Where They Grow Wild

Beautiful California Wildflowers!

March 9 – July 8, 2013 (both Where They Grow Wild and When They Were Wild have been extended!)
Gallery open: Friday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m
Opening reception: Saturday, March 9, 11 a.m.

"Where They Grow Wild" is an exclusive display of original artworks from RSABG’s archival collections complementing the “When They Were Wild” collaborative exhibition with The Huntington, Theodore Payne Foundation and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

Join us at the opening reception for complimentary light refreshments, guided tours of the RSABG library's "Wild in Print" collection and guided tours of the "Where They Grow Wild" exhibit at RSABG.

Special thanks to exhibition sponsors Randall and Janell Lewis.

Read more about the "When They Were Wild" in Bart O'Brien's article.


Related Events

Some events listed below are open to Gold Card and Director's Circle members only. Read about RSABG membership levels here.

 Related events at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif.

March 9 – July 8, 2013
“When They Were Wild: Recapturing California’s Wildflower Heritage” at The Huntington
Free with RSABG membership.
A collaborative project of The Huntington, Theodore Payne Foundation and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Special Membership Benefit-RSABG members may visit The Huntington at no charge through the duration of this special exhibition with a valid RSABG membership card.

Friday, March 8, 1 - 4 p.m.
RSABG Members Exhibition Preview
RSABG members can join The Huntington members in special exhibition preview at the Boone Gallery of the "When They Were Wild." Free admission to The Huntington.

Fri., March 8, 6 - 8 p.m.
Gold Card Member Exhibition Preview
RSABG Gold Card members are invited to join The Huntington donors for an exhibition preview and reception. This is an exclusive event for RSABG Gold Card members, reservation are required. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Sun., March 17, 5 - 9 p.m.
When They Were Wild Director’s Circle Dinner and Exhibition Tour
Dinner and behind-the-scenes tour of the “When They Were Wild” art exhibit with Bart O'Brien, co-curator. By invitation only. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Related events at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

March 9 – July 8
“Where They Grow Wild”
Gallery open Friday - Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Free with Garden admission or membership.
An exclusive display of original artworks from RSABG’s archival collections.

March 9 – July 8
“Wild in Print”
Library display open Mon. – Fri., 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Free with Garden admission or membership.
Reproductions of beautiful book illustrations of California wildflowers from the RSABG library collections.

March 23 – June 9, Sat. and Sun., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Weekend Wildflower Walks
Free with Garden admission or membership.
Wildflower Walks around Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Guided walking tours with RSABG nature interpreters featuring beautiful California wildflowers and seasonal highlights.

March 30, 31 and April 1, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Wildflower Show
Free with Garden admission or membership.
Free admission for visitors over 65 on Monday, April 1.
Special exhibition of wildflowers from across the region brought indoors for an intimate viewing. Monday, April 1, Wildflower Show Senior Day - free Garden admission and tram tours on April 1 for visitors over 65.

Sun., April 7, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Blooms and Beauty of Bighorn Mountain
RSABG members $65, public $95
This outing will highlight a rare transition zone between the local mountains and the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. This outing has reached enrollment capacity. Please look for similar events in the future.

Saturday, April 20, 1 p.m.
Lorraine Passero: “Clara Mason Fox: Pioneer, Painter, and Poet of Orange County, California”
California Author Series Talk and Book Signing
Free with Garden admission or membership.
Lorraine Passero delves into the life of Clara Mason Fox, whose illustration “Eschscholzia californica, Silverado Canyon,” was selected to represent the “When They Were Wild” exhibition. Register online here.

Sunday, April 21 and Saturday, May 11
Bart O'Brien: “California Wildflowers and Early California Nurseries”
Sun., April 21, 1 p.m., at Grow Native Nursery in the Veterans Garden 100 Davis Ave., Los Angeles
Sat., May 11, 1 p.m., at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Free with Garden admission or membership.
Bart O’Brien discusses the unusual journey that California’s native wildflowers took into our gardens. Register online here.

