Do you ever wish you knew a little more about trees?
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 nature-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, March 8 and 17, 2020 (taken with lots of social distancing):
Naked Coral Tree
These deciduous natives of Mexico were voted the official flowering tree for the City of Los Angeles in 1966. They are called “Naked” because their leaves drop in fall and they are minimally clothed for months until blooms appear. (Trees and Gardens of Balboa Park, 2001, Puplava, K. and Sirios, P., p.30; https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/erythrina-coralloides)
Locations: Desert Garden (east of Park Boulevard, just south of Zoo Place); San Diego Zoo entrance (north side of Zoo Place); Inspiration Point parking lot entrance; Morley Field parking lot at Texas Street.
You can distinguish Naked Corals from other Coral Trees by their spike-laden trunks and limbs. They gently encourage tree-climbers to take their business elsewhere.
South African Coral Tree
Yes, another coral tree. These deciduous stunners are native to Mozambique and coastal South Africa. The generic name comes from the Greek Erythros, for the color red. Corals 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).
Locations: Perimeter of the San Diego Zoo parking lot, and east of Balboa Drive north of Laurel Street.
A fun feature of Balboa Park’s most vivid trees is that they bloom before leafing out.
Notice the smooth bark on this South African Coral compared to the Naked Coral’s.
These deciduous natives of Central and South America are members of the bignonia family. Like many stunning Southern California trees, trumpet trees drop their leaves in fall and offer spectacular blooms from late winter until their leaves appear in spring.
Locations: Desert Garden, north of pedestrian bridge; Morley Field, north of tennis courts; west side of San Diego Zoo parking lot; Balboa Park Golf Course Clubhouse parking lot on Golf Course Drive; Old Globe courtyard.
Locations: Morley Field, north of tennis courts.
You can guess the country of origin. They only receive six to fifteen inches of rain a year in their native habitat and their water-filled leaves are fire resistant (https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/geijera-parviflora).
Location(s): North side of President’s Way, south of Organ Pavilion parking lot.
This deciduous native of India and China produces pink, purple, white and variegated flowers. The tree carries common names, Mountain Ebony and Purple Camel’s Foot, reflective of the trees’ dark wood and leaf shape, respectively (Trees and Gardens of Balboa Park, 2001, Puplava, K. and Sirios, P., p. 12; https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/bauhinia-variegata).
Locations: West side of Lawn Bowling Greens; West of Balboa Drive, just south of El Prado and Kate Sessions’ statue; East side of San Diego Zoo parking lot.
The Tree Man of San Diego, Chauncy Jerabek, wrote that the “tree with the beautiful fern-like, silvery blue-green foliage is Acacia Baileyana from New South Wales” (Plant Life of Balboa Park, C. Jerabek, , 1938, p.2). For an entertaining article on Jerabek, click here: (https://southparksdblogger.com/2020/03/03/balboa-park-the-san-diego-tree-man-and-his-hidden-treasure/).
Acacias have been residents of Balboa Park for decades. They are also called a Cootamundra Wattle and Golden Mimosa Tree (Trees and Gardens of Balboa Park, 2001, Puplava, K. and Sirios, P., p.1; https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/acacia-baileyana)
Locations: Perimeter of Organ Pavilion parking lot; southwest corner of Lawn Bowling Greens; behind Puppet Theater; west side of Park Boulevard just north of President’s Way.
These evergreen natives of Australia are named after their flowing, drooping branches and crimson stamens. They are also called Creek Bottlebrush (https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/callistemon-viminalis)
Location: Photographic Arts Building adjacent to Spanish Village
Another Visit with Our Old Friend
This red-eared slider, along the Lily Pond’s eastern edge, asked to be filmed with the Botanical Building as background. The ancient reptile explained that selfies are difficult to take with those webbed feet.
See another visit with our friend here, in Balboa Park in Bloom: February, 2020 (https://southparksdblogger.com/2020/02/22/balboa-park-in-bloom-february-2020/)!
Peaches are native to China, though they have since made their way through Persia and received a latin name (“persica”) to honor the journey. Growing a peach tree near one’s front door was thought to bring good luck. (https://archive.org/details/historyofgardens00chri/page/57; https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/prunus-persica-helen-borcher).
Location: International Cottages
Bonus! Flowering Plum
These can be found on Old Globe Way (https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/prunus-%C3%97-blireiana).
These evergreen members of the Protea family are native to Australia and produce some of the funkiest flowers on the planet. Their name is apt. (https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/stenocarpus-sinuatus).
Location: North and East side of Lawn Bowling greens.
Native to California, Arizona and Utah, the quality of their springtime flower displays is dependent on deep waterings in the preceding months (https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/cercis-occidentalis).
Locations: West of Balboa Drive, just north of Redwood Circle; East side of Lawn Bowling greens, just south of the Lawn Bowling Club.
Australian Tea Tree
These evergreen natives of Australia adapted to their original habitat by growing sideways and releasing their seeds en masse when damaged or burned (https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/leptospermum-laevigatum; https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/5850).
Their trunks are the inspiration for roller coaster designs…
You enjoyed this so much, why not see more?!
Click here to see Balboa Park in Bloom: February, 2020!!!(https://southparksdblogger.com/2020/02/22/balboa-park-in-bloom-february-2020/)
Balboa Park’s gorgeous and diverse flora are a year-round treasure hidden in plain sight.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned!!