Did you know that plants can fly? The seeds of pine-bush and many other plants in the aster family have a ring of bristles or scales called a pappus. This pappus can act sort of like a hang glider for the seed, carrying it to a new location where it may germinate and grow into a new shrub. Watch on a windy day and you may see the seeds flying by.
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
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.
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.
Beautiful any time of year due to their red bark and elegant form, manzanitas are most spectacular in the winter and early spring when in flower. There are ~35 species and even more cultivars of manzanita at California Botanic Garden. How many can you find?
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.
Who can resist a plant that goes without water for months and then rewards us with bright red hummingbird pollinated flowers in late summer? California fuschia occurs in diverse habitats across most of California. Numerous cultivars have been selected for their growth forms, stature and leaf color. There is even one called ‘Route 66!’ How many different forms can you identify during your visit to California Botanic Garden?
The light purple colored pads of this cactus can add a beautiful contrast to the varying shades of greens of most cactus gardens. Come spring, the pops of fluorescent pink blossoms are a stand out sight. Although this prickly-pear cactus tends not to have spines, it does have glochids. These small barbed bristles can be very irritating and difficult to remove once they have found their way into your skin! Careful!
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa var. coloradensis
Standing upright and branching, this cactus is found along rocky slopes of the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. Its yellow-green stems are covered with straw colored, overlapping spines. Flowering in spring, it will produce flowers that are bright yellow at the center and fade into a rich bronze color at the outer edges.
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!
Showy island snapdragon
Although common and popular in the California native horticultural trade, in the wild it is only found on Santa Catalina, San Clemente, and Guadalupe (Mexico) Islands. Its red tubular flowers make it popular with pollinators, especially hummingbirds.
Fragrant pitcher sage
Its name is well deserved - smell the leaves and see why!
De la Mina Verbena (Lilac Verbena)
Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina'
De la Mina verbena, also known as purple Cedros Island verbena, is a beautiful shrub with green wrinkled leaves and fragrant, rich purple blossoms that grow in clusters on long stems. It only grows naturally on Cedros Island, off the coast of Baja California. However, it can grow in well-drained soils in South-western and Southern U.S. This lovely plant blooms almost year round, grows fast, and is drought tolerant.
Also known as beloperone, the vibrant chuperosa is a shrub with green, succulent-like leaves and lots of long, tubular flowers that come in different shades of red or sometimes yellow. Hardy and beautiful, chuparosa grows in hot, dry, and sandy or rocky places in Southern California, Arizona, and North-western Mexico. This plant also attracts a lot of hummingbirds and other birds. In fact, its name “chuparosa” meant “hummingbird” in Spanish!
Woolly Blue Curls
Deliciously fragrant, woolly blue curls is a shrub with bright green and narrow leaves and rich blue and purple, curly, and woolly flowers that grow on stalks. Though they tend to grow towards the coast in western parts of California, they grow in dry, sunny areas in California and Baja California. This plant is very attractive to hummingbirds. Bees and butterflies, like the Variable Checkerspot butterfly that you can see in our Butterfly Pavilion, love it too! Its leaves are also said to make a very delicious tea.
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 used to use this berry to make it into a drink. Many benefit from the toyon’s beauty and berries. Visit it today!
Peritoma arborea, Isomeris arborea
Bladderpod is a shrub with many branches, blue-green, circular leaves, and beautiful bright yellow flowers that grow in clusters. It tends to bloom year round and can be found from the coast to the deserts in Southern and Baja California. Named after its puffed up, edible seed pods, this hardy plant attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. It also gives off an interesting fragrance that is a source of debate: some think the smell is pleasant while others think the complete opposite. Visit the bladderpod today and discover what you think of it!
Elegant with its bright red and yellow flowers, the Western Columbine is a beautiful addition to gardens. It is called by its scientific name Aquilegia formosa, which means “beautiful eagle,” since the flower’s shape resembles eagle talons, and this flower grows in moist, cool areas all across Western North America. Western Columbine is attractive to hummingbirds and was eaten as a candy, used on bee stings, worn as a perfume, and more by Native American tribes.
Channel Island Tree Poppy
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?
Baja Fairy Duster
Named due to its vibrant red, feather-like flowers that grow around small leaves, the Baja Fairy Duster is a shrub that adds a burst of color and life to gardens. It grows in well-drained, sandy soils in Southern California and Baja California. Because of its bright color, it attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. This plant is also heat and drought tolerant, tends to bloom year round, and was used by Native Americans as a dye.
The California brittlebush is hardy and tall with bright yellow flowers that form in clusters on thin stems. They can grow in a variety of places, including rocky or marshy areas, throughout California and Baja California. This perky plant grows fast, loves the sun, and is perfect for bees and butterflies like the Painted Lady, which you can see in our Butterfly Pavilion.
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. This bee-friendly plant can be used as dye and food coloring, medicine for wounds, tonics, and even deodorants! Marigolds are also known to be a repellent for mosquitoes, aphids, and other insects that you wouldn’t want in your gardens.
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 was used by the Native American tribes as a medicine to alleviate head and stomach aches, promote heart health, and aid in digestion.