New Officers to Lead the Botany Society for the 2019-2020 Season

The Botany Society Steering Committee held its final meeting of the year and selected the officers and Steering Committee members for the 2019-2020 season:

  • Terry Hunefeld, President

  • Pam Blake, Co-Vice President

  • Kathy  Bussey, Co-Vice President

  • Mike Strandberg, Treasurer

  • Laura Webb, Secretary

  • Don Rideout, Immediate Past President

Don thanked all officers and Steering Committee Members for their commitment to the Botany Society. The Botany Society is set to have another productive season going forward.

The Botany Society Celebrates Tenth Anniversary–Part 3

By Joanne Ingwall, Past President 

Major goals of the ABDSP Botany Society are “to promote greater education of volunteers and...to interpret Anza-Borrego’s unique plant resources to the public.” To accomplish these goals, Botany Society volunteers must learn plant morphology, plant ecology and the characteristics of the plant families comprising the diverse plant communities that exist in our Park. Its members and instructors have taken this task seriously. 

How Botany Society volunteers learn 

As for all of our Park societies, there is a Botany Certification Course held almost every season (missing only once in 10 years). The initial course was taught by CDD botanist Kim Marsden, followed by field expert Larry Hendrickson and then by educator Judy Ramirez. After Judy retired four years ago, the course has been taught by Botany Society volunteers. New and not-so new volunteers enroll in a 12-week long course held day-long every Monday, January through March. The goal is to learn enough plant morphology and ecology to be able to study the characteristics of twelve common plant families found in our desert. For plant morphology, SDSU Professor Paul Simpson’s excellent book, Plant Systematics, Chapter 9 has been used. For the characteristics of the plant families, Sia and Emil Morhardt’s California Desert Flowers is used. The Morhardt book teaches each plant family using dichotomous keys (you know how that works: if this characteristic is present, go below to the next choice, if not, go to...etc.). Each chapter also has a useful section on similar families (or how not to get confused). The course is not all book learning and lectures. Almost every class has a field component and on occasion, the entire day is spent in the field—the theme of the course is “what do you see? What else do you see?” This year’s class is especially fortunate – as we actually have wild flowers blooming, making “seeing” easy and rewarding. 

Botany Society volunteers continue to learn 

Just as we expect our medical care providers to continue to learn and keep up to date, so too our volunteers must keep up to date with new plant discoveries and new information about plants learned, for example, from DNA analyses. We also need refresher lessons, and we want to learn about plants and plant families not covered in the Certification Course. To continue to learn, we formed the Botany Study Group six years ago. On Monday mornings in November, December and April (book ends of the January-March Certification Course), certified botany volunteers meet to select topics for study and then present the materials. To learn more about botany, we have taken advantage of online courses. We also use text books, monographs and all available resources to learn the new thinking about “what plants know,” to study specific plants and plant families not covered in the course, to study some plants and plant families in greater depth and to learn about paleobotany and ethnobotany. We have also learned about the early explorers of our region (and elsewhere) and the botanical discoveries that they made. We study certain plants in the field. Finally, we have guest lecturers on topics such as pollination and how palm trees are fertilized. Botany Study Group is fun! 

Botany Society volunteers work to interpret Anza-Borrego’s unique plant resources to the public 

Over the past 10 years, Botany Society volunteers have devoted many hundreds of hours to this important task. Here are just a few of the ways we have done this. 

  • 􏰀For many years, Botany Society volunteers Mary Ekelund and Paul Larson have led Thursday Visitor Center field training trips all over the Park. Botany is a major part of this training.

  • 􏰀Other Visitor Center volunteers who are also Botany Society volunteers, including Kathy Bussey, Arie Korporaal, Laura Webb, Terry Hunefeld and others, are able to discuss “where are the flowers?” with Park visitors, with a background in our botanical richness.

