Friday, January 17, 2014

Winter visit to University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley

At the end of December, my older daughter and I made our annual winter trek to the University of California (UC) Botanical Garden in Berkeley. This has become somewhat of a tradition, seeing how we did the same thing in 2011 (here and here) and 2012 (here, here and here).

While it’s getting harder to discover something new—especially since I tend to visit the same sections every time—it’s still great visiting old friends.

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I love the Yucca rostrata in front of the entrance…

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…and the Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea acuminata ‘Aztecorum’) right inside

The plantings along the perimeter of the entrance plaza are from all other world. I think of them as a “best of” collection.

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Unruly ovens wattle from Australia (Acacia pravissima) next to the entrance kiosk

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Entrance plaza with Garden Shop

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Garden Shop

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Huge clump of Agave parryi ssp. parryi

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…with bloomed-out rosette [U.S. Southwest and northern Mexico]

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Dying Agave americana ‘Mediopicta alba’ [Mexico] next to the Arid House

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This is what it looked like in 2011

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Cotyledon orbiculata [South Africa]

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Banksia spinulosa [Australia]

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Banksia spinulosa [Australia]

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European fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) [Mediterranean]

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European fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) [Mediterranean]

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Agave mitis var. albidior [Mexico] and Encephalartos arenarius [South Africa]

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Agave mitis var. albidior (the plant formerly known as Agave celsii var. albicans)

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis [Arizona] surrounded by Libertia peregrinans, an iris species from New Zealand

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Dudleya brittonii [Baja California]

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Aloe nobilis [South Africa]

Just behind the entrance plaza I noticed new construction. I wonder what they’re building here?

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Another Mexican weeping bamboo in an area under construction—always exciting to see that something new is being built

The New World Desert is to the left of the main path.

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Agave flower spikes on the edge of the New World Desert

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New Baja California section

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Agave shawii var. goldmanniana (left) and “Agave sp.” (right)

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Agave sebastiana from Baja California Norte

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Agave margaritae from Baja California Sur

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Agave datylio

Continuing on the main path, you skirt the Asia section…

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Chain fern (Woodwardia unigemmata) from Honshu, Japan

…and get to the Conference Center.

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Encephalartos horridus × longifolius from South Africa outside the Conference Center

Next the Conference Center is a small Tropical House…

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Bananas and papyrus outside the small Tropical House, whacked back by the recent cold

…and behind that a new cycad area.

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Cold damage in the a recently planted cycad bed next to the Tropical House

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Encephalartos trispinosus with leaf damage from the cold

The next section you enter is Eastern North America…

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Moss-covered steps just as we enter the Eastern North America section on our way to the Mexico/Central America section

…but I didn’t linger here because my real destination was the Mexico/Central America section. This is one of my favorite areas of the UC Botanical Garden. As you will see, it’s rich in the plants I love, like yuccas and—especially!—agaves.

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Now we’re in the Mexico/Central America section

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Pleopeltis guttata, a small fern from the Mexican state of Hidalgo

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Beautiful oaks

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Beschorneria albiflora

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Beschorneria albiflora

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Unidentified palm happily growing in the shade

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Beschorneria septentrionalis and Salva mexicana

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Nolina sp. (left), Yucca faxoniana (middle), Dioon edule (right)

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Nolina sp. (left), Yucca faxoniana (right)

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Rain! (actually just the sprinklers running)

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Echeveria runyonii

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Agave asperrima (previously Agave scrabra)

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Agave asperrima and Yucca rostrata

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Agave montana

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Agave aff. macroculmis

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Agave aff. macroculmis (“aff.”, short for “affinis,” means that a species cannot be identified 100% but is strikingly similar to a known species)

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Labeled Agave pacifica, this is actually just a coastal variation of Agave angustifolia with very narrow leaves

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Agave shrevei ssp. shrevei

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Agave shrevei ssp, magna

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Agave schidigera

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Unlabeled but looks to me like a member of the Agave gentryi complex

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Agave gentryi or a close relative

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Pine muhly (Muhlenbergia dubia) and unidentified Echeveria sp.

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Just labeled Echeveria sp.

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Agave aff. striata

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Agave wocomahi

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Agave filifera

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Another Agave montana

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Unidentified agaves growing on the hillside next to the path

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Unidentified agave and Mexican weeping bambo

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Looking back to the Yucca rostrata and Agave asperrima you saw earlier

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Roldana lobata,a large shrub native to the cloud forest of the Mexican state of Nayarit

Leaving Mexico/Central America behind, I skipped South America (some day I’ll have to spend more time there) and skirted Australasia. I made a quick stop for the tree ferns, some of which were wrapped against the cold.

