Set among a picturesque grouping of large sandstone boulders, the Desert Section is one of the oldest and most prominent features of the Garden. The display contains a spectacular collection of species that thrive in the state's hot, dry, coastal and interior desert regions where years may pass without significant rainfall and summer temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Desert-dwelling plants use several strategies to survive such conditions. Members of the cactus family, 24 of which can be viewed here, store water in their stems to endure the long dry season, while sharp spines ward off thirsty grazers and gorgeous flowers attract pollinating insects.
In late spring and early summer, Botanic Garden visitors are rewarded with a magnificent show from the purple-flowering desert-willow (Chilopsis linearis) and the yellow-flowered palo verde (Cercidium floridum). Other noteworthy plants include ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), desert-lavender (Hyptis emoryi), chuparosa (Justicia californica), jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis), desert-mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), and Bigelow's nolina (Nolina bigelovii).
For information about the location of a display within the Garden please see the map below.
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden fosters the conservation of California's native plants through our gardens, research and education, and serves as a role model of sustainable practices.