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  • Jennifer Jewell


FOODSCAPING - with Brie Arthur. Photo courtesy of Brie Arthur, all rights reserved.


The third week of April is California Native Plant week, this year being celebrated by the California Native Plant Society via 8 days of action in honor and protection of our native plant diversity. 

Our celebratory action item here at Cultivating Place is being in conversation this week with Aaron Sims, Director of the Rare Plant Program for CNPS. 2024 year marks the 50th anniversary of the CNPS Rare Plant Inventory, tracking and analyzing rare plants and their status across the floristic province to help fight extinction (and subsequent biodiversity loss), to engage community scientists, including gardeners, across the state, and to inform land use decisions statewide

Along with the beauty, joy, and life sustaining qualities of our native plant flora where ever we might live and garden, that is all worth celebrating.

Since its inception in 1968, the CNPS Rare Plant Program has been a trusted resource for scientific accuracy and integrity. CNPS rare plant data are widely accepted as the standard for information on the rarity and endangerment status of the California flora. Today, we’re using these data to fight extinction, engage community scientists, and inform land use decisions statewide.


First published in 1974, the Rare Plant Inventory is an authoritative resource on California’s rare and endangered plants. Now in its 9th edition online, it continues to play an important role in scientific research, conservation planning, and the effective writing, support of, and enforcement of appropriate environmental laws.


In these agonizing times of biodiversity loss, this is a tool to help us make biodiversity protections and gains, become a member of the local chapter of your native plant society wherever you are and you too can help the work!


 Happy Native Plant (rare and common) Gardening to you - listen in!


Most Photos courtesy of Aaron Sims, all Rights reserved:

TOP IMAGE: CNPS Rare Plant Program Team at Bidwell Park after attending a Rare Plant Program Committee meeting at Ahart Herbarium on UC Chico campus. "Unfortunately this is only a portion of the 9 Rare Plant Program staff and wish I had a recent photo of all of us. I can’t say enough how fantastic my team of colleagues is. I am so fortunate to work with every one of them. I am most proud of building and working with such a fantastic team! From left to right: me, Ellen Dean (Associate Rare Plant Botanist) with her dog Fifi, Adam Searcy (Rare Plant Botanist), and Kristen Nelson (Rare Plant Program Manager)."

THREE IMAGE GALLERY (left to right):

- Darlingtonia californica California pitcherplant, CRPR 4.2 (watchlist). "Many people know about this large, charismatic parasitic plant! It grows in serpentine seeps throughout my neck of the woods. "

- A recent one of Aaron and family: Aven Nelson Sims - 8yo, named after late 19th century/early 20th century botanist Aven Nelson, who founder the Rocky Mountain Herbarium at the University of Wyoming, Tobias (Toby) Seiler - 14yo, stepson that does a good job putting up with two parents spewing off Latin plant names wherever they go; Lusetta Sims - wife of 11 years who works professionally at the USFS as a botanist.; Allium (Allie) Sims (right) - 9yo boxer pooch; Alder Sims - (left) 1yo boxer puppy rescue, newest family addition!

-Lilium rubescens redwood lily, CRPR 4.2 (watchlist). “A pretty, uncommon plant I see up here every once in a while. We collected seeds of this species for California Plant Rescue (CaPR) a few years ago." 

GALLERY BELOW: Participants in field portion of the annual CNPS Rare Plant Program Survey Protocols Workshop Aaron co-teaches with Heath Bartosh taken in March of this year.

  • Holodiscus discolor var. cedrorum Cedars oceanspray, perennial deciduous shrub, rank: 1B.3 PHOTO FROM CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

  • Rare Plant Inventory 50th Anniversary Logo

  • Phacelia damnationensis Damnation Pass phacelia, rank 1B.3, identified by Julie Kierstead; PHOTO FROM CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

  •  Raillardella pringlei showy raillardella, CRPR 1B.2. "This truly beautiful wildflower is also one I collected seed from for CaPR a few years back."

  • Fremontodendron decumbens cf - Pine Hill flannelbush, California Rare Plant Rank (CRPR) 1B.2 (rare, threatened, or endangered in California and elsewhere), Federally Endangered, State Rare. "There's a fascinating backstory about where I took the photo of this plant which is putatively most closely identified as F. decumbens, previously only known from the Pine Hill region of El Dorado Co. It was found a couple years ago by a botanist named Chris McCarron who's been working at Whiskeytown NRA, around 200 miles from the closest known records. This, along with Calystegia stebbinsiianother federally listed plant previously known only from Pine Hill, was discovered in Whiskeytown too. These are the discoveries of the decade for sure and we recently underwent an agreement with the BLM to survey for them in areas administered by the BLM Redding Field Office. They were discovered after the Carr Fire opened up areas in chaparral. "

  •  Streptanthus oblanceolatus, Trinity River jewelflower, CRPR 1B.2. "This is one of the rarest plants in Trinity County and the world, known from only 1-2 occurrences, which I referenced as an OKO, One Known Occurrence, taxon." 

