What's beautiful today

Nevin's barberry

Berberis nevinii
Nevin's Barberry is a federally endangered species native to southern California. This species is one of many that has been the focus of research by scientists at the garden. While very few historic occurrences of these plants still occur in the wild, it is available in the nursery trade and a relatively common planting in gardens in southern California.

California buckeye

Aesculus californica
What's that tree with no leaves that is covered in big fruits? That's the summer-deciduous California buckeye. While the large nuts of this plant are enjoyed by squirrels at the Garden, they are toxic to people. They have been used medicinally and as food in the past but leaching out the toxins and rendering them safe to consume is a very labor-intensive process.

Rose

Rosa spp.
The fruit of a rose is often called a rose hip. Rose hips are a beautiful decoration on rose plants in the fall and a good reason not to cut off the flowers when they are done blooming. Rosehips have been used in teas, syrups, jelly, and jam. Internet sleuthing suggests they taste best after a frost, so are possibly tastier in cooler parts of the world.

Oak

Quercus spp.
There are 18 species of oaks growing in the garden. The fruit of an oak is called an acorn, which you'll likely see squirrels and maybe woodpeckers collecting and storing. In some years an oak will produce a huge number of acorns relative to other years. This is called masting. Years of very high acorn production overwhelm the animals that would eat them, so many of the acorns the animals store in those years are not eaten and have a chance to grow into new trees and shrubs.

Matilija Poppy

Romneya spp.
The two species of Matilija poppies are generally known for having the largest flowers in California. Their beauty doesn't stop there though. Once done flowering, the fruits dry out and valves open from the top to allow seeds to fall out. These strange fruits are definitely a garden highlight in the fall.

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 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.

Birch-leaf Mountain-mahogany

Cercocarpus betuloides
The genus name Cercocarpus means tailed-fruit, which you can see in the photo is an appropriate name for this plant. The hairs on the tail help the fruit better catch the wind and blow it to new locations. The tail curls when dry and uncurls when moist. This change between curled and uncurled can actually drill the seed into the soil where it may grow to become a new shrub.

Turkey-mullein

Croton setiger
Turkey-mullein is not a turkey or a mullein but perhaps turkeys mistake this for mullein. It is also known as dove weed. These common names are attributed to both turkeys and doves eating the seeds of this species. While this summer-blooming annual doesn't have the most exciting flowers, it forms pale-green mounds of foliage that are beautifully textured. These are most common in the California Habitats section of the garden.

California Wild Grape

Vitis californica
Immediately recognizable, the California wild grape is a vine with leaves that turn red, orange, or yellow in the fall, small yellow-green clusters of fuzzy flowers, and purple grapes. In grows mainly in Central or Northern California where there is more water, but can grow in damp areas here in Southern California. This plant is really drought tolerant though, and its grapes serve as food for humans and small animals. A yellow dye could also be made from its leaves.

Sticky Monkeyflower

Diplacus spp.
The sticky monkeyflowers are the only shrubby monkeyflowers in California and named for the often sticky leaves. These species have a wide variety of flower colors that are made even wider by cultivated hybrids. The garden has a nice sampling of both native species and cultivars derived from them.

Hoary Aster

Dieteria asteroides
Also known as Fall False Tansy Aster and a member of the sunflower family, the plant produces small purple “flowers.” However, like the common sunflower, these “flowers” are actually composites of many flowers, including both central disc and marginal ray florets. The ray florets are the purple petaloid structures. These biennial to short-lived perennial plants grow in branching clusters arising from one main taproot. They are shade tolerant plants that bloom into October, adding a nice pop of color in late summer when other native plants have ceased flowering.

California Fuchsia

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?

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.

Toyon

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.

Tall Evening-primrose

Oenothera elata
The bright yellow flowers of the tall 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.

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.

Rabbit tobacco

Pseudognaphalium californicum
Would you have guessed that this flower is in the sunflower family? Unexpectedly, it also has a delightful smell! Touch it's leaves and see what we're talking about!

Beardtongue

Penstemon spp.
There are several species of beardtongues throughout the Garden. The flowers are vividly colored:  red, blue or purple, and are on tall, charismatic stems.

Parry's Nolina

Nolina parryi
These giant flowering stalks with small white flowers can be seen swarming with bees in our California Habitats (Plant Communities)!

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.

Chuparosa

Justicia californica
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

Trichostema lanatum
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

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 used to use this berry to make it into a drink. Many benefit from the toyon’s beauty and berries. Visit it today!

Western Columbine

Aquilegia formosa
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

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?

Pink Fairy-Duster

Calliandra eriophylla
This feathery ball of pink and white is actually a cluster of flowers. More interesting, whereas many flowers use bright colored petals or sepals to draw in pollinators, the fairy-duster has very small petals and uses the long, brightly colored stamens to attract pollinators.

St. Catherine's Lace Buckwheat

Eriogonum giganteum
This elegant plant has “carpets” of tiny pink-white flowers that grow above its white-green leaves. It only naturally grows on California’s Channel Islands, in the fast-draining, moist, and rocky coastal scrub. St. Catherine’s Lace buckwheat is a very important food source for butterflies such as the Gray Hairstreak and for birds. In late summer and early fall its pinkish-white flowers get a new dark-orange color. This buckwheat was also used by Native Americans to alleviate head and stomach aches.

California Brittlebush

Encelia californica
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.

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. Desert marigolds are not true marigolds (Tagetes spp.) but both are members of the aster family (Asteraceae).

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.

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.