Rare Plant Treasure Hunt

by Duncan Bell
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Field Botanist

Several years ago Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) teamed up with the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) through a contract grant from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to do rare plant surveys across California deserts as part of the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt (RPTH) program. Last year marked the third year for RPTH, a program created and named by Josie Crowford of CNPS.

It is largely a citizen-science program with the goal of getting volunteers out in the field to experience California wild places and assist in rare plant surveys. These surveys largely target rare plant populations that haven’t been revisited in more than 20 years in order to evaluate the current status of these populations.

Many people may be under the impression that the desert is nothing rocks, lizards and an occasional spiny plant—an open wasteland to be crossed to get to Las Vegas or Lake Havasu. But California deserts hold more than 35 percent of the flora of California and have some of the areas of highest diversity for the state. There are many botanically unexplored mountain ranges and valleys out there. In 2012 alone, there were five plant species found in California deserts new to science described by RSABG scientists and researchers.

The Rare Plant Treasure Hunt program largely focuses on the California deserts often associated with the development of renewable energy projects. There are currently thousands of acres proposed for possible development, of which a great deal has had little botanical exploration.

It is the goal of the RPTH program to get volunteers out to these places to experience them first hand and to educate others on California’s diverse flora and the importance of its conservation.

Volunteers from the Sierra Club, the Desert Survivors Organizations, HabitatWorks, The Wildlands Conservancy, CNPS chapters and subchapters from across California have often participated with Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt. But many volunteers were not affiliated with any particular organization, but were just interested in joining the group to explore and learn about the desert and to have a personal experience with these wild places while doing so.

The spring field season in 2012 was one of the driest years on record for the California deserts; most areas got only 0.01 millimeters of rain or absolutely no rain at all. Watching the doppler in the winter of 2011-12 was often like watching a blank screen as there was so little weather action. Watching the weather stations and dopplers frequently helps plant scientists predict which areas may have germination or bloom. But even in dry years, the desert rarely disappoints and almost every area visited had at least one rare plant population if not dozens.

The summer field season seemed to the opposite as some parts of the California deserts received the most summer rain they have received in more than a decade. The eastern Mojave in particular had an amazing summer bloom and RSABG/RPTH participants were able to document around 100 rare plant populations on just a few trips.

A total of 24 trips were made in 2012. These trips ranged from day trips to three-day excursions into very remote places. We started in March at below sea level around the Salton Sea, topped out on Southern California’s highest peak on Mount San Gorgonio at 11,500 feet in July, and then headed back down to the lower elevations following the summer monsoonal storms in September. We documented around 300 rare plant populations. Many of these were newly documented. We trekked into the Panamint Mountains and found the type locality of the Panamint daisy (Enceliopsis covillei), which is the plant that has always adorned, and will continue to adorn, the CNPS logo; this population had not been revisited since Frederick Coville made the first collection of this plant in 1891 on the Death Valley expedition. The new species was later named for him. We found the first population of Abrams spurge (Chamaesyce abramsiana) in Imperial County in 100 years; all historic populations from Imperial County are likely extirpated due to development and agriculture. We documented many range extensions of rare plants, locating populations where they had never been found before. We provided information that aided in the evaluation of plant species for the CNPS inventory, including information about its abundance (or lack thereof!) in California and about threats to historic occurrences of a given species. We had many wonderful treks into some amazing places and spent many nights under star filled skies. All in all, it was a very successful and productive year.

If you would like to learn more about the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt program please visit the Rare Plant Treasure Hunt Website.

Great Backyard Bird Count

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden 2013 Family Bird Fest results have been tabulated and submitted!

These results were recorded during Family Bird Fest on Feb. 17, 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden volunteers, staff and visitors and Pomona Valley Audubon Society members helped gather the data. More information about the Great Backyard Bird Count can be found here.

