SLO Docent Blog

Ethnobotany in SLO’s Open Space

This blog post is a blurb written by one of our SLO Stewards Docents, Evan Albright. You can meet up with Evan out on the trails, and learn more about our SLO Stewards Docent program here. Please note that this post is for educational purposes only, and it is illegal to collect anything in the City of SLO’s Open Spaces. As a local naturalist, I have lead countless hikes and wanders along the many trails in San Luis Obispo county over the past 19 years.  I am always struck by the amazing diversity we have here in SLO.  I have been told that we have more native plant species in our county than the entire state of Alaska. One resource that I have found useful to identify many of the plants along our local trails is the field guide “Wildflowers of San Luis Obispo,” created as a cooperative project by both the City of SLO and the local chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Below, I have included the page numbers for the plants mentioned. As a docent, one of my favorite things to demonstrate and share on hikes are the many traditional uses by the local Chumash tribes, and later the settlers, had of the plants for daily life, including edible, medicinal, and utilitarian uses.  I often bring items on my hikes to share, like a pair of hand made sandals created from Yucca leaves, Hesperoyucca whipplei (pg. 22), to demonstrate the strength of the fibers, and acorn bread made from the leached acorns of the Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia, to taste the nutty flavor of...

Wildflower Wednesday 2019

This year, ECOSLO celebrated Wildflower Wednesday for 6 weeks, highlighting 6 wildflowers that can be found around SLO County. Scroll below to view the beautiful flowers, and be sure to get out on the trails to see the wildflowers! You can see our current docent-led hike schedule here.   Chocolate Lily Don’t get confused, the Chocolate Lily is named for its color – not for its taste 🙃 This flower is extraordinary, but occurs infrequently as it is difficult to grow, but a few can be spotted at Reservoir Canyon in SLO!     Fiddleneck The Fiddlenecks name comes from its resemblance to the head of a violin or fiddle. This picture was captured earlier this spring out at Carizo Plain, but the Filddleneck can be found from March to May in places in SLO like Laguna Lake!     Baby Blue-Eyes This annual flower can usually be found in many types of habitats throughout California, from sea level to up to 6500 ft elevation. If you’re looking for an easy wildflower to grow in your yard – this is it!     Tidy Tips Tidy Tips belong to the sunflower family and are especially popular with its daisy-like features. Keep an eye out for Tidy Tips when hiking throughout Reservoir Canyon or Irish Hills in SLO!     California Poppy The California Poppy was selected as the California state flower in 1890 and was made official by legislation in 1903. You can find the California Poppy all throughout SLO!     Johnny Jump-Up The Johnny Jump Up also goes by the names Yellow Pansy or the California Golden...

Volunteer Appreciation Week 2019

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week! ECOSLO loves our volunteers – in 2018 alone, we had nearly 2,000 volunteers involved in our programs like Coastal Cleanup Day and Seas to Trees Day, Beach Keepers cleanups, Nature Projects, and SLO Stewards docent-led hikes. We’re so grateful for everyone who’s been involved with us – whether it was for one cleanup or hike, or whether they’re out there with us every weekend getting involved, our volunteers truly do make a difference! We wanted to highlight some special volunteers who’ve really stood out in the last year and how they’ve been involved with ECOSLO, so we asked them some questions about what fuels them and what made them want to get involved with us. Read below to learn more about these awesome volunteers!   Andrea Biniskiewicz “There’s a positive to every situation – learn to see it! Being in the environmental realm, especially as passionate as we are, can be draining sometimes – understanding the science, results, and solutions to the issues, but there’s always a positive (and it usually starts with having amazing organizations of people to spearhead a movement!!)” “I got involved with ECOSLO as a social media intern. My background is both in environmental science and marketing, so this was the perfect opportunity to expand skills and get involved with an organization that I truly believe shares the same values as me,” shares Andrea. Since then, her main focus has been marketing – collaborating with Mary, the Executive Director + Kayla, AmeriCorps Member, on social media strategy and campaigns, and also serves on ECOSLO’s Board of Directors. She’s passionate about exploring...

