Tucked in a back corner of the garden, under a special wooden shelter, we have the largest outdoor collection of Vireyas in the continental United States. They have just burst into bloom. Come visit soon, and prepared to be stunned!
Vireyas are a special kind of tropical rhododendron native to islands between Asia and Australia, and they flower throughout the year in coastal California.
They love a frost-free environment. So, we house them in a special sheltered environment in The Gardens at Lake Merritt, in the back of the garden near the citrus grove and the succulent garden. We highlight locally produced hybrids, and selected plants from areas generally unavailable to botanists.
Numbering over 300 species, Vireyas can be found in the wild growing across much of SE Asia, principally in New Guinea, Borneo, Sumatra and the Philippines. Although these are tropical regions, the plants grow mostly in the cool mountainous areas, either as epiphytes in the tall trees of the cloud forest, or in open ground as shrubs. These low altitude vireos are idea for our Oakland climate. As anyone who has visited the San Francisco Botanical Garden’s Cloud Forest area knows, the Bay is most hospitable to these beautiful plants.
The beauty of the vireya has long attracted hybridizers and many excellent cultivars have been developed.