The Gardens

The UCR Botanic Gardens is a 40-acre living plant museum with more than 3,500 plant species and thousands of specimens from around the world, with a focus on plants from Mediterranean climate (dry summer) and arid lands similar to California and the desert southwestern US. As a part of the UC Riverside campus, the Botanic Gardens is utilized for teaching, research, and demonstration purposes, as well as for enjoyment and appreciation of nature. The variable elevation and topography of the Gardens and Riverside's subtropical climate create numerous microclimates that allow for the notable diversity of plantings as well as an abundance of wildlife.

About one-third of the Gardens' 40 acres remain unplanted and consists of native plant communities including coastal sage scrub and annual grassland. Common native plants on the site include brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), California sagebrush (Artemisia californica) and deerweed (Lotus scoparius).

Themed and Horticultural Collections

  • Butterfly Garden - This garden displays flowering shrubs, including many natives, that grow well in the Riverside area and support the butterfly lifecycle and other pollinators
  • Herb Garden - This formal garden is planted with aromatic, culinary, dye and medicinal herbs from around the world
  • Iris Garden - This seasonal garden features more than 150 named bearded iris cultivars in a rainbow of colors
  • Lilac Lane - This semi-shaded section in Chancellor’s Canyon is planted with true lilacs, selected for their ability to flower in Riverside’s mild-winter Mediterranean climate
  • Rose Gardens - Three rose gardens display over 300 old and new selections, including a cross-section of species roses, heritage varieties, miniatures, floribundas, grandifloras and hybrid teas
  • Subtropical Fruit Orchard - This diverse orchard features citrus, guavas, sapotes, avocados, macadamias, and many other subtropical fruit trees (not open to the public at this time)

Geographical Collections

  • Australia - Recently renovated, this section features plants native to Australia’s Mediterranean climate zone, including Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Grevillea and others
  • Baja California - Plants from this arid southwest region include rare and bizarre species such as boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris)
  • California Chaparral - This section includes manzanita (Arctostaphylos), California lilac (Ceanothus), and other native sclerophyllous shrubs representative of California’s chaparral plant community
  • Coastal Sage Scrub - This shrub community, characterized by Encelia californica (California brittlebush) and Artemisia californica (California sagebrush), is widespread in coastal California and native to the hills where the UCR Botanic Gardens is located.
  • North American Desert - This section contains an extensive collection of southwestern US desert plants with emphasis on those native to the Mojave and Colorado Deserts
  • North Coast Redwood Forest - The lower section of Chancellor’s Canyon supports the endemic California coast redwood and associated species
  • Oak Woodland - This section contains several species of oaks from California and other Mediterranean regions of the world
  • Sierra Foothills - Representing mid-elevations of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, this section contains trees and shrubs such as foothill pine (Pinus sabiniana), California buckeye (Aesculus californica), and fremontia (Fremontodendron)
  • South Africa - This desert collection contains spectacular displays of aloes, iceplant, and South African bulbs and wildflowers in season
  • Temperate Deciduous Forest - The lower canyon bottoms contain a selection of trees and shrubs from temperate China and the eastern US including a deciduous dawn redwood tree (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

Other Features

  • Alder Canyon - Cool and shady, Alder Canyon features California native riparian trees
  • Dome - This lath structure houses a special collection of cycads and other subtropical plants requiring semi-shaded growing conditions
  • Greenhouse - Recently renovated, this structure houses a special collection of cool-temperature and shade-requiring plants (open for guided tours only)
  • Trails - The Gardens perimeter road is approximately 1.5 miles around, and more than four miles of trails traverse the 40-acre Gardens
  • Turtle Pond - This secluded, shaded pond partway up Alder Canyon features turtles and fish, along with irises, papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), and Montezuma cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) growing around the edges
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