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Various tree ferns

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Tasmanian tree fern (Dicksonia antartica)

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Dicksonia antarctica

After a brief stop at the Japanese Pool I exited the Asia section through this lovely gate…

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…and arrived at the far side of the New World Desert. It goes without saying that this is another favorite section of mine.

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New World Desert overlook

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Puya micrantha

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Agave americana ssp. protoamericana × lechuguilla

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Agave americana ssp. protoamericana × lechuguilla

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Agave mitis var. albidior

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Sundry agaves

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Agave atrovirens var. atrovirens

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Agave atrovirens var. atrovirens

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Agave vilmoriniana

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Mammillaria compressa

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis and Agave filifera

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis and Agave filifera

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis and Agave filifera

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis, Agave filifera and Agave xylonacantha (strikingly yellow)

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis, Agave filifera and Agave xylonacantha (strikingly yellow)

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis and Agave xylonacantha (more normal coloration)

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Agave parryi var. huachucensis, Agave filifera and Agave xylonacantha

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View of New World Desert

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Agave xylonacantha (“normal” look as opposed to the yellow coloration above)

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Agave fortiflora

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Agave striata

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Agave colorata

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Agave colorata

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Observation deck

The final stop of the day was the Southern Africa section right across the way from the New World Desert. In early spring this is a prime destination for flowering South African bulbs and aloes but it’ll be another couple of months before they are in full bloom.

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Cape tulip (Haemanthus coccineus)

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Boophane haemanthoides

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Aloe plicatilis (covered up)

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Aloe capitata var. quartziticola

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Aloe perfoliata var. mitriformis (back), unlabeled Aloe (front)

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Spiral aloe (Aloe polyphylla)

If you have to use the restroom, like we did, you’ll find two beautiful agaves growing right outside:

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Agave × leopoldii

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Agave guadalajarana

A great way to end this visit to the UC Botanical Garden!

But I’ll be back in three weeks for the first public sale of the year at the Landscape Cacti and Succulents Nursery. I need some larger agave specimens for a new planting bed. Details to follow.

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13 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing such great pictures - I just returned from the Berkeley gardens and certainly didn't capture it as well with my phone.

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    1. Thank you! Good to know that lugging around all that camera equipment is worth it :-).

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  2. I love to visit in winter , but have not made it up there yet this year. Thanks for giving me a nudge..what a nice report !

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    1. Nudge, nudge, nudge. This weekend is a good time to visit :-).

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  3. I've only been once, in September 2009. Oh how I would love to visit again...

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    1. Time for another visit! Make it coincide with one of their plant sales. And bring your car!

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  4. The place looks so enticing, and your posts on your visit there always bring cheer in the winter! All gorgeous pics but the one with the light shining through the oaks, wow, very atmospheric!

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    1. Thank you! I love that photo too. People tend to forget that in habitat quite a few agaves and other succulents grow in or on the edge of forests.

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  5. So many beautiful agaves. Why was the Agave xylonacantha yellow do you think? I love the Mexican weeping bamboo, too, it's gorgeous.

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    1. Amy, I've also been wondering why that Agave xylonacantha is such a striking yellow. It's been like that for the last several years--maybe always. Maybe just natural variation?

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  6. Not having lots of experience with Agaves, I find myself thinking "just another Agave" when seeing some of these, but others are so unique! Yellow? And those thin-leaved species -- really different! Thanks for broadening my view of that genus. :)

    Any evidence of drought issues? Will they have to change their watering habits?

    I appreciate so many photos, but I wonder: have you ever visited and *not* taken any photos? I know when I have the camera, the need to stop and photograph is so strong, it can make the visit less enjoyable.

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    1. Alan, the more I learn about agaves, the more fascinated I become. And new species are still being discovered! I will do a post soon about a new agave book, A Gallery of Agaves; it contains photos of species I'd never even heard of, mostly from the Caribbean.

      I know what you mean about leaving the camera behind. I've tried to do that, but invariably my experience is lessened because I wish I'd had my camera with me. In a sense, I pay closer attention to my surroundings when I'm in photography mode.

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  7. Another place for me to visit! Thanks for the great photos!

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