What's beautiful today

California Fuschia

Epilobium canum
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?

Beavertail Cactus

Opuntia basilaris
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!

Buckhorn Cholla

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.

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!

Parish's Rabbitbush

Ericameria parishii
Found in the dry slopes and chaparral throughout Southern California into Baja, this shrub can grow to twelve feet tall. This member of the daisy family has oblong, lime green leaves with a leathery quality. One plant can produce many bright yellow flower clusters, which attract many insect pollinators.

Nevin's Woolly Sunflower

Constancea nevinii
The beautifully silver, fuzzy leaves of this small shrub stand out on their own merit, but when contrasted with its bright yellow clustering flowers, this plant is a show stopper. It blooms in spring through late summer. This rare plant is endemic to three of the Channel Islands where it grows in coastal sage scrub habitat. Until recently, it was identified as Eriophyllum nevinii - DNA studies found it to be only distantly related to Eriophyllum, and now is the only member of the monotypic genus Constancea.

Red Shanks

Adenostoma sparsifolium
A rose is a rose is a …. Red shanks! Found on chaparral slopes in Southern California, this deeply rooted tree is an important slope stabilizer and is indeed a member of the rose family. Plants tend to have a multi-trunk formation with feather-like foliage and small clustering white flowers. Its red peeling bark can have quite the dramatic effect when the sunlight hits it just right. If pruned to tame its growth form, red shanks can be an attractive garden addition that is tolerant of many growing conditions.

Scarlet Monkeyflower

Erythranthe cardinalis
With its bright red, nectar rich flowers that bloom from spring through fall, this is a favorite of local hummingbirds. This relatively easy to grow perennial has downy, toothed leaves and spreads horizontally, before stretching upward. It is found growing in riparian environments, so should fare well in a moist, partly shady area of your garden.

Rose Mallow

Hibiscus lasiocarpos
The large blooms of this shrub are sure to catch your eye with its white to light pink color and crimson center. The plants stand tall and upright, growing about four feet and sporting attractive heart shaped, fuzzy leaves. As this rare native perennial likes to grow in wet soil along streams and ponds, you will be certain to find it near the Reflecting Pond here at the garden. Consider planting this perennial along a sunny border of your native rain garden.


Heteromeles arbutifolia
This marvelous large shrub to small tree is a delight all year long! The snowy white dense flower heads bloom in early summer, attracting a variety of insect pollinators. In the fall, plants will begin to show the fruits that these flowers have yielded, fruits that will be red by the winter holiday season. The vibrant red fruit are a favorite of many local bird species. This plant is easy to grow and it holds its vibrant green color all year round even though it needs no supplemental water once established. Watch for the “Davis gold” cultivar of our toyon which has yellow fruits.

Evening Primrose

The bright yellow flowers of the evening primrose contrast beautifully against the plant’s aloe- colored leaves and add beautiful pops of color to the garden.This summer blooming plant will open its flowers in the late afternoon into early evening, and the flowers will then wilt in the heat of the following day. That bright yellow color stands out at night too and provides visual cues to attract a special pollinator in the dim light of the evening, the night flying hawkmoth. The hawkmoth will use its very long tongue to probe into the long floral tube for nectar.

Blue elderberry

Sambucus nigra
This deciduous shrub bursts with bundles of cream to yellow colored blooms in spring that turn into purple to blue berries in summer through fall. These berries are a vital food source for birds that visit the garden. Don’t let the term shrub fool you, these plants can grow up to 30 feet tall but can also be pruned to retain a smaller size.

Midnight Magic blue curls

Trichostema 'Midnight Magic'
This compact shrub produces showy spikes of deep purple flowers extending out from dark green leaves. It is a hybrid of Woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum) and Trichostema purpusii. Although its leaves are fragrant, it’s aroma is much milder than that of Woolly blue curls. These plants will produce gorgeous purple flowers from spring until fall. Making a plant list for fall? Midnight Magic is very easy to grow in a garden setting where our fully native Woolly blue curls can be fussy.

