UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

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UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/index.shtml Open daily 9 AM - 4:30 PM 510-643-2755 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley, CA 91720 garden@berkeley.edu (2)


The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden acts as both a public museum and a non-profit research garden. It is open year round and houses over 13,000 different plant types from all around the world. The garden occupies over 34 acres in the hills around the Strawberry Creek area east of campus. The Garden is currently directed by Paul Licht, who has acted as director since 2003.

Mission Statement

The Garden's mission statement is, "To develop and maintain a diverse living collection of plants to support teaching and worldwide research in plant biology, further the conservation of plant diversity, and promote public understanding and appreciation of plants and the natural environment" (1).

History and Purpose

The actual UC Botanical Garden was first established in 1890, yet the concept of a botanical garden came much earlier. Dr. Eugene Hilgard founded a garden of economic gardens where present-day Moffit Library is two decades earlier. E. L. Greene, the initial chairman of the UC Department of Botany, transformed the project into the official Botanical Garden. His goal was to, "gather in as rapidly as possible those of the neighboring states of the Pacific Coast." By 1892 there were over 600 species represented. Hilgard's garden quickly expanded into tens of thousands of species, and a building modeled on the London Crystal Palace was constructed to house the garden where modern-day C.V. Starr East Asian Library and Haviland Hall are located (1).

In the 1920s, as the main campus had large plans for development, the garden was forced to move to Strawberry Canyon, where it has resided up to the present day.

Up to the 1970s and 1980s, the Garden was primarily focused on education and the teaching of botany, plus scientific research. But under the direction of Watson Laetsch (1969-74) and Robert Ornduff (1974-91) the Garden was transformed into a public natural history museum with a focus on community outreach (1).

For 7 years in the 1990s the Garden was under the jurisdiction of the College of Natural Resources, and since 1996 it has been managed by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (1).

Plant Collections

The Garden has an extremely wide variety of plants in its collection. Although it emphasizes plants from Mediterranean climates, it has plants from almost every continent. Organized by geographic origin, the collection contains over 300 families, 2700 genera, and 9670 species of plants. The most represented families of plants are cacti, sunflowers, orchids, lilies, and heath (3). About one-third of the physical land area of the garden contains plants native to California (3).


A group called the Friends of the Botanical Garden was formed in 1976 with the purpose of funding the Garden. This group no longer exists, yet its motive persists in a group of around 250 volunteers. A biannual fundraiser raises a majority of the funds needed by for the Garden to operate (1).

Sources: "About Us." UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. University of California Berkeley. Web. 19 Apr 2014. <http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/about_us/about_us.shtml>. "Botanical Garden Calendar." UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. University of California Berkeley, n.d. Web. 22 Apr 2014. <http://events.berkeley.edu/index.php/calendar/sn/bot.html>. "Plant Collections." UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. University of California Berkeley. Web. 19 Apr 2014. <http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/collections/introduction.shtml>.