by Eva Buxton
Layia platyglossa Tidy Tips and poppies Ring Mountain Laura Lovett sm

Layia platyglossa, tidy tips and poppies Ring Mountain by Laura Lovett

The Marin CNPS Chapter and Marin County Parks (MCP) recently wrapped up the first year of the Wildflower Docent Program on the Ring Mountain (RM) Open Space parcel. Volunteer docents were trained and available to visitors on the preserve from April to June 2023. They helped visitors view and identify plants without harming them or their habitats. The Tiburon mariposa lily (Calochortus tiburonensis) is the iconic plant on the preserve, but docents helped visitors identify many other common, uncommon, and rare plants associated with Ring Mountain’s serpentine substrates

Ring Mountain Field Trip

Tiburon mariposa lily – Photo by Vernon Smith

Planning for the program started in Fall 2022 with development of reference documents. Kristin Jakob and Eva Buxton prepared a list of 60 species (out of nearly 400 species present on the preserve) to be considered in the program. Bruce Homer-Smith, the creator of PlantID.net (a computer-based ID and information program), made a special list available for Ring Mountain that noted the rare and more common plants for docents.

Training of 20 potential docents coming from a wide variety of backgrounds and with different levels of botanical knowledge was developed. Four virtual training sessions were held in the evenings at the end of February and the beginning of March. Amanda Magallanes, the RM Preserve Manager, kicked off docent training with an introduction to the preserve, its plant communities, and the logistics of docent activities, including how to sign up for volunteer shifts. Kristin and Bruce introduced the reference documents and program and how to use them. Paul da Silva gave two lectures on aspects of morphology, evolution, and classification of flowering plants useful in identification. Three Saturday field trips were led by Amanda, Kristin, and Eva.

We anticipate that the program will continue next year. If you are interested in becoming a Ring Mountain Docent, please contact Kristin Jakob (vpamarincnps@gmail.com) to receive notification of the next docent training program.