Rare Plant Treasure Hunt

You'll never look at the desert the same way!

The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt is a citizen science project of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) funded in part by grants from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Bureau of Land Management.

Teams of botanists and amateur plant detectives venture out into public lands across the state to record rare plant occurrences.

World travelers: RSABG botanists

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden faculty and research scientists are a jet setting crew. Frequently on the go, RSABG botanists travel around the world for field research and to collaborate with fellow researchers. Here's a run down of recent trips by three research scientists.

Botany Students Land Research Grants

The research undertaken by the majority of our graduate students involves field and lab work. Fieldwork can be expensive, especially when foreign travel is involved. Some laboratory research is inexpensive (e.g., gathering data on the anatomical structures of plants), but other aspects of lab work, most notably gathering DNA data is costly. For these reasons, as well as acquiring grant writing skills can be an essential part of graduate education.

Fraga Awarded 2010 Switzer Fellowship

Naomi Fraga, Ph.D. candidate in the Botany Department at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) and Claremont Graduate University, has been awarded a Switzer Environmental Fellowship. Each scholar receives $15,000 to help with the expenses related to completing their masters or doctor degrees. This year, only 21 fellowships were awarded to emerging environmental leaders who are currently pursuing advance degrees that will enable them to address critical environmental challenges.

Rare Botanical Folk Art Revealed

A future exhibition at The Huntington will feature extraordinary botanical art safeguarded for decades in Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden’s herbarium and library collections.

Rare botanical artwork squirreled away among the pressed plant specimens in the herbarium and the library’s special collections at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) is scheduled for debut as part of a temporary art instillation at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in 2013. The exhibition, under a propitious motif titled “When They Were Wild: Capturing California’s Wildflower Heritage,” is a result of a collaborative effort between RSABG, The Huntington and the Theodore Payne Foundation.

Curating the plant specimens of the Thorne collection

Last year the RSABG herbarium was awarded an NSF grant to process the backlog of unaccessioned specimens from Professor Robert Thorne’s botanical collecting around the world.

Thorne, emeritus curator and professor, retired after a distinguished career at RSABG. The specimens in question have been held at an off-site storage facility; they urgently need to be processed and placed in the herbarium to be properly cared for and, as importantly, to be available for researchers to study. As of this year 4,000 of an estimated total of 10,000 specimens have been prepped and are ready to be mounted.

Seeds of Success

The Seeds of Success (SOS) team at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden has been responsible for greatly expanding international seed bank holdings from the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.

A recent expedition to a collection site on the Pacific Crest Trail is rewarded with a copious yield of the shrub saltbrush (Atriplex canescens). The four-wing saltbrush codominates desert plant communities in Southern California and is a food source for the desert tortoise. The saltbrush seed collection will ultimately help build an ample national and international seed bank to maintain and restore resilient native plant communities after environmental damage such as fire or urban development.

New articles by Professor Prince

Professor Linda Prince’s research examines two very different groups of flowering plants—members of the dicot tea family (Theaceae), and two families of the monocot ginger order: the prayer plant family (Marantaceae), and canna lilies (Cannaceae)—to further understand phylogenetic framework, to clarify evolutionary relationships among plant groups.

RSABG Research Welcomes Visiting Scholars

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is pleased to welcome visiting sabbatical professors Carolyn Ferguson and Mark Mayfield, both from Kansas State University and Carlos García-Verdugo de Lucas, Fulbright postdoctoral researcher for the spring of 2011.

Carolyn Ferguson, associate professor of biology at Kansas State University and curator of the KSU Herbarium, studies Phlox, a genus of about 70 species of plants found mostly in North America.

Sorting out the Ruellieae Family Tree

Researching a diverse and widespread plant family, scientists at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and visiting scientists from Ethiopia are delving into the importance of biodiversity.

Erin Tripp, principal investigator and post-doctoral researcher at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG), along with co-principal investigator Lucinda McDade, Judith B. Friend Director of Research at RSABG, are reconstructing the phylogenetic tree (family tree) of the plant lineage Ruellieae to further scientific understanding of the diversity of life.

'Reimagining the California Lawn'

Three horticultural experts, educators and designers offer a might tome full of turf grass alternatives.

With more than 300 color images, the second collaboration of Carol Bornstein, David Fross and Bart O’Brien offer oodles of design inspiration, detailed plant profiles of water-conserving plants from around the world and practical solutions for home gardeners.

The authors will be at the Garden on Sunday, April 17, 1 p.m., for a special presentation and book signing for “Reimagining the California Lawn” (Cachuma Press, March 2011). Refreshments will be provided. The book will be for sale at the California Garden Shop at RSABG. This event is free; no Garden admission necessary for book-signing attendees.

Bornstein, Fross and O’Brien collaborated on “California Native Plants for the Garden,” published by Cachuma Press in 2005.

Read more about “Reimagining the California Lawn” in a recent L.A. Time article.