Recent Research Publications

The newest issue of RSABG’s scientific publication Aliso: A Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany was published April 2014.

Past Issues

Aliso Volume 30 issue (September 2012) features peer-reviewed articles authored by graduates of the botany program (Victor Steinmann, Ph.D. (CGU Class of 2001), director of the Instituto de Ecología in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico, wrote about Euphorbia, and an article on monkeyflowers (formerly Mimulus, now Erythranthe) from Naomi Fraga, M.S. (CGU Class of 2005) and CGU Ph.D. candidate, and a RSABG conservation botanist.

Fraga N.S. 2012. A Revision of Erythranthe montioides and Erythranthe palmeri (Phrymaceae), with descriptions of five species of monkeyflowers from California and Nevada, USA. Aliso 30: 49-68. Read more.

Other articles contributed by RSABG research associates include: Jim André, director of the Granite Mountains Desert Research Center, University of California, Riverside, Kelso, CA, and Rudolf Schmid, professor emeritus, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley (coauthored with his daughter Mena Schmid). Sherwin Carlquist, professor emeritus of botany, Claremont Graduate University and Pomona College, presents new findings on wood anatomy.

The Garden Fund

Thank you to all of our supporters who donated to The Garden Fund this year! The Garden Fund for 2013-14 is almost over for the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2014. To have your name listed on our Garden Fund Honor Roll in "Garden Variety", please inform the Development Office of your gift by June 30, 2014.

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden has enjoyed an outpouring of generosity that will make a real difference in every aspect of the RSABG experience, from educational opportunities for young people to support for the maintenance and growth of our Claremont and West Los Angeles nursery sites.

Participation in The Garden Fund is vital to the success of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden’s mission. With your continued support, we look forward to preserving, protecting and propagating California native plants for their natural beauty and for the well-being of our planet.

GNN in the Veterans Garden

Veteran Training Program

The West Los Angeles nursery enables Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden to help train veterans on the propagation, care and maintenance of California native plants and offer beautiful native plants to L.A. gardeners.The 12-acre garden and nursery, located on the grounds of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS) was established in 1989 as part of the VA’s Horticulture Therapy Program, a work therapy program to assist veterans making the transition back to civilian employment.

Grow Native Nursery in the Veterans Garden staff collaborates with the VAGLAHS to train veterans on the propagation, care and maintenance of California native plants and offers nursery sales to the public. The site has historically been known as the Veterans Garden and has served veterans over the years through a variety of projects such as growing micro-greens for local restaurants and cut flowers for local florists.

Working with the VA’s Compensated Work Therapy Program (CWT), Grow Native Nursery offers a new focus on native flora of the state as well as sustainable landscaping and gardening practices. Vets completing the program will have a competitive edge in the job market as they compete for green and environmental jobs.

The nursery expands RSABG outreach to make California native plants more available to home gardeners, landscape contractors in the San Fernando Valley and the coastal cities. It also enables us to be able to propagate native plants that thrive in coastal conditions.

More information about Grow Native Nursery in the Veterans Garden

Seeds of Success

The Seeds of Success (SOS) team at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden has been responsible for greatly expanding international seed bank holdings from the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.

A recent expedition to a collection site on the Pacific Crest Trail is rewarded with a copious yield of the shrub saltbrush (Atriplex canescens). The four-wing saltbrush codominates desert plant communities in Southern California and is a food source for the desert tortoise. The saltbrush seed collection will ultimately help build an ample national and international seed bank to maintain and restore resilient native plant communities after environmental damage such as fire or urban development.

Library Page Turning

A Real Page Turner

New event highlights rare books held in Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden’s library special collections.

We will be celebrating special occasions or visits of honored guests with the ceremonial page turning of great books such as Redouté’s Les Roses

Visitors can come into the library to see the current selection of prized rare book holdings. Please inquire at the California Garden Shop next time you visit the Garden to see a sample of special volumes in the RSABG collection and the informative display created by RSABG staff and volunteers.

 

Plant Quest

Introducing PlantQuest

Keeping traditional landscapes healthy in Southern California uses up to 70 percent of our potable water, requires gross amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, and produces countless emissions from maintenance equipment and contributes to some of the planet’s worst air quality. But there is a better way! By choosing the right plants for the right place, we can create truly sustainable landscapes—landscapes that thrive on little or no supplemental water and little, if any, fertilizers or pesticides. Best yet, sustainable landscapes rarely need to be hedged, edged or mowed and that saves us all both time and money.

Expanding Herbaria Access

In September 2012, Professor Lucinda McDade, Judith B. Friend Director of Research at RSABG (and as of July 2013, Executive Director), received a supplement of approximately $50,000 to the current RSABG grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to digitize and georeference data from about a quarter of a million herbarium specimens of California plants.

