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An Artist Takes a Nature Walk

Through our virtual programming series, Nature in your Neighborhood, we challenged volunteers to go out into their neighborhoods or backyards to see what plants sparked their interest. Whether plants are native or non native, we can all appreciate a connection to nature and the curiosity that it can spark!


By: Kendal May


Just got back from my first volunteer adventure to find my neighborhood plants. The first plant to appear on my journey was the saucer Magnolia. However, it’s scientific name is Magnolia X Soulangeana. This plant is a deciduous hybrid of the Magnolia, is an ornamental plant, and it’s parents originate from China. It was initially bred in Paris, France. The flowers on this shrub or tree typically bloom in early spring. They do seem to attract many types of birds. I’ve included a quick drawing based on the photos I took of each plant. I hope you enjoy!


The second plant that I chose to include is called Ceanothus Thyrsiflorus. However it’s common name is the blueblossom or the California lilac. This plant is an evergreen shrub that is endemic to California, which means it is only found here and is native. The blueblossom is a food source for many types of butterflies and moths. It also attracts many pollinators and birds with it’s color and seeds. Because of it’s attractive appearance to birds it is commonly used in bird or butterfly gardens.


Finally, we have the plant, Strelitzia Reginae. This plant, also known as bird of paradise flowers, originates from South Africa. As an ornamental plant, it is popularly found in California and Florida because of their warm climates. Peak bloom for this plant is seen during winter and early spring. This plant is actually right outside my front door, and is well taken care of by my landlord. I’ve noticed hummingbirds are specifically attracted to this plant. A fun fact is that the Strelitzia Reginae was chosen to be the Official Flower of the City of Los Angeles.



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Sutro Stewards is a project of the San Francisco Parks Alliance, a 501(c)3 California nonprofit public benefit corporation.