Groundsel Life

High on a foggy mountainside stands a shrub that grows each leaf always green, never falling off, and long enough to hide a two-toed sloth. This shrub is called a giant groundsel, and its enormous leaves wave like green flags in mountain breezes.

Part of the aster family, it creates tiny flowers opposite to its big leaves. The word aster refers to a star pattern and the fact that the small flowers are held out on rays. Butterflies love this starburst meal. High up in the thin air, they must be hungry for nectar.

Groundsel Quest

I took a walk amongst groundsels and other cloud forests plants at the San Francisco Botanical Garden's Mesoamerican Cloud Forest garden. How can the plants, used to altitudes of 6,000 to 10,000 feet, thrive at the edge of the Pacific? They find the clouds they love in the City by the Bay's rolling fog, especially in the summer.

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