sierra Nevada), SE Arizona, Texas, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Trinidad & Tobago. He has published two books, Common Butterflies of California (1979 West Coast Lady Press; 10,000 sold), and Butterflies of Arizona, a Photographic Study (2001, with Priscilla and Hank Brodkin).


Monday March 12, 2007

photo by Joan Pont
“From Aristolochia to Zigadenus, the Transformation of a Marin Garden”
Illustrated presentation by guest speaker Joan Pont
Dudleya
photo by Joan Pont

 March, 1983 news alert: two new home owners move into their 1960 ranch style home. A botanical survey of the “garden” would take about two minutes to complete. Eucalyptus, Monterey pines, oleander and agapanthus, all plants that seem to thrive in highway median strips.

1984: all trees cleared and non native underbrush removed. Some residual stalwart plants reappear with the cheerful suncups (Camissonia ovata) leading the way. Joan joins the Marin Chapter of CNPS and gets inspired

Fast forward to 2006: 163 species of native plants in the garden. Learn all about it at the March meeting, intentionally scheduled before the plant sale!

Joan Pont grew up in Palos Verdes, California. The peninsula still has sizable open space and residual outcroppings of native plants that Joan can now recognize but could not then. She attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts and Harvard Medical School in Boston. A return trip to California brought her back to Stanford and UCSF for Internal Medicine Residency. She is an Internist and Assistant Chief of Medicine at Kaiser in San Rafael, and married to another physician, Allan Pont. They have one son, Sean, a senior at Cornell University. Gardening was taken up as a serious hobby when she and Allan moved into Mill Valley in March of 1983, a wet year. In the intervening 24 years, there has been plenty of opportunity to hone gardening skills. Inspired by reading that Thomas Jefferson recorded all his gardening experiments, a high tech log of the garden was developed with the computer savvy of son Sean.

Cornus nuttallii (Western dogwood)
photo by Joan Pont


Monday February 12, 2007

“A Peek At Wildflowers on the peaks and slopes of Mt Tamalpais and Mt Diablo…”
Illustrated presentation by guest speakers Ken Lavin and Mia Monroe

 

An intimate look at some of our favorite flowers with stories about their uses, names and discovery. Learning about the plants is often a good lead into the area’s history and past lore or a chance to discover a bit of geology, too! Good trails to discover seasonal wildflower displays, special floral features and good views will be highlited.

Rangers Ken Lavin and Mia Monroe will combine their years of hiking and botanizing the area’s two distinctive peaks, sharing the stories the public has most enjoyed and giving you some behind the scenes news on park activities. Mia has been at Muir Woods for a quarter of a century and has found her niche among the non-flowering plants from tall to small. Ken also rangers among the tall trees but has also been President of the Mt Diablo Interpretive Association (he knows the names of each tarantula on that mountain!).


Monday January 8, 2007

“The Impacts of Climate Change on California Ecosystems”
Illustrated presentation by guest speaker Brian Ellis

Although California leads the US in its proactive approach to climate issues, most natural resource professionals in California do not explicitly address climate change in their work protecting species and habitats. Environmental changes likely to occur in this century necessitate, however, that management and conservation planning efforts incorporate an awareness of the high-probability climate impacts affecting wildlife. In recent work sponsored by the California Energy Commission and the California EPA, researchers developed a set of possible climate “scenarios” for California and used these to assess statewide impacts. Although it is impossible to predict site-specific effects, regional models suggest a relatively narrow range of probabilities for such factors as temperature increase, sea level rise, loss of snowpack, and increased fire risk. California’s plant and animal species will respond in different ways to these changes. Research is ongoing towards understanding how species’ ranges and demographic patterns will shift, and how critical ecological relationships will be affected. The multitude of potential changes in ecological relationships suggests that management “rules of thumb” developed in past climates may quickly become obsolete, and that managers must be prepared for surprises. Although there are many uncertainties, we have enough information to act. Landscape-level planning that allows species to move and adapt to climate change is above all important.

Brian Ellis works for the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program of the California Energy Commission. He is a research contract manager in the PIER Environmental Area concentrating on projects studying the ecological impacts of climate change and carbon sequestration. He received a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in Nature and Culture from the University of California at Davis.


