Plant Trees SF Events 2013 Archive: 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021


1.   Job openings with CNPS
1a. Video of GGP soccer fields
2.   At the Cottage of Messer Violi, by Paul Violi
3.   Choice tidbits from current Bay Nature
4.   Join trail work on Tamalpais Saturday 13
5.   Join in planning Glen Park Rec Center Saturday 13
6.   Knowland Park update
7.   Watershed Nursery Summer Sale July 12-14
8.   Lichens, Part II - type locality an automobile?
9.   Math on Trial
10. Jack and the beans’ talk - new communication discovery
11.  Feedback: Egypt
12.  Noon hour concert downtown 12.30-1.30
13.  Parrot that watches too much TV

1.  Job opportunities

The California Native Plant Society is hiring.  Three of the four are with the state organization in Sacramento, and listed at
Item 3 is with its East Bay Chapter and located in Tilden Park:

This is an excellent opportunity to work for one of California’s most successful biodiversity conservation organizations. 
1) CNPS Communications Manager
2) CNPS Data Entry Clerk/Administrative Assistant
3) East Bay CNPS Native Here Nursery Manager
4) CNPS Horticulture Program Director


1a.  Video of GGP soccer field

It's only four minutes long. Only if it gets around is it likely to be of any use. So if you like it, please send it on to anyone you think would be interested and also press "like", I think that helps it appear in a more prominent place on the youtube. This is my first filmlet and first venture into YouTube.  Rasa Gustaitis


At the Cottage of Messer Violi, by Paul Violi

The mailbox, painted dark blue,
sits atop a tilted cedar post.
It has a little red flag on one side
and it is altogether remarkable.

The Toyota in the driveway
is very old and is said
to have come from Japan.

There is in the hallway
an immense dogfood bowl.
It is made of iridescent pink plastic.
It is, as I have said, immense
and it is hideous.

In the kitchenette is a statuette
of Ceres, Goddess of Wheaties.

The dishwasher is a Kenmore
and altogether worthy of praise.

In the foyer the over-sized painting
of a porkchop provides
visitors many opportunities
for conversation.

In the servants' quarters
there are many impressive works
that stress the imminence of death
and the probability of hell fire.

Placed on the broad maplewood table
beside bottles of cognac
there is a recording device
with a silver megaphone
into which natives are often
invited to shout
the oral histories of their people.

We whose hearts have been gripped
by life, scoff at the idea of art

as mere ornamentation: So they
seem to proclaim,
the three statues that adorn
the neighbor's lawn, plaster deer
with real bulletholes in them.

"At the Cottage of Messer Violi" by Paul Violi, from Breakers. © Coffee House Press, 2000. 

(this) Saturday, July 13th, 7pm-9pm. Kirk Lumpkin and Cyrus Mehdi are the featured poets at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts, 1601 Paru St., Alameda, CA 94501 [(510) 523-6957] plus an open mic.

The current issue of Bay Nature (July-September 2013) is the best yet.  (But I say that about every issue--maybe because it's true.)

1.  Of special interest to me is an article titled Demystifying Mist: Fog and the Future of Redwoods--the reason for my interest being that I have been deeply concerned about how they would fare in a changing climate, given their need for a cool, moist environment.  The very same phenomenon occupied my thoughts about what San Francisco summers would be like, my fear being that hot air in the Central Valley would suck in the fog, making us grayer and colder.  But of course nature is much more complex and subtle--features lacking in my simple mind.  The temporary good news is that at least so far no negative effects have been detected, and some positive ones have.  It is very early to be drawing conclusions, but I grasp at tidbits of good news and cling to them.

2.  Late in life I have come to appreciate what we owe to a few individuals who made things happen.  Those contributions could be in any sphere of human endeavor, but environmental health and robustness has for many decades been the center of my concerns.  The focus this time is on Huey Johnson, Governor Jerry Brown's Secretary of Resources from 1978 to 1982.  I also knew that he founded the Trust for Public Land, but I didn't know he also founded Grand Canyon Trust, the Aldo Leopold Society, and a host of other thriving organizations.  I would probably never have known all this if not for Bay Nature.  Man, we owe this guy a lot, and we owe Bay Nature a lot.

