California Native Plant Society | June 2022

Field Trips

June 18, Saturday.  Christmas Prairie Field Trip.  We will explore this diverse lake at 2300 ft. on the forested ridge west of Redwood Creek, courtesy of Green Diamond Resource Company.  This diverse site includes upland grassland, vernally inundated meadows, and boggy lake margins.  The Small Camas and Harlequin Lotus should be blooming among diverse wet meadow plants and several rare species. We will explore on foot short distances at three places.  We will carpool in high clearance, AWD or 4WD vehicles.  Dress for the weather; bring lunch and water for a full day.  Contact Carol for details: 707-822-2015,

June 25, Saturday.  Kneeland Forest and Meadow Day Hike.  Shy flowers under the Douglas-fir and Tanoak and cheerful flowers in the prairie, as well as our special focus, the grasses, await us as we walk 1-2 miles along paths on the ridgetop property of Mark and Melinda Bailey at almost 2800 ft.   Dress for the weather; bring lunch and water for a full day. Attendance limited. Contact Carol to sign up: 707-822-2015,

Evening Programs will resume in September.


Wild Plants Are Not Always Native Plants

by Carol Ralph

At the Wildflower Show, a table-full of beautiful, wild, plants that are non-native, invasive plants in our area.

Every year our Wildflower Show brings together a colorful, fragrant, intriguing display of wild flowers from a wide area.  Every year several visitors startle me by saying, “These are wild? But I pull some of these out of my garden!” Perhaps the visitor has not noticed that the weeds in his garden also grow along roadsides, at the beach, and in mountain meadows.  Perhaps the visitor thinks that a Native Plant Society would have only native plants in our show and is not clear on the difference between “wild” and “native.” 

“Wild” applies to individual plants.  An intuitive definition of “wild” is that it was not purposely planted by people.  The wild flowers in our show fit this definition.  You can almost always tell whether it is “wild,” whether it was planted or not, by where it is growing. 

You can not, however, tell if it is “native.”  “Native” applies to a species, not an individual.  To know if a plant is native, you have to know what species it is and how it got there.  An intuitive definition of “native” is that a species has lived in an area longer than European humans have, i.e. Europeans did not bring it to the area, purposely or accidentally.  A native species fits in with its ecological neighbors in ways developed over millions of years. “Native” has to be specified to an area.  This county? This state? This continent? An individual of a native species is native whether it is growing in the “wild” or in a garden.  

Wild, non-native Yellow Bush Lupine

The opposite of “native” (sometimes called “indigenous”), that is, the species that traveled with Europeans and grows in the wild, has been called non-native, introduced, alien, naturalized, or exotic.  Of these terms “non-native” seems to me the most clear. Again, the geographic area must be specified.  A species that is non-native in an area is non-native whether it is in a garden or in the wild.  Some non-native species that grow so rampantly that they cause significant ecological or economic harm are classed as “invasive.” What is invasive in Humboldt County might not be in Los Angeles County.

Notice that none of these terms says anything about beauty.  Native, non-native, and even invasive species can be beautiful.