The study and science of plants.

Purple Needlegrass Takes Root in the Capitol

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David Amme, author of “Grassland Heritage” in Bay Nature’s April-June 2004 issue, called purple needlegrass “the undisputed candidate for official state grass.” Now that may soon become literally as well as figuratively true: State Sen. Michael Machado, D-Linden, is sponsoring … Read more

Finding the Fungi

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A good rain sends all manner of mushrooms pushing their way up from underground. Here are some of the places around the Bay Area where you can admire the beauty and diversity of these charismatic fungi.

Confronting Sudden Oak Death

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Although the disease is popularly known as Sudden Oak Death, the funguslike organism that causes it, Phytophthora ramorum, is also responsible for less severe symptoms in a number of other native and nonnative plants. The continually growing list of affected … Read more

The Essential Tree

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It’s almost impossible to imagine the California landscape without oak woodlands. But this most familiar and prolific habitat faces a number of serious threats, including unchecked suburban development and Sudden Oak Death. Fortunately, many parks in the Bay Area, including those of the East Bay Regional Parks, offer welcome refuge for a variety of oak woodlands.

Oak Woodlands Resources

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To learn more about California’s oaks, contact the following organizations: California Oak Foundation 1212 Broadway, Suite 810 Oakland, CA 94612 510-763-0282 www.californiaoaks.org California oak advocacy and education organization. Online monthly oak report, membership newsletter, oak tree care information, and merchandise. … Read more

Penetrating the Chaparral

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Though it’s the most extensive natural habitat in California, chaparral’s brambly ways discourage human visitors. Still, plenty of wildlife finds sanctuary in its tangled, brushy universe, as do the dormant seeds of wildflowers as they await the inevitable next fire, forceful sculptor of this complex landscape.

Why is manzanita bark so smooth and red?

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What a seemingly simple, but deceptively complex question! Ultimately, perhaps, the least speculative—but not completely satisfactory—answer is that manzanitas inherited this trait from their ancestors. There is compelling evidence that manzanitas (genus Arctostaphylos) are derived from a group of trees, … Read more