Pioneer Camellia Grove – Established as a living memorial to the early builders of California in recognition of their courage determination & contribution toward progress in the community & our golden state. Dedicated June 7, 1953 by the Sacramento County Parlors of the Native Sons & Daughters of the Golden West.
— Camellia Grove Dedication Plaque
Sacramento has a long-running attachment to the camellia flower, and since early statehood this flower has been a trademark of the city. In fact, the discovery of gold in Coloma in 1848 was indirectly responsible for the camellia arriving in northern California. After their introduction to California in the mid-nineteenth century, landscaping with camellias became a Sacramento tradition. The Camellia Grove pays tribute to the pioneers who shaped the state. Camellias, like the pioneers they honor, are not native to California. Originally from Southeast Asia, they made their debut in Sacramento during the Gold Rush. James Lloyd Lafayette Franklin Warren, a local seed store owner, brought the first seeds from Boston in 1852. Little did he know that Sacramento would become the “Camellia City of the World” ─ a title bestowed upon it in the 1920s.
Since then, Sacramento has hosted special events every spring during the peak of camellia season. In the past, these events were festivals lasting several and drawing visitors from around the world. Volunteers gave out flowers at the airport, convalescent homes, and other locations throughout the city.
The Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West dedicated Capitol Park’s Camellia Grove to the memory of their pioneer ancestors in 1953. More than 800 different varieties of camellia can be found throughout the park, with blossoms in white, deep red, and every shade in between. Some are even striped and speckled in a combination of colors. Many of the grove’s 186 camellias are heirloom varieties and no longer available commercially. The grove is especially beautiful from fall to spring when the dark, leathery leaves complement the colorful blossoms.