3.  Poison oak?  You think it's beautiful, Jake?  Yes, I do, even if it makes me itch, and it is both an interesting and beautiful plant.  The stellar authors are well known in the Bay Area: Ron Sullivan and Joe Eaton.

4.  Lastly, photo contest winners, entitled Fun on the Bay.  This issue contained a photo of a boatful of kids from San Francisco's Hunters View housing project on the Sausalito ferry.  Considering that I have traveled all over the world but still am exhilarated by a boat ride on the Bay, I can't help wondering what an experience this was for kids who may not have ever even been out of the Hunters Point area.

Marin Municipal Water District volunteer event   
Northside Trail
Saturday, July 13, 9 AM to 2 PM 
Join our volunteer trail crew and help improve tread and drainage, plus trim vegetation on the Northside Trail. Enjoy wending your way along this relatively level trail high up on the mountain. The elusive Tamalpais oak calls these forests home.
Meeting time and location: 9 a.m. at the East Peak parking lot at the end of Ridgecrest Blvd. on the top of Mt Tamalpais.
Wear sturdy boots and dress in layers as weather conditions change rapidly on the mountain.

San Francisco Recreation and Park Department
Improving Glen Canyon Park Recreation Center

Please come to the next meeting, Saturday, July 13th
10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Glen Canyon Park Recreation Center
Located inside the park, near the intersection of Elk St. and Chenery St. ADA accessible parking available down Bosworth St., in front of rec center
We look forward to working with you to improve the Glen Canyon Park Recreation Center!

Visit for a summary of past community meetings and to view the latest design.
For more information, contact me at 415.575.5601 or
If you would like to request accommodations, please contact our Inclusion Center at 415.206.1546 or  Our TTY number is 415.242.5700.  Please note that requesting accommodations at least 72 hours prior to an event will help ensure availability.


6.  Dear Knowland Park Supporters,

Thanks to everyone who signed our online petition urging the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to deny permits for the zoo’s expansion project into Knowland Park! More than 400 have signed already, but we’d really like to get at least 500 signatures before we deliver them to USFWS - can you help give it another push through your networks and urge people to sign?

Here is the url :

Meanwhile, documents we received using a public records act request make us wonder if the zoo is running into more permit trouble than it expected on this misguided project. The USFWS has requested much more specific information. It appears (to their great credit) that they are examining closely the effects on threatened species, not simply rubberstamping a bunch of paid blather as the city representatives did. That means that it’s even more important for us to let them know the public cares about this and supports protection of the threatened species and habitat. And we are watching! So please - help us get those signatures today! “Like” the petition on Facebook, tweet the url to your followers, and ask your friends and family to sign - a few clicks could help keep the pressure on and let the agencies charged with protecting our natural resources know that we support their efforts to do so.

We haven’t yet been able to get a clear answer as to how much the city of Oakland ended up giving the zoo in the latest budget, but the last word was almost a million dollars of our tax funds going to the managers of an organization that repeatedly ignores the requirements of its management agreement with the city, has never yet cleaned up the zoo garbage dumped in the park (despite claiming years ago in writing that they would do so within 60 days), and is not legally required to show its books to anyone. Something is really wrong with this picture, and we are working to get to the bottom of it. Please contact us if you have any information.

Each day the bulldozers don’t show up is another day that Knowland Park’s wild creatures and plants survive and thrive as they have for perhaps hundreds of years, while the city grew up around them. It’s a shame that zoo executives and the developers on the zoo board can’t understand that protecting a place like Knowland is protecting more than just parkland, important though that is: it’s protecting our dwindling heritage of unspoiled wild places near urban settings for future generations to experience.  No gondola ride and ‘conservation education’ program can match the authentic education that keeping such places wild and open can provide. Unfortunately, for some people, money trumps everything else. But as the quote from John Sawhill on our website notes, “A society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy.”

