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Featured Plant

Grevillea spp.


Scientific Name: Grevillea spp.

Common Names: Grevillea

Family: Proteaceae

Plant Type: Evergreen trees and shrubs

Environment: Thrives in sandy or rocky soil and cannot tolerate high levels of phosphorus in the soil. Fertilize infrequently with low-phosphorus fertilizer. No summer irrigation.

Bloom: Wide variation among species, some will bloom here year-round. Most have clusters of slender, curved flowers.

Uses: Low-maintenance and water-thrifty, the flowers attract bees and birds.


San Francisco Botanical Garden has over 50 types of Grevilleas: 

Australian Garden and  

West side of the North Gate (Friend Gate.) Beds 59A, 59B, 60A, 64B, 75A.



Grevillea spp.

The unusual and striking flowers of the Proteaceae family grow in the southern hemisphere countries of South America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, that once composed the huge continental mass of Gondwana. Plate tectonics over millions of years separated the various continents from each other, but the botanical family connections between them are still there, though the species differ vastly from each other. Captain Cook, the British explorer, named his first landing in Australia, “Botany Bay” for the exotic plants blooming on its shores. Sir Joseph Banks, his botanist on board, collected two dozen varieties of Grevilleas to be taken back to England. The genus was subsequently named after Charles Francis Greville, who was one of the founders of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Most Grevilleas are endemic (growing nowhere else) to Australia with more than 300 different named species. G. robusta is a 90 foot tree with orange blooms. Another, G. aquifolium, is a ground cover with oak-like leaves. All require a hot dry mediterranean climate with winter rains and excellent drainage. California gardens needing drought tolerant plants can do well with the great variety of grevilleas available.


Photos by Docent Joanne Taylor
Text by Docent Kathy McNeil
Profile by Fred Bové


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