Balboa Park in Bloom: July, 2020

If you’re like many people these days, you’re still partly sheltered-in-place, tired of streaming EVERYTHING and looking for something to do besides your essential job.

And you’d really like to make up for those travel plans you cancelled.

Why not tour the largest urban park in the United States without leaving your living room?

Balboa Park contains thousands of beautiful trees from around the world. Towering giants and quirky flora from Australia, South and Central America, South Africa, India, and China thrive in San Diego’s Mediterranean climate.

The magnificent diversity is such that different species are in bloