The University of California Botanical Garden is a public garden and research institution, located in Oakland, CA. The gardens are the oldest botanical garden in California and among the oldest in North America. This blog post will highlight all that you need to know about UCBG including its history, plants found there, and what makes it so special!


Established in 1890 by the Regents of the University of California, UCBG was one of three gardens created to “test agricultural crops for large-scale cultivation.” The other two were located at Berkeley and Riverside respectively. This was done in an effort to help the State become more self-sufficient.

The first two years were spent planning, laying out roads and trails, planting trees, collecting native plants from nearby areas of California as well as seeds that could be grown into useful crops for future agricultural efforts on campus or elsewhere across the state. A greenhouse was constructed shortly after this initial work which enabled UCBG to have access to a wide variety of plant species throughout different seasons. By 1892 the garden had expanded greatly with many additional cultivated plots being added over time including a “model farm” established in 1897 where farmers could test new methods and equipment used during agriculture production. Today there are nearly 5000 specimens representing approximately 3000 species at UCBG!


The botanical garden encompasses both native and exotic plants. Some of the most common species found there are: Dwarf Coyote Brush, California Golden-Yarrow, Pacific Gumplant, Pussy’s Ears, Purple Needlegrass Grassland – which is a threatened ecosystem only existing in four places across the Earth today! You can also find wildflowers that grow along hillsides or on coastal bluffs at UCBG including but not limited to Wild Lupine, Greenleaf Manzanita, Bush Sunflower, White Yarrow.

What Makes it Special?

There are many reasons why this particular garden stands out from others around the world such as its ability to survive through different weather conditions (i.e., drought). Another unique feature is its ability to serve as a research facility for the University of California, Berkeley where students can conduct studies on different plant species. UCBG also has an extensive library of books and other written materials that date back hundreds of years which are related to botany or horticulture.

Lastly, this garden stood out from others because it proved itself useful during World War II since there were few places at the time with enough natural resources (i.e., food) available in order to help sustain those fighting overseas! This was especially true when it came to avocados – a staple fruit found throughout California today but one that wouldn’t have been readily accessible without the efforts made by UCBG decades earlier.

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