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SF’s Amazing Springtime Wild Flowers

A wet winter brings glorious Spring wild flower blooms in Golden Gate Park
By - posted 3/31/2017 No Comment

It’s been a wet winter and that means spring is going to be crazy good at the San Francisco Botanical Garden … the curators tell us that everything is budding up and looking very bountiful and beautiful.

After four dry years, this winter has brought much needed rain to California, and some very wild flowers are getting ready to put on a particularly vibrant show this spring and summer at San Francisco Botanical Garden (SFBG).

Starting in April and extending through August, the largest portion of the garden’s collections comes into bloom, drawing a huge host of pollinators to its bounty of remarkable and rare plants. A special population of locally rare, native butterflies now makes its home in the Garden of California Native Plants, thanks to SFBG volunteer biologist Tim Wong.

These lovely blue and black pipevine swallowtails should be out in full force this spring, putting on a spectacular show, nurtured by an abundance of native flowers and the food they offer.

Wild Flowers at San Francisco Botanical Garden
April 1-August 31, 2017 | 9 am to 6 pm (spring and summer)
San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park
FREE with proof of SF residency

The Garden is free everyday from 7:30-9 am and all day on second Tuesdays of the month. Admission for non-residents is $8 general, $6 youth 12- 17 and seniors; $2 children 5-11; children 4 and under FREE. Families of 2 adults and one or more child pay just $17.

Free Wild Flower Docent Tours Every Saturday, April 1 to August 26, at 2pmin addition to its year-round, general tours at 1:30pm. Visitors of all ages can also ask questions and explore plants in more depth at Garden Interpretation Stations on Saturdays and Sundays, April 1 to August 27, from 1:30-3:30pm. In addition, visitors can make
use of a free smart phone app to explore the collections.

The Garden is a unique home to a huge variety of remarkable and rare plants, including many no longer found in their native habitats. Fantastical flora from the farthest reaches of the globe can be found in 55 acres of geographically specific gardens from South Africa to Chile. Many of the more than 8,000 kinds of plants in the Garden’s collections are native to Mediterranean habitats worldwide, flowering brilliantly after a wet winter soaks the ground parched during the rainless summer. Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees will put on a spectacular show, lured by the abundance of flowers and the food they offer.

Some of the not-to-be-missed WILD flowers include:

SPRING (April – May)

Arthur L. Menzies Garden of California Native Plants: A vibrant seasonal show takes place
right in the heart of the city every year as the four-acre Garden of California Native Plants blazes
into bloom. With over 700 species on view (and many new plantings this year), the Garden’s
native wildflower meadow and surrounding arroyos and woodlands come to colorful life with
bright blue wild lilac, gleaming golden poppies, delicate white and yellow meadowfoam, purple
irises, and more.

Puya alpestris (aqua sapphire tower): A high elevation bromeliad native to the Andes Mountains
of central Chile, this surprising pineapple relative sends up massive 4 foot tall flower stalks
covered in emerald-turquoise blossoms with bright orange stamens. Its huge stature and
extremely rare coloration makes it one of the highlights of the spring bloom.

Cornus florida var. urbiniana (magic dogwood): Hailing from the mountains of Eastern
Mexico, the flowers are dramatically distinct from other dogwoods. The thin, white bracts are
fused at the top, giving them a lantern-like appearance. When in bloom, the tree can be covered
in hundreds of white flowers, resulting in a spectacular display of spirals and shapes.

Banksia speciosa: Commonly known as the showy banksia, this native of the southern coast of
Western Australia lives up to its name with attractive cone-like flower heads up to 5 inches tall
and 4 inches wide and dramatic, saw-toothed leaves. The mature seed pods are quite unique and
showy, as well.

Protea cynaroides (king protea): The national flower of South Africa has the widest range and
the largest flower heads of all Protea species. The massive, bowl-shaped inflorescences can
reach up to 12 inches in diameter and are a favorite for flower arrangements as one flowerhead is
almost an arrangement in and of itself.

SUMMER (June – August)

Mediterranean Garden: A hill of ivy near the Garden’s Great Meadow sat undisturbed for at
least 25 years. Named Heidelberg Hill for the 1894 Midwinter Fair, where it was the site of a
German village and beer garden, this area has been recently transformed into a stunning new
mediterranean garden. Scarlet field poppies bloom en masse at the foot of the hill, and as visitors
climb the paths upwards, they can take in a diverse array of blooming salvias, rockroses,
lavenders, snapdragons, and more.

Jennie B. Zellerbach Garden of Perennials: This dramatic horseshoe-shaped Garden was
designed strictly for its aesthetic appeal and is at its best in summer with a profuse array of
flowering perennials including queen of the prarie, masterwort, and more. Clematis and other
flowering vines trail over three lovely arbors.

Chiranthodendron pentadactylon (monkey’s hand tree): Ranging from Mexico to Guatemala,
this evergreen tree, sacred to the Aztecs, features gorgeous red flowers with protruding claw-like
stamens that have an unusual similarity to a monkey’s hand.

Eucomis spp. (pineapple lilies): With its thick central stalk, tightly packed with small, six-petal,
star-like flowers and its topknot of bracts, this lovely South African plant looks very much like a
pineapple. The flowers of most species are greenish-white, sometimes marked with maroon or
purple. Cultivars can don red, burgundy, and violet-colored leaves and flowers.

Romneya coulteri (matilija poppy): A beautiful member of the poppy family, this tall shrub,
sometimes also called the California tree poppy, has grey-green leaves and large, fragrant, crepepapery
white flowers that have a striking resemblance to a fried egg. This is the largest and
showiest of California’s native wildflowers.