This lush rainforest, located in the heart of San Diego Botanic Garden, contains more than 300 different plant species from both tropical and temperate rainforests around the world. A 60 foot waterfall cascades down the middle of the Garden’s ‘little jungle’ into two tranquil pools surrounded by lush ferns like the Australian tree fern (Cyathea cooperi), a towering fern capable of reaching up to 15 meters or 50 feet in height.
Directly around the base of the waterfall, many giant elephant ear (Colocasia gigantean) or giant taro plants (Alocasia macrorrhizos) flourish. This massive-leaved plant crawls through the stream connecting the ponds. The leaves of this plant can grow up to 6 feet long and 4 feet wide! Other flora found in our Rainforest Garden includes deciduous trees and shrubs, evergreen conifers, ferns and mosses, and beautiful orchids.
A canopy of trees, many planted by Ruth and Charles Larabee in the 1950s, still thrive in the Garden today including our immense Torrey pines (Pinus torreyana). Although these rare Southern California pines are not native to rainforest regions, these large conifers mimic the massive trees found in temperate rainforests. Look closely and you will find tropical philodendrons, staghorn ferns, and other epiphytes climbing on and around our Torrey pines.
Two of the largest plants in our Garden are in our Rainforest Garden. Our two bunya bunya trees (Araucaria bidwillii), also planted by the Larabees, are colossal conifers, a cone-bearing seed plant. These trees spread their seeds by producing large yet fragile cones. When the cones fall from the branches, they crash to the ground dispersing their seeds. The cones of the bunya bunya are about the size of the average human head and can weigh over 10 pounds! When in season in early fall, the crash of these cones can be heard from the historic Larabee House.
Other plants to look for while in our Rainforest Garden:
Australian Tree Fern (Cyathea cooperi)
Bunya Pine, Bunya-Bunya (Araucaria bidwillii)
Giant Elephant Ear (Colocasia gigantean)
King of Tree Philodendrons (Philodendron eichleri)
Coral Fountain, Firecracker plant (Russelia equisetiformis)
Torrey Pines (Pinus torreyana)