And thanks SO MUCH to those who have generously sent contributions to help launch our latest campaign! However, we still have about $8000 to raise by August 31 in order to do what we have planned with the help of some wonderful allies. Can you help us with a check? Any amount helps, because together they all add up, and 100% of your contributions are used to fund our advocacy and public education on behalf of Knowland Park. No one gets paid from the donations received - we are all volunteering our time and energy to try to save this very special remaining place. So please take a few minutes and send your tax-deductible check TODAY (made out to CNPS - California Native Plant Society, our fiscal sponsor) to our treasurer, Lee Ann Smith, 111 Shadow Mountain, Oakland, CA 94605. Or, if it’s easier, use the Pay Pal button on our website. All the creatures that make their homes in Knowland Park will thank you, especially those whose very survival as a species is threatened by this destructive plan!



Sizzling Summer Sale - 20% off Everything in Stock

July 12th - 14th, 10 am - 4 pm 

We are currently growing tons of site-specific plants for more than a handful of projects here in the Bay Area and we need to make some room.  So we decided to have some summer fun and throw a sizzling hot sale!  
Additionally we would also like to provide a Special Offer for our email customers only...
In addition to the 20% off we are offering an additional 10% off to you. Bring in a copy of our sale flyer or show us your email from your mobile device, and you will receive 30% off your order.
We will have light snacks and refreshments, big smiles, and lots of lovely California Native Plants!  


8.  Lichens, Part II

(Digested from Bulletin of the California Lichen Society Winter 2001)

Adapt or die - or
If you can't lick 'em, join 'em 

Lichens Growing on an Automobile in Santa Barbara, California, by Shirley C. Tucker

What would a taxonomist do if his type locality for a lichen were on the roof of an automobile that was in daily use?  This provocative question came up when a colleague brought this car, parked on the university campus, to my attention, and I found about ten species of lichens, including a peculiar-looking Xanthoria, which didn't key to anything familiar, abundantly present on its roof.

The well-used 1982 Toyota Landcruiser, owned by Dr. Sam Sweet of the Biology Department at UC Santa Barbara, has its roof covered with lichens.  Acquired in 1986, the car had been driven daily only around southern California.  Dr. Sweet first noted the lichens in September 1994 after returning from a year in Australia, during which time it was parked in a driveway where it got sun for two hours a day.  It was never washed.

The odd Xanthoria, upon being sent to an international expert on the genus, was identified as the common Xanthoria polycarpa.  Its stressful wind-tunnel-like environment may have been responsible for the atypical growth form atop the car.  The disappointment occasioned by this determination was partially assuaged by relief that they didn't have to find space for a Landcruiser in the herbarium.
   		 click this icon for a picture on Google

(Note:  The author thinks Dr. Sweet may have sold the car by now--ie, 2001--complete with its rooftop biome.)

"If you want to get people to believe something really, really stupid, just stick a number on it."
	Author Charles Seife in Proofness:  The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception

Math on Trial, by Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez

“Torture numbers and they will confess to anything,” author Gregg Easterbrook once wrote in a magazine piece on climate change.  But his quip could have been the subtitle for this new book on the abuse of numbers in the courts.

Its authors, mother-daughter mathematicians, belong to a research group devoted to improving the use of statistics in criminal trials.  

...Then there was the 1894 conviction of French army captain Alfred Dreyfus for high treason.  The officer had been charged with sending secrets to the enemy in a coded message.  The real traitor eventually emerged, but only after a faulty statistical analysis of handwriting and codes had sent Dreyfus to a long imprisonment on an isolated island off French Guiana.

...the authors argue, "the misuse of mathematics can be deadly".  Most important, "problems tend to arise from inadvertent errors, not from any inherent inapplicability of mathematics to justice".

Excerpt from review in Science News 29.06.13

Plant communications

Beans’ talk

Vegetables employ fungi to carry messages between them

Jul 6th 2013, The Economist (condensed)
And then, would you believe it, the boy started climbing up Dad to try to find the giant!

THE idea that plants have developed a subterranean internet, which they use to raise the alarm when danger threatens, sounds more like the science-fiction of James Cameron’s film “Avatar” than any sort of science fact. But fact it seems to be, if work by David Johnson of the University of Aberdeen is anything to go by. For Dr Johnson believes he has shown that just such an internet, with fungal hyphae standing in for local Wi-Fi, alerts beanstalks to danger if one of their neighbours is attacked by aphids.

