What's beautiful today

Last updated on: February 13th, 2024

Coastal redwood

Sequoia sempervirens
The coastal redwood is one of the most unique plants in California! It is an evergreen tree that can live to be around 2,200 years old or more. These trees can grow to be 379 feet and have a diameter of 26 feet. It best lives in coastal California and Oregon where the winters are cool and the summers are foggy. For their impressive size their cones are quite small.

Boojum tree

Fouquieria columnaris
The boojum tree is often considered to be the strangest tree on Earth which is native to Baja California and part of the Sonoran desert. It has a single conical stem with numerous small twigs around the whole tree. While it can live for centuries, it grows very slowly and can take 10 to 20 years to reach one foot in height. The boojum tree usually loses its leaves in drought and develops more when it starts to rain. In late summer, it develops yellow tubular flowers towards the top of the tree which attract insects and birds.

Bracken Fern

Pteridium aquilinum
This fern is widespread and found on all continents except Antarctica! It also grows in a variety of habitats from the woods, fields, and marshes.

Lemonade Berry

Rhus integrifolia
Lemonade berry naturally occurs along the coast of Southern California. It has creamy white to pink flowers that bees love to pollinate! Stay tuned for the fruit that gave this evergreen shrub's name...

California Bay Laurel

Umbellularia californica
California Bay Laurel is a tree with wonderful-smelling leaves. These have been used as a substitute for bay leaves in cooking. These two species are both in the Laurel family which also includes the plants cinnamon and avocados come from.

Common sunflower

Helianthus annuus
Common sunflowers are the tall plants with yellow flowers that greet you in the Wildflower Meadow when you first step into the garden. This species is native to much of North America where it has been cultivated by Indigenous Americans for thousands of years. The sunflowers you grow with giant flowers are this same species but selectively bred for bigger flowers and thus the bigger, tasty sunflower seeds you eat.

Joshua tree

Yucca brevifolia
The Joshua tree is an iconic member of the southern California flora. If you can't make it out to the desert, our garden is a perfect place to see these majestic plants! There are some particularly interesting examples in the California Habitats section of the garden.

Mexican Blue Fan Palm

Brahea armata
Did you know that the California Floristic Province also includes part of Baja California in Mexico? Visit the Baja California section of the garden to see these beautiful pale blue palms and other species from the southernmost reaches of the California Floristic Province.

Mission Manzanita

Xylococcus bicolor
While mission manzanita looks similar to other manzanitas, it's actually in a different genus. The bicolor part of the scientific name means two-colored and refers to the leaves being green on one side and white on the other. The leaves of true manzanitas (Arctostaphylos spp.) are the same color on both sides.

Chaparral Currant

Ribes malvaceum
One of the earliest blooming shrubs in the garden, the drooping inflorescence of pink flowers will later produce berries for the birds to eat. Also look for the very similar white-flowering current (Ribes indecorum), which has smaller white flowers without shades of pink.

Pancake Prickly-Pear

Opuntia chlorotica
This spiny cactus gets its name from its round, flat pads, similar to pancakes in shape. Plants tend to be at least as broad as tall, from three to eight feet. Its beautiful yellow blossoms will bloom in May, followed by magenta colored, fleshy fruit. When ripe, the fruit can be picked and used in syrups, candy, jellies and, yes, ice cream! Be cautious when planting near borders as the spines and glochids are sharp and can be difficult to remove!

Red-flowered Buckwheat

Eriogonum grande var. rubescens
Named for its red flowers, this rare native perennial grows on the dry cliffs of three of the Channel Islands of California. It's vibrant blooms rise up on long stalks above a base of leaves that are dark green on the upper side and pale green on the underside. The blooms will last well into summer, making it great for attracting pollinators, especially butterflies. Even after the flowers have faded into fruits, these plants retain their architectural interest.

Golden yarrow

Eriophyllum confertiflorum
In the sunflower family, this plant produces cute yellow flowers in the springtime. It is native to the Sierra Nevada, coastal ranges in California, and Baja California - but it also would be great in your yard!

Toyon

Heteromeles arbutifolia
Toyon is also known as the California holly for its bright red berries. Toyon also has small, white flowers in clusters and spiked, dark green leaves. It grows in dry, sunny areas in Western California, and is an important resource for animals. Butterflies and bees depend on the flowers for nectar, and the berries serve as food for many species of birds, squirrels, coyotes, bears, and even humans! Native Americans traditionally use this berry to make into a drink. Many benefit from the toyon’s beauty and berries. Visit it today!

Deerweed

Acmispon glaber, Lotus scoparius
Common but nonetheless precious, deerweed is a shrub with small, narrow leaves and tiny, yellow or golden flowers that grow up the stems. These flowers redden towards the end of summer. Deerweed can be found in dry areas across Southwestern U.S. It has gotten its name since it is one of deer’s favorite foods, but this plant is also important for honey bees and butterflies. It also is important for habitat restoration after a wildfire; deerweed fixes nitrogen, a necessary nutrient for plants, back into the soil after a fire, thus making a way for other plants to grow in the area again.

Channel Island Tree Poppy

Dendromecon harfordii
The Channel Island tree poppy is a rare, tall shrub with beautiful, bright, and fragrant yellow flowers and smooth, silvery leaves. They grow fast in dry areas and they only grow naturally on the Channel Islands. Did you know that this drought-tolerant plants’ seeds germinate better after a fire?

Desert Marigold

Baileya multiradiata
Desert marigold and their tall, radiant yellow flowers are perfect pops of color in gardens. They thrive in dry, sunny, and rocky areas in the southwestern parts of the U.S. and in northern Mexico. Desert marigolds are not true marigolds (Tagetes spp.) but both are members of the aster family (Asteraceae).

California Buckwheat

Eriogonum fasciculatum
This drought-tolerant and lovely shrub has small, fuzzy leaves and white, small flowers that grow in dense clusters on the bush. It can be found growing all over sandy areas, such as canyons and dried riverbeds, throughout Central and Southern California. California buckwheat’s beautiful flowers change color from white to pink to burnt orange as the plant dries and the season progresses, and has been used by Native American communities as a medicine to alleviate head and stomach aches, promote heart health, and aid in digestion.