The supplement will support the full participation of the herbaria of UCLA and California State University, Sacramento, in the NSF-supported project and in the California Consortium of Herbaria (CCH). The consortium is a collaboration of 22 California herbaria as well as the New York Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. It acts as a gateway to information for scientifically verified, vouchered information about California plants. The grant supplement will support databasing of about 30,000 specimens held at these two herbaria. The records will be available online to plant scientists from around the world, as well as to the public, via the CCH’s website.

Graduate Student News

New graduates students join botany cohort with Fall 2012 semester and one student completes her Ph.D.

This fall semester, which began September 4, members of the graduate program welcomed four new students to the Claremont Graduate University Department of Botany at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Congratulations to Saeideh Mashayekhi, the newest CGU alumna in botany.

Rare Plant Treasure Hunt

by Duncan Bell
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Field Botanist


Several years ago Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) teamed up with the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) through a contract grant from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to do rare plant surveys across California deserts as part of the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt (RPTH) program. Last year marked the third year for RPTH, a program created and named by Josie Crowford of CNPS.

It is largely a citizen-science program with the goal of getting volunteers out in the field to experience California wild places and assist in rare plant surveys. These surveys largely target rare plant populations that haven’t been revisited in more than 20 years in order to evaluate the current status of these populations.

Many people may be under the impression that the desert is nothing rocks, lizards and an occasional spiny plant—an open wasteland to be crossed to get to Las Vegas or Lake Havasu. But California deserts hold more than 35 percent of the flora of California and have some of the areas of highest diversity for the state. There are many botanically unexplored mountain ranges and valleys out there. In 2012 alone, there were five plant species found in California deserts new to science described by RSABG scientists and researchers.

The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt program largely focuses on the California deserts often associated with the development of renewable energy projects. There are currently thousands of acres proposed for possible development, of which a great deal has had little botanical exploration.

It is the goal of the RPTH program to get volunteers out to these places to experience them first hand and to educate others on California’s diverse flora and the importance of its conservation.

Volunteers from the Sierra Club, the Desert Survivors Organizations, HabitatWorks, The Wildlands Conservancy, CNPS chapters and subchapters from across California have often participated with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt. But many volunteers were not affiliated with any particular organization, but were just interested in joining the group to explore and learn about the desert and to have a personal experience with these wild places while doing so.

The spring field season in 2012 was one of the driest years on record for the California deserts; most areas got only 0.01 millimeters of rain or absolutely no rain at all. Watching the doppler in the winter of 2011-12 was often like watching a blank screen as there was so little weather action. Watching the weather stations and dopplers frequently helps plant scientists predict which areas may have germination or bloom. But even in dry years, the desert rarely disappoints and almost every area visited had at least one rare plant population if not dozens.

The summer field season seemed to the opposite as some parts of the California deserts received the most summer rain they have received in more than a decade. The eastern Mojave in particular had an amazing summer bloom and RSABG/RPTH participants were able to document around 100 rare plant populations on just a few trips.

A total of 24 trips were made in 2012. These trips ranged from day trips to three-day excursions into very remote places. We started in March at below sea level around the Salton Sea, topped out on Southern California’s highest peak on Mount San Gorgonio at 11,500 feet in July, and then headed back down to the lower elevations following the summer monsoonal storms in September. We documented around 300 rare plant populations. Many of these were newly documented. We trekked into the Panamint Mountains and found the type locality of the Panamint daisy (Enceliopsis covillei), which is the plant that has always adorned, and will continue to adorn, the CNPS logo; this population had not been revisited since Frederick Coville made the first collection of this plant in 1891 on the Death Valley expedition. The new species was later named for him. We found the first population of Abrams spurge (Chamaesyce abramsiana) in Imperial County in 100 years; all historic populations from Imperial County are likely extirpated due to development and agriculture. We documented many range extensions of rare plants, locating populations where they had never been found before. We provided information that aided in the evaluation of plant species for the CNPS inventory, including information about its abundance (or lack thereof!) in California and about threats to historic occurrences of a given species. We had many wonderful treks into some amazing places and spent many nights under star filled skies. All in all, it was a very successful and productive year.

If you would like to learn more about the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt program please visit the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Website.

Morawetz Orobanchaceae Research Updates

Jeffery Morawetz, RSABG postdoctoral fellow, recently returned from a trip to Africa. He offers us this glimpse into his travels and research findings.

 

I recently returned from a month-long field trip to Katanga Province in the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which was funded by my National Geographic Society grant. My colleague on my National Science Foundation grant, Christopher Randle (Sam Houston State University), came with me. We met up with our colleague Edouard Ilunga (Ph.D. student, University of Lubumbashi), and he accompanied us for the entire time. We had many adventures together, and traveled widely throughout southern Katanga, from the frontier town of Dilolo in the west (bordering Angola) to Kundelungu National Park in the east (which boasts Africa’s tallest waterfall, Lofoi falls, at 347 meters). Most areas where we worked were either damp to inundated grasslands (called dambos, or dilungus), or miombo woodland, which is dominated by species of the legume tree Brachystegia (a common habitat type found in southern Africa).

