Seeking rare plants on cool days
The Sportsman’s Report
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By Bill Hanson  April 4, 2014 12:00 am

A recent foray/hike to find rare plants was headed by specialist, Carol Ralph. The day started out sunny but not warm. 

After the group caravanned to the coastal redwoods, it grew a bit windy and cooler, as a refreshing salty breeze compensated for the chill. Carol warned the group, “Don’t get too far from our lunch; carry it in your pack.”

From experience on mushroom forays, the complete backpack includes water to drink, a hand lens or a good jeweler’s loop. Besides lunch, water and a snack, the experienced hiker includes a compass, map and a field guide that covers the prey you’re after. In Ziploc bags, some tissues and a bit of T.P. are always welcome. Binoculars are handy when you want a close-up view of birds or to check the details of tree species. 

When adverse weather threatens, pack a waterproof windbreaker and rain pants rolled up. Keep a small emergency kit inside an interior pocket in a waterproof bag. Some smaller ladies began to stagger under the weight of these ‘essentials.’

After a brief lecture on the rare plants on the list and a promise to check out tree species, Carol gave a safety talk and warned folks to stay together or at least tell someone you are going off on your own. At last, the group saddled up, set their waterproof hats at a proper angle and took hold of their walking sticks. Four hours later, the group staggered back to the cars. 

Some sported fog burns…that red face you get when the sun does not quite pierce the overcast but the brightness is hard to look at.

During the debrief, Carol explained some of the details of basic biology and invited the group to attend the free monthly lectures sponsored by the Native Plant Society. 

To learn more about the subject go to, Sonoma County’s ‘Milo Baker’ chapter.


Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.

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