California poppies

Answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

My garden won’t grow. What advice do you have for me?

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, botanists—who study the structure of plants, the functions of their parts, the places they grow, their classifications, etc.—aren't actually the best source of this kind of information. Instead, we recommend contacting your local garden center.





I have a rare live plant—may I donate it to the Department of Botany?

Unfortunately, no. Because live specimens often carry pests that could contaminate our collections, we don't keep any live specimens in the department. You may want to try contacting the Arboretum or the Conservatory of Flowers.

If you're interested in making a monetary donation to the Department of Botany, thank you! Please contact the Academy’s Development Office at (415) 379-5405 or


I found a plant and would like to know what it is. Who should I contact?

Please contact the Naturalist Center. If they're not able to identify the plant, they'll get in touch with a botanist for you. This is the quickest way to get a response to your question.


I searched your database but didn’t find the type specimen I was looking for. Can you suggest another database to search?


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Department History

Learn more about our department's century and a half of scientific history.