Total species: 41

Canada Goose 30 (flying overhead)
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Cooper's Hawk 4
Red-shouldered Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 3
Rock Pigeon 2
Band-tailed Pigeon 17
Mourning Dove 39
Anna's Hummingbird 43
Rufous Hummingbird 2
Allen's Hummingbird 3
Acorn Woodpecker 9
Nuttall's Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 7
Black Phoebe 13
Cassin's Kingbird 1
Steller's Jay 1
Western Scrub-Jay 57
American Crow 7
Mountain Chickadee 4
Oak Titmouse 6
Bushtit 21
Bewick's Wren 13
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4
Wrentit 8
Hermit Thrush 2
Northern Mockingbird 3
California Thrasher 10
Phainopepla 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler 15
Spotted Towhee 27
California Towhee 46
Chipping Sparrow 23
Song Sparrow 3
Lincoln's Sparrow 1
White-crowned Sparrow 14
Dark-eyed Junco 34
House Finch 28
Lesser Goldfinch 26
American Goldfinch 4

Spring Hours at Grow Native Nursery

Spring Hours at Grow Native Nursery
February through May

Grow Native Nursery Claremont
Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Grow Native Nursery in the Veterans Garden
Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Read more about Grow Native Nursery, a nonprofit nursery open to the public dedicated to California native plants.

Morawetz Orobanchaceae Research Updates

Jeffery Morawetz, RSABG postdoctoral fellow, recently returned from a trip to Africa. He offers us this glimpse into his travels and research findings.


I recently returned from a month-long field trip to Katanga Province in the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which was funded by my National Geographic Society grant. My colleague on my National Science Foundation grant, Christopher Randle (Sam Houston State University), came with me. We met up with our colleague Edouard Ilunga (Ph.D. student, University of Lubumbashi), and he accompanied us for the entire time. We had many adventures together, and traveled widely throughout southern Katanga, from the frontier town of Dilolo in the west (bordering Angola) to Kundelungu National Park in the east (which boasts Africa’s tallest waterfall, Lofoi falls, at 347 meters). Most areas where we worked were either damp to inundated grasslands (called dambos, or dilungus), or miombo woodland, which is dominated by species of the legume tree Brachystegia (a common habitat type found in southern Africa).

Our goal was to collect the rare and endemic parasitic members of the family Orobanchaceae, and we were quite successful. We found the monotypic (meaning it is a genus with only a single species) Micrargeriella aphylla, and in a locality where it was not previously known (Kundelungu National Park). We also collected Gerardiina angolensis, which I’ve been hunting in eastern and southern Africa for years (unsuccessfully until now). Additionally, we collected two Central African endemic species of Melasma, a genus I studied for my dissertation (M. brevipedicellatum, M calycinum). I didn’t believe that one of the species really existed, as its description is not very different from its close relative, but sure enough, when we found them in the field, they are quite distinct. And they were very striking with their bright orange flowers, something only rarely mentioned in the literature. We were also able to collect species of the genera Buchnera, Sopubia and Striga.

In addition to all the great plants, we also ate some really great food called mbuzi michopo (roasted goat). It’s similar to the mbuzi choma of East Africa, but often cooked with onions and chopped kwanga (manioc/cassava). The starchy staple in Katanga is corn-based and called foufou (similar to ugali of East Africa, or nshima of Zambia), though it is different from the West African foufou typically made of cassava.

Most everyone in Congo speaks the national language, French (a hold-over from the Belgian colonial period). In Katanga, people also speak the regional language, Swahili. I was surprised to find that Congolese Swahili is quite different from East African Swahili. Notably, there is much French (and other Congolese regional languages, such as Lingala) woven in, and some word usage and pronunciation has been changed. While I could understand their Swahili, many Congolese had difficulty understanding my East African Swahili.

I will be going back to work with Edouard again in March. I look forward to more plant hunting in such a wonderful country and eating more mbuzi michopo.

Read more about his trip to DRC check out his travel blog here.