Our goal was to collect the rare and endemic parasitic members of the family Orobanchaceae, and we were quite successful. We found the monotypic (meaning it is a genus with only a single species) Micrargeriella aphylla, and in a locality where it was not previously known (Kundelungu National Park). We also collected Gerardiina angolensis, which I’ve been hunting in eastern and southern Africa for years (unsuccessfully until now). Additionally, we collected two Central African endemic species of Melasma, a genus I studied for my dissertation (M. brevipedicellatum, M calycinum). I didn’t believe that one of the species really existed, as its description is not very different from its close relative, but sure enough, when we found them in the field, they are quite distinct. And they were very striking with their bright orange flowers, something only rarely mentioned in the literature. We were also able to collect species of the genera Buchnera, Sopubia and Striga.

In addition to all the great plants, we also ate some really great food called mbuzi michopo (roasted goat). It’s similar to the mbuzi choma of East Africa, but often cooked with onions and chopped kwanga (manioc/cassava). The starchy staple in Katanga is corn-based and called foufou (similar to ugali of East Africa, or nshima of Zambia), though it is different from the West African foufou typically made of cassava.

Most everyone in Congo speaks the national language, French (a hold-over from the Belgian colonial period). In Katanga, people also speak the regional language, Swahili. I was surprised to find that Congolese Swahili is quite different from East African Swahili. Notably, there is much French (and other Congolese regional languages, such as Lingala) woven in, and some word usage and pronunciation has been changed. While I could understand their Swahili, many Congolese had difficulty understanding my East African Swahili.

I will be going back to work with Edouard again in March. I look forward to more plant hunting in such a wonderful country and eating more mbuzi michopo.

Read more about his trip to DRC check out his travel blog here.

Read more about Morawetz' research at RSABG here.

McDade Featured Speaker at Biodiversity Conference

Lucinda McDade, Judith B. Friend Director of Research at RSABG and chair of the Claremont Graduate University Department of Botany, was a featured speaker at Biodiversity: from Evolutionary Origins to Ecosystems Function. The bicentennial symposium held in October 2012 celebrated the 200th anniversary of research at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

McDade spoke about the unanticipated uses of museum specimens (including plant specimens). From use of the Lewis and Clark plants to document the chemistry of the atmosphere above the Great Plains in the early 1800s to use of olive leaves in a funerary wreath from King Tut’s tomb along with more recently collected herbarium specimens to document the response of plants to changing carbon dioxide levels, McDade conveyed the message that museum specimens are rich sources of data that will be relied upon to address scientific and societal questions in the future.

More Articles...

  1. RSABG in Center for Plant Conservation Publication
  2. Dudleya
  3. Becoming a Nature Interpreter
  4. Matching Gift Challenge Met
  5. Volunteer at the Garden
  6. Fall Planting Tips
  7. Undergrad Reseach Workshop
  8. RSABG’s oak collection ranked 28th in the world
  9. Seed Processing Manual goes to 2nd printing
  10. Native artisan baskets and pottery
  11. RSABG co-hosts 2010 National Children and Youth Garden Symposium
  12. Claremont High School students show off research at RSABG
  13. Green Tips for Earth Day
  14. RSABG chosen Best of LA 2010
  15. Rare Plant Treasure Hunt
  16. World travelers: RSABG botanists
  17. Botany Students Land Research Grants
  18. Fraga Awarded 2010 Switzer Fellowship
  19. Rare Botanical Folk Art Revealed
  20. Curating the plant specimens of the Thorne collection
  21. New articles by Professor Prince
  22. RSABG Research Welcomes Visiting Scholars
  23. Sorting out the Ruellieae Family Tree
  24. 'Reimagining the California Lawn'
  25. Claremont Unified School Board honors RSABG
  26. Columbus Advances to Professor of Botany
  27. BCM Foundation Grant Helps Kids Get Outdoor Education
  28. RSABG Scientists at 2011 Botany Conference
  29. Solarization of Fay's Wildflower Meadow
  30. Make Room for Wildlife
  31. Botany Students Earn Grants
  32. Botanist Recognized for Outstanding Scientific Presentation
  33. Native Landscapes: The Albrigos
  34. California Native Plants: Poodle-dog Bush
  35. Lenz Sculpture Collection
  36. RSABG Hosts Invasive Plants and Pathogen Workshop
  37. Post-Doc Earns National Geographic Society Grant
  38. A Manzanita Lost and Found
  39. Searching for the Plant Families
  40. Two New DIGG Awards
  41. Botanists Travel Briefs
  42. Plant Safari
  43. CPC Annual Meeting 2012
  44. New Student Grants and Visiting Scientists
  45. David Rogers' Big Bugs
  46. Horticulture and Propagation of Native Plants at the Garden
  47. The Mediterranean City Conference 2012
  48. USFWS 2011 Recovery Champion
  49. Wall Awarded Important Conservation Award
  50. Botanizing Around the Globe
  51. Become a Fan of Getting Native
  52. Porter and Morawetz NSF Grant Awards