North American Cercis (redbud): a study of evolution and adaptation
Speaker: Camille Nowell, MSc
Wednesday, February 22, 7:30 pm
Location: Garden Room, Orinda Public Library (directions below)

For many centuries Cercis, a genus of attractive woody plants that includes our native western redbud, has been a focus of botanical study and appreciation. The first recorded mention of the group was by the ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus, circa 325 BC. Native Americans, distinguished botanists, and eminent statesmen have also taken an interest in Cercis, including Carl Linnaeus, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Edward Lee Greene, Milton Hopkins, and Duane Isley.

More recently scientists have been investigating this group to better define its species and to understand its global patterns of distribution. The traditional taxonomic treatment of Cercis described two species in North America: the eastern species C. canadensis and the western species C. occidentalis (western redbud). In her master’s research on Cercis, Camille found through DNA analysis that Cercis in the Colorado River drainage may in fact be a different species. In her presentation, Camille will introduce the redbud genus and explain how she determined there could be a “cryptic” third species in North America.
Camille Nowell has conducted detailed botanical surveys in the Mojave Desert, the Sierra Nevada, and the San Joaquin Valley. She recently earned her M.S. degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, with an emphasis on California native flora. Her research on Cercis took her on expeditions throughout montane California and the Colorado Plateau. She has also enjoyed working on barn owl, golden eagle, and prairie falcon studies for the East Bay Regional Park District.

East Bay CNPS membership meetings are free of charge and open to everyone. This month’s meeting takes place in the Garden Room of the Orinda Public Library at 26 Orinda Way (in Orinda Village). The Garden Room is on the second floor of the building, accessible by stairs or an elevator. The Garden Room opens at 7 pm; the meeting begins at 7:30 pm. Email or call 510-496-6016 if you have questions.

Directions to Orinda Public Library at 26 Orinda Way:

From the west, take Hwy 24 to the Orinda/Moraga exit. At the end of the off ramp, turn left on Camino Pablo (toward Orinda Village), right on Santa Maria Way (the signal after the BART station and freeway entrance), and left on Orinda Way.
From the east, take Hwy 24 to the Orinda exit. Follow the ramp to Orinda Village. Turn right on Santa Maria Way (the first signal) and left on Orinda Way.
Once on Orinda Way, go 1 short block to the parking lot on the southeast side of the two-story building on your right. There is additional free parking beneath the building as well as on the street.

From BART (4 blocks): Exit the Orinda station, turn right and cross a pedestrian bridge, then cross a second pedestrian bridge on the left. Go 1 short block on the sidewalk to the third pedestrian bridge. Go 2 blocks on Orinda Way to the Orinda Library.

Next Month’s Program (note new location):

March 22, 7:30 pm, Albany Library, Edith Stone Room
Glen Schneider—Skyline Gardens: The East Bay’s Richest Botanical Hotspot

Camille Nowell with a redbud. Photo by Diana Gamba.
Camille Nowell with a redbud. Photo by Diana Gamba.