  • 􏰀Botany Society has partnered with the Anza-Borrego Foundation to lead flower walks for up to 30 visitors each trip for many years. Among the many volunteers who have devoted countless hours to this are Mike Bigelow, Paul Larson, Karin Vickers, the late Mac McNair, Kate Harper and Don Rideout, to name just a few. 

  • 􏰀Many of our volunteers also assist other groups leading flower trips in our desert, including the San Diego Natural History Museum (the NAT). 

􏰀 Finally, all the Botany Society volunteers educate our friends and relatives who visit us throughout the year about the rich botanical treasures in our Park. 

Happy 10th Anniversary, with wishes for many more years of botanizing! 

A photo from the archives. From left to right: Birgit Knorr, Laura Webb, Joanne Ingwall, Marilyn Dickson, Kathy Bussey, Mary Ekelund, Larry Hendrickson, Paul Larson, Gina Moran, Pam Blake, Mary Olson, Mike Strandberg, and Arie Korporaal

A photo from the archives. From left to right: Birgit Knorr, Laura Webb, Joanne Ingwall, Marilyn Dickson, Kathy Bussey, Mary Ekelund, Larry Hendrickson, Paul Larson, Gina Moran, Pam Blake, Mary Olson, Mike Strandberg, and Arie Korporaal

Don Rideout to Reveal Secrets of the Desert Lily at the Botany Society Public Lecture

Don Rideout, President, Anza Borrego Botany Society

Don Rideout, President, Anza Borrego Botany Society

Don Rideout, current president of the Botany Society, will deliver a talk on Secrets of the Desert Lily at the next general meeting of the Anza-Borrego Botany Society, Monday, March 11, 2019 at 10 am. The location has been moved to the UCI Desert Research Station, 401 Tilting T Drive in Borrego Springs, due to the large number of visitors expected at the Visitor Center. The talk is free and open to the public.

Don is a co-founder of the Botany Society, served as its first president, and chairs the annual plant sale in November. In addition, he is a certified naturalist who leads desert plant walks each spring. He has been studying desert lilies since 2001 and will share his unique photos, data and insights.

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Who: Don Rideout, President, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Botany Society
Topic: Secrets of the Desert Lily
Where: UCI Desert Research Center, , 401 Tilting T Drive in Borrego Springs
When: Monday, March 11, 2019
Time: 10:00 to 11:30 AM
Cost: Free lecture; public is invited.


Oberbauer to Discuss the 2017 Wildflower Superbloom

Tom Oberbauer, President, California Native plant society–San Diego Chapter

Tom Oberbauer, President, California Native plant society–San Diego Chapter

Tom Oberbauer, President of the San Diego Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, will be the February speaker as part of the Botany Society’s Public Lecture Series. He will discuss The 2017 Superbloom on Monday, February 11, 2019.

Tom Oberbauer is a third generation San Diegan. He has had a life-long interest in natural resources of San Diego County and Baja California, particularly islands. He received his bachelor and master’s degrees in biology from San Diego State.

Tom is fascinated by ephemeral natural phenomena such as wildflower displays and vernal pools. He has been observing spring wildflower displays in the Anza Borrego area since he was a child and has strong recollection of the good years in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s, and the mid 1990’s. The 2016-2017 rainfall season was above average for San Diego County, but not extraordinarily so, However, the timing of the rain and temperatures provided a unique situation for wildflower growth. The cover and diversity of wildflowers in the spring 2017, so-called superbloom, was equal to or greater than those of the majority of seasons in the past 30 years.

Tom spent a number of days exploring the wildflowers and sheets of color across the landscape through the season as well as exploring the hills and Palm Canyon. Tom is happy to present his photographs of this outstanding wildflower season. 

