New wildflower book is here with day trips for escaping into the high country |

New wildflower book is here with day trips for escaping into the high country

A beautiful shot of the Azalea Laketrail only a short hike away from paved roads at Donner Pass.
Submitted photo to The Union |

The wait is over.

A decade after the release of their first edition, the Redbud Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has just released an updated version of the popular guidebook, “Wildflowers of Nevada and Placer Counties, California.”

With 600 color photos and descriptions of over 500 species of wildflowers, the 442-page book features a new plant key with icons for each family for easy identification; illustrations by Ames Gilbert showing flower parts, flower shapes and leaf structures; maps and 20 destinations for casual hikers and avid botanist to view some of the best local displays of wildflowers in the Sierra Nevada and foothills.

“Our goal with our books is to provide the general public and amateur botanists with a simplified resource to identify local wildflowers,” said Bill Wilson, researcher and coordinator of the editorial committee for the book.

The eight-member editorial committee spent two years writing, researching and photographing plants to produce the newest guide. No stranger to hard work and passionate about their subject, the team spent four years producing the companion volume, “Trees and Shrubs of Nevada and Placer Counties” and eight years on the original wildflower book.

With elevations that range from the Sacramento Valley floor to the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Nevada and Placer counties are botanically diverse. Upward of 38 percent of all plants known to grow in California can be found in this region.

“This astonishing diversity proved to be a delight to our team of botanists and they couldn’t stop. By the time the original wildflower book was published in 2007, eight years had elapsed and the small spiral-bound book morphed into a full-fledged guidebook,” said active California Native Plant Society member Julie Becker.

In the decade since the first printing, the terminology in the original wildflower book had become out-of-date. So the team got to work, revising their copy.

“The last two decades have seen massive use of DNA to take a closer look at how plants are related. That means a lot of wildflowers got moved from one group to another,” said Wilson.

The new book is flying off the shelves and available at 30 retail outlets including: Nevada City Stores such as The Earth Store, HAALo, Harmony Books, J.J. Jackson, Prospector’s Nursery and the visitor centers at South Yuba River State Park at Bridgeport, and Donner Memorial State Park in Truckee.

The Redbud Chapter of California Native Plant Society is one of 35 chapters in the state and locally has about 200 members with a passion for plants. The primary mission of California Native Plant Society is to conserve native plants and their natural environments. Each year, members share and learn propagation techniques and raise hundreds of plants for the fall plant sale on Oct. 14 at the historic North Star House. They also lead field trips and study ethnobotany, exploring the ways indigenous cultures traditionally used and cultivated plants.

Sometimes the group even becomes advocates for the natural world. In April, members conducted a botanical survey of native plants at the proposed site of Nevada Irrigation District’s Centennial Dam and became vocal in their support for preserving wild places, submitting extensive comments in opposition of the project.

A lecture series called “Passionate about Native Plants” is held every other month. Folks interested in attending may want to check out the next scheduled series on Aug. 23, a talk on how mycorrhizal fungi feed the forest.

To buy the book, learn more about how to get involved as a volunteer or find out about upcoming hikes, visit:

Do you have an interesting story idea about the outdoors? Contact Freelance Writer Laura Petersen at or call 913-3067.

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