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Please note:  Items with [PDF]
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Prior presentation information
(topics that have either a link to a web site or where a copy of the  presentation has been made available)




Chapter Meetings
General Meeting Information


    (Please note location(s) of each meeting.  Directions to each location .)

         September 30, 2015  (Olympia)  7PM
Andy MacKinnon: Life Above the Treeline - Plant Adaptations to the Alpine.

This year the South Sound Chapter will kickoff its fall speaker series with popular author and botanist, Andy MacKinnon. To almost everyone interested in our native plants, Andy MacKinnon is a well-known name. With Jim Pojar, he is co-author of Plants of the Pacific Northwest and more recently, Alpine Plants of the Northwest. Andy’s talk comes from this latest book. Andy lives and works in British Columbia, making this event a unique opportunity to hear in person this very engaging speaker.

Until his recent retirement, Andy MacKinnon was a Research Ecologist in the Coast Forest Region Research Section of the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Western North America is blessed with abundant areas of alpine. The plants that make their home above the treeline are a distinctive and spectacular bunch. It's a difficult place to live, but our alpine plants have evolved ingenious ways of coping with this challenging environment. Andy will talk about these adaptations to alpine life, illustrated with British Columbia examples. He will be available for book signing after the meeting, but you must bring your own book, because books will not be for sale at the event.


October 12, 2015  (Olympia)  7PM

Frederica Bowcutt: The Tanoak Tree - An Environmental History of a Pacific Coast Hardwood

Tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus) is a resilient and common hardwood tree native to California and southwestern Oregon. People's radically different perceptions of it have ranged from treasured food plant to cash crop to trash tree. Having studied the patterns of tanoak use and abuse for nearly twenty years, Dr. Frederica Bowcutt will discuss the complex  cultural, sociopolitical, and economic factors affecting this Pacific coast native.

Still valued by indigenous communities for its nutritious acorn nut, the tanoak has also been a source of raw resources for a variety of industries since white settlement of western North America. Now, despite ongoing protests, tanoaks are commonly killed with herbicides in industrial forests in favor of more commercially valuable coast redwood and Douglas-fir. In addition, tanoaks are experiencing massive die-offs due to sudden oak death, an introduced disease.

In her talk, Bowcutt will discuss the  factors that set the stage for this tree's current ecological crisis. She will also touch on hopeful changes such as locally controlled, third-party certified sustainable hardwood production, which doesn't depend on clearcutting or herbicide use.

Frederica Bowcutt teaches botany in interdisciplinary programs at The Evergreen State College. She specializes in floristics, field plant ecology, and plant-centric environmental history. Her book, The Tanoak Tree, An Environmental History of a Pacific Coast Hardwood, will be on sale at the meeting.

The trailer can be found here:

October 14, 2015  (Tacoma)  7PM
Thor Hanson: The Triumph of Seeds


Seeds surround us. From our morning coffee to the cotton in our clothes, the spices in our foods, and the cosmetics we use, seeds are part of nearly every aspect of our lives. They give us food and fuels, intoxicants and poisons, oils, dyes, fibers, and spices. “They are quite literally the staff of life,” says award-winning conservation biologist Thor Hanson, “the basis of diets, economies, and lifestyles around the globe.”

In his presentation, Thor will discuss the ubiquitous seed plants that dominate landscapes and define entire ecosystems. Following the winding path that seeds have paved through evolution, natural history, and human culture, his presentaion will examine the traits and habits that have allowed seeds – and the plants that bear them – to be so successful, and to so thoroughly transform our planet.

Thor, a member of WNPS, is a conservation biologist, Guggenheim Fellow, and Switzer Environmental Fellow. He has studied Central American trees and songbirds, nest predation in Tanzania, and the grisly feeding habits of African vultures. His previous books include Feathers, which won numerous awards including the 2013 John Burroughs Medal and the 2012 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Writing, and The Impenetrable Forest, which won the 2008 USA Book News Award for nature writing. He lives with his wife and son on an island in Washington State. Thor’s latest book, The Triumph of Seeds will be on sale at the meeting and he will be available for book signing following his presentation.


November 9, 2015  (Olympia)  7PM
Gail Turner: A Walk of Restoration

Join Gail Trotter on a 4 mile walk at Thurston County's Glacial Heritage Preserve and you never need to leave your seat! On the way you will learn about the restoration practices at Glacial Heritage and their results for the plants and animals that live on this prairie.

Gail moved to Washington in 1979 to work for the Boeing Company and soon thereafter joined the Washington Native Plant Society. This led to many opportunities for learning about the state from hikes and volunteering. Her first volunteer activities were at the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve where she picked up sticks - one of the many skills learned by budding conservationists. Gail, currently a member of the South Sound Chapter, continues to be actively involved in the stewardship of south sound prairies, including the Glacial Heritage Preserve.

