Cloud Forests : Conserving Our Botanical Treasures

San Francisco Botanical Garden's Mesoamerican Cloud Forest
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Deppea Splendens (Pacific Horticulture; PDF 146k)

NAPCC Collections Profile
Mesoamerican Cloud Foest at San Francisco Botanical Garden
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Cloud Forest Daisies: Horticultural Treasures of Montane Mexico
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Margaritas de la nuboselva en el San Francisco Botanical Garden
Margaritas de la nuboselva
1 ra. Parte
(Desde los Jardines; PDF 3.5 Meg)
2 da. Parte
(Desde los Jardines; PDF 2.6 Meg)
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Dennis Breedlove

In the 1960's and early 1970's, Dr. Dennis Breedlove, botanist and curator at the California Academy of Sciences began work on the flora of Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state. In addition to collecting the standard herbarium voucher specimens, he also brought back seeds because he recognized the similarities in climate, and the possibility of actually preserving some of the rare and endangered cloud forest species in cultivation. Dr. Breedlove's idea has now become reality; the present San Francisco Botanical Garden collection focuses on growing and displaying a variety of species native to tropical mountains in Mexico, Central, and South America.

Plantings at San Francisco Botanical Garden began in 1984 with seed collected by Dr. Breedlove and with propagules from the University of California Botanical Gardens. The vast majority of plantings were experimental, as almost all of these species had never been attempted in cultivation before. We have been the first in North America to grow species such as Glossostipula concinna, Zinowiewia matudae, Lozanella enantiophylla, Weinmannia pinnata, Meliosma matudae, Cedrela salvadorensis, and Heberdenia penduliflora.

The landscape attempts to re-create the feeling of an actual cloud forest, employing trees, shrubs, groundcovers, ferns, vines and epiphytes to create masses of dense vegetation. With the oldest plants now into their sixteenth year, the collection has matured into a realistic representation of cloud forest habitat. Oaks, pines, alders, Chiranthodendron, and Zinoweiwia are now 20 or more feet tall, providing shade and shelter for a host of species such as Deppea, Monochaetum, Chusquea, Bartlettina, and Salvia. Vines such as Passiflora, Smilax, and Bomarea festoon some of the larger trunks and branches, creating a wild and jungle-like effect.

Strybing's Mesoamerican collection

The collection boasts plants in bloom at any time of the year. From Spring through Fall, over twenty species of Salvia attract great numbers of hummingbirds, as do cupheas in Summer and Fall. The daisy family that includes Montanoa, arborescent Senecios, Bartlettina and tree Dahlias comes into its own from late Fall through early Spring, attracting both visitors and butterflies such as the Monarch.


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