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Bailey College of Science and Mathematics

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Biology Professor and Author Publishes Guide to Iconic California Plants

image of faculty member Matt Ritter Biology professor and author Matt Ritter is on a mission to “get people stoked on plants.”

With a foreword from Gov. Jerry Brown, Ritter’s new book, “California Plants: A Guide to Our Iconic Flora,” presents dazzling photos and key details on the Golden State’s must-know native plants.

The book, which is now in local bookstores and online, is “the hipster’s guide to California flora,” according to Ritter. He hopes it will inspire Californians to get to know and value the state’s native plants.

“We only conserve what we appreciate, and we only appreciate what we know,” Ritter said.

The book covers everything from monkeyflowers to San Luis Obispo County’s own coastal live oak. Readers will learn about more than 500 species. Sections on each type of habitat make the guide easy to use for all audiences — from Master Gardeners to amateurs who enjoy colorful blooms.

Packed with more than 1,000 full-color photos, 150 species range maps and clear inviting descriptions, “California Plants” is sure to become the definitive field guide for exploring the state’s spectacular flora.

“These are plants that define California,” Ritter said. “You can’t find them anywhere else. They make this state special.”

Part of the proceeds from the book will go to the California Native Plant Society and to The Wildlands Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving biodiversity and providing nature education for children.

Ritter will give a talk, show photographs, and answer questions about native plants and the book from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, May 3, at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Memorial Building, 801 Grand Ave. A book signing will follow. The event is free and open to the public.

Ritter has written two other books, “Plants of San Luis Obispo: Their Lives and Stories” and “A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us.” He has received the Cal Poly Excellence in Teaching Award and the Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture Award for Excellence in Education. He studies trees and California’s native plants.

For more information on his new guide, visit Pacific Street Publishing.

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