Game of Thorns - Exhibition

Game of Thorns Cover Graphic


Game of Thorns: The Art & Armaments of Botanical Warfare

November 12, 2017 through Fall 2018

Game of Thorns, an outdoor exhibition at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, focuses on the art and armaments of botanical warfare. Over millions of years, endless duels between California native plants and their predators have given rise to the incredible thorns we see today. The exhibition will feature these living fortresses and will showcase their weaponry through large-scale macro and microscope photography, gigantic sculptures, immersive exhibits and more. 

When it comes to war, plants don’t retreat. Rooted to the ground like castles of old, plants have evolved an array of armaments to defend against their mortal enemies. This floral arms race has produced a stockpile of protrusions, from spines as sharp as samurai swords to insidious barbs that resemble  whaling harpoons. Perhaps all of us have experienced the unexpected wrath of a plant’s thorns, spines, needles, prickles or barbs. With anatomical names as diverse as the pained noises they can cause, plants have independently evolved these protrusions many times over. Barbed, hooked, serrated and envenomed, microscopic or massive, warningly poised in vivid color or stealthily hidden, the arsenal and qualities of botanical weapons are limitless.

Indeed, the botanical battlefield is a Game of Thorns.


Container Garden open to the public daily, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.  Admission to the exhibition is included with standard admission or membership.

Special opening reception for RSABG members on Saturday, November 11. RSVP requested: please RSVP to the Advancement Office, (909) 625-8676 ext. 221, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Exhibition Sponsors: 

Linda and Paul Des Marais

Gagnier Margossian LLP

Historic Inns of Twentynine Palms: 29 Palms Inn | Campbell House

Randall and Janell Lewis at Casa Rosa

Northern Trust

Yvonne Wilson







Kumeyaay Ethnobotany - Author Talk

Kumeyaay Ethnobotany front

Saturday, January 27, 3 pm -5 pm

Please join us for a pleasant, winter afternoon talk by Kumeyaay Ethnobotany author, Michael Wilkin-Robertson!

Shared Heritage of the Californias

For thousands of years, the Kumeyaay people of northern Baja California and
southern California made their homes in the diverse landscapes of the region,
interacting with native plants and continuously refining their botanical
knowledge. Today, many Kumeyaay Indians in the far-flung ranches of Baja
California carry on the traditional knowledge and skills for transforming native
plants into food, medicine, arts, tools, regalia, construction materials, and
ceremonial items.

Kumeyaay Ethnobotany explores the remarkable interdependence between
native peoples and native plants of the Californias through in-depth
descriptions of 47 native plants and their uses, lively narratives, and hundreds
of vivid photographs. It connects the archaeological and historical record with
living cultures and native plant specialists who share their ever-relevant
wisdom for future generations.

Location: East Classroom, with a small, following reception on the Garden Gift Shop porch.

$5.00 Public, $5.00 RSABG Members

Registration is required. To register please visit our website or the front kiosk.

If you need special accommodations, please contact Community Education Coordinator, Diana Nightingale at least three days prior to the talk at (909)-625-8767 ext. 251 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Milford Zornes: The Claremont Years

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November 10 - February 22

10 am - 4 pm daily

Garden Art Gallery 



The Claremont Museum of Art presents paintings by Milford Zornes, a leader of the Califronia watercolor movement, with a focus on three decades when the artist lived and worked in Claremont. 


Curated by the Claremont Museum of Art | Sponsored by Curtis Real Estate





Library Exhibition: Wildflowers of the Western Deserts: The Photographs of Lustin E. Martindale

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Lustin E. Martindale (1886-1950) grew up in Indiana and settled in the Pasadena area of California in 1907. Martindale was a naturalist, photographer, and educator of art within the California State school system. He was known for his hand-tinted glass slides of California flora, which he sold commercially. He published his glass slides in book format in his photograph sales catalogs, as with The Wild Flowers of Southern California (1926), which includes seventy-one pages of his photographs.  Likewise, the Wildflowers of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts (1927), which is part of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Library Special Collections and featured in this exhibit, lists item numbers of slides and photographs available for purchase. Martindale’s photographs have been published in numerous journal publications such as American Art Annual, Western Nature Science Series, as well as in An Illustrated Manual of California Shrubs (1939) by Howard E. McMinns.

The Martindale hand-tinted photograph prints on display in this exhibit are part of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Library Special Collections. The RSA Library Special Collections holds one-hundred and one of Martindale’s photograph prints as well as well over one-hundred of his hand-tinted glass slides of plants and flowers.

The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Herbarium holds six plant specimens that Martindale collected between 1880 and 1928. Two of the Martindale specimens within the RSA Herbarium are types from the Liliaceae family (Lily): Fritillaria ojaiensis, photographs of which are featured here.

Wildflowers of Western Deserts; The Photographs of Lustin E. Martindale is curated by Brandy Watts, MFA, MLIS.

The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Library is open Monday through Friday 9am-5pm.