SoFA Urban Gardens

Discover California Native Plants

SoFA District has an interactive botanical exhibit

Experience SoFA District’s newly imagined landscape, featuring a self-guided botanical garden tour decorated with plants native to California. Each planter is installed with QR code signs that connect visitors and the local community to a smartphone-accessible online exhibit. Information in our online exhibit also serves as a source of information about each plant community’s ecology, history, and cultural significance. 

Each planter exhibit lists the plant species names, origins, and a description. Now, SoFA not only serves as downtown’s creative community,  the district also showcases California’s natural beauty.

Planter Themes

Redwood Forest

Redwood forests are among the oldest in the world. The redwoods in the Bay Area were also used to construct many early buildings in their surrounding cities and played an integral part in the Bay Area’s development in the 1800s. In Downtown San Jose, one coastal redwood can be found in Plaza de Cesar Chavez.
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California Wetland

Wetlands are found where land and water meet. Common plants that make up riparian zones include grasses, shrubs, and trees that can tolerate a changing aquatic environment. Riparian habitats are found in many cities and are important for water storage, flood control, water quality protection, recreation, nutrient cycling, and habitat for fish and wildlife. This is a common ecosystem in San Jose, such as the Guadalupe River Park, which runs through downtown San Jose, providing lots of urban wildlife to the city’s center.
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Oak Woodland

The oak woodland is an expansive ecosystem in California, especially here in the Bay Area and large portion of open space around San Jose. Plant species here are very well adapted to dry climates and can survive California’s hottest days. The oaks provide shelter and nutrients for animals including turkeys, coyotes, mountain lions, deer and large birds of prey.
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California Chaparral

California’s chaparral landscape is home to many of the state's drought-tolerant plants that include woody shrubs, oak trees, and wild grasses. These species are often found in urban and residential landscapes, too, due to their low water usage and survivability during heat waves. The chaparral landscape is known for its distinctive Mediterranean-like appearance, and is a common site while driving through California’s rolling foothills. San Jose is also home to many chaparral open spaces due to the city’s warmer climate.
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California Grassland

California’s hills are famous for their decorated wildflowers and grasses. During the spring, these beautiful grasslands emit a wonderful array of colors from orange to purple. The state flower, the California Poppy, is a recognizable native plant that is adopted into the California Theater’s historic and iconic sign on South First Street.
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Coastal Sage Scrub

The coastal sage scrub uniquely exists along California’s coast, Baja California and islands just offshore. The plant community is dominated by shrubs similar to chaparral habitats. The main differences are that coastal sage scrub plants are much shorter and less woody compared to chaparral plants.
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