What's Blooming

Text by Jean Alexander — Photographs by Michael Clark

There are literally thousands of interesting individual plants in the Arboretum's collections.

At any time of the year there's something blooming, and there's always plenty to see.
To help you decide where to start, we present some of the specimens that are currently worth seeking out. To aid in your quest a map of the Arboretum can be found here.

The New Butterfly Garden
A Work in Progress

Adjacent to the California Native Garden, and to the left of the path leading to the New Zealand Garden, you'll come across the first signs of a new Arboretum project – the Butterfly Garden, where landscaping and planting are already in progress.

(Common Name Coyote Mint, Alpine Mountain Balm)


This perennial herb is a grayish green, aromatic plant which forms large mats about 1 foot high, topped by dense flower heads ranging in color from near white to blue-purple.

Monardella odoratissima

Right, an Acmon Blue butterfly (Plebejus acmon) feeds on Monardella odoratissima.

VERBENA lilacina

Verbena lilacina

Verbena lilacina has a handsome, mounding habit with blossoms in varying shades of purple, and is very attractive to butterflies.

Verbena lilacina

Below and right, a Fiery Skipper butterfly (Hylephila phyleus) visiting verbena.

Verbena lilacea

(Common Name Golden Rod)


Golden Rod is a tall, bright yellow herbaceous perennial found in meadows and pastures, along ditches and waste areas. It is a host to many insect species, including butterflies.

Soldigo confinis (photo 2)

Right and below, an Acmon Blue butterfly (Plebejus acmon) feeds on Solidago confinis.

Soldigo confinis (photo 3)


aster(1) aster(2)

The name aster derives from the Greek word for “star”, a reference to the shape of the flower head. Asters are used as a food plant by the larvae of several lepidoptera species, including the hummingbird hawk moth. What a coup if one were to find its way to the Arboretum!


(Common Name Yerba Santa)

Yerba santa(1)

A native of the waterleaf family, this shrub can grow to a height of 5 or 6 feet. It has blue flowers, and its evergreen felted leaves were used by Native Americans as a medicinal tea to soothe a sore throat.

yerba santa(2)