Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

More obscurities from my adventure down south, a quick tour of the arid house at the botanical gardens of UC Berkeley. I know I know, I’ve gone a little cactus crazy as of late, but I can’t get over how bizarre these plants are.

Here in a separate greenhouse we some saw Berkeley’s ‘real’ succulent collection.

A quick tour of some of my favorites.


What a treasure trove of succulent rarities. From cacti to caudiciform there was a lot to take in.


Here we have an exceptionally old Euphorbia horrida. What a living fractal!


Euphorbia duranii Var. Ankaratrae


Pelecyphora aselliformis


Aztekium ritteri. Known to be the slowest growing of all cacti, this gnarled relic is an old one for sure. Add this one to the wishlist if it wasn’t there already.


I just love oldgrowth ariocarpus, so cool


Ariocarpus retusus


Dyckia odorata


Kedrostis nana Var. Zeyheri


Dioscorea elephantipes


An exceptionally old & large¬†leuchtenbergia principis. Known as a false agave this is by far my favorite plant in the cactus family. It’s quirky, a little bit worse for wear yet still fascinating.


Welwitschia mirabilis wins the strangest plant award. This strange plant only ever produces one set of leaves, in which it continues to grow for it’s entire lifetime (which can sometimes be well over 1000 years). To add to it’s obscurity, it’s cone bearing and grows in arid conditions in which no rain may fall for over a year. If you’ve never read about these incredible plants before, do take a moment to be amazed and check out this article on the Plants of Africa website.


Welwitschia mirabilis


Crested pachypodium lamerei


Beyond the public area they had a huge collection behind locked doors, viewable only through chain-link. Well I was disappointed to not be able to take a closer look I could also understand them not wanting just anyone poking about.


I had never seen so many cacti in my entire life. until…

Next stop, The Huntington Botanical Garden in L.A.
Stay tuned.

4 Responses to Plant Geek Abroad: UC Berkeley Arid House

  • Jack says:

    Stumbled across your wonderful site and thought this guy needs to go to the Huntington Botanical Gardens. And then I read this post. When you get done at the Huntington, you need to go to the nearby California Cactus Center. Incredible specimens of all kinds and fantastic staging – they are expensive, but it does not cost anything to look and you will head home with some good ideas and maybe some plants! Nice shots at Berkeley.

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Mr Nat. Gardener, Plant Nerd
Tips and tales about gardening in one of the most mild climates in Canada. Specializing in rare and strange plants from far out destinations, this is the story of an obsessed young gardener in Victoria B.C. Let's create more tropical gardens in the garden city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
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