North American Drylands

California’s flora is incredibly diverse yet highly threatened, making the state a biodiversity hotpot. At least a third of its 6500+ plant species are endemic. Ecosystems range from hot, dry deserts, temperate coastal areas and bushfire-prone chaparral shrublands to cold, windswept mountain tops. Unfortunately more than 30% of California’s species are threatened with extinction. Conservation in botanic gardens is one way we can support their survival into the future.

This Collection is:

  • an ex-situ collection for rare and threatened species
  • a showcase for low-water-usage plants which may be suitable to Melbourne’s future climate
  • a demonstration of the rich cultural and ethnobotanical heritage of North American First Nations people

Key Plants

Californian Poppy

Eschscholzia californica

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Bristly Matilija Poppy

Romneya trichocalyx

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Lemonade Berry

Rhus integrifolia

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Malva Rosa

Malva assurgentiflora

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California Adolphia

Adolphia californica

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Channel Islands Tree Poppy

Dendromecon harfordii

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Californian Poppy

<em>Eschscholzia californica</em>

The Californian Poppy is the state flower of California. It self-sows readily, creating a carpet of vivid orange in spring. Avoid planting it near natural areas.

Notes from the Curator

Many Californian species are threatened by weed invasion, pest and disease spread and altered fire regimes. Climate change is expected to exacerbate these, in addition to the irregular flowering, range contractions and population declines currently seen in some species. A number of plants in the Collection are already rare and threatened, others are likely to become so. With Melbourne projected to reach temperatures similar to many dryland regions of southern-USA and northern Mexico by 2070, the Gardens are working to transition the California collection towards more heat-tolerant species from across this broader geographic range. Keep an eye out as we trial new and interesting plants while monitoring the effects of increasing temperatures on existing species.