Curating the plant specimens of the Thorne collection

Last year the RSABG herbarium was awarded an NSF grant to process the backlog of unaccessioned specimens from Professor Robert Thorne’s botanical collecting around the world.

Thorne, emeritus curator and professor, retired after a distinguished career at RSABG. The specimens in question have been held at an off-site storage facility; they urgently need to be processed and placed in the herbarium to be properly cared for and, as importantly, to be available for researchers to study. As of this year 4,000 of an estimated total of 10,000 specimens have been prepped and are ready to be mounted.

RSABG Research Welcomes Visiting Scholars

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is pleased to welcome visiting sabbatical professors Carolyn Ferguson and Mark Mayfield, both from Kansas State University and Carlos García-Verdugo de Lucas, Fulbright postdoctoral researcher for the spring of 2011.

Carolyn Ferguson, associate professor of biology at Kansas State University and curator of the KSU Herbarium, studies Phlox, a genus of about 70 species of plants found mostly in North America.

Sorting out the Ruellieae Family Tree

Researching a diverse and widespread plant family, scientists at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and visiting scientists from Ethiopia are delving into the importance of biodiversity.

Erin Tripp, principal investigator and post-doctoral researcher at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG), along with co-principal investigator Lucinda McDade, Judith B. Friend Director of Research at RSABG, are reconstructing the phylogenetic tree (family tree) of the plant lineage Ruellieae to further scientific understanding of the diversity of life.

Claremont Unified School Board honors RSABG

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden was recognized as a Claremont Unified School District partner at a recent Board of Education meeting on Thursday, May 5, 2011.

The presentation from the school board at a regularly schedule board meeting recognized the outstanding educational opportunities provided by the District’s partnership with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and for the ongoing commitment to Claremont students, faculty and staff.

BCM Foundation Grant Helps Kids Get Outdoor Education

As Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) continues to grow as a leading native plant, ethnobotany and natural history of California resource for educators, k-12 students and families, the BCM Foundation awarded RSABG a $35,000 grant to strengthen and expand environmental education offerings.

“This grant underscores a growing need for environmental education among our state’s schools that would otherwise be unable to afford quality programming,” said Eric Garton, RSABG director of visitor services. “And the children we serve because of this funding stand a far greater chance of being inspired and compelled to become the future environmental stewards.”

Solarization of Fay's Wildflower Meadow

Fay's Wildflower Meadow was completely covered with impermeable plastic sheeting this August as the first step in solarizing the soil. Solarization is a low-cost, non-toxic method for weed control, in which the area is mowed, watered and covered with clear plastic for several months during the summer. The heat of the sun turns the trapped moisture to steam which kills pathogens and weed seeds. This is a great example of using natural processes to maintain a landscape instead of chemicals.

Make Room for Wildlife

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat

This won’t come as a surprise if you’ve been to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, but in August the National Wildlife Federation recognized us as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat site.

From hawks to butterflies, the Garden attracts a multitude of wildlife. Habitats not only nurture year-round resident birds but also provide stopover sites for migratory birds. Biologist Mark Hostetier of the University of Florida says that “urban environments are an important factor in the future conservation of many species. Not only has urban sprawl grown into the paths of stopover sites on bird flyways, but the sheer volume of human development has changed the amount of area available for nesting and overwintering.”

Native Landscapes: The Albrigos

A Green Yard

When Steve and Paula Albrigo took on relandscaping, their goal was a green yard.

Not the green often used to describe environmentally friendly landscapes(although the results are certainly eco-minded), but to fill their 7,000-square-foot front yard with a mini-forest of native plants—a spectrum of green.

"I wanted people to look at our yard and say that they never imagined a native California landscape could be so green and beautiful,” says Steve Albrigo.

The result is a striking, beautiful domestic space that showcases native plants. The corner lot has been transformed from manicured turf to a carefully crafted woodsy wildscape that reminds the Albrigos of the serene mountain retreats they love.

California Native Plants: Poodle-dog Bush

Fire Follower

By Bart O'Brien

Spectacular and beautiful, this native perennial subshrub can currently be seen in great abundance in the central and western San Gabriel Mountains in the aftermath of the Station Fire. Eriodictyon parryi (formerly Turricula parryi) or the poodle-dog bush is primarily a fire follower—its seeds germinate shortly after wildfires and it may even produce flowers during its first year of growth. However, this short-lived plant is typically most spectacular in its second, third and fourth years, when it reaches its peak in both size and vigor. From late spring through summer, large, showy flower clusters appear and the plants may reach up to 10 feet tall. These are composed of hundreds of lavender to bluish, one-half to three-fourths inch long flowers. Poodle-dog bush is an important plant for erosion control and provides abundant food for native pollinators.

Lenz Sculpture Collection

Escutcheon, Mythical Bird, Contemplations and Silent Sentinel—all gifts of Dr. Lee W. Lenz, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden director emeritus—now comprise the Lee W. Lenz Sculpture Collection.

On October 26, 2011, the Board formally proclaimed the Lenz Sculpture Collection, consisting of all current and future pieces of artwork donated by Lenz, as a tribute to his long-time support of the art collection at RSABG.

A Manzanita Lost and Found

The Franciscan manzanita, unseen in the wild for eight decades, made headlines around the country when it was found.

by Bart O'Brien

“I garnered it ghoulishly in a gunnysack” said the famous California botanist Lester Rowntree of her late night procurement of one of the last wild specimens of the San Francisco manzanita (Arctostaphylos franciscana) from the Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco in 1947.