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Wild Flowers at San Francisco Botanical Garden

Featured Plants

SPRING (April–June)

Beschorneria albiflora (trunking beschorneria)
Beschorneria albiflora

This Agave relative forms dense, wide rosettes of leaves that are held somewhat stiffly from the base but are soft-textured to the touch and lax towards the tips. From the center of the rosette emerges a long, upright and arching inflorescence with a bright red stem bearing pendulous cream to chartreuse colored tubular flowers that are flushed with pink. This is the only species that develops a trunk. Bed 5C

x Chiranthomontodendron lenzii (hybrid monkey hand tree)
x Chiranthomontodendron lenzii

Don't let the fearsome botanical name for this tree scare you away! It describes the "cross" or hybrid developed by a California nurseryman in 1981 who placed the pollen of Fremontodendron, a small tree of California's chaparral with golden flowers, on the stigma of a Mexican monkey hand tree, Chiranthodendron pentadactylon. Both species are in the mallow, or cotton family. Bed 5C

Rhododendron occidentale (western azalea)
Rhododendron occidentale

One of the west coast's showiest shrubs is one of two deciduous Rhododendron species native to western North America. The flowers are the true stars here; white to deep rosy pink with a yellow-orange marking on the inside, funnel-shaped, growing in clusters, and wonderfully fragrant. Bed 31A

Aesculus californica (California buckeye)
Aesculus californica

Considered the most resplendent of California flowering trees, the four to twelve-inch bottlebrush-like flower clusters, held erect on branches, burst out in spring. The common name refers to the large, hard, shiny "buckeye" seeds that ripen in the fall after all the leaves have dropped. Bed 34B

Leucospermum 'Scarlet Ribbon'
Leucospermum

Drought tolerant (once established) and from South Africa, the pincushion flowers are an exotic addition to a water-wise garden. These shrubs appreciate well-drained soils and sunny positions. Careful on fertilizing with phosphorus (P); pincushion flowers have evolved on phosphorus-poor soils and thus the presence of this element can be toxic. Bed 42A

Puya alpestris (sapphire tower)
Puya alpestris

Puya are in the bromeliad family, which includes pineapples! A very dramatic, beautiful plant when in bloom, it sends up a flower stalk to 6 feet with unearthly, metallic, bright turquoise flowers. This species is from the Andean region of Chile. Beds 56, 57A, 50C, D

Cornus florida var. urbiniana (magic dogwood)
Cornus florida var. urbiniana

Hailing from the mountains of Eastern Mexico, the flowers are quite distinct from other dogwoods. The thin, white bracts are fused at the top, which gives it a magical lantern appearance. Beds 50F, G

Doryanthes spp. (spear lily)
Doryanthes

In Australia, Doryanthes grows on exposed, rocky outcrops. The spear lily flower stalk shoots up to 15 feet high bearing hundreds of bright, reddish flowers, but only after ten years! There are only two species, both on display here, and it is the only genus in its own family, the Doryanthaceae. Bed 60A B

Sonchus palmensis (La Palma sow thistle)
Sonchus palmensis

From La Palma in the Canary Islands this looks like a dandelion on steroids! The individual two-inch flowers form clusters up to 3 feet across, on a shrub that can reach six feet high. Beds 28E, F

Papaver rhoeas (field poppy)
Papaver rhoeas

One of the world's most popular wildflowers, this species is also commonly known as Flanders poppy. These poppies bloomed prolifically on the Battlefields of Flanders, Belgium in World War I. Poppies growing in disturbed areas were the catalyst for the poem In Flanders Fields by Canadian medical officer Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. Beds 28B, C, D

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