by Photo by the San Diego Botanical Garden

A flower that blooms every few years made an appearance at the San Diego Botanical Garden on Earth Day. 

The South American Desert Garden houses the Sapphire Tower plant, otherwise known as Puya Alpestris, which stands up to 4 feet with blue-green flowers with contrasting orange anthers at the flower’s center, emerging from above spiky-green foliage. The leaves of this plant form a grassy-like clump up to six feet wide and three feet tall. 

A second tower to open up by the end of the month, according to the San Diego Botanical Garden. 

Native to Chile, the Puya Alpestris tolerates wind and light frost, has low water needs, grow well in dry conditions, and requires good soil drainage. The flowers attract hummingbirds as it produces abundant nectar. 

“The electric-teal color of the flowers is really something that has to be experienced in person to fully appreciate,” garden spokesperson Ashley Grable wrote in a news release. “Each sapphire tower has dozens of blooms in a gorgeous jewel tone that is rare to see in nature. It’s quite a treat.”

The 37-acre urban oasis with four miles of trails, and the West Coast’s largest children’s garden is located on Quail Gardens Drive just south of the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course. 

The garden is split into different areas. The sapphire garden grows near the top of the South American Desert Garden, adjacent to the top of the Tropical Rainforest. 

Those interested in making a visit to the botanical garden may plan a trip using the botanic garden’s map.

The grounds are open each Wednesday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is recommended to make reservations since walk-in admissions are limited.

Adult tickets start $18 and $10 tickets are available for kids ages 3 to 17. The garden also offers memberships and special deals. 

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