Little Lupines: Native Plant Profile #2

We have a new addition to the Native Plant Garden: Lupinus albifrons!  The evergreen leaves of this beautiful shrub are a fuzzy silvery-gray, hence its common name, Silver Bush Lupine.  Its inflorescences, which develop in April and May, can grow up to one foot long.  These stunning, fragrant blooms often cover the entire bush, creating a brillant purple display for your garden.  Not only are its flowers attractive to humans, but butterflies enjoy them as well, making Silver Bush Lupine an excellent choice if you would like your garden to become a part of San Francisco's extensive biological corridor.

Our little Lupinus albifrons!

Silver Bush Lupine is actually in the same plant family (Fabaceae) as some very common food crops -- peas and beans.  Late in the summer and early fall, Lupine bushes even produce light-green, hairy pods that closely resemble those of a snow pea.  (However, we don't recommend consuming it because, unlike its culinary relatives, Silver Bush Lupine is toxic if eaten.)  These pods dry and remain on the bush so, as you're hiking in the Bay Area this fall, you may walk past a Silver Bush Lupine and might hear the ethereal rattling of its pods in the wind. 

Members of the bean family (including Silver Bush Lupine) also have nitrogen-fixing root nodules that cause them to increase the nitrogen levels of the surrounding soil.  Thus, they play a very important role in enriching soils that were once nitrogen depleted.  So, if your yard is low on nitrogen, needing a drought tolerant plant, or if you're just looking for something to brighten your yard with silver foliage and purple flowers, a Silver Bush Lupine would be an excellent choice!  

Silver Bush Lupine at a glance 

Sun: Full
Water: None or very little
Soil: Requires good drainage
Wildlife: Butterflies
Pair with: Deer Grass, California Fescue, or Ceanothus


Demo Garden: First Planting

Photos of NPG's work on the demonstration garden have just been posted.
Look out for updates of our more recent work days!


Coyote Bush in Bloom: Native Plant Profile #1

Coyote Bush in its natural habitat (bottom left corner)

As you hike around the Bay Area this winter, you’ll most likely come across stands of a lovely evergreen shrub conspicuously cloaked in downy white flowers.  This would be Baccharis pilularis or Coyote Bush.  It is one of the most common species found in coastal sage scrub.  As its name suggests, it provides an excellent complex habitat for wildlife including (you guessed it!) coyotes.  As strange as it sounds, this plant is in the Asteraceae family and so, is closely related to the sunflower.  If you stretch your imagination, you can see similarities in their star-shaped (Aster is Greek for star) flowers.   Coyote Bush actually has male and female flowers on different plants, making it a dioecious plant.  

Coyote Bush's female flowers

In the wild Coyote Bush is a pioneer species that quickly recolonizes disturbed habitats.  Its extensive root system allows it to survive drought and fire.  This makes Coyote Bush a great addition to your drought-resistant garden.  (Not to mention that its green foliage is beautiful year-round!)  CCSF has its very own Coyote Bush on display in the Native Plant Garden.  Although small, it will fill in quickly and will soon draw birds, bees and butterflies to our campus.  Come by the garden and check it out!

The Native Plant Garden's Coyote Bush


Volunteer with NPG: Wednesday November 17

We had a great turn out last week, but the rain and setting sun kept us from wraping up our projects.
We will be meeting outside at the Demonstration Garden (beneath the Davinci head) at 2pm. 
Tasks: moving mulch from Conlan hall & laying it down, path maintenance,  planting, weeding.

Snacks & Gloves provided.

See you out there!

Our Vision

As a part of the largest urban community college in the nation, and located in the ecologically rich but heavily developed San Francisco peninsula, the City College of San Francisco’s Native Plant Garden presents a unique opportunity to connect our diverse student population with our diverse ecological heritage.

Bordering the entrance to the Science Building, the Native Plant Garden will consist of a northern and southern bed. The northern garden will function as a living laboratory for students in biology, ecology, botany and other sciences. The southern bed will operate as an educational garden to introduce home gardeners and landscape artists to native plants. The southern bed will present native plant gardening as an ecologically beneficial alternative to the water-intensive, high-input, low-value systems associated with traditional, horticultural gardens.

Together, the two gardens will showcase the beauty and utility of native California plants in landscaping and backyards.  The gardens will demonstrate the use of California plants in water conservation, erosion control and wild life habitat, and add CCSF’s Ocean campus to the larger network of volunteer-supported corridors, which connect the Bay Area’s patchwork of natural areas.

The Native Plant Garden began in the laboratory and continues on as a student-directed endeavor, as a part of City College of San Francisco’s dedication to sustainability and the preservation of San Francisco’s natural heritage.  Benefiting from student, faculty, and campus wide support, the native plant garden will continue to foster a relationship between people and planet, and the environmental stewardship that is the cornerstone of sustainability.