Conservatory of Flowers

Admire the incredible array of blooms on display, from insect-eating plants to elaborately shaped orchids, at this well-preserved Victorian-era conservatory.

The Conservatory of Flowers is a delight for botany enthusiasts. Venture inside this restored late 19th-century greenhouse and inspect the exotic plant species that grow within. Look for everything from orchids and cycads to extremely rare species, such as the corpse flower, which blooms just once every 5 to 10 years.

The parts for the conservatory were ordered in the mid-19th century by wealthy philanthropist and businessman James Lick and were erected in 1879, making the Conservatory of Flowers one of the oldest wooden conservatories in the U.S. Admire the wood and glass structure, which has been restored several times since its construction, including a recent project that saw it reopen in 2003.

Wander around the Victorian greenhouse to encounter various unusual and rarely seen plant species. As well as large and eye-catching colorful blooms, the greenhouse contains some more unusual species. Try to spot the carnivorous heliamphora, more commonly known as sun pitchers. These plants, which grow in the wild in Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil, trap insects inside a rolled leaf. Other notable species include Robert Cantley’s pitcher plant, which is found in the wild only on the Philippine island of Mindanao, and the Lycaste orchid, identifiable by its delicate, yellow petals.

Look for the gigantic corpse flower, also known as Terra the Titan. The plant emits an unpleasant stench during its rare and fleeting flowering period, which lasts for just a few days and typically happens only once every decade. The conservatory’s flower last blossomed in June 2017 with a 6-foot (2-meter) bloom.

Find the Conservatory of Flowers at the northeastern corner of Golden Gate Park. Buses stop near the conservatory. Free parking for bikes and cars is available on site, though car spaces are limited. The conservatory is open from Tuesdays through Sundays, and on major holiday Mondays such as Memorial Day, Labor Day and Independence Day. Admission fees apply. Arrive on the first Tuesday of the month for free entry.