Catalina Island mountain mahogany

Cercocarpus traskiae
Perhaps one of the most endangered trees in all of North America, this beautiful tree is native to Catalina Island. There are only seven known individuals left in the wild! Here at the garden, though, these trees are thriving!

California Poppy

Eschscholzia californica
Our state flower can, of course, be found throughout the Garden! Watch out for flashes of bright orange petals and happy pollinators!

Sacred Datura

Datura wrightii
The enchanting sacred datura is a wildflower with broad, dark-green, wavy leaves and big, white, trumpet-shaped flowers. These flowers have 5 lines that radiate from the center of the flower, can have a slight purple tint, are sweetly fragrant, and are the highlight of the plant. Sacred datura can be found in gravelly open areas or alongside roads throughout the South-western U.S. It is also called sacred thorn-apple since its seeds are in spiky balls. Though this plant is dazzling, it is also dangerous; every part of this plant is quite poisonous. Because of its hallucinogenic properties, this plant was used by Native Americans for sacred ceremonies.

Naked (or Nude) Buckwheat

Eriogonum nudum
Named for its numerous tall and leafless stems, naked buckwheat is a shrub that has few flat and fuzzy leaves at its base and bright clusters of white, yellow, or pink flowers at the ends and junctions of the stems. It is not uncommon, and can be found in dry, open areas across the United States’ west coast. Its stems during a drought can turn into a red-purple color, and naked buckwheat was used for food by both animals and humans. This lovely plant’s stems were also dried and used for straws and for children’s games.

Cleveland Sage

Salvia clevelandii
Cleveland sage, also known as blue sage, is a fragrant shrub with wrinkly, fuzzy green leaves and rich purple or blue, trumpet-shaped flowers that grow in raised clusters. This drought-tolerant plant grows in well drained, sunny areas in Southern California and Baja California. Cleveland sage’s lovely, strong fragrance and beautiful flowers attract a lot of hummingbirds and bees. It was also eaten, used for ceremonies, and used to cure poison oak by Native Americans.

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?

California Sunflower

Helianthus californicus
The California sunflower 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.

Coyote Mint

Monardella villosa
A member of the mint family, coyote mint is a wildflower the size of a small shrub and has bright pink or purple flowers in round clusters and fragrant, crinkled leaves. They only naturally grow in California, in coastal, woodland, or rocky areas where they can get plenty of sun and enough shade and water. Coyote mint flowers and their fragrance attracts a lot of bees and a range of butterflies, including the Mourning Cloak butterflies that you can see in our Butterfly Pavilion. Coyote mint can also be made into a strong mint tea and was used by Native American tribes to relieve sore throats, stomach aches, and respiratory issues.

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. 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.

Desert Willow

Chilopsis linearis
Known for its durability and beautiful fragrant flowers, the Desert Willow is a tall shrub with long,green narrow leaves and pink or purple trumpet-like flowers. It grows in sandy areas and dry grasslands throughout the southwestern U.S. and Mexico. Desert willow is used in landscape design because of its beautiful flowers and nice form.

Matilija Poppy

Romneya coulteri
Also known as “the fried-egg plant”, the Matilija poppy is a beautiful, fragrant flower that only naturally occurs in California (both the U.S. state and the Mexican state, Baja California). It can be found in canyons and dried riverbeds, also known as washes. Their seeds can only germinate after a fire or heat-flash but once they’re planted they can keep growing, even after you try and remove them! This water wise plant is easily identifiable and has the largest flowers of any native California plant species.

Palo Verde

Parkinsonia florida
These trees are famous for their beautiful, bright yellow flowers and smooth green trunks. It is a desert plant that grows in Southern California, Southern Arizona, and Northwestern Mexico, and whose flowers provide the much-needed shade, nectar, and seeds for bees, hummingbirds, and other wildlife. Did you know that Palo Verde trees drop edible seeds and flowers?

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 was used by the Native American tribes as a medicine to alleviate head and stomach aches, promote heart health, and aid in digestion.