  • Participants in field portion of the annual CNPS Rare Plant Program Survey Protocols Workshop "I co-teach with Heath Bartosh taken in March of this year."

  • Carrizo Plain around this time last year (in 2023) "at a workshop on the flora of San Luis Obisbo Co. taught by my mentor Dave Keil. "

  • Calochortus tolmiei, hairy star tulip. Not rare. Actually, the most common star tulip in Trinity County and is truly a star. 

ABOVE: The native plant Carex lawn in Aaron and family's garden in Weaverville. "I tried to find photos from past years during the height of its growing season. This is from last weekend and we are just starting to see signs of spring up here in Weaverville. Picture it bustling with insects, 6+ tall raspberries along the back, and planter bed overflowing with tomatoes and vegetables! We have a small greenhouse in the back corner that I converted from a chicken coop I built. Shows the fort I built out of reclaimed deck wood and finished for the kids during the beginning of Covid."

You can follow Aaron and the CNPS Rare Plant Program teams' work online at:; the Rare Plant Inventory online:; and on Instagram at: @californianativeplantsociety/

JOIN US again next week, when for spring and summer planning and designing we go a little further afield in conversation with Australian-based permaculture leader Kirsten Bradley of Milkwood, a team of educators and growers who "inspire and enable households to take action to cultivate resilient communities and ecosystems. We energize individuals to engage with the social and environmental challenges we all face." 

That’s next week, right here, listen in.


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Thanks to a generous matching grant from the Catto Shaw Foundation for 2024, all of your donations to Cultivating Place go directly toward helping us meet that match! All contributions help – go to the support button at the top of every page at Cultivating to chip in. Thank you in advance for supporting this program you love to grow with.



Thinking out loud this week....

I remember the first rare plant I met and actually knew it was a rare plant. The California pitcher plant (Darlingtonia californica) a rare carnivorous plant of serpentine wetland communities. Known only in Northern California and Southern Oregon. The California pitcher plant obtains nitrogen by decomposing insects captured in the pitcher-shaped leaves. The insects crawl down inside the pitcher where they are trapped by a barrier of downward facing hairs. The plant then secretes a proteolytic enzyme that breaks down and digests the captured insects.

I remember being really quieted by being beside the first colony of these plants I visited years ago now when I had only recently moved and made this Northern California place my home. And somehow in meeting this plant, a distinct and fragile life of this place, I felt even more invested and attached – rooted - to this being my home place, too.

Plants – rare or not – can root us that way.

And the further we decline into biodiversity loss we go – the more rare plants we stand a chance to meet – or rather not meet.


 It’s a sobering thought.


As April crosses the middle mark, and the flowering season continues to unfurl in the northern hemisphere, and begins to wane a bit in the southern hemisphere – get out there as often as you can to hang out with the plant friends and neighbors around you. Rare or common – you'll feel more at home too. I can just about guarantee it.

If you have a rare plant meeting story you’d like to share – I’d love to hear it – send me an email (cultivating place AT gmail .com) or drop me a comment on this week’s show post over at Instagram (@Cultivating_place)!

I know others would like to hear it too…..because in all truth every week should be native plant love and lore week – in our gardens and on our trails.

Below: Scenes of Spring in the canyon we call home. Calachortus albus (White Fairy Lanterns), native Blue and Valley Oak woodland watershed reflections, and a migrating California newt.




Cultivating Place is a co-production of North State Public Radio, a service of Cap Radio, licensed to Chico State Enterprises. Cultivating place is made possible in part listeners just like you through the support button at the top right-hand corner of every page at Cultivating

The CP team includes producer and engineer Matt Fidler, with weekly tech and web support from Angel Huracha, and this summer we're joined by communications intern Sheila Stern. We’re based on the traditional and present homelands of the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of the Chico Rancheria. Original theme music is by Ma Muse, accompanied by Joe Craven and Sam Bevan.

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1 comentário

Steele Nickle
Steele Nickle
23 de abr.

Thank you in advance! geometry dash subzero

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