Last year was another banner year for rare and unusual plants in the East Bay! And that was in spite of the strange, early, shortened blooming period.
Rains came very early in the fall of 2021, and many plants that normally begin blooming in early March actually started popping up in December and January. With the extended dry period in early 2022, many plants were already dried up by mid-April.
Yet our valiant field volunteers still got out there and monitored many of our known rare (statewide rare) and unusual (locally rare) plant populations in our two counties, including several new populations and resulting in 1,071 records of new data for 2022. They even discovered four new species not previously known to occur in the East Bay: meadow goosefoot (Chenopodium pratericola), small-flowered monkeyflower (Erythranthe inconspicua), Alaska melic (Melica subulata), and bay forget-me-not (Myosotis laxa).
Multiple group surveys during the spring and summer at Los Mochos (off Mines Road, south of Livermore) and Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge in Antioch located several rare and unusual plant populations not reported since the late 1990s and early 2000s, many of them still thriving. We will conduct more surveys at both sites this year to look for even more of the old populations and to monitor some of the rarest and most vulnerable of those found last year.
Plans for 2023 are well underway, and we are excited to see how the plants will respond to all the January rain. After analyzing the data gathered in 2022, we have compiled lists of priority surveys for the plant populations most in need of monitoring and relocating in 2023. Ninety-nine plant species have only one current population in the East Bay, and we still do not have precise location details or coordinates for many of them. These populations will be the focus of some of our priority surveys this year, along with monitoring and locating many other rare and unusual plant populations.
If you would like to see what some of the rare and unusual plants are in your favorite park or natural area, you can visit the new webpages we have developed this past year. To find the lists without the direct link, visit the chapter website at ebcnps.org, click on the Conservation and Science tab, choose the Database of Rare and Unusual Plants, and then select View the Rare and Unusual Plant Lists and Data. Note that the locations are general to protect the plants from poaching and vandalism, and precise locations are only available to our field volunteers and a few others by request and with vetting.
If after looking at some if these lists you think you would like to be a part of the rare and unusual plants field volunteer effort to look for and monitor these plant populations, please email me at email@example.com, and tell me a little about your background and plant-identifying skills as well as any special plants or places you are interested in. We especially need volunteers to survey Garaventa Wetlands and the eastern side of Brushy Peak Regional Preserve this year; both are in Livermore.
Let’s all hope for an explosive bloom this year after all the years of drought, and the discovery of many healthy and happy rare and unusual plant populations.
—Dianne Lake, Unusual Plants Coordinator, CNPS East Bay Chapter, firstname.lastname@example.org