Exploring the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden

The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden is a truly special place located on the edge of the UC Santa Cruz Campus. This green oasis is a haven for plant enthusiasts, nature lovers, birdwatchers, and photographers, offering an enchanting journey through different plant species from the Central Coast of California and other Mediterranean climates.

About the Arboretum

The Arboretum & Botanic Garden at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is a unique botanical garden that aims to connect people with the fascinating world of plants. The Garden’s main mission is to inspire and educate visitors about the importance of plant diversity, and the critical habitat they provide to all living creatures.

Location and Accessibility

The Arboretum is conveniently located at 1156 High St, Santa Cruz, California 95064. The Garden is open year-round, making it an ideal destination for a day out in any season. The Garden is operated by the University of California Santa Cruz and is easily accessible to the public.

Diversity and Collections

The Arboretum is renowned for its remarkable climatic and topographic diversity, a wide variety of soils, and its comprehensive collection of conifers, exotic South African proteas, Australian and New Zealand plants, and a fine collection of native Californian shrubs and trees. The underlying rocks include granite, schist, limestone, and several sandstones, contributing to the diversity of plant life.

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Australian Garden

The Australian Garden is a significant attraction, boasting over 2000 species, forms, and cultivars. It is believed to be the largest collection of Australian plants outside Australia. This collection includes many acacias, members of the fragrant myrtle family such as Eucalyptus, Callistemon, Melaleuca, and Leptospermum; members of the Protea family; Grevilleas; Banksias; and waratah.

Californian Garden

The Californian Garden showcases the state’s diverse flora. Ponderosa pines, coast redwoods, Douglas firs, coast live oaks, and California bays are among the key attractions. The collection also emphasizes plants native to the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Santa Lucia Mountains in Monterey County, including the endangered Santa Cruz Cypress and the rare Santa Lucia fir.

South African Garden

The South African Garden is home to a variety of Proteaceae, including Leucadendrons, Leucospermum, and one of the largest collections of members of the genus Erica (Cape heaths) outside South Africa.

New Zealand Garden

The Edward D. Landels New Zealand Garden, dedicated in 1984, includes Lily Family members, New Zealand flax (phormiums), pittosporum trees, the manuka or tea tree, and a young kauri forest.

Eucalyptus Grove and Conifers Collection

The Eucalyptus Grove mainly features specimens donated by Max Watson, including species rare in nature or in California plantings. The Arboretum also boasts a particularly good collection of conifers, representing nearly all known genera of conifers.

Education and Research

The Arboretum serves as an important center for education and research, providing a unique collection of “living fossils” among flowering plants that are of great interest for the study of evolution. The Elvenia J. Slosson Research Gardens support testing of new Australian ornamentals.

Additional Attractions

Apart from its vast plant collections, the Arboretum also houses an Aroma Garden with many mints, lavenders, oregano, and other drought-tolerant perennials and shrubs. The Rare Fruit Exhibit showcases unusual fruit-bearing plants, and the Laurasian Forest features various interesting North American plants.

Norrie’s Gift & Garden Shop

Visitors can also stop by Norrie’s Gift & Garden Shop to find fun gifts, books, and home decor or purchase unique plants propagated on-site from garden collections. All proceeds from admission fees and gift shop sales help to support the Arboretum.

Membership and Support

Becoming an annual Arboretum Member offers many benefits, including free admission to hundreds of gardens across the U.S. and discounts at local nurseries. For more information, please visit arboretum.ucsc.edu/support.


Whether you’re a plant enthusiast, birdwatcher, or simply love spending time in nature, the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden offers an enriching and educational experience. It’s a place where you can learn about the diverse world of plants, appreciate their beauty, and understand their vital role in our ecosystem. It’s not just a garden; it’s a living, breathing testament to the wonder and diversity of nature.

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