Speaker Series

Everyone is welcome to attend membership meetings in the Recreation Room of the San Francisco County Fair Building (SFCFB) at 9th Avenue and Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park. The #71 and #44 buses stop at the building. The N-Judah, #6, #43, and #66 lines stop within 2 blocks.
Before our programs, we take our speakers to dinner at Chang’s Kitchen, 1030 Irving Street, between 11th and 12th Avenues. Join us for good Chinese food and interesting conversation. Meet at the restaurant at 5:30 pm. RSVP appreciated but not required. If you wish to notify, please call Jake Sigg at 415-731-3028.

April 4, 2019, THURSDAY, 7:30 PM

Save Plants, Save the Planet, Save Ourselves:

Native plant ecosystem services and how they can fix almost everything

Speaker: Emily Brin Roberson

People who think that native plants give us beautiful wildflowers plus habitat for pollinators and other wildlife are correct. However, native plants offer much more than attractive landscapes. Native plant communities also deliver ecosystem services that are essential to the health and security of human societies and economies. In recent years, ecologists and economists have documented the enormous flow of invaluable ecosystem services from plant communities. These include food security, soil fertility, waste disposal, pest control, and human health itself.

Researchers repeatedly find that native plants offer more effective and less expensive responses to challenges, such as water storage and purification, climate change mitigation, and erosion and flood control, than traditional concrete-based approaches. Native plants even reduce the incidence of childhood asthma. Native plants are becoming more important as climate change, nonnative species, and other threats continue to destabilize our environment.

As understanding of ecosystem services expands, people around the world are conserving and restoring native plants to improve the resilience of their local communities. Philadelphia, for example, has chosen to spend $2 billion for a mosaic of native dominated wetlands to control flooding. Protected watersheds in the Catskill Mountains deliver 1.4 billion gallons of clean water each day to nearly 9 million people in New York City.

In this talk, we shall explore ecosystem services and how locally adapted native plant communities supply them. We shall also review examples of how people are using native plants to confront the increasingly severe environmental threats facing humanity.

Emily Brin Roberson is the director of the Native Plant Conservation Campaign, a national network of more than 50 native plant societies, botanic gardens, and other native plant conservation organizations. The mission of the Native Plant Conservation Campaign is to promote the conservation of native plants and their habitats through collaboration, research, education, and advocacy.  Previously, she was Senior Policy Analyst for CNPS for 11 years. She then directed the Campaign as a project of the Center for Biological Diversity before launching the Campaign as an independent organization. She holds a BS magna cum laude in plant ecology from Harvard University, an MS in soil science from UC Davis, and a PhD in soil microbial ecology from UC Berkeley. She worked as a researcher in plant and soil sciences for 10 years before joining CNPS.


May 2, 2019, THURSDAY, 5:30 - 7:30 PM

San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum - Tour of Arthur Menzies Garden of California Native Plants

Leaders: Ted Kipping and Kipp McMichael

Come join us for a discovery tour of the Menzies Garden in May. Remember to bring a bag supper and enjoy a communal dinner in the garden among the native plants and evening wildlife. We have two expert enthusiasts to make your after-dinner walks truly an enjoyable experience - so take advantage of the opportunity to ask your questions. Meet in the parking lot behind the County Fair Building before 5.30 pm. We'll be outside in the evening so bring warm layers accordingly. Please be on time, as we may have to lock the gate behind us.

June 6, 2019, THURSDAY, 7:30 PM

Mosses are from Mars, Vascular Plants are from Venus

Speaker: Brent Mishler PhD, Director of the University and Jepson Herbaria at UC Berkeley

The bryophytes are the most diverse set of land plants aside from the flowering plants.  The group includes three quite distinct lineages (i.e., mosses, hornworts, and liverworts), some familiar species frequently encountered in mesic forests and along streams, as well as a number of less familiar species of tropical rain forests, arctic tundra, and desert boulders.  The bryophytes have an ancient history; they are remnant lineages surviving today from the spectacular radiation of the land plants in the Devonian Period, some 400-450 million years ago.  Yet despite their diversity, phylogenetic importance, and key roles in the ecosystems of the world, study of many aspects of the biology of bryophytes has lagged behind that of the larger land plants, perhaps because of their small size and the few scientists specializing in them.  This talk summarizes what we do know about their biology, as an encouragement for you to get to know them better.

One might assume to start with that bryophytes are biologically like their larger cousins, just smaller versions.  But in what ways does bryophyte biology differ from that of the larger vascular plants?  The short answer: in almost every way possible!   The groups didn't evolve on different planets, but their differences could almost make you think they did.  They certainly adopted very different approaches to being a land plant on this planet.  Many aspects need much more study, but what is known about bryophyte biology suggests that in general the bryophytes differ in most ways in their genetics, physiology, ecology, and evolution from vascular plants.

Brent D. Mishler is Director of the University and Jepson Herbaria at UC Berkeley, as well as Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, where he teaches phylogenetic systematics, plant diversity, and island biology. A native southern Californian, he worked for Los Angeles County as a ranger-naturalist at San Dimas Canyon County Park, where he became interested in natural history and especially botany. He attended California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he received his BS and MS in biology. He then received his PhD from Harvard University in 1984, and was on the faculty at Duke University for nine years before moving to UC Berkeley in 1993.