Catalina Island Conservancy recently hosted a weekend of horticultural education with renowned Channel Island botanist Steve Junak, who first visited Catalina as a botanist in 1978. In addition to some Conservancy staff broadening their botanical knowledge, about 10-15 members joined the plant identification workshop each day. The workshop was split into two opportunities, with the first day exploring the windward side of the Island, and the second venturing to the leeward side. The windward side of Catalina has more south-facing slopes than the leeward side of the Island, which has more north-facing slopes.
“That idea made a lot of sense to me,” said Junak. “Slope aspect (north-facing vs south-facing) can have a significant influence on where individual plant species are found. North-facing slopes typically have more shade, cooler temperatures, and more moisture than south-facing slopes, which are hotter and drier.”
On the windward side, the group started at Laura Stein Volunteer Camp before heading to Haypress Recreation Area, and Airport in the Sky before ending the day at Whites Restoration Area. The next day, Junak and the botanical bunch explored Little Harbor. Both days saw perfect weather – and an abundance of blooms.
“None of my pictures could do it justice,” said Conservancy Community Learning Manager Angelina Komatovich, of the green vistas full of Mariposa lilies, wild onions, lupine, cactus, tree poppy and more.
Not only did Junak provide plant identification tips, he also spoke to the difference between native and invasive species. “It is amazing how you can go into a workshop like this thinking that you know a few things about plants, and leave full of fresh questions and inspiration,” she added.
Attendees received a Catalina plant pocket guide, hand lens, Rite-in-the-Rain notebook and mechanical pencil, which they used to help track and identify the dozens of plant species they discovered.
Of those who joined, two were visiting the Island for the very first time and one marked their first foray into the wildlands.
“My favorite thing is to provide opportunities for people to explore outside of Avalon,” said Komatovich.
“You haven’t really experienced Catalina until you’ve gone into the wildlands.”
Keep an eye on the Conservancy Events page for upcoming workshop opportunities.