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The Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society serves Sacramento, Yolo, Colusa, Sutter, and Yuba Counties, and parts of Placer and San Joaquin Counties.

Our Mission

The mission of CNPS is to increase understanding and appreciation of California’s native plants and to conserve them and their natural habitats, through education, science, advocacy, horticulture and land stewardship.

Chapter Meetings

Our chapter meetings are free and the public is invited to attend.  Meetings are held the 2nd Wednesday of the month (January - June and September - November) at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center, McKinley Park, 3330 McKinley Blvd, 95816.   GOOGLE MAP

A wide selection of books and Sacramento Valley Chapter t‑shirts are available for purchase at meetings.
Refreshments are always provided! 

April 9th :  Phylogeny, Taxonomy, and Recent Name

Changes in the California Flora with Dan Potter

Mimulus aurantiacus sticky monkey flower 1787


(Photo by Jim Wadsworth)

The names of plants have been in flux for centuries, but name changes have occurred at an accelerated pace in recent years, due largely to advances in our understanding of evolutionary relationships based on phylogenetic analyses of molecular data. The results are sometimes striking; some might even say jarring (or worse). For example, in the recently published (2012) Second Edition of The Jepson Manual (TJM2), Mimulus (monkey-flowers) are listed under Phrymaceae, Castilleja (paintbrushes) under Orobanchaceae, and Penstemon (beardtongues) under Plantaginaceae, rather than the familiar classification of all three genera in Scrophulariaceae, along with Verbascum (mulleins), which will remain there. Families no longer recognized in TJM2 include Hydrophyllaceae, Capparaceae, Lemnaceae, Aceraceae, and Hippocastanaceae. The large lily family has been broken into 13 small families, many with unfamiliar names such as Themidaceae. Changes at the generic level include the absence of Aster and the division of Polygonum into five genera in the new manual. And there will inevitably be more changes in TJM3…The goals of this talk are to describe the general reasons for name changes, especially those based on phylogenetic evidence, present a few specific examples from the California flora, and explain why most systematists agree that, while such changes may seem inconvenient in the short term, they serve everyone’s best interests in the long run.


Dan Potter is a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and Director of the UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity, including the herbarium. The primary focus of his research is angiosperm systematics, and he is especially interested in evolutionary studies of crop plants and their wild relatives. Much of his research has focused on Rosaceae, including studies of phylogeny and character evolution across the family and relationships and taxonomy within the genus Prunus and the tribe Spiraeeae. He supervises graduate student research and teaches courses on California Floristics and Ethnobotany. He served as family editor for Rosaceae for the Second Edition of The Jepson Manual and he has led workshops on name changes for the Davis Botanical Society, the Friends of the Jepson Herbarium, and the Friends of the Chico State Herbarium.