The experiment which suggests this was following up the discovery, made in 2010 by a Chinese team, that when a tomato plant gets infected with leaf blight, nearby plants start activating genes that help ward the infection off—even if all airflow between the plants in question has been eliminated. The researchers who conducted this study knew that soil fungi whose hyphae are symbiotic with tomatoes (providing them with minerals in exchange for food) also form a network connecting one plant to another. They speculated, though they could not prove, that molecules signalling danger were passing through this fungal network.

Dr Johnson knew from his own past work that when broad-bean plants are attacked by aphids they respond with volatile chemicals that both irritate the parasites and attract aphid-hunting wasps. He did not know, though, whether the message could spread, tomato-like, from plant to plant. So he set out to find out—and to do so in a way which would show if fungi were the messengers.

...Broad beans, then, really do seem to be using their fungal symbionts as a communications network, warning their neighbours to take evasive action. Such a general response no doubt helps the plant first attacked by attracting yet more wasps to the area, and it helps the fungal messengers by preserving their leguminous hosts.

Plant-fungus symbiosis is a surprisingly underexplored area of biology. The limited data available suggest most plants go in for it in one form or another, but its role is only slowly being illuminated. Work like Dr Johnson’s suggests this is a serious omission, not least for the understanding of how crops like beans actually grow. The underground world, though invisible to the human eye, should not for that reason be ignored or underestimated.


11.  Feedback

On Jul 7, 2013, at 6:30 PM, David Wiesner wrote:
On 7/6/2013 4:57 PM, Jake Sigg wrote:
Another consideration:  This was called a coup d’etat.  It was, of sorts, but one that was demanded by the people, not a hostile take over by the power-hungry.  Surely policy can distinguish these.

The Egyptians could have kept up protests against Morsi and led general strikes that would have continued until he was forced to compromise on his despotic moves.  They could have told the military not to get involved.  But instead they called on him to leave now and asked the military to step in and overturn the results, imperfect as they were, of Egypt's first election after one year.

But the underlying problem is that Egypt is soon to be insolvent, with a currency that is collapsing, causing food and fuel prices to skyrocket.   The next government, even if it is a coalition of parties, will be as unable as Morsi's, to provide the basic necessities.  Think Weimar Republic. Will the people then take to the streets, shouting, "Leave. Leave"?  The ever-obliging military could probably gain the support of the people to suspend elected government and rule under a state of emergency.

Will our government turn off military aid, knowing that without the military Egypt will dissolve into chaos?  Already post-Morsi there have been attacks on military barracks in the Sinai.  Those same people have attacked Israeli troops inside Israel with military precision.  We will go along with the indefinite suspension of elected government  The military knows we need them, so they will make sure to take full advantage of the situation to restore the status quo ante, perhaps with ElBaradei as the figurehead leader.
David:  You’ve certainly hit on the essential problem here and one, I fear, that has no favorable outcome.  I wish I could say you’re wrong.  Can’t.

I also wish my depressing thoughts applied to only Egypt.  

Noon hour concert

Please come to the Cadillac Hotel this Friday for a program of Rachmaninoff and Beethoven featuring Rebecca Roundman on the Cello and Noel Benkman on the Piano!  12:30 to 1:30 PM, 380 Eddy Street, SF, CA.  

A parrot with a remarkably coherent line of invective has been given a private pen at a wildlife sanctuary, after swearing repeatedly at distinguished visitors, including a mayor, a vicar, and two police officers.
Barney the five-year-old macaw can now be seen only on special request, like the British Library's collection of erotic books.
Trained by a previous owner who had a dislike of authority, he initially appeared to be a potential draw at the Warwickshire Animal Sanctuary because of his vivid blue and gold plumage and his habit of saying "Thank you, big boy," when given a digestive biscuit.
But his other side was revealed when a civic party came on a tour of the sanctuary and Barney spotted the mayor's chain and the woman vicar's dog collar.  Instead of the Benedicite ("Oh all ye fowls of the air, bless ye the Lord"), he told the mayor:  "Fuck off," before turning to the vicar and saying:  "You can fuck off too."
The sanctuary's owner said:  "To their credit they didn't take offence and laughed it off--and luckily so did two policemen who were told:  "And you can fuck off, you wankers."
The parrot is thought to have kept up its watching TV after the 9 pm watershed.
                           Guardian Weekly 5-11 Aug 05


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