Monday November 13, 2006

photo by Peigi Duvall“Going Native: Landscaping with Ecological Integrity”
Illustrated presentation by guest speaker Peigi Duvall

We are exposed to a variety of landscapes, including our residence, place of work, and the places we frequent, such as walkways, parking lots, and freeways. So many of these planted areas require large amounts of water, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and often quite a bit of effort. In areas of low summer rainfall where water can be scarce, or where other natural resources and wildlife are at risk, this type of landscaping does not seem wise or sustainable.

How can we use our California native plants to conserve resources and contribute to a healthy ecosystem while creating beautiful landscapes?

We are happy to welcome Peigi Duvall, Horticulture Program Director for CNPS, landscape designer, and Santa Clara Valley Chapter member, who will share insights and experiences about the good use of native plants in the landscape. The CNPS Horticulture Program works to bring more awareness to the public about our wonderful California flora.

Peigi Duvall grew up in Monterey, CA, and has been playing in Californias natural beauty ever since. She is certified in Landscape and Ornamental Horticulture and professionally designs native gardens throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sandhill Sage (Artemisia pycnocephala)
Monterey Manzanita (Arctostaphylos hookeri Ken Taylor)
and Yerba Buena (Satureja douglasii)
photo by Peigi Duvall


Sonoma Creek
photo by James MartinMonday October 9, 2006

“San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the Marin Islands”
Illustrated presentation
by
guest speaker Giselle Block

San Pablo Bay contains some of the largest contiguous tracts of tidal marsh and open space in the San Francisco Estuary. The environments of San Pablo Bay provide habitat for a diversity of wildlife and plants including many that occur nowhere else in California. The San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge (SPBNWR) lies along the northern border of San Pablo Bay and comprises 13,000 acres of tidal marsh, tidal mudflats, seasonal freshwater marsh, and sub-tidal environments. The focus of management efforts at SPBNWR is restoration and enhancement of tidal environments for the benefit of estuarine dependent species.

Giselle Block is a Biologist with the SPBNRW and Marin Islands NWR. Her talk will cover topics ranging from the National Wildlife Refuge System, endangered species of the refuge, common wildlife and plant species of the refuge, and current efforts to restore native plant assemblages of SPBNWR and Marin Islands NWR.

Sonoma Creek photo by James Martin


Monday June 12, 2006

“Wild turkeys in California: their brief history and effects on Sonoma oak woodlands”
Illustrated presentation
by
guest speaker Daniel Gluesenkamp

Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are certainly among the most interesting challenges introduced to California. Though native to other parts of North America, Wild Turkeys never successfully colonized California, and so the recent introduction and expansion of turkeys in California creates tantalizing questions and research opportunities. In November 2002, I initiated the first experimental assessment of turkey impacts in California. This exclusion experiment evaluates the effect of turkeys on grounddwelling invertebrate populations, acorn removal, and vegetation structure and composition. This presentation will give an overview of the history and biology of Californias introduced turkeys, describe research underway at Audubon Canyon Ranchs Bouverie Preserve, and include presentation of preliminary results that improve our understanding of introduced turkey ecology.

Daniel Gluesenkamp, Ph.D directs Habitat Protection and Restoration for Audubon Canyon Ranch and leads in the development, implementation, and evaluation of conservation and restoration projects at ACR preserves. His work involves experimental evaluation of management techniques, oversight of stewardship activities such as control of invasive alien species, and collaboration with neighboring land owners and agencies to protect ACR lands. Daniel’s research focuses on the factors structuring plant communities, particularly as related to the invasion and spread of introduced species, with work in habitats ranging from desert riparian zones to subalpine Sierran meadows. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley with research that revealed how populations of native and alien thistles are shaped by plant competition, by insect herbivory, and by effects of habitat productivity on the relative intensity of competition versus herbivory.


