UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, summer 2020: Americas
The University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley was closed longer than many other public gardens in California because it's on the campus of UC Berkeley and therefore subject to its regulations. Even now you need to make a reservation in order to visit, although even same-day reservations are generally available.
Feeling a bit restless, I made a reservation for last Saturday, and as luck would have it, my Bay Area friends Justin and Max were able to join me. It was great meeting up with them since they share my enthusiasm for plants. Even though we were wearing masks (required at the UCBG) and kept our distance from each other, it almost felt like a return to normal—the old normal, the one that's beginning to fade into oblivion...
|Selfie with Chilean rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria)|
Justin, Max and I, aka the Three Plant Amigos, spent most of our time in the Mexico & Central America Collection (see garden map), skirting Australasia and South America where I took the Gunnera selfie above.
As the UCBG website states, the Mexico & Central America Collection “is representative of plants from the Sierra Madre mountain ranges of Mexico south to the higher elevations of Central America. Two major plant communities are represented: pine-oak woodland and cloud forest.”
It may come as a surprise that Mexican succulents, including the likes of agaves and beschornerias, often favor somewhat sheltered positions near or under trees or shrubs rather than growing out in the open. Relatively few agaves are true desert dwellers adapted to life in the hot blazing sun; these tend to have pale blue or silver leaves. Species with greener leaves are typically denizens of higher-elevation pine-oak communities.
|Agave “sp.” (always my favorite label) and Mexican weeping bamboo (Otatea acuminata ssp. aztecorum)|
|I love everything about this vignette|
|I did a double-take when I saw this, thinking it was a new-to-me agave species. Not so. It's a Furcraea guatemalensis, Furcraea being a related genus.|
|Agave marmorata, small and cute now but able to grow to giant proportions (in excess of 6 ft. in height and width)|
|Another Agave marmorata|
|Agave wocomahi may not be a household name, but it deserves to be more widely grown since it's very cold hardy|
|Labeled “Nolina sp.”|
|Dasylirion acrotrichum in the front, unknown Nolina behind it|
|Agave gentryi growing in quite a bit of shade|
|Beautiful Agave “sp.”|
|This Manfreda sp. is an example of a plant so ugly only a real aficionado can love it|
|Cycads are another major plant group from Mexico I'm fond of. This is a rare Dioon sonorense.|
|Yucca rostrata towering over everything else|
|Agave “sp.” growing in fairly dense shade|
|Dioon edule, much easier to find and faster as well—but alas, not a blue palm!|
|Echeveria gigantea growing in conditions that I assume are similar to its natural habitat|
|If I hadn't seen the label, I wouldn't have believed that this is an oxalis: Oxalis magnifica|
|I don't associate tree ferns with Mexico/Central America, but here's one: Cyathea fulva, hailing from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas|
|Cyathea fulva frond getting ready to unfurl|
|Another relatively rare Mexican cycad, Dioon tomaselli|
A few photos from the South America collection:
|And yours truly for scale (photo by Justin Cannon)|
|Aechmea recurvata var. ortgiesii growing in a crack in this rock|
Next up, Baja California:
|Agave shawii ssp. goldmanniana|
|Agave shawii ssp. goldmanniana with Dudleya brittonii. Check out the incredibly long flower stalks!|
|I went a bit overboard taking photos of Dudleya brittonii...|
|...but it's such a beauty (here with Hechtia montana)|
|More Dudleya brittonii|
|A close relative, Dudleya anthonyii|
|A shrub for a change: Tecoma stans|
Hechtia texensis at the entrance plaza:
The world-famous clump of hedgehog agave (Agave stricta) next to the tour deck:
One of the UCBG's signature plants, Agave mitis var. albidior 'UCBG':
And, to wrap things up, a personal favorite, Puya coerulea
|A nice place to nap as long as you stay on the bench!|
In part 2, I'll show you photos from other collections at the UC Botanical Garden, including Australasia.
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