The Presidio's wildflowers are remnants of what was once an extensive coastal ecosystem found throughout San Francisco.
For thousands of years, a wide variety of native plants were harvested for ceremony, medicine and sustenance by indigenous populations. These Native Californians were very careful in managing their plant resources.
The first European explorers were first awe-struck by the incredible beauty; then they began to write in detail about what they saw.
Sailing along the California coastline as the setting sun reflected off shiny petals, Spanish mariners saw California poppies upon the coastal ranges, exclaiming, "This is the land of fire," and called them "copa de oro" or "cup of gold."
Early botanists began compiling 'floras' or catalogues of the new world plants. Adelbert von Chamisso and Johann Eschscholtz arrived at the Presidio in 1816. They immediately began documenting and naming the plants right at their feet.
Some of our plants are threatened non-native plants that crowd them out. Check out some of these non-natives that nonetheless have a colorful floral display: "The Outsiders"
Did You Know?
In 1872, there was a proposal in Congress for the Presidio to become a San Francisco city park. The Army reported that 800 acres were required for national defense, provided barracks be relocated. Despite Congressman Cole's attempts, however, the Presidio reservation remained intact.