Campus Botanical Gardens
Coastal California Demonstration Garden
An adult female butterfly or moth must lay her eggs on a host plant species that provides suitable food for her young. Some caterpillars are generalists and will eat a wide variety of plants, while others prefer to eat only a single plant species. Urbanization has reduced habitat diversity and favored the survival of generalist species. The loss of their critical food source means that many specialists are not threatened with extinction.
An Arid Life at the Water's Edge
Plants in this container garden are native to the central California coast, and include local San Francisco flora. Those that grow near the coast must endure summer drought and salt spray. They often adapt by forming tough, hairy, or succulent leaves and an overall compact form. Annual wildflowers survive the dry season by completing their life cycle and setting seed by late June. These seeds germinate when the winter rains arrive.
Bike Path Garden
Understanding Our Local Plant Communities
A plant community is an assemblage of species that interact with each other and their environment, dictated by factors such as soil, climate, topography, and fire. This garden contains many native plants grouped according to natural associations, with an emphasis on coastal communities. These species have adapted to our local conditions and after establishment, require no supplemental water. Many plants here provide resources such as nectar, pollen, fruit, cover, and nesting material for our resident wildlife. The area surrounding the bike path has been planted to represent 5 native plant communities: Mixed Evergreen, Coastal Prairie and Grassland, Riparian, Coastal Sage Scrub, and the Channel Islands. Species were selected to provide demonstration material for the ecology and biology courses.
Adaptations to Drought
In our summer-dry Mediterranean climate water is at a premium, and this garden showcases plants from arid regions around the world. Some plants prevent water loss by covering their leaves with a thick protective cuticle. Succulent plants survive the dry season by storing water in modified leaves and stems. This strategy has evolved multiple times, resulting in plants that look similar but are only distantly related.