Do you ever wish you knew a little about the trees of Balboa Park?
Not all the fancy technical stuff.
Just enough so you can lord over your friends that you’re smarter than them… and a better, more tree-conscious, person.
The easiest way is to learn to recognize species while they’re flowering. And grab a couple fun facts about each.
Sooooo… here are the Balboa Park trees in bloom February 20-26, 2020:
Native to Taiwan. Their name is a little misleading because they aren’t evergreen and their fruit isn’t edible (Trees and Gardens of Balboa Park, 2001, Puplava, K. and Sirios, P., p.71).
They line the perimeter of Plaza de Panama, the Park’s central square, and hang out on El Prado between Casa del Prado and the Natural History Museum.
Native to China, these are also called “Saucer Magnolias” (https://www.thespruce.com/magnolia-trees-saucer-magnolias-2132135).
They are on the northwest corner of Balboa Drive and Quince Street (near the Marston House).
You can intuit their country of origin… they produce “perfect flowers”, which contain both male and female parts (Trees and Gardens of Balboa Park, 2001, Puplava, K. and Sirios, P., p.29; https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/erythrina-caffra).
They can be found around the San Diego Zoo parking lot, and east of Balboa Drive north of Laurel Street.
Yup. Another coral tree. There are at least 6 species in the Park.
Native to Brazil (Trees and Gardens of Balboa Park, 2001, Puplava, K. and Sirios, P., p.32).
They can be found in the northwest corner of Balboa Park near the Marston House.
Native to Australia, these evergreens rarely live more than 25 years. (Trees and Gardens of Balboa Park, 2001, Puplava, K. and Sirios, P., p.1).
This wonderful, spiky-haired loner hangs out at the lawn bowling greens’ southwest corner on El Prado.
And you’ll find a beautiful grove at the entrance to the Balboa Park Club (2144 Pan American Road West).
Treasure Hunt: Find these near the Organ Pavilion…
Native to India and China, its flowers are cooked and pickled, and significant in the Buddhist religion. It is also called a Mountain Ebony, Butterfly Tree, and Purple Camel’s Foot. (Trees and Gardens of Balboa Park, 2001, Puplava, K. and Sirios, P., p.12).
A beautiful row can be found lining the lawn bowling greens’ western edge.
Treasure Hunt: Find these behind the Starlight Bowl:
“[L]ong used by South America’s indigenous people for various medicinal purposes from allergies to internal disorders, the Brazilians call it the ‘Divine Tree.'” (Trees and Gardens of Balboa Park, 2001, Puplava, K. and Sirios, P., p.80).
They are prominent in Balboa Park’s Desert Garden, southeast of the intersection of Park Boulevard and Zoo Drive.
Here’s another Pink Trumpet between The Old Globe and The California Tower.
And another at the entrance to the Balboa Park Golf Course (Golf Course Drive in Golden Hill).
Treasure Hunt: Find this loner in the southwestern corner of the Park. Off 6th Avenue.
Native to Central and South America, their latin surname means “beautiful male”, referring to the stunning flowers’ many stamens. The blooms give off a pleasing aroma (https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/calliandra-haematocephala).
This lovely tree can be found behind the model railroad museum.
This one hangs out at the Municipal Pool (Morley Field).
And now for something completely different…
A Red-Eared Slider enjoying some sun time on the east side of the Lily Pond.
Strawberry Snowball Tree
The bark of this gorgeous Madagascar native was traditionally used to make clothing.
This stunning tree can be found at the northwest corner of the Federal Building (soon to be Comic-Con Museum).
Native of Western Australia, it produces fragrant leaves and interesting seed pods.
This tree stands between Founder’s Plaza and the lawn bowling greens, north of El Prado.
Not a tree but my wife loves these plants so consider this a bonus. This laid-back bloomer is hanging out in front of the old administration building. North side of El Prado just east of the Cabrillo Bridge.
Treasure Hunt: Air and Space Museum’s volunteer entrance. Good luck finding it…
And if you’re ever asked who introduced any flora of any kind to Southern California, just say “Miss Kate Sessions” with authority in your voice and get on with your day.
Balboa Park’s panoply of splendid and gorgeous trees are a year-round gift for visitors. And they’re right there waiting for you, San Diego! I hope you take some time to appreciate them in person.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned!!