November 11, 2015  (Tacoma)  7PM
T. Abe Lloyd: Wild Berries are Meant for Eating

For thousands of years the Salish People have been enjoying the extraordinary diversity and exquisite flavor of this region’s wild edible fruit. Join ethnobotanist Abe Lloyd as he shares how berries fit into the Coast Salish seasonal round of food gathering and what they can teach us about sustainable food systems. Be sure and eat before your arrive because Abe will also present a few of his favorite fruit recipes along with tips for distinguishing difficult groups like Vacciniums and Viburnums. He will have signed copies of his book “Wild Berries of Washington and Oregon” to sell after the presentation.

T. Abe Lloyd has a passion for plants and indigenous foods that traces back deep into his boyhood as a scout and the son of a fly fisherman. His early aspirations as a botanist led him to Northland College on the south shore of Lake Superior, where he completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Natural Resource Management. In 2011, Abe received a Master’s Degree in Ethnoecology at the University of Victoria under the Northwest Coast ethnobotanist, Dr. Nancy J. Turner. Abe now lives in his home town of Bellingham and is the Vice President of the Koma Kulshan Chapter of the WNPS. He is also the director of Salal, the Cascadian Food Institute, an Adjunct Instructor at several regional colleges and universities, and actively researches, promotes, and eats the indigenous foods of this bountiful bioregion.

December 9, 2015  (Tacoma)  7PM
December 14, 2015  (Olympia)  7PM
Annual Holiday Meeting: Member Speak

Come join us for an evening of holiday eats, door prizes, and informal member talks. During these meetings we provide an opportunity for members to tell us about some of their experiences and/or knowledge gained this past year. It’s like “open mike night!” Ideas for the new year will also be solicited and discussed. Bring your favorite hors d’oeuvre to share.

January 11, 2016  (Olympia)  7PM
January 13, 2016  (Tacoma)  7PM
Kevin Zobrist: Native Trees of Western Washington

Join WSU Extension forestry professor Kevin Zobrist for a slide show presentation on the native trees that call the forests of western Washington home. Learn about their distinguishing characteristics, special features and adaptations, ecological roles, and where you are likely to encounter them. The presentation will be followed by an opportunity to get a signed copy of his book Native Trees of Western Washington – A Photographic Guide.

Kevin W. Zobrist is a native of western Washington, growing up in Redmond where he developed a love of the outdoors, especially forests. Kevin has two forestry degrees from the University of Washington where he also worked for several years as a forestry research scientist. He is currently an associate professor at Washington State University, primarily providing public outreach and education through the WSU Extension Forestry program. Kevin’s top interests include ecology, native trees, adult education, and national parks. He is based in Everett.


Meeting Locations:

Washington State Capitol Museum Coach House
211 21st Avenue SW
Olympia, WA 98501

Directions to the Washington State Capital Museum: From Interstate 5 in Olympia, take Exit 105, following the "State Capital/City Center" route. Go through a tunnel, (get in the left hand lane) and turn left on Capital Way. Follow the brown and white "State Capital Museum" signs to 21st Avenue. Turn right on 21st Avenue and proceed two blocks. The museum is on the left in a stucco mansion.  We meet in the carriage house in back of the mansion.

Tacoma Nature Center
1919 South Tyler Street
Tacoma, WA  98405

Directions to the Tacoma Nature Center: From Interstate 5, take State Highway 16 towards Gig Harbor. Look for the 19th Street EAST, exit and take it, which puts you onto South 19th Street. Travel to the first light, turn right on South Tyler, and then left into the first driveway at the Tacoma Nature Center.

General Meeting Information

South Sound Chapter presentations are held on the
second Monday and Wednesday of the month (October through May, in Olympia and Tacoma, respectively):

  • In Olympia, we typically gather at the Washington State Capitol Museum (211 21st Avenue SW; 360-753-2580).
  • In Tacoma, we typically gather at the Tacoma Nature Center (1919 South Tyler; 253-591-6439).
  • On occasion, however, our presentations are held at alternate facilities to accommodate larger audiences, so please be sure to note where each  meeting is held before you embark.

All meetings are open to the public and most are free of charge. Refreshments are typically provided by WNPS volunteers. We hope you'll join us for an evening of camaraderie and education about the world of native plants as well as the habitats that they create and sustain.

Outside of field trips and holiday gatherings, most meetings start at 7:00 pm. These "meetings" consist of a quick preview of activity announcements, but are mostly grounded in presentations that last 45 minutes to over an hour. Our topics are geared to attract and speak to neophytes and amateurs, as well as "dyed-in-the-wool" or otherwise committed botanists. We may be biased, but we think our presentations are top of the line!  

Members and the public are invited to attend all presentations.  For more information about our programs, please contact the Chapter Chair.

We hope to see all of you at the meetings!!!