The recent Berkeley storms have caused extensive damage at the UC Botanical Gardens.
According to Andrew Doran, the garden’s director of collections, much of the damage occurred on Tuesday, when a wind advisory was issued for campus and the East Bay. According to an announcement the garden sent on Friday, they are working with horticulturalists, arborists and campus tree crews to assess damage to remaining exhibits.
Doran added that the damaged plants include some of the garden’s most treasured inclusions, such as the imposing coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, and the California buckeye, Aesculus californica, both of which are older than the garden itself.
“Some of us heard what we thought was the thump of a tree coming down,” Doran said. “I went out to have a look and the wind was so extreme that my umbrella turned inside out, hat blew off, and it was no time to find out anything.”
The redwood exists in three portions, called leaders; one of these completely broke off and one had its tops blown off, Doran said. This leader landed relatively far away and damaged another exhibit — the California buckeye – which was destroyed beyond restoration and lost in its entirety. He noted that the redwood’s path of destruction also included several plants from the Asian plant exhibit of the garden.
Doran said the garden’s buckeye bears a strong resemblance to the buckeye on campus’s Faculty Glade, which was planted in 1882. He noted that the garden’s buckeye was likely planted around the same time.
“Both of these trees were California natives, but they were grandfathered into the Asian section in the 1920s and 1940s,” Doran said. “That means they must’ve been pretty big back then, because we only have Asian plants in that section.”
Grandfathering means that when the garden was created, these native Californian plants were allowed to remain in the Asian section despite not being from Asia, according to Doran.
Doran added that 57 damaged plant species have been discovered so far, of which four are endangered or rare in the wild, almost all from the Asian section. These include a mixture of trees and shrubs and many plants, such as herbaceous perennials, will likely survive.