San Francisco Botanical GardenSan Francisco Botanical Garden Plant Collections
Woods to Wildflowers at San Francisco Botanical Garden

Featured Plants

Arthur L. Menzies Garden of California Native Plants Highlights
Eschscholzia californica
California poppy
Eschscholzia californica by Ernest Gaudreau

The state flower of California, this annual is often seen sporting orange flowers, but flower color can actually vary from pale yellow to deep orange/red. Poppies are named for the 'popping' sound that the seedpods make when they split.

Asclepias fascicularis
narrow-leaf milkweed

This perennial herbaceous plant grows from two to three feet with clusters of flowers which range from pale pink, purple, white to greenish. The flowers attract the monarch butterfly, supplying food and habitat. The plants are mildly toxic and the alkaloids that they contain give the monarch butterflies that feed on them, protection from predators.

Arctostaphylos hookeri ssp. franciscana
Franciscan manzanita
Arctostaphylos hookeri by Stan Shebs

This San Francisco native was considered to be extinct in the wild for 70 years until spotted during road construction in 2009. The plant was moved to a secret location; however hundreds of cuttings were taken and given to botanical gardens across the Bay Area for propagation. The small urn-shaped white flowers appear in winter followed by small apple-like edible fruits. Manzanita is Spanish for 'little apple'.

Eriogonum latifolium
coast buckwheat
Eriogonum latifolium by James Gaither

This native to the coasts of California and Oregon has silver white foliage with flowers that often whither from various shades of pink to rose. They attract bees and butterflies, providing pollen and nectar. A concoction consisting of stems, leaves and roots was used by indigenous peoples for coughs and colds.

Epilobium canum
California fuchsia

A spreading perennial herb with red-orange fuchsia-like flowers, this plant is one of the few in flower from late summer to early fall. It serves as an important food source for hummingbirds, for which the red color and tubular shape flowers are perfectly designed.

Romneya coulteri
Matilija poppy, fried egg poppy
Romneya coulteri by James Gaither

Among California wildflowers there is no bigger flower, nor a more elegant specimen. The seven-foot stems support flowers that are five inches across with six crinkly snow-white petals and numerous orange stamens in their center (hence the common name fried egg poppy).

Tanacetum bipinnatum
dune tansy

Dune tansy is an uncommon native to the Pacific Coast of North America, from the Bay Area northward, where it grows in sand dunes and other coastline habitat. It is also found growing across northern Canada, north-central United States and Eurasia. As a shrubby evergreen groundcover, it creates drifts of soft fern-like foliage that is hairy, glandular, and aromatic. Yellow, button-shaped flowers form small clusters atop stalks up to two feet tall.

Clarkia by James Gaither

Over 30 varieties of clarkia adorn California from May to September. Many have pink cup-like flowers with inner purple markings while others have petals shredded like silk ribbons. San Francisco has its very own Clarkia franciscana growing in the Presidio.

Symphoricarpos albus ssp. laevigatus

Found in canyons, shady woods and stream banks in northwest California, this shrub can reach up to 15 feet. The flowers are small, pink, and bell- shaped but the real showstopper here are the white berries. They are edible but some compare the taste to soap, often leaving them to rot on the stems. Some birds, including thrashers will eat them when all other options have been exhausted.

Quercus chrysolepis
canyon live oak

Oaks are a common and quite majestic tree found in the California landscape. This particular oak can be found in canyons and steep slopes to 2000m throughout the mountainous regions in the state. Growing to 25m, it has dark green leaves often with spiny tips. The acorns are covered in bright gold hairs which gives rise to its other common name: golden cup oak.

Redwood Grove Highlights
Sequoia sempervirens
coast redwood
Sequoia sempervirens by Kathryn Rummel

These tallest of living trees have thick, reddish- brown bark that gets its color from tannins, bitter chemicals that help the tree resist burning and insect damage. These trees are native to protected coastal valleys of northern California and Oregon, and the tallest trees in the Garden are over 100 years old.

Oxalis oregana
redwood sorrel
Oxalis oregana by James Gaither

This evergreen groundcover has light-sensitive leaves that fold in the sun. Pink flowers grow on slender stalks in the spring and summer.

Asarum caudatum
wild ginger
Asarum caudatum by John Wall

This groundcover has distinctive heart-shaped leaves that cover the forest floor. In the summer, small cup-shaped maroon flowers have thin "tails" extending away from the blossom-like rays, and appear under the leaves in complete shade. A ginger odor is released through rubbing or crushing the leaves.

Vaccinium ovatum
Vaccinium ovatum by James Gaither

This evergreen shrub is one of the most common understory plants in the redwood forest. Small white bell-shaped flowers adorn it in spring, followed by deep blue berries in the fall.

Lysichiton americanus
skunk cabbage
Lysichiton americanus by James Gaither

Growing along forest streams, the deep green leaves and bright yellow leaf-like flower of this plant become apparent in the summer along with the skunk-like odor that gives this plant its name.

Polystichum munitum
western sword fern
Polystichum munitum by Joanne Taylor

Thriving on the rich, moist forest floor, this fern usually grows to a height of two to four feet. It has a projection at the base of each leaflet, which resembles the hilt of a sword.

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