Board Members Help Restore The Bay

Our Board members took some time before their June meeting to transplant native seedlings at our Palo Alto Baylands Nursery. They really loved getting their hands dirty and learning more about our restoration education programs!

Board Members transplanting
Board members Si White and Ron Gonzales and Executive Director David Lewis (center) transplant gumplant (Grindelia stricta). Photo: Betsy Cardis


Board members in nursery
Board members Sandy Linder, Michael Gallagher, Maureen Reilly, Michael Katz, and Christopher Richard transplant alkali heath (Frankenia Salina) with Habitat Restoration Director Donna Ball. Photo: Betsy Cardis

Join us this summer and help transplant native seedlings at one of our nursery programs in Palo Alto.

Herbal remedies by the Bay

Aspirin, lotions, and band aids, who needs ‘em when you have CA native plants?

Walking along the shoreline one might not realize the medicine cabinet growing at their feet. Many California native plants have medicinal properties that have been used for centuries. The Ohlone people that once inhabited the Bay Area had a vast knowledge of native plants and their many useful traits. Save The Bay’s restoration staff plant a variety of these native California plants that once lined the transition zone from the shoreline of the S.F. Bay Estuary to surrounding upland hills.

Check out this slideshow of native plants with medicinal properties:

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Amazing! Funny to think how we have become so dependent on name-brand medicines when many of the original ingredients grow right in our own backyards!

Learn more about Ohlone plant medicine online and volunteer at our native plant nursery to learn more about growing these Bay Area plants.

Notes from the Field | Room to grow in our Oakland nursery

MLK Nursery

This spring, Save The Bay’s habitat restoration team set out to make some improvements to our native plant nursery at Garretson Point in Oakland’s MLK Jr. Shoreline. The nursery has been providing volunteers opportunities to learn about native plant horticulture and produce plants to restore the transition zone of the shoreline since 2004. More than 60,000 plants have been grown and planted in the park to improve shoreline habitat for wildlife in San Leandro Bay, otherwise surrounded completed by industry and urban development right up to the water’s edge.

After 10 years of plant production, we decided it was time to make some improvements. Starting in May, STB staff set out to replace many of the old, dilapidated benches with new, hand constructed benches, as well as new, slightly taller irrigation to accommodate larger plant sizes. The second goal of the project was to improve the use of space and increase the capacity of the nursery to provide more plant material for increasing large restoration projects. After two months of weekly construction days, the nursery now holds 60% more plant material than before and the plants are happier than ever in their new home!

Save The Bay’s native plant nurseries provide enriching opportunities for adults and youth to learn about the native plants that grow along the edge of the Bay. Join us on the first and second Wednesday of every month in Oakland and Palo Alto to learn how to grow native plants and meet others that want to enjoy and steward the beautiful ecology of our home. Visit our website and sign up for a nursery program today!

Happy summer and I look forward to growing with you at the nursery!

— Doug Serrill, Nursery Manager

Notes from the Field | Sowing a New Restoration Cycle

Baccharis glutinosa
Two weeks after we sow marsh baccharis, germination begins and little cotyledons emerge.

Spring is upon us once again! In the annual cycle of ecological restoration, this is the time when we start growing new native seedlings for next winter’s planting. As species have different growth rates, they are propagated in phases throughout the spring and early summer. Plants need to germinate, grow and develop root and shoot systems, and harden off. Within 6 to 9 months, they go from a seed to a healthy, hardy seedling ready to take on the world.

The first species we sow is marsh baccharis, formally called, Baccharis glutinosa. After two weeks’ time, germination begins and little cotyledons emerge above the soil. Now the little germinants begin the complex process of developing initial roots and actual leaves that can photosynthesize. In several months, they will be transplanted into larger containers to grow in for the remainder of the season until the rainy season returns and they are ready to be planted.

Growing native plants from seed is a fascinating process. There are many stages in the process and each is directly related to lessons learned from nature. In the first stage, seed collection, there are tell-tale signs when the seeds have reached maturity. Collecting them too early may result in very poor germination, loo late and they simply may not be there. Marsh baccharis is in the sunflower family and produces seeds called achenes. Each seed has hairs attached to it that enable the seed to be dispersed in the wind, like dandelion seeds.

Marsh baccharis is an herbaceous perennial that is typically found growing in dense patches just above the high tide line of the Bay. It grows from seed and from rhizomes, and has dark green, sticky, lance shaped leaves. From July through September, the plant produces small white flowers. It provides important habitat for a variety of birds, small mammals, and insect pollinators.

Come out and join us on our public nursery programs on the first and second Wednesdays of every month. We provide an excellent opportunity to improve your horticultural skills and discover the diversity of plants that live along the edge of the bay.

Happy spring sowing and I hope to see you soon!

— Doug Serrill, Save The Bay Nursery Manager