Astragalus Coccineus
photo by Ted Kipping
Monday May 8, 2006

“The Inyo-White Mountains and Sweetwater Range”
Illustrated presentation
by
guest speaker Ted Kipping

Sweetwater Range
photo by Ted Kipping

The Inyo-White Mountains, though reaching 14,000 ft., are very dry due to the “rain shadow” effect of the equally high Sierra Nevada range just to the west. The result to most observers would seem a near moonscape were it not for the surprising ridgetop appearance of the remarkable bristlecone pines. Thanks to decent roads, thousands of people have had the privilege of walking on the upper reaches of this range.

The Sweetwater Range, just north of the Inyo-Whites, although only 11,000 ft. in elevation, is even drier, more remote, more picturesque, and is so sparsely vegetated on top as to make the Inyo-Whites seem lush in comparison. Nonetheless, it is a place of austere beauty, of bare mineral soils in an artistic array of pastels, with choice alpine plants appearing all the more rewarding for their scarcity. Alas, without a helicopter, few of you will ever stand on its summit, as access is horrendous. The easiest way to enjoy this remote but compelling place is to come to our meeting and view it in comfort!

Ted Kipping studied Natural History at Columbia University, New York, and has been involved with horticulture for thirty-five years. After completing his studies, Ted wanted to apply his knowledge, and went to work at Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. There he worked with a broad range of trees and other plants. Ted’s interest grew more and more towards trees and shrubs, and in 1976 he started his own tree-trimming enterprise, dubbing himself “Tree Shaper”. Ted continues to operate his Tree Shaper business out of San Francisco, and, as skilled with the camera as with the secateur, he is a sought-after consultant and popular speaker. A life member of CNPS and numerous horticultural societies, Ted has a love of plants that extends from the tallest trees to the smallest jewels of the plant kingdom, and he pursues this passion from his own private rock garden to the far corners of the globe.


Vernal Pool

photo by Denise Cadman
Monday April 10, 2006

“Vernal Pools: Californias Unique Seasonal Wetlands”
Illustrated presentation
by
guest speaker Denise Cadman

Ranunculus lobbii
photo by Denise Cadman

Vernal pools form as a result of our Mediterranean climate; areas of impermeable soils and depressions in the landscape fill with winter rainfall. This special seasonal habitat has led to the evolution of many endemic species, plants and animals, found no place else in the world. Join our speaker for a tour of vernal pools and learn how and where they form, with an emphasis on the pools and flora of the Santa Rosa Plain.

Denise Cadman, a native of Santa Rosa, holds an M.A. in biology with an emphasis in plant ecology. She currently works for the City of Santa Rosa as a Natural Resource Specialist in the Utilities Department. The core of her job involves managing the natural resources on city owned properties in the Laguna de Santa Rosa that are irrigated in their recycled water program. Denise also teaches part time at Santa Rosa Junior College in the Life Sciences Department. In addition, she and her family run a small, draft horse powered farm, growing chemical-free fruits and vegetables for the local farmers markets.


Monday March 13, 2006

Calochortus Venustus
photo by Yulan Chang Tong
“My Favorite Wildflowers of Mount Diablo”
Illustrated presentation
by
guest speaker Yulan Chang Tong
Calochortus Pulchellus
photo by Yulan Chang Tong

Yulans program will consist of photos she has taken over the years in Mt. Diablo State Park. Mt. Diablo, often pictured standing alone, is actually at one end of the Diablo Range, which is about 50 miles long with Henry Coe State Park at its other end, and a gap in the range in the Dublin-Livermore-Pleasanton area. According to Barbara Ertter and Mary L. Bowerman in The Flowering Plants and Ferns of Mount Diablo (CNPS 2002), there are 841 taxa of flowering plants in the park. Yulan will bring copies of her book Lilies of the Field with her photographs of California wildflowers to sell and sign.

Yulan Chang Tong was born in China. Educated in Taiwan in the field of chemical engineering, Yulan travelled to the U.S. to continue her studies and received a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Illinois in 1961. Publications include 21 U.S. patents, 20 other publications, and many presentations in the field. After retiring from chemistry, Yulan began a second career as a nature photographer. Exploring extensively in California, she has enjoyed its variations of desert, coastal region, foothill, and montane habitats. Her nature studies and photography have taken her to Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, South Africa, Mexico, and many other destinations around the world. Yulan is a docent at Mt. Diablo State Park and works in the school program. She resides in Walnut Creek.


