California Grassland

SoFA Urban Garden

Located at 490 South First Street

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.

California grassland

Dark Star Ceanothus

 

Scientific Name: Ceanothus 'Dark Star'

Native Habitat: A hybrid between Santa Barbara Ceanothus and Wartleaf Ceanothus, two native plants that are only found in Central California coastal mountain ranges

Dark Star Ceanothus produces a dark blue flower during the winter that also carries a fragrant scent. In the wild, this plant is very bushy, and is great habitat for pollinators and quail. 

Monkey Flower

 

Scientific Name: Mimulus aurantiacus

Native Habitat: Western North America from Alaska to California and Colorado. Can be found at streambanks 4,000 to 10,000 ft above sea level. 

This flower is an important flower for pollinators in the Sierra Nevadas. It prefers rich soil and is a common flower to use in pollinator gardens.

Cedros Island Verbena

 

Scientific Name: Verbena lilacina ‘de la Mina’

Native Habitat: Native to Cedros Island and the Baja California coast. Although the plant is native to Baja California, it is still part of the California Floristic Province, which is a Mediterranean-climate region from Oregon to Baja California. 

Cedros Island Verbena is a butterfly favorite and its purple star shaped flowers bloom throughout the year. This verbena variety, ‘de la Mina’, was selected from the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, and has great use in a variety of gardens.

Douglas Iris

 

Scientific Name: Iris douglasiana

Native Habitat: Coastal regions of southern Oregon and northern California.

The Douglas Iris is a common flowering perennial herb that comes in multiple colors between purple and white. It is often used as ground cover in landscaping, and is also deer-resistant due to its bitter taste. 

Foothill Penstemon

 

Scientific Name: Penstemon heterophyllus

Native Habitat: Found only in California in coastal and northern Sierra ranges.

The Foothill Penstemon is a shrub found in multiple ecosystems ranging from grassland, chaparral, woodland, and forest. It produces clusters of tubular flowers that come in blue, purple, or magenta colors. The flowers attract a wide variety of pollinators, especially bees and bloom in the winter, spring and summer.

Checkerbloom

 

Scientific Name: Sidalcea malviflora

Native Habitat: Found in dry open areas throughout California.

Checkerbloom is a common herb that produces pink flowers during the spring and summer. In landscaping, it is used as groundcover and as a pollinator plant.

California Poppy

 

Scientific Name: Eschscholzia californica

Native Habitat: Includes California and extends to Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Sonora and northwest Baja California

The California Poppy is an iconic flower in the American West. It became California’s state flower in 1903, and its image can be found here in SoFA District on the California Theater’s light sign. California poppies bloom between February and September, and its flowers only open during the day time. At night or during cold weather, the flowers close up. California poppies are also drought tolerant, self seeding, and easy to cultivate in any garden. 

Douglas Iris

 

Scientific Name: Iris douglasiana

Native Habitat: Coastal regions of southern Oregon and northern California

The Douglas Iris is a common flowering perennial herb that comes in multiple colors between purple and white. It is often used as ground cover in landscaping, and is also deer-resistant due to its bitter taste.

Foothill Sedge 

 

Scientific Name: Carex tumulicola

Native Habitat: Primarily on the coasts of northern California, but extends to San Luis Obispo County and the Channel Islands.

The Foothill Sedge is a grass-like herb that grows in meadows and open woodlands between sea level and 4,000 ft. It prefers open spaces with some moisture, but can tolerate dry periods. For gardening, Foothill Sedge is commonly used as ground cover between trees and shrubs, and is fairly low maintenance. 

Monkey Flower

 

Scientific Name: Mimulus aurantiacus

Native Habitat: Western North America from Alaska to California and Colorado. Can be found at streambanks 4,000 to 10,000 ft above sea level. 

This flower is an important flower for pollinators in the Sierra Nevadas. It prefers rich soil and is a common flower to use in pollinator gardens.

Blue Eyed Grass

 

Scientific Name: Sisyrinchium bellum

Native Habitat: Found throughout California in grassy areas and woodlands. 

Blue Eyed Grass is a flowering herb that is easy to grow. It produces small blue and purple flowers that die during the summer. The plant then reseeds itself after its dormancy.

Cedros Island Verbena

 

Scientific Name: Verbena lilacina ‘de la Mina’

Native Habitat: Native to Cedros Island and the Baja California coast. Although the plant is native to Baja California, it is still part of the California Floristic Province, which is a Mediterranean-climate region from Oregon to Baja California. 

Cedros Island Verbena is a butterfly favorite and its purple star shaped flowers bloom throughout the year. This verbena variety, ‘de la Mina’, was selected from the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, and has great use in a variety of gardens. 

Checkerbloom

 

Scientific Name: Sidalcea malviflora

Native Habitat: Found in dry open areas throughout California.

Checkerbloom is a common herb that produces pink flowers during the spring and summer. In landscaping, it is used as groundcover and as a pollinator plant.

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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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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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Urban Garden Main Page

SoFA District has a California native plant exhibit Experience SoFA District’s newly imagined landscape along First St. that offers the public 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 can also serve as a source of information about each plant community’s ecology, history, and cultural significance.
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