Local Ecology

On Plant Identification and CNPS-YB workshops with SFSU

By Steven Serkanic | 0 Comments

Plant identification is a fundamental pursuit driven by our curiosity and fascination with the seemingly limitless variation that surrounds us all. Many of us regularly observe plants that we are unfamiliar with. Fortunately, there are methods to aid in the investigation of these unidentified organisms. These methods are well established, but generally require introductory training and guided practice that is difficult to attain. Beginning in 2013, the Yerba Buena Chapter of CNPS and San Francisco State University have collaborated in providing free plant identification workshops to the public. By providing these workshops, we hope to deliver the necessary skills that are needed to identify native vascular plants anywhere in California.

Each month during the school semester, we emphasize an individual plant family that is well represented in our diverse flora. We address major diagnostic features unique to each family and also discuss considerable aspects of its ecology, distribution, and evolutionary history. These lessons are accompanied by fresh plant material that is used to practice our identification skills with the assistance of dichotomous keys that are published in The Jepson Manual (1st and 2nd editions). Instructors elaborate on reliable ways to approach these keys and also demonstrate typical workflows for dealing with unknown species. Guests are encouraged to work at their own pace and to ask an assortment of questions that deal with botany and the California flora.

We encourage people of all backgrounds to attend and discover the rewards associated with the process of identifying plants. This process is a repeatable and enriching endeavor that yields a deep appreciation and knowledge of plants that occupy the landscape we all enjoy.

Steven Serkanic
28 June 2017


Children and Nature

By William Kowinski | 0 Comments

Below is an exciting book review by William Kowinski, (author of “”The Malling of America””), from a 2002 Sunday Chronicle. The book, “Children and Nature: […]

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Calochortus at Hunters Point

By Margo Bors | 0 Comments

A large, hitherto unknown, population of yellow mariposa lilies, Calochortus luteus, was discovered in late May, 2002 at Hunters Point by CNPS Yerba Buena Chapter […]

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A Chronicle of Natural History on San Bruno Mountain

By Doug Allshouse | 0 Comments

It would appear that summer has inspired many things: The Boys of Summer and The Summer of Love to name two. This year is becoming […]

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What is Native?

By Tim Hyland | 0 Comments

The question “What is Native?” is one I have been asked many times during my years growing California native plants. The answer I have given […]

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San Bruno Mountain Fire, July 2003

By Doug Allshouse | 0 Comments

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It’s such a simple thought, yet so confounding in its implications. Mother Nature presented a scientific opportunity for […]

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Community Site Stewardship

By Barbara Ertter | 0 Comments

Reprinted from the August 1998 Sierra Club Yodeler, newspaper of the SF Bay Chapter with generous permission from editor Don Forman. Dr. Ertter, Curator of […]

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Bee Diversity in the SF Presidio

By John Hafernik | 0 Comments

The San Francisco Bay Area is a biodiversity hotspot, supporting an enormous number of species, including a large insect fauna with many endemic and threatened […]

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Yarrow (Achillea millefolium var californica): How Yarrow Improved My Life — In Two Different Ways

By Hoenie Luk | 0 Comments

Workshop and field trip participants are sometimes asked how we became interested in studying plants. One day in 2005 while strolling in the park with […]

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Contaminating the Gene Pool

By Jake Sigg | 0 Comments

I would like to address the home gardener from a broader perspective, where I see the main issue. CalTrans and environmental consultants have all sorts […]

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