The West Arboretum presents an assortment of native trees and shrubs of the Sierra Nevada, the Great Valley, and the California coast; whereas, the East Arboretum displays ornamental trees and shrubs from around the world.
This area adjacent to Secret Ravine (a historic salmon spawning creek) offers eighty acres of natural habitat consisting of foothill woodland forest, riparian vegetation, grasslands, and vernal pools.
Both flora and fauna benefit from California’s vernal pools. These intermittent or seasonal shallow pools are produced when surface water runoff is ponded within a depression above an impermeable hardpan soil. The water will remain until it evaporates and/or it is used up by the plants and animals that have become dependent upon this resource of water.
The garden contains an oasis of representative plants from the Sonoran, Mojave, and Great Basin deserts. Also, dispersed throughout the garden area and for your viewing pleasure are labeled rock samples that were collected by staff and students on school field trips. Be careful not to accidentally back into a cactus while getting a closure look at a rock.
The rock walk is an exhibit where you can travel back in time and examine a product from western North America’s complex geologic history from over 4 billion years ago to just a few thousand years ago.
Here you can walk among relic tools and equipment from California’s rustic and rich gold mining history.
Located in the northeast courtyard of the Natural History Museum are thriving male and female cycads (a.k.a. Sago palms). These represent some of the descendants of an extremely ancient group of plants called seed ferns. The oldest fossil cycads are about 280 to 270 million years old. The polished fossil cycad round displayed near these living cycads is only about 200 million years old.
Between the resurfacings of the walkways around Sewell Hall, you may find outline drawings of some of Earth’s living and extinct creatures. These actual-size drawings were created by zoology students under the direction of Professor Charles Dailey.