Fulton nursery a go-to spot for native plants


Cal-Flora Nursery in Fulton
California Native Plant Society – Milo Baker Chapter

The showy lady’s slipper (Cypripedium reginae) that grows east of the Rockies is a large wild orchid that reaches up to 30 inches tall, with 3- to 4-inch-long, slipperlike flowers of rose pink. They don’t grow around here. But their distant cousins do, and they look very different.

Our Sonoma County summer fog calls forth these plants where the redwoods grow tall and human activity is at a minimum. In these conditions, the forest floor may be sprinkled with them. The jewel-like pink fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) grow only 2 to 4 inches tall and produce 1- to 2-inch “slippers” that only fairy feet could fit.

Why such a difference among woodland orchids? You might think that our mild climate and rich woodland soils would yield orchids even larger than those back east where winter locks up the soil in ice for nearly half the year.

The answer is our summer drought, where it rarely rains from June to October. Plants native to our Mediterranean climate, as it’s called, have evolved to deal with the dry season. Some, like the California fuchsia (Zauschneria californica) have amped up drought tolerance to astonishing levels, blooming furiously in late summer despite not having a drink for months. Some simply shut down their green, vegetative parts and turn dry and brown, sending their roots to sleep until rain returns, or overwinter as seeds fallen to the ground.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/lifestyle/california-native-plants-cal-flora-nursery/