UC Davis campus walk: aloes and more

I finally got a chance to check on the progress of the aloes on the UC Davis campus. Here's what I found. 

The clump of yellow Aloe arborescens outside the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory greenhouses on Kleiber Hall Drive is looking really good this year:

Yellow form of Aloe arborescens

The Euphorbia atropurpurea right next to the Aloe arborescens is not too shabby either:

Euphorbia atropurpurea

Most of the other areas in this campus, including red Aloe arborescens, Aloe ferox, and the Aloe littoralis below, still have a few weeks to go, depending on the weather:

Aloe littoralis

Aloe microstigma in front of the westernmost greenhouse

This Aloe microstigma is smaller than it was in the past. Attrition due to lack of irrigation?

Aloe aculeata getting ready to flower

Aloe 'David Verity' flower

Moving over to Storer Hall, home of the small cycad garden:

The steely blue cycad is Encephalartos horridus

Aloe melanacantha

Aloe melanacantha in front of another Encephalartos horridus, with a clump of Gasteria acinacifolia on the right

Aloe melanacantha flower in front of Encephalartos horridus

Gasteria acinacifolia

Aloidendron dichotomum, impressive to see it flower in Davis

 Walking over to the aloe bed in the alley between Haring Hall and the Sciences Lab Building and Haring Hall:

Aloe arborescens flowers showing aloe mite infestation. This is the first time I've seen signs of aloe mite on the UC Davis campus. This clump of Aloe arborescens isn't right next to other aloes so I'm hoping this will remain an isolation occurrence.

Aloe microstigma, a few hundred feet from the infected Aloe arborescens above

Aloe ferox hybrid still has a bit to go before the flowers open up

Sad-looking clump of Aloe suprafoliata. They used to be pristine. I have no idea what happened, but I suspect is they didn't get any irrigation last summer.

 The aloe bed in front of the Sciences Lab Building is fenced off as part of a major construction project. The Aloe ferox and Aloe marlothii are looking fine, not minding being locked up, but photography is challenging.

 Completed unrelated to aloes, I noticed several flopping clumps of Russellia equisetiformis. Seeing their untidy form, I was glad I decided to remove mine recently.

Floppy Russellia equisetiformis

 The last place I stopped is the relatively new Biological Orchard and Gardens (BOG), "a collaboration between students, staff, and faculty to convert an underutilized landscape in the heart of campus into a living museum." As the BOG web page says:
A quarter of the space will feature a first-of-its-kind orchard of heirloom California fruit trees threatened with extinction. Once it is established, visitors to the garden are free to sample the harvests. The remaining space will serve as an outdoor ecological classroom, featuring drought-tolerant plants native to South Africa, the Mediterranean, Australia, Chile, and California.

Under the guidance of Botanical Conservatory director Ernesto Sandoval, the large South Africa mound has been planted with a variety of aloes as well as many kinds of South African bulbs. It's looking good already, but in a few more years, this will be a major plant destination on campus.

Aloe maculata may be common, but it flowers freely and is pretty much indestructible

This giant with its own scaffolding is an Aloe marlothii hybrid that used to be in the cycad garden in front of Storer Hall. It toppled over in January 2017 as a result of excessive rain. For a few years, it lay where it had fallen, still pushing flowers every winter. I'm glad it has a new forever home now.

South Africa mound in the BOG

Aloe africana

Lachenalia aloides var. quadricolor, one of my favorite South African bulbs

Giant sea squill (Drimia maritima) with their fall/winter foliage. In late spring they start to go dormant, and in late summer they push tall inflorescences, which die off before the leaves appear again.

Drimia maritima bulbs can grow to an impressive size over time—up to 1 foot in diameter and weighing several pounds. They're considered the largest succulent bulbs.

I'll check on the acacias in the UC Davis Arboretum next weekend. They should be getting close to their bloom peak soon.

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  1. Generally speaking, the aloes are looking good. Your photo of Euphorbia atropurpurea reminded me how much I like that plant - I killed one but I think I want to try it again. My Drimia maritima (5 in total now) all have foliage too - finally I have a plant on my back slope that can really take drought in stride, just in time for what looks like it's going to be our driest year yet.

    1. A colony of drimias would be awesome but they're not fast to multiply, at least not here.

      And you do need aloes for your back slope - lots of them :-).

  2. I find the blue color cycad Encephalartos horridus very fetching, but can't quite decide if I like it better than the green varieties. Since neither grow in my zone, I gladly don't need to make a decision.
    Wonderful photo of Gasteria acinacifolia, how the leafs patterns are mimicked in the bud.

    1. I'm with you. Blue is a great color, but it needs a more neutral green as a foil to balance it out.

  3. The new Biological Orchard and Garden is such a cool idea. The university my son's attend seems more intent on destroying anything green and replacing it with concrete. Curious about the aloe mite: did it arrive as an import with plants or has it evolved as more aloe species are being grown in the area?

    1. I think the idea is to transfer the entire campus into an extension of the Arboretum. It's a long-term process, but a very exciting one!

      I honestly have no idea where the mite came from. That particularly clump of Aloe arborescens has been there forever, and it's all by itself.

  4. Very interesting seeing the difference in growth farther north on some of the Aloes. The dichotomum looks heavier foliaged than the ones I've seen here.

    The old, old marlothii--has seen better days. Would it be better off decapitated and re-rooted?

    1. I think they wanted to preserve the impressive trunk on that marlothii. Judging from the fact that it's flowering, it looks very much alive.


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