Field trip to the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory

A few weeks ago I organized a field trip to the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory for the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society (SCSS). Botanical Conservatory director Ernesto Sandoval and nursery technician Marlene Simon gave us a tour of the greenhouses and showed us some of the best succulent plantings on campus. The outside areas we visited were the same I blogged about earlier this year (see here and here), and it was great seeing aloes in flower that hadn’t been blooming during my previous visits.

I didn’t take as many photos as I normally do when I’m on my own because I was busy listening to Ernesto and Marlene and/or chatting with other SCSS members, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to leave the camera in my pocket either.


The Botanical Conservatory is open to the public during the week from 9 am to 5 pm. Tours can be arranged for groups (info here). The closest visitor parking is at the Pavilion parking structure (directions here).


Encephalartos horridus and Aloe comosa


Aloe buhrii in full bloom


Aloe buhrii


Aloe buhrii in front of Kumara plicatilis leaves (Kumara plicatilis is the new name of the fan aloe)


Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica) in front of a Mexican grass tree (Dasylirion longissimum)


Claret cup (Echinocereus triglochidiatus)


Aloe striata (left) and Aloe comosa (right)


Aloe hereroensis


Not a succulent, but just as beautiful: tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii)

The next set of photos was taken inside the arid room of the main greenhouse. I didn’t take photos in the other sections because the light level was fairly low and I was more focused on Marlene’s presentation, which ranged from carnivorous plants to vanilla beans and coffee to the giant corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum). If you ever have a chance to take a tour of the Botanical Conservatory, jump on it. You’ll learn a lot of interesting and strange things from the world of plants!


Dorstenia gigas, a rare fig relative endemic to the island of Socotra off the coast of Yemen


Dendrosicyos socotranus, the famous cucumber tree from Socotra. UC Davis has produced more seedlings of this very rare plant than any other institutions in the U.S.

150404_UCD_BotCon_033 150404_UCD_BotCon_034_Pachypodium-namaquanum

Pachypodium namaquanum endemic to South Africa and Namibia


So many goodies here


Aloidendron ramosissimum


Aloidendron pillansii, the giant quiver tree, is one the largest tree aloes. Uncommon in cultivation and quite frost-sensitive.

150404_UCD_BotCon_037 150404_UCD_BotCon_050_brighamia-insignis

Brighamia insignis, a critically endangered Hawaiian native with succulent stems. Here is some info on this plant if you’re interested.

150404_UCD_BotCon_031 150404_UCD_BotCon_044 

Welwitschia mirabilis, often called “the ugliest plant in the world” but also one the most intriguing. Check out this article to see what a mature welwitschia looks like in habitat.


Welwitschia with cones


Euphorbia neohumbertii endemic to Madagascar


Part of the SCSS group


  1. So many goodies as usual! And a visit to somewhere you've been to a few times before takes on a different feeling when visiting again, this time with a group of fellow enthusiasts isn't it? :)

    1. Yes, definitely true. I love seeing what are people are interested in.

  2. Welwitschia - intriguing! Thanks.

    1. Definitely one of the strangest--and long-lived--plants on the planet.

  3. Replies
    1. It's always fun poking around places crammed to the gills with plants.

  4. Some really weird and wonderful succulents! This reminds me that I have to get started on finding a tree aloe (to live in a pot) this year...

  5. Really interesting plants - that Welwitschia is fascinating. However, the plant I'm going to have to hunt down is that Aloe buhri.

    1. The Botanical Conservatory had Aloe buhrii seedlings for sale. If I'd known I would have picked one up for you.


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