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Who: Tom Oberbauer, President, San Diego Chapter, California Native Plant Society
Topic: The 2017 Superbloom
Where: Discovery Lab, Visitor Center, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
When: Monday, February 11, 2019
Time: 10:00 to 11:30 AM
Cost: Free lecture; public is invited. There is a $10 Park Day Use Fee

The Botany Society Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

By Joanne Ingwall, Immediate Past President 

Last February, we presented the first in a series of essays looking back and celebrating 10 years of history and accomplishments of the ABDSP Botany Society. That article reported on the goals of the Society and the activities put in place in the first year to achieve them. This second retrospective will focus on two parts of our mission: education through field work and building a scientifically useful herbarium

There is no better way to learn about plants than to see them in their native habitat, watching them germinate, grow, flower and fruit. Throughout our 10-year history, a high priority for new and seasoned Botany Society members is to do just that. San Diego County contains one of the most diverse flora on the continent, and ABDSP encompasses many plant habitats ranging from the desert floor to the montane, offering rich opportunities to learn. Here are a few of the Botany Society’s accomplishments in field work. 

  • In the first year of the Botany Society, volunteers became trained participants of the San Diego Plant Atlas project of the San Diego Natural History Museum (the NAT). The Plant Atlas aims to describe all native and naturalized plants in the County. This information documents our region's unique natural history and biodiversity, and provides valuable scientific data showing how it is evolving. These trained volunteers routinely survey one or more sectors within the Park (3 x 3 mile squares) and collect plants not only for the NAT herbarium but also for our CDD herbarium. The goal is to collect a representative of each plant that exists in that sector. Many hundreds of plant specimens have been collected; one is sent to the NAT for identification and another is entered into the CDD herbarium. Even though the Plant Atlas Project is coming to an end, many Botany Society members still monitor their sectors. Most notable of them is Mary Jo Churchwell, who logs in many hundreds of hours each year monitoring several sectors. 

  • The Botany Certification Course held every year heavily relies on field trips for educating new Botany Society members. Our theme might well be summarized by the questions: What do you see? What else do you see? The field trips led by botanists Kate Harper and Larry Hendrickson are the most popular classes. Not only are they fun, they are scientifically valuable. On one of the very first field trips in the first year of the Society, Diana Lindsey found a species in the Clark Dry Lake Area that was new to the Park: Eriastrum sparsiflorum subspecies Harwoodii (according to Sarah Degroot).

  • Botany Volunteer Pat Matthews is our weed warrior. For many years now, Pat has led a group of volunteers dedicated to eradicating the two worst invasive plants in the Valley: Sahara Mustard (Brassica tournefortii) and Volutaria. An invasive plant is one which outcompetes native plants, thereby altering the composition of plant communities and, often, leading to the eradication of native plants. The scientific, economic and even cultural benefits of this field work are enormous.

  • The CDD has an herbarium—the collection of the plants that exist within the CDD parks. Our Herbarium is part of a network of herbaria designed to share information about the flora of the region. Botany Society members have contributed to the Herbarium in many ways.

    • First, they collect (using proper protocols) representative plants in the field.

    • Second, they process the plants for preservation: drying, debugging (put in a freezer – really!) and then mounting (gluing) them onto sheets. The sheets show whole plants (if possible), their parts, their provenance, their identification and when and who found it. Over the past 10 years, thousands of hours have been spent by Botany.

    •  Society volunteers mounting specimens in the Botany Lab: Kathy Bussey, Laura Webb, Ruth Ehly, Ruth Otis, Heidi Addison, Sonja MacGrath, Martha Ellul, Mary Jo Churchwell and Claire Burwell are among those on the “mounting” team. Volunteers even built the workbenches! 

    • Third, volunteers enter the scientific data (what it is and where it was found) into the CDD data bank so that it can be used by scientists. A major accomplishment of Botany Society volunteer Birgit Knorr, aided by data base expert Linda Gilbert on loan from the Paleo Society, has been to create a useful database and to enter and update the records describing the flora of our Park....more than 5500 different plants. This has been an enormous undertaking!

To say that field work is the foundation of the work of the Botany Society (indeed, of all our Societies) may be an understatement. To be effective in the field, Botany Society volunteers must learn plant morphology, plant ecology and the characteristics of the plant families comprising the diverse plant communities that exist in our Park … that will be the topic of the next installment describing our first 10 years.