Monday February 13, 2006

“Some Beautiful Flowers from a Beautiful State”
Presentation
by
guest speaker Ron Parsons

Our speaker will be Bay Area native Ron Parsons, who will present a photographic cross-section of Californias amazingly diverse flowers. A member of The Orchid Society of California and the San Francisco Orchid Society, Ron has been growing orchids, cacti, succulents, aroids, and bromeliads for the past 30 years. He started photographing orchid species in 1982 and now has over 35,000 orchid slides. Eighteen years ago he started photographing California wildflowers, with a particular interest in Calochortus, Fritillaria, Lilium, Erythronium, Iris, Mimulus, Viola, and, of course orchids.

His photos have been published in various books and magazines on orchids, carnivorous plants, and Californias Wild Gardens. He recently co-authored a book on the Central and South American orchid genus Masdevallia (Timber Press), and is currently working on a book about Calochortus.


Monday January 9, 2006

“Origins of Plant Diversity in Hawaii, or, Where Do All the Flowers Come From?”
Presentation
by
guest speaker Richard Whitkus

Richards general interests are in plant systematics and evolutionary genetics, with particular interest in the origins of new species. Most of his focus has been on the Hawaiian Islands, as they are routinely seen as laboratories of evolution. With his colleague Dr. Timothy Lowrey of the University of New Mexico, Richard has been looking at the evolution of the Hawaiian Daisies, genus Tetramolopium. Because genetic variability is the basis of evolution, Richard takes a decidedly genetic approach in all his studies and writings.

Richard received his Ph.D. in Botany from Ohio State University in 1988 following an M.S. Botany from the University of Alberta in 1981 and a B.A. Botany from Rutgers in 1978. He has spent the past 18 years primarily teaching undergraduates in all aspects of plant biology, with an emphasis on systematics, evolution, and genetics. Richard has taught at Sonoma State University, and served as Curator of its North Coast Herbarium of California, since 1999.


Monday, November 14, 2005

“Botanical Heroes and Flora of San Francisco”
Presentation
by
guest speaker Tom Daniel

The talk will focus on the triumphs and tragedies of botanists at the Wests oldest scientific institution: the California Academy of Sciences. It highlights their efforts to establish a credible scientific program while botanizing the greater San Francisco Bay area. Current efforts to produce a new floristic manual for San Francisco County are discussed, along with some of the recent discoveries made there.

Tom received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1980, following an undergraduate degree from Duke. He was Curator at the Arizona State University from 1981 to 1985. Tom has been Assistant Curator, Associate Curator, Chairman, and is presently Curator of the Department of Botany at the California Academy of Sciences. His research for the past 20 years has centered on members of the family Acanthaceae (shrimp plants and their relatives), native and naturalized, occurring in Mexico. Toms other research interests involve floristic studies in western North America, and current projects include a revised flora of San Francisco and floristic catalogs of certain mountain ranges in Arizona and the Mexican state of Sinaloa.


Monday, October 10, 2005

“Painting a New Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada”
Presentation
by
guest speaker Jack Laws

Naturalist and artist John (Jack) Muir Laws is creating an illustrated field guide to more than 1,200 species of plants and animals of the Sierra Nevada. This comprehensive and easy-to-use guide will allow botanists to identify the insects that come to their flowers, birders to identify the trees in which the birds perch, or hikers to identify the stars overhead at night. Above: Jack Laws on the trail

Jack will present an illustrated lecture about the natural history of the Sierra Nevada, and the process of creating a field guide. He will also bring original illustrations that have been painted in the field and studio. Jack has studied the natural history of the Sierra for many years. He is trained as a wildlife biologist and is an associate of the California Academy of Sciences. He has spent the last four summers painting Sierra wildflowers from life. During the 2005 wildflower season alone, Jack spent more than 70 days in the field working on illustrations for this book. His illustrations capture the feeling of the living plant or animal, while also including details critical for identification.

In the summer of 2004, Laws published Sierra Birds: a Hikers Guide. He is also a regular contributor to Bay Nature magazine with his “Naturalists Notebook” column.


