Monday, June 14, 2021

Back to the Huntington and a look at the cycads

Prior to my 2019 visit (when these photos were taken), my last time to stroll the Huntington grounds was in 2014. Sometime during those intervening 5 years there were some pretty major changes around the garden, like this mass planting of part of their large cycad collection...

Photo below, Encephalartos ferox: "Native to southern Mozambique and the northern parts of the Natal district of South Africa. Localities are fairly close to the ocean and this species is found in shaded areas, often on sand dunes and beneath overhead brush trees. In these localities no severe cold is seen and humidity is high. The name of this species refers to the Latin word "fierce" referring to the prominent pointed lobes on the leaflets." (source)

It's a pretty magical feeling to stroll through these huge, ancient, plants.

Dioon edule (the chestnut dioon), native to Mexico.

Dioon holmgrenii, a rare species from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Plantings on both sides of the walkway made for nice viewing from above and below.

Following this pathway would take us away from the cycads, so we won't go that way quite yet.

But we will come back to those bromeliads at the end of this post.

I wasn't able to get the name of this beauty.

This oddball is Encephalartos gratus, native to Malawi and Mozambique.

Kalanchoe (mixing things up a bit)

Dioon merolae, native to Chiapas and Oaxaca, Mexico

So feathery!

x Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'  perhaps?

No ID on this one either, but I am guessing Encephalartos arenarius—it's also the last of the cycads as I wrap up this post with a look at more of the "companion" plantings.

Another lovely mass of graptoveria (I think, graptopetalum vs. graptoveria, I get confused). Whatever it is I wish it was hardy in my zone.

Check out that mounted staghorn fern!


At first glance I thought this was Agave 'Joe Hoak' but it's not, instead it's one of the gorgeous variegated Agave attenuata. 

And back to those bromeliads from earlier. I've never seen seed capsules forming on a bromeliad bloom, that is until now. Look to the right...

Cool huh?

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. It feels almost sacrilegious to say it but cycads have never appealed to me, although I recognize their importance within the world of botany and I know many people that adore them. One of my neighbors, noticing my affection for gardening, once stopped mid-jog to invite me to see his collection but, years later, I've yet to knock on his door. The Huntington's collection was greatly expanded by Loran Whitelock, whose plants were willed to the garden. As to the seed capsules on the bromeliad (Quesnelia maybe?), they're fabulous.

    1. Hey, everyone has their favs and not so favs, so I understand!

  2. I've always been fascinated by cycads ancient lineage. Surviving from the dinosaur era is a huge achievement! I think my favorite is Dioon merolae– I'd grow one of those if I had the climate for it.

    1. I suppose it's good that I don't have the climate for them either, they get big and my garden is small!

  3. The last time I went to the Huntington was 2018 and there was work being done on the expansion of the cycad collection - my plan was to go back in 2019 but the rainstorm spring closure of highway 101 derailed my plans-and then 2020 came along. So thanks for posting these, and for prompting me to revisit my photos from 2018.

  4. Loran Whitelock's cycad is beautifully integrated now, not just in the actual cycad garden but in other places as well. I'm a sucker for suckers; I think they make great companion plants for spiky succulents.

    1. I think this area needs a few more companion plants, there was still too much bare ground for my tastes.

  5. Have never been really excited about cycads either but your up close photos show what interesting and beautiful plants they are. Love their central cones. Dioone merolae looks like a sea pen. Very textural.

    1. So textural! I am surprised to learn there are so many non-cycad lovers out there.

  6. Jeanne DeBenedetti-KeyesJune 21, 2021

    So very cool! I love cycads. Exactly what Eliza Waters said. Same reason I love ginkgkos. That Dioon merolae is very interesting. Great pics, Loree. One of these days I would love to visit the Huntington!


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