UCSC Arboretum Plant Introductions

May 10, 2017

By Helen Englesberg, Nursery Manager, and Stephen McCabe, Emeritus Director of Research 

Two native plant selections have been introduced into horticulture by Arboretum staff. They will be available for sale at Norrie’s Gift & Garden Shop during the month of May.

Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosumRibes sanguineum var. glutinosum 'Marie'
This reddish-pink flowering currant was selected by Stephen McCabe from a beautiful shrub growing along the lower reaches of the San Lorenzo Valley just above Santa Cruz. More than one botanist had noticed this spectacular shrub. The particular plant from which the cuttings were first taken has since disappeared, but, fortunately, it is maintained by cuttings in cultivation.

It is named for Marie Beckham, who has been a dedicated volunteer for the California Native Plant Society, the Cabrillo College horticulture program, the UCSC Arboretum, and other organizations for many years.

An elegant, upright shrub, it has small, pleated, dark green leaves and pink blossoms in early spring. In the garden, it will usually become a small shrub three feet wide by five feet high, but it can get to 15 feet tall and wide with age. The sturdy stems and large eventual size may make it a little more robust than other cultivars of the same variety.  The tiny round-tipped glandular hairs add to the beauty when one is close enough to see them.

Fragaria chiloensis ‘Aulon’Fragaria chiloensis ‘Aulon’
This is a selection of the beach strawberry that grows in our local sand dunes. It is evergreen groundcover with glossy dark green leathery leaves and grows up to 6 inches tall, spreading by stolons. It blooms in the springtime with large 2-inch white flowers. It does best if grown in well draining soil with occasional to moderate water and in full sun or partial shade. This strawberry usually does not produce berries. ‘Aulon’ is a selection made by Brett Hall in the late 1980ies. Hall and other Arboretum folks were flying kites up the north coast at Laguna Beach and found an exquisite patch of beach strawberries growing near an abalone shell Native American village site.  They picked one with showy large flowers and pinched a runner to propagate it. Visitors to the Arboretum can see it growing in cultivation in a small patch at the back of the Horticulture II Building near the restrooms.