Monday, June 13, 2005

“Battling Weeds with Foreign Bugs: A Good Idea for Cape Ivy?
The Benefits and Risks of Classical Biological Control of Weeds”
Illustrated presentation
by
Jake Sigg and Joe Balciunas

 

Many people are aware of invasive plants but are unfamiliar with how deep and broad the problem is and how severely these organisms threaten native biological communities and human welfare. Technologies for dealing with the problem are few, expensive, controversial, and often not very effective. The control of problem plants by biological means sometimes offers the only hope of coping with a desperate problem.

Although the rat-and mongoose and cane grub-and-cane toad failures are frequently cited as “biological control mistakes”, these biologically-based experiments were never part of classical biological control, which attempts to manage foreign invaders by releasing carefully-selected and tested natural enemies from the pest’s native land. Classical biological control, as practiced now, is far more sophisticated, but it still presents unique risks. This presentation goes into the inner workings of the science, using as example the effort of great interest to coastal California, the Cape ivy biocontrol program of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Jake Sigg and USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist Joe Balciunas will talk about the history of the problem and the program.

Jake Sigg was Invasive Exotics Chair for the California Native Plant Society for 15 years. One of the many tasks he undertook was to raise money to fund some of the overseas research for the Cape ivy control program. He is retired from 32 years as gardener and gardener supervisor for the San Francisco Recreation-Park Department, and now serves CNPS full-time as a volunteer at state and chapter level.

Dr. Joe Balciunas is a research entomologist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Albany, CA. In 1998, he initiated and currently leads the USDA-ARS research project to develop biological control agents for Cape ivy. This includes overseeing the research in South Africa by USDA-ARS cooperators located in Pretoria. Prior to coming to Albany in 1996, he founded, and for 11 years, was the Director of USDA’s Australian Biological Control Laboratory, where he led the team that discovered and developed the successful biological control agents for melaleuca trees in Florida. With more than 30 years of training and experience in classical biological control of weeds, Joe now frequently serves as spokesman for this tool.


Monday, May 9, 2005

“Cynipid Wasps and Their Plant Galls”
Illustrated presentation
by
Kathy Schick

Tiny winged adults, stingless cynipid wasps are visible to us for only a few days while they mate, lay eggs and then die. For the rest of their lives they are invisible, hidden inside a plant gall, feeding on plant tissue. Chemical and genetic interactions between wasp and plant produce diverse and beautiful forms of plant growths (galls) on oaks, roses and a variety of other native plants. This program will introduce you to some of the variety in cynipid galls.

Dr. Katherine Schick works as a curator at the Essig Museum of Entomology and the University of California at Berkeley. She holds a doctorate in Entomology from the University of California at Davis and her specialty is systematics (evolutionary relationships) among Cynipoidea (the superfamily which includes gall-inducing cynipid wasps). Kathy has also taught biology part-time at San Joaquin Delta College for the past several years.


Carson Pass, Sierra Nevada
photo by Ted Kipping
Monday, April 11, 2005

“Highlights of Carson Pass, Sierra Nevada”
Illustrated presentation
by
Ted Kipping

Carson Pass, Sierra Nevada
photo by Ted Kipping

Ted Kipping studied Natural History at Columbia State University, New York, and has been involved with horticulture for thirty-five years. After completing his studies, Ted wanted to apply his knowledge, and went to work at Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. There, he worked with a broad range of trees and other plants. Ted’s interest grew towards trees and shrubs, and in 1976 he started his own tree-trimming enterprise and dubbed himself “Tree Shaper”. Ted continues to operate his Tree Shaper business out of San Francisco and, equally skilled with the camera as he is with the secateur, he is a sought-after consultant and popular speaker. A life member of CNPS and numerous horticultural societies, Ted has a love of plants that extends from the tallest trees to the smallest jewels of the plant kingdom, and he pursues this passion from his own private rock garden to the far corners of the globe. For the evening’s program, Ted will treat us to digital images he captured on a trip to Carson Pass in Summer, 2004.

