There are more than 145 species or varieties of plants in 105 known genera living on "The Rock"—a surprising collection considering all of the plants were introduced to the island, some more than a century ago, and have survived forty years of neglect and a challenging environment. Over the years, gardeners indulged themselves with their favorite plants-former Secretary to the Warden Freddie Reichel brought in rare plants, prison staff and their families leaned toward roses and fuchsias, while the inmate gardeners tended toward bulbs and brightly flowering plants. Co-author Russell Beatty wrote in Gardens of Alcatraz:
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Did You Know?
Serpentine soils are home to many rare and endangered plants because they lack nutrients and contain metals toxic to plants--conditions that have led to special adaptations in the plants that can survive on them.