The following document was given to me

by botany graduate students from San Francisco State University,

in collaboration with students from University of San Francisco

and botanical garden nursery volunteers

they asked that I

push it out into the world

like a cork topped glass bottle on the sea

When I read it

I was uncertain of its veracity

so I went to talk to the old curators

the old docents and volunteers

and the old society staff

and checked it out as best as I could

they said yes its true, the botanical garden will not be the same place in a few years

this is the direction that it is going

they also said

“nothing can be done about it.  most botanical gardens are doing the same thing.”

“botany is a dead science.  there are few economic incentives to drive further exploration, taxonomy, and collection.  Count how many botany majors there are this year in our classes, less than a handful.  theres simply no jobs for botanists.”

“the only thing that matters is what happens after you die, this is all an illusion”

I agree with these old time plant gurus, and see the wisdom in their ways.  the study of flowers is no longer as important, as relevant, nor as essential, as it once was.  What is in your heart and mind and spirit, at every moment, trumps the material world.

So please.  save your strong emotions for another topic.  no letters, no protests, no indignant speeches, rallies, and marches.  Sit back, be like a plant dreaming in the sun, anchored in the earth.  Just go out and be in the world of plants, and know that tomorrow, they may be gone.  Say hi, enjoy their presence, notice how they are all so unique and different and special, and know that change is the only constant in nature.   Give thanks, for it is they that have created the world that we live in.  The air, the marshes, the forests, the valleys, the food.  Homes, fuel, life itself.  Plants are the producers, we are the consumers.

Sorry kids, y’all gonna be living in a little sadder world than the one we grew up in.  You will not know your kindred relatives or recognize your brothers and sisters who are animals and trees.  But, this has been coming down the pipe lines for a whiles now…. nobody cares, all that matters is…

Here is the document submitted to me.  Rest in Peace:


San Francisco Botanical Gardens                      November 1, 2019

Plant casualties in living collections

The casualties in the past two and a half years +  are as follows:

Beds 48N and 48G. The grove of some 50+ yew trees Taxus baccata that created the ceremonial circle in the redwood grove.  Accession XY-2642 likely sixty to seventy year old specimens.  Cut down completely.  No more circular enclosure for the benches and podium.

Bed 53G. Tetradium daniellii, a large tree in the Rutaceae family, the bee bee tree, approximately 60 years old – cut down.  The only one mature specimen in the garden. Not rare, but the only one of its age and kind in a public space in San Francisco.  Replaced by Bergenia, Acorus, and ferns.

Bed 4B. Thujopsis dolabrata and Chamaecyparis lawsoniana.   The Thujopsis was the largest and oldest of six Thujopsis plants in the garden.  Both 60 year old +.

Bed 48O. Across from the succulent and cactus gardens.  A collection of mostly Australian plants.  Everything cleaned out except for one transplanted grass tree.  The bed was seeded with California annuals like Phacelia and California poppy in the winter of 2018.  Now it is a dried out meadow with Ehrharta erecta grass and Echium fastuosum seedlings.  Some of the older specimens lost were:

Banksia media 1978-0171.  41 years old.

Banksia sphaerocarpa.  1978-0172.  41 years old.

Banskia spinulosa 1973-0629.  46 years old.

Beschorneria albiflora 1973-0622.  46 years old.

Cassia artemisioides.  1977-0048.  42 years old.

Leptospermum liversidgei.  1971-0332.  48 years old.

Glandularia peruviana.  1975-0202.  45 years old.

Peumus boldus.  1973-0141.  46 years old.

Three of the five total species of Kunzea at SFBG were in Bed 48O.  Kunzea baxteri, K. pomifera, and K recurva var. montana.

Xanthorrhoea macronema, age unknown.  The only X. macronema in the garden.

Not too long ago, Xanthorrhoea was well represented in the San Francisco Botanical Garden, especially so in Bed 48O. In Bed 48O, there were four species, nine individual plants, based on records from 2012 by past curator.  There was  Xanthorrhoea australis ssp. australis, X. macronema, X. quadrangulata, and an unknown Xanthorrhoea species.  Now, there is one transplanted plant left in Bed 48O, and another transplanted grass tree up with the succulents and cacti.  In the garden as a whole, records from 2012 show a total of eight species and 22 individuals.  A search for the remaining Xanthorrhoea in September of 2019 showed two young plants of Xanthorrhoea preissiii in Beds 60B and 64C, and two more young plants of X. preissii in Bed 64E and in Bed 58B.  Also, there is a clump of Xanthorrhoea species in Bed 75A which appears to be two or three individuals planted right next to one another, the label says 2012-0264A, so planted about 9 years ago.  None of these plants have the stature or the form acquired with time.  Gone from the garden are also Xanthorrhoea fulva, X. glauca, X. macronema, X. quadrangulata, and X. semiplana.  Overall, about eight individuals left, down from twenty-two.  Three Xanthorrhoea species left, down from eight.