August Hike with Chris: Cerro San Luis

Cerro San Luis: August, 13 2017, Lead: Chris Only one hiker participated in this hike, which took place under overcast skies, but it went well. The duration of the hike was approximately one hour. The lemon grove and new trail construction were of interest, as were the various points of interest (including several other City open space areas) that are visible from the trail....

July Hike with Katie: Islay Hill

Islay Hill Hike: July 22, 2017, Lead: Katie Sweep: Carolyn There were 6 non-docents on this morning’s hike, including SLO Stewards docent, Chris’s, wife and son.  We started the hike under a nice, cool marine layer, which broke about the time we reached the summit.  At this point in the summer, there weren’t many wildflowers in bloom but did see plenty of pasture tar weed and mustard plant flowers.  Carolyn pointed out several bedrock mortars where Chumash speaking Native Americans broke apart and ground acorns that were adjacent to the trail (I recently learned that Chumash is not a specific tribe but rather a group of languages spoke by the numerous different tribes ranging from Monterey Bay to Santa Barbara).  On our way down, we saw a bald eagle soaring directly above the trail a little northeast of...

July Hike with Dale: Islay Hill

Islay Hill Hike: July 15, 2017, Lead: Dale Sweep: Chris Our group had a perfect morning to traverse the 482 vertical feet of Islay Hill. We saw lizards all over the trail as the sun got higher and we passed many patches of Turkey Mullein which likes the disturbed ranch lands near the base of Islay. We also saw poppies and wild roses on the way to the top, where we were rewarded with a 360 degree...

July Hike with Seth: Laguna Lake

Laguna Lake Hike, July 8, 2017, Lead: Seth We had a beautiful start for our hike no wind 72 degrees Blue Skies. We only saw one person during our hike in three miles we finished in pretty quick time. We saw some cool wildflowers, shared some stories, and checked out the surrounding views. All three people had never been before so it is always fascinating to show people are surrounding...

June Hike with Chris: Guidetti Ranch

Guidetti Ranch Hike, June 25, 2017, Lead: Chris Thirteen hikers met up on June 25 for the final Guidetti Ranch hike of 2017.  The day was beautiful, and started off with a large gopher snake sunning itself in the road right at the parking area.  Various native plants were still flowering, including sticky monkeyflower, deerweed, Indian paintbrush, Indian pink, and pearly everlasting.  The Pismo clarkia was still blooming vibrantly, while the Indian Knob mountain balm was winding down.  The views from the top of Indian Knob were much admired by the group and included a mule deer buck that was hanging out in the small cave below the peak.  The day was capped off by the smoke trail from a rocket launch at Vandenberg AFB on the way back.  All in all, it was an excellent...

June Hike with Dale: Felsman Loop

Felsman Loop Hike, June 24, 2017, Lead: Dale, Sweep: Chris Docents Dale and Chris had a perfect morning to hike the Felsman Loop with 5 hikers. During the hike we saw club-haired mariposa lilies, a wild rose, and hillsides of sticky monkey flowers. From many parts of the hike we could see six of the morro’s and a couple of rock climbers on Bishop...

June Hike with Chris: Reservoir Canyon

Reservoir Canyon Hike, June 17, 2017, Lead: Evan, Sweep: Chris We had a total of 18 people join us today. A few apparently pulled out due to the heat (I don’t blame them). Attached is the sign-in sheet and group photo. We started at the waterfall taking the new trail up to the section that returns to the canyon, thereby bypassing the flooded eroded section on the original trail.  I have never seen so many SLO Mariposa Lilies, Calochortus obispoensis.  There were still quite a few flowers in bloom, including California-fuchsia, Columbine, Club-Haired Mariposa Lily, Golden Stars, Toyon, Palmer’s Spineflower, just to name a few. We also had the opportunity to observe a Common California Kingsnake on the side of the trail. The canyon was more pleasant than expected with the water nearby and plenty of shade.  As we ascended toward the “Goat Herder’s” homestead we felt the heat.  At the Eucalyptus we talked about the hermit that lived at the location then returned down the way we came.  5 people decided to continue to the top so we filled up there water bottles and said our goodbyes. All in all,  it was a great...

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