Snaps from snazzy La Jolla

One of the wealthiest beachside communities in California, La Jolla is so precious, it has the perfect name: La Jolla (pronounced “hoya”) means “jewel” in Spanish. It is home to several world-renowned organizations such as the Salk Institute, the University of California San Diego, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the Scripps Research Institute and probably has more Nobel Prize Winners per capita than any other town its size (42,000). I can’t think of another place where world-class research, wealth, and scenic beauty come together the way they do here.

I found downtown La Jolla a bit sterile—one expensive boutique or restaurant next to the other—but the shoreline is drop-dead gorgeous. We spent an hour watching the seals and pelicans at La Jolla Children’s Pool. There are so many harbor seals—they don’t seem to be bothered by the presence of humans—that there are concerns about the water quality for swimmers!


Beach at Point Mencinger, on the other side of the rock from Children’s Pool





Seals at Children’s Pool





Lots of pelicans on the rocks

I didn’t have much time to photograph the houses along the beachfront, but here are some snaps. Virtually all of them featured succulents to one degree or another. I’ll have separate posts about two properties that stood out because of their succulent-heavy landscaping; one was a small condo building and the other a retirement home.


Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ is everywhere in San Diego. I wish I could grow it but it’s very frost sensitive.


A dense clump of what looks like Aloe cameronii


Euphorbia ammak


Dear store owner, what were you thinking?


Euphorbia mauritanica

The plant sighting that got me most excited in La Jolla was this Pedilanthus bracteatus (technically part of the genus Euphorbia now, so Euphorbia bracteata). Large terracotta urns planted with Pedilanthus bracteatus, Echeveria and Russelia equisetiformis were lined up against opposing walls of a staircase leading to the basement of a small shopping complex on Girard Street.

Pedilanthus bracteatus, one of several related species commonly referred to as “slipper plant,” is usually just a bundle of green stems but in the spring it pushes strange inflorescences. The “flowers” of its smaller cousin Pedilanthus macrocarpus remind people of lady’s slippers, while the inflorescence of Pedilanthus bracteatusi is just an abstract structure of bracts and cyathia.

150325_LaJolla_0079 150325_LaJolla_0081



Thanks to Luisa of Crow and Raven I have my own Pedilanthus bracteatus now but it’s currently re-rooting and hasn’t produced any inflorescences yet.

Related posts

2015 Spring break trip to San Diego


  1. Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ is everywhere in San Diego. I wish I could grow it but it’s very frost sensitive.

    Well there's always the option of container growing. I grew it as an indoor-outdoor plant (now strictly indoor) a couple summers ago, and the only trouble I had with it was that it was top-heavy enough to blow over in the slightest breeze. Probably should have used a clay pot.

    1. Every year I tell myself I will not grow plants that need to be brought inside for the winter but of course I never stick to the plan. So yes, that's what I should do. Now to find a nice large specimen in Northern California...

  2. How very exciting! Your photos certainly do justice to the grandeur of the beach scenery. About the house with the E. tirucalli. I wonder if they planted the orange-colored flowers first and then painted that section orange or painted the wall section first and then found the plants to match or maybe planned both together. Either way it is extremely attractive. So many people don't consider the colors of the plants to match the paint on their houses.

    1. Good point regarding what came first: the paint job on the house or the plant. I would have loved to talk to folks about their plants but I never ran into anybody. Plus, in that income bracket, they probably have "people" to take care of their gardens.

  3. Looks like you had that perfect San Diego weather. It has been great to see Southern California embrace their mild Mediterranean climate and grow more succulents and cacti. Growing up when water was cheaper and actually available (piped in from elsewhere) people had more big lawns, green shrubs and beds of annuals.
    I love Sticks on Fire! I have a plant that looks similar but it stays green. It is more frost tolerant. I have a friend that brought hers inside and used it for a Christmas tree : )

    1. I, too, was glad to see that both residential and public landscaping has begun to adapt to the new normal. Succulents grow so well in San Diego County and make do with so little water, they're a no brainer.

      I'm not surprised the all-green Euphorbia tirucalli is less frost-sensitive. I've seen it grow to immense proportions in Southern California. Moorten Botanical Garden in Palm Springs has a specimen that's a tree!

  4. Great photos! Enjoying your visit.

  5. THANK YOU for this post. I was on a walk in my parents' neighborhood (in La Jolla) and snapped a picture of a unique plant I loved planning to do a reverse image search when I got home to Northern California. The search led me to Pedilanthus bracteatus but it just didn't look quite the same (leafier, pointier inflorescence). Your blog confirmed it, and now I can cultivate some of my own.

    1. So happy you found my post and that it answered your question :-).


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