Thursday, September 23, 2010

San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum

San Francisco Trip, Part 2

Eucalyptus bark. I couldn't believe how huge these things get in CA. And they're everywhere.

Our other big hort excursion in SF was the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Golden Gate Park. Wow, was that humbling. In general, I'm glad that I majored in horticulture rather than botany, but on trips like this, I remember the drawbacks to a horticentric education: my plant knowledge is so location specific. If I had spent more time studying plant taxonomy & morphology, I wouldn't be so utterly bewildered when dropped in an alien ecosystem.

Fortunately, the signage at the SFBG was really pretty good, and we were able to identify most of the plants were interested in. And these were many. Most would probably fry in our heat, but I'd like to try at least a few.

We started out in the prehistoric plants section, where, interestingly, the plants are said to be microchipped.

Presumably, some are so valuable that people steal them. Perhaps this nifty sago--I know big cycads can be worth a lot of money, and this one has an especially ferny quality to it.

Cycas pectinata. Tight like Fort Knox?

Or this neat tree fern--someone would pay a lot for that black quill-like bark, right?

Dicksonia squarrosa

There was also a dwarf equisetum in this area. It's native to only the very top of the US, and it's listed as endangered in a few states. This blows my mind. It's possible to endanger an equisetum? How? With plutonium?

Equisetum scirpoides: adorable, grass-like, and ancient

Elsewhere in the garden, we found this Cuphea nudicostata, which Matt would like to grow. It has the nicest deep cherry red flowers. Green is my favorite color, but I never do get tired of deep cherry red.

Cuphea nudicostata - unusually large flowers for a cuphea

In a similar vein, I was delighted by the big fuzzy spikes of the red velvet sage, Salvia confertiflora.

Salvia confertiflora. That has to grow here, right? All salvias grow in Texas.

Then there's this elegant Kashmir cypress, Cupressus torulosa var. cashmeriana.

Cupressus torulosa var. cashmeriana

Dave's Garden only has two members growing this one, but one is in Houston. So there's hope! It's got the most artistic-looking flat zig-zaggy leaves, and I love its graceful droopiness.

Kashmir cypress leaves

Then there are the plants I'm not even going to try. This beautiful dome-shaped tree, Maytenus boaria. It's from the cloud forests of Chile. It looks like it doesn't know the meaning of the word "August."

The delicately ferny foliage of the Maytenus boaria

This exuberantly flowered little tree with the absurd moniker of Fremontodendron. It goes from sulphur yellow (in the background) to that awesome peachy-orange in the foreground. Despite the leathery leaves, it just doesn't feel to me like it could live here.

Fremontodendron 'California Glory'

And finally, awesome though it is, I have no hope at all for this beautiful and unexpected orange passionflower, Passiflora parritae. Apparently, it drops its flowers once the temperature reaches 90 degrees F. Beautiful, but wimpy.

The beautiful but finicky Passiflora parritae


Bob said...

Please keep me posted on what you find out about the Red Velvet Sage. What a stunner.

Elgin_house said...

Will do! I found a few online sources ( and, so maybe I can give it a try next spring).

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