Marvelous Magnolias at the San Francisco Botanical Garden

A vista of various magnolia trees in the Garden. Photo: David Kruse-Pickler.

Witness one of the city’s most breathtaking natural marvels as almost 100 magnolias, many rare and historic, at San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park erupt in a fragrant riot of vibrant pink and white flowers. San Francisco Botanical Garden is home to the most significant magnolia collection for conservation purposes outside China, where the majority of species are found. Its current collection includes 51 species and 33 cultivars, including many prized examples from Asia.

Magnolia campbellii Photo: James Gaither.

This unique and long-standing collection began in 1939 with Eric Walther, who planted the very first magnolia in the Garden and continued to introduce species and cultivars throughout his tenure as the first Garden Director. One of the most famous species he planted was the cup and saucer magnolia or Magnolia campbellii, the first of the species to bloom in the United States, in 1940, attracting huge crowds of excited and curious visitors who stood in long lines to see the magnificent large pink blossoms of this lovely magnolia that still stands in the Garden today. In addition to the original planted Magnolia campbellii visitors can see a dozen other large M. campbellii in bloom throughout the garden.

Magnolia denudata Photo: David Kruse-Pickler.

This not-to-be-missed floral spectacle, with trees reaching 80 feet, is at its peak from now through March. Visitors to the Garden can take advantage of a whole host of special programs to celebrate including free Magnolia Walk maps and special signage, and docent-led tours.  Magnolias by Moonlight, a special docent-led tour by the light of the full moon with the evening air heady with fragrance.

For more information, or to sign up for a special event, go to the San Francisco Botanical Garden website.