Carson Pass, Sierra Nevada
photo by Ted Kipping Delphinium, Carson Pass, Sierra Nevada
photo by Ted Kipping Carson Pass, Sierra Nevada
photo by Ted Kipping


Monday, March 14, 2005

“The Cedars – Sonoma Countys Spectacular Serpentine Canyonlands”
Illustrated presentation
by
Roger Raiche

 

Roger Raiche grew up in Newport, Rhode Island and moved to California in the late 1970’s. Until recently, he co-owned the Bernard Maybeck Cottage in Berkeley with his partner David McCrory. For many years, Roger oversaw the California Natives section at the U.C. Botanical Gardens in Berkeley. With over 25 years as a field botanist and garden designer in California, Planet Horticulture co-founder Roger Raiche, is known for both his encyclopedic knowledge of California plants and his rarified garden designs. Synthesizing international travel, formal horticultural training, and many year of practical experience creating gardens, Planet Horticulture co-founder David McCrory has established a distinctive sensibility for landscape projects, large and small. As a design team, Raiche and McCrory work with clients from project conception through the installation process, tying all the details together. Working in the diverse micro-climates and gardens of the Bay Area, Raiche and McCrory see each garden as a living creative environment that will evolve over time with the passing of each season. Raiche and McCrory are the proprietors of Gold Leaf Vineyards in Sebastopol, a wine country estate which features two vacation rental homes, each with unique Planet Horticulture gardens. Raiche and McCrory are also the owner-stewards of The Cedars, a unique ultra-mafic canyon system in northwest Sonoma County. Working with artists and scientists to understand and relate to the land they are preserving, The Cedars is their most cherished project.


Monday, February 14, 2005

“Wildflower walks on Sonoma Coast”
Illustrated presentation
by
Walter Earle

 The Sonoma coast has an abundance of beautiful park lands and miles of pristine hiking trails. Most of the trails see little foot traffic, even on the weekends. This talk will describe two particularly lovely walks. The first is from Shell Beach to the Pomo campground which begins in coastal grasslands, meanders through riparian habitat and ends up in the majestic redwoods. The second walk is located in Salt Point State Park. It begins just above sea level, travels through Bishop Pine/Grand Fir/Redwood forest, then to an area of pigmy forest dominated by pigmy cypress and dwarfed redwoods, ending up in a large, open meadow that is resplendent with wildflowers in the Spring. This presentation will be accompanied by photographs highlighting the special features and diverse flora of the region.

Walter Earle, along with Margaret Graham, founded Mostly Natives Nursery, located in the town of Tomales, in 1984. The nursery offers a wide selection of native plants, many of which are grown from locally collected seed. Walter has been a dedicated member of CNPS for many years and was a past president of the Milo Baker Chapter. His knowledge of plants and his skill at photographing them in their native habitat are both renowned.


Monday, January 10, 2005

“Age of enLICHENment”
Illustrated presentation
by
Shelly Benson

 Shelly was born and raised in western Washington and considers herself a naturalist, botanist, and lichenologist. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Western Washington University, and was introduced to the world of lichens while working on a forest ecology research project with the University of Washington. This led to a job identifying canopy epiphytes at the Wind River Canopy Crane Research Facility in south central Washington. Inspired by the adventurous field of canopy ecology, she entered graduate school to further explore the ecological role of lichens in the forest canopy and learn how to climb trees. Shelly earned a Master of Science degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies from the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George BC, Canada. After graduate school she worked for 3 years at Point Reyes National Seashore as the rare plant specialist and is currently employed by Sonoma State University to study the plant pathogen that causes sudden oak death.

Lichens are visible and abundant in many California ecosystems. There are approximately 1,000 species of lichens in California, found in nearly every possible habitat from alpine peaks to desert soils and city sidewalks to rural fence posts. In addition to their beautiful colors and ingenious architecture, lichens are important contributors to ecosystem function. Lichens provide food and shelter for a variety of animals, aid in nutrient cycling, help to maintain forest humidity, and stabilize soil. Lichens are well known for their sensitivity to air pollution and can be used to assess air quality. Lichens also have economic value. They are used in perfumes, dying fabrics, and pharmaceutical uses such as antibiotic salves, deodorants, and herbal tinctures.