Another example is the genus Banksia, which was well represented in Bed 48O.  In the garden as a whole, 2012 records indicate 34 Banksia members – three cultivars, two subspecies, one variety, and 28 species.    By chopping down all the plants in Bed 48O, the garden lost Banksia blechnifolia, B. burdettii, B. caleyi, B. media, B. menziesii, B. sphaerocarpa, and an unknown B. species.  Moreover, in the whole garden, over the past few years, the collection has lost B. aemula, B. baueri, B. ericifolia ‘Compact’, B. ericifolia ssp. macrantha, B. grossa, B. occidentalis, B. oblongifolia, B. occidentalis, B. ornata, B, praemorsa, B. prionotes, B. spinulosa ‘Schnapper Point’.  So from 34 Banksia species/cultivars/varieties/subspecies,  down to 15.

Beds 3A – 3R, Bed 5C.  Exhibition garden.  The entire Demonstration Garden was gutted to make way for the Exhibition and Wedding Celebration Garden.  There were many common plants in this area, and so the loss in terms of local biodiversity, rarity, and significance was not so great.  What was axed that was somewhat rare, old, or unusual were:

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii:  The featured plant on the SFBG website for June.

Jasminum azoricum.  Status was Rare.

Pittosporum erioloma.  Status was Rare. 

A collection of numerous plants in the Restionaceae family – African rushes. 

Beds OA, OB, OC, OD, OE, OG, OL, OV. Botanical garden nursery.

A large proportion of the potted plants of varying age classes collected and traded in from botanical expeditions to Asia, Mexico, South America, and Europe were thrown out by the current director in a clean out in 2017.  The identities and records are lost and were thrown out along with the plants.  Some of the specimens which show up in past records, but that are no longer in the nursery, are:

Lobelia excelsa OB4.  Status is Rare.

Lomatium insulare OA2.  Status is Rare.

Lotus crassifolius var otayensis OV.  Status is Rare.

Malacothamnus palmeri var. lucianus.  OA2. Status is Rare.

Miconia ravenii.  OG3.  Status is Rare.
Persea donnell-smithii.  OC1.  Status is Rare.

Pinus cembroides ssp. orizabensis.  OE1.  Status is Rare. 

Pinus maximartinezii.  OB1, OC2, OL8.  Status is Rare. 

Saxegothaea conspicua.  OC2, OD2.  Status is Rare.

Sidaldea stipularis. OA2.  Status is Rare. 

Trachycarpus geminisectus.  OL6, OLB.

unidentified Ceroxylon species from South America. 

Plants that were salvaged by nursery volunteers from the garbage, and that are not in the garden nor in the records of the 2019 SFBG plant finder data base include:

Cleyera japonica var. wallichiana SFBG XY-0201 A.  Pentaphylacaceae.  From Indian, Nepal and TIbet.

Pterolobium punctatum.  SFBG 1998-0422.  Fabaceae.  From China and Laos.

and many more…

Overall. Other plants have been decimated either due to active destruction or careless neglect  over the recent years.  A comparison of paper based curatorial records from 2012 -2013 and the GIS Plant Finder of SFBG online records 2019 indicate the following trends for these sample genera:

Abies:  27 species/cultivars/varieties/subspecies in 2012, 22 in 2019

Erica:  42 species/subspecies/varieties/cultivars/hybrids in 2012, 26 in 2019

Fuchsia:  98 species/cultivars/hybrids/subspecies in 2012, 68 in 2019

Juniperus:  21 species/cultivars/varieties in 2012, 11 in 2019

Lonicera :  20 species/cultivars/varieties/hybrids in 2012,  11 in 2019

Lupinus  9 species/cultivars/varieties in 2012, 3 in 2019

Mimulus:  18 species/cultivars/hybrids in 2012, 13 in 2019

Monochaetum:  15 species/hybrids in 2012, 8 in 2019

Oenothera:  13 species/cultivars/subspecies in 2012, 3 in 2019

Passiflora:  50 species/cultivars/hybrids/varieties in 2012, 13 in 2019

Phlox:  9 species/cultivars in 2012, no results for 2019 ( no plants found/exist)

Quercus:  53 species/hybrids/cultivars in 2012, 45 in 2019

Ribes:  29 species/varieties/cultivars in 2012, 23 in 2019

Salvia:  255 species/cultivars/hybrids in 2012,  182 in 2019

Silene: 24 species/cultivars in 2012, 2 in 2019

Solanum:  14 species/cultivars/varieties in 2012, 1 in 2019

Tibouchina:  10 species in 2012, 6 in 2019

Vaccinium:  18  species/cultivars in 2012, 11 in 2019

Verbascum:  11 species/cultivars in 2012, 4 in 2019

Viburnum:  37 species/cultivar/hybrids in 2012, 17 in 2019

A similar trend is true for almost all taxa in the garden.  Diversity has been on the decline.


Here are two examples of curatorial practices:  sample pages from 2012 records,  and a cut and paste of the same taxon group from Plant Finder GIS San Francisco Botanical Garden 2019.

These are the pages for Erica from the old paper based database about six to seven years ago:

    Botanical name         Family     Origin # Bed number Rare? 

erica 1

erica 2.jpeg

Compare and contrast.  A search for the genus Erica using the 2019 SFBG Plant Finder shows the following entries in this order.

erica aa.jpg

erica bb.jpg


These are the pages for Solanum from the old paper based data base:


A search for the genus Solanum in the 2019 Plant Finder yields one species:

Solanum aviculare


Its okay kids!  Remember that change is the constant.  Accept it.  Embrace it in all its facets.  Can’t go backwards, only go forwards.  Stay POSITIVE!!!