Read more about Morawetz' research at RSABG here.

McDade Featured Speaker at Biodiversity Conference

Lucinda McDade, Judith B. Friend Director of Research at RSABG and chair of the Claremont Graduate University Department of Botany, was a featured speaker at Biodiversity: from Evolutionary Origins to Ecosystems Function. The bicentennial symposium held in October 2012 celebrated the 200th anniversary of research at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

McDade spoke about the unanticipated uses of museum specimens (including plant specimens). From use of the Lewis and Clark plants to document the chemistry of the atmosphere above the Great Plains in the early 1800s to use of olive leaves in a funerary wreath from King Tut’s tomb along with more recently collected herbarium specimens to document the response of plants to changing carbon dioxide levels, McDade conveyed the message that museum specimens are rich sources of data that will be relied upon to address scientific and societal questions in the future.

RSABG in Center for Plant Conservation Publication

In 2011, a panel from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources visited Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden as part of a state-wide research trip for the Center for Plant Conservation’s publication Dancing with Extinction, a special edition of Plant Conservation, the newsletter of Center for Plant Conservation (CPC).

California is the nation’s second top hotspot for critically imperiled plant diversity (only Hawaii has a more endangered flora). As a charter member of CPC and a major player in the conservation of California plants, RSABG’s efforts to document and preserve the remarkable flora of California were highlighted in Dancing with Extinction.

You can download a PDF copy of the special edition on the CPC website.


Dudleya Crassulaceae family

Dudleya is a large genus of about 40 species, many of which are native to California and northern Mexico. Only a handful are common in cultivation and many are on the endangered species list.

At one time Dudleyas were included in the Echecveria genus, which includes the popular garden plant Echeveria ‘Imbricata’ (Hen and Chicks). Like Echeveria, Dudleyas are rosette-forming succulents and are generally silvery green.

However there are distinctions in their flowers. Dudlyea flowers arise near the bottom of the rosettes instead of the center of the rosettes. Most Dudleyas flower in late winter to early spring and the colors range from white and yellow to bright red.

Dudleyas earn their common name of live forever—many living up to 100 years with proper care. They have a wide range, but are typically found in rock outcroppings, cliff faces or steep slopes. Dudleya should be planted at an angle to allow accumulated water to drain from the center of the plant and prevent microbial decay. They are will adapted to the Southern California wet winters and dry summers. Avoid water in the summer. They do well in pots.

This genus is named for William Russell Dudley (1849 - 1911). After Dudley moved to California to accept a position as professor of systematic botany at Stanford University, his research and publishing focused on the diverse flora of California. The study of trees, the evolutionary relations of forms and the problems of geographical distribution were central to his research. Dudley's passion for conifers prompted his involvement in many conservation initiatives for the coast redwood and giant sequoia.

Becoming a Nature Interpreter

Gloria Slosberg, RSABG Nature Interpreter

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden offers its nature interpreters an infinite variety of constant and ever-changing surprise experiences: like seeing and hearing the loud call of a belted kingfisher perched on a tree at Benjamin Pond, or catching sight of a stunning rust color blossom on a spice bush, or observing a monarch butterfly emerge from its chrysalis.

Miracles similar to these are an everyday occurrence in the Garden. They inspire further study as well as sharing with other volunteers and Garden visitors.

Continuing education is a significant part of the nature interpreter's experience: classes, field trips, event orientations, enrichments, self-study, refreshers, ad infinitum. Joy of learning and friendships that evolve from sharing common interests are enhanced by the energetic, inquisitive children who attend our tours.

At a recent refresher walk, our group stopped to observe a sugar bush. Dick Angus recalled my practice tour nine years ago. You may be able to empathize with my first tour anxiety. I identified the sugar bush as a western redbud. No one said a word; we went on. The next tree was a REAL western redbud with heart shaped leaves and rosy pink blossoms. We all laughed! In that moment, Irv Goldhammer, my mentor, gave me an unforgettable learning tool: patience towards self and others.

