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CA Native Plant Society Celebrates 50 Years


CA Native Plant Society Celebrates 50 Years

by Liz Parsons and Wendy Born

As Spring comes to Sonoma County, the wildflowers begin to bloom in the regional and state parks.  These wonderful natural areas have been preserved for us by people who realized the necessity of preserving the native habitats that make Sonoma County such a special place.  The California Native Plant Society (CNPS) is an organization that is dedicated to the preservation of California's natural habitats.  The Sonoma County chapter of the CNPS is called the Milo Baker Chapter.  It is named after an important North Coast botanist.

Milo Baker (1861-1961) was a highly respected botanist and instructor at the Santa Rosa Junior College who documented thousands of North Coast native plants. Among them is the federally endangered Blemnosperma bakeri / Sonoma Sunshine. Sonoma sunshine is found in the seasonal wetlands of the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Milo Bakers meticulous documentation was a key step in saving many rare plants presently and in the future. There are 15,000 specimens of his collections that are now housed at Sonoma State University.

The life science building at SRJC, Baker Hall is named in honor of Milo Baker, and outside of the classrooms there is a California Native plant garden dedicated to Steve Barnhart (retired life science instructor), and a memorial bench to Vanette Bunyan who was one of the founding members of the Milo Baker chapter of CNPS.

The Milo Baker chapter was formed in 1972 and is one of 33 chapters of the California Native Plant Society, which is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary.

CNPS is a statewide organization whose goals are to increase understanding and appreciation of California's native plants, and to preserve them and their natural habitats for future generations.  


As an organization the Milo Baker chapter of CNPS:

Promotes the protection of California’s native plant species: Sonoma County is home to over 150 plant species or subspecies that are considered rare, threatened, or endangered.

Engages in Conservation activities:  Our chapter has four preserves that we manage for conservation of rare plants. We perform plant and habitat surveys, monitor threats to native habitat, provide input and expert testimony at county meetings, organize and support workdays to remove invasive weeds, and work to increase public awareness of native plant issues.

The Milo Baker Chapter works to increase awareness of plant issues by partnering with Sonoma Land Trust, The Laguna Foundation, and the Sonoma County Conservation Coalition.

Conducts Outreach activities such as:

General meetings: The third Tuesday of each month (except for July and August) we have a General Meeting at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center at 2050 Yulupa Street in Santa Rosa at 7:30 PM.  Meetings are free and open to the public, the schedule being:

March 17 - Mia Monroe, from the Xerces Society on Monarch Butterflies

April 17 - Pam Glasscock, artist; Preview and Discussion of her most recent paintings of California flora.

May 19 - Glen Holstein, Ph.D, consulting biologist, ecologist, author, State CNPS board member; "California's Prairies and Grasslands"

June 16 - Kate Marionchild, author, naturalist; speaking on her most recent book, "Secrets of the Oak Woodlands.

Field trips: led by a member knowledgeable of the local Sonoma County flora. Field trips are throughout the year, focusing on currently blooming plants, and habitats of interest.

Fall Plant sale: Gardening with native plants is receiving more attention given our current drought situation. Our huge plant sale gives you a chance to purchase a variety of natives at very reasonable prices and to get expert advice on how to grow them. The plant sale is always the second Saturday in October at the Santa Rosa Veterans Building from 9 AM to 1 PM.

Scholarships: The chapter offers a merit scholarship to students at Santa Rosa Junior College or Sonoma State University who are engaged in study and/or research relating to native plant conservation, restoration, or other native plant studies.  


We are fortunate in Sonoma County to have specialty nurseries which are a haven for native plant enthusiasts, a wealth of information is always gained by patronizing such nurseries. If you are interested in California native plants, their conservation, and habitat you are invited to attend our general meeting.