Speaker Series

Due to Covid-19 restrictions we've taking the Speaker Program Virtual

Please note the unique webinar link contained within for each program description which will take you to the Zoom invitation or registration page.

Video of past "virtual" speaker programs can be found on our Yerba Buena Youtube Channel



September 25, 2021, SATURDAY, 1pm

SFPL Drought Tolerant Gardening with San Francisco Native Plants

Speaker: Susan Karasoff

Registration required

Water conservation is essential in the design and management of California drought tolerant landscapes. Matching water supply to plant needs leads to drought tolerant landscape choices.
Local San Francisco native plants are beautiful, drought tolerant, adapted to our varied soils and co-evolved with our local pollinators.
We’ll discuss what to plant in San Francisco that need minimal water, including shallow rooted plants that thrive in pots.

October 14, 2021, THURSDAY 7:30 pm

Using Paintbrushes to Study Species

Speaker: Sarah Jacobs

Zoom Reservation Required: Link Here

The plant genus Castilleja (the iconic group of wildflowers more commonly known as “the paintbrushes”) is a very young and diverse group of plants found primarily in western North America. Taxonomy in the genus has been challenging, resulting in its notoriety as a “difficult group.” Much of the difficulty has been attributed to its young age, the apparent ease of hybridization when species co-occur, and complicated genetics. This talk will broadly cover the biology of Castilleja, what we do (and don't) know about its evolution, and how Jacobs’ research is aiming to fill in the gaps. She will also highlight the challenge of defining species in lineages like Castilleja and what that means for systematics and taxonomy in the group.

Sarah Jacobs, PhD, is assistant curator of botany at the California Academy of Sciences and Howell Chair of Western North American Botany. Her research focuses on characterizing the evolutionary drivers of plant diversity by examining young lineages like Castilleja.  She received her PhD at the University of Idaho where she amassed large data sets to sort out tangled species relationships. One of her goals is to create a general framework that can be applied to other plant lineages, with the aim of asking broader questions about the evolution of species in western North America. With her background in biodiversity research and natural history collections, she will continue the Academy’s strong legacy in western North American botany by expanding the institution’s collection to include more flora from across the West.


November 11, 2021, THURSDAY 7:30 pm

Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Plants of San Francisco

Speaker: Mike Wood

Zoom Reservation Required: Link Here

Long before the digital age of geo-located photos, iNaturalist, Calflora, the Jepson eFlora, and The Jepson Online Interchange, the founders of the Yerba Buena Chapter of CNPS were busy documenting the native flora of San Francisco. Their observations were recorded on hand-written lists on college-ruled note paper, the backs of envelopes, and in the margins of dog-eared copies of the 1958 publication A Flora of San Francisco. When I joined the chapter’s board in 1994, I was in awe of the first-hand knowledge of which my colleagues were guardians. I set out to compile this information into a searchable data set that could be regularly updated as new discoveries were made. It was my wish that this annotated checklist could assist amateur and trained botanists in documenting the remnants of natural plant communities in the city, guide restoration and weed eradication efforts, and motivate citizens and decision makers to take an active role in preserving, protecting and enhancing our natural history. The first edition of the checklist was released in 2010. Having my wings clipped due to the pandemic, this past year was the perfect opportunity to work on a major revision to the checklist. The third edition is now available online for free.

Mike Wood grew up working in the nursery trade in Southern California. He shifted gears to ecology, completing his Master’s Degree at San Francisco State University where he focused on fire ecology, edaphic endemism, and the ecology of the rare Ione manzanita. Recently retired from his 30-year career as a biological consultant, he and his wife have been traveling, exploring the botanical wonders of the world. Taking a short break from their travels, they found themselves “stuck” in Hawaii when the world shut down. It was there that he dedicated his time to revising the checklist.


December 9, 2021, THURSDAY 7:30 pm

A program by researchers at Cal Invasive Plant Council (IPC) on the invasive Spartina control project

Speaker: Cal IPC

Zoom Reservation Required: Link Here


We're pleased to share video links of  Susan Karasoff's (CNPS-YB Outreach chair) popular gardening series with the San Francisco Public Library

Colorful Year Around Gardening with San Francisco Native Plants

Shrubberies, Wind Screens and Ground Covers

Succulent Gardening with Kipp McMichael

Children’s Gardens with San Francisco Native Plants

Gardening for Biodiversity in San Francisco, October, 24, 2020

Shade Gardening with California Native Plants, September 26, 2020

Gardening for San Francisco’s Butterflies and Pollinators, August 22, 2020

Edible Native Fruits & Vegetables of San Francisco, July 25, 2020