What keeps me coming back to RSABG? It is all of the above, plus the uniqueness of each child and adult. On a tour with first graders not long ago, all of us were standing under a California sycamore tree examining its leaves. Then I said," Let's look at the trunk". A little boy, without skipping a beat, asked, "Where is the elephant?"

Thank you, Susanna Bixby Bryant for making all this possible!

Matching Gift Challenge Met

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden’s $75,000 Matching-Gift Challenge is Met with Enthusiasm by Garden Donors

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden has come one step closer to its goal of raising $1 million in annual fund donations this year through The Garden Fund, the non-profit’s 2011-12 fundraising campaign. The non-profit organization is celebrating the completion of a $75,000 matching grant which tripled donors’ contributions to The Garden Fund.

Volunteer at the Garden

Volunteer at California’s native garden—Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

The privately-funded, nonprofit organization is searching for volunteers to help with gardening, leading tours and serving as information assistants. RSABG will offer orientation course for new volunteers beginning in September 2012. For more information and to download a volunteer application, visit our volunteer webpages, or contact Tiffany Chandler, RSABG manager of volunteer programs at (909) 625-8767, ext. 256 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

There are two New Volunteer Orientation, “RSABG 101,” sessions to choose from. Prospective volunteers can choose from two, two-day sessions: Fridays, September 21 and October 5, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., or Saturdays, September 29 and October 13, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Enrollment in the volunteer orientation course requires an interview with the volunteer manager.

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  2. Undergrad Reseach Workshop
  3. RSABG’s oak collection ranked 28th in the world
  4. Seed Processing Manual goes to 2nd printing
  5. Native artisan baskets and pottery
  6. RSABG co-hosts 2010 National Children and Youth Garden Symposium
  7. Claremont High School students show off research at RSABG
  8. Green Tips for Earth Day
  9. RSABG chosen Best of LA 2010
  10. Rare Plant Treasure Hunt
  11. World travelers: RSABG botanists
  12. Botany Students Land Research Grants
  13. Fraga Awarded 2010 Switzer Fellowship
  14. Rare Botanical Folk Art Revealed
  15. Curating the plant specimens of the Thorne collection
  16. New articles by Professor Prince
  17. RSABG Research Welcomes Visiting Scholars
  18. Sorting out the Ruellieae Family Tree
  19. 'Reimagining the California Lawn'
  20. Claremont Unified School Board honors RSABG
  21. 2011 Volunteer Service Awards
  22. Columbus Advances to Professor of Botany
  23. BCM Foundation Grant Helps Kids Get Outdoor Education
  24. RSABG Scientists at 2011 Botany Conference
  25. Solarization of Fay's Wildflower Meadow
  26. Make Room for Wildlife
  27. Botany Students Earn Grants
  28. Botanist Recognized for Outstanding Scientific Presentation
  29. Native Landscapes: The Albrigos
  30. California Native Plants: Poodle-dog Bush
  31. Lenz Sculpture Collection
  32. RSABG Hosts Invasive Plants and Pathogen Workshop
  33. Post-Doc Earns National Geographic Society Grant
  34. A Manzanita Lost and Found
  35. Searching for the Plant Families
  36. Two New DIGG Awards
  37. Botanists Travel Briefs
  38. Plant Safari
  39. CPC Annual Meeting 2012
  40. New Student Grants and Visiting Scientists
  41. David Rogers' Big Bugs
  42. Horticulture and Propagation of Native Plants at the Garden
  43. The Mediterranean City Conference 2012
  44. USFWS 2011 Recovery Champion
  45. Wall Awarded Important Conservation Award
  46. Volunteer in Angeles National Forest
  47. Botanizing Around the Globe
  48. Become a Fan of Getting Native
  49. Bumper Crop of Interns at the Garden
  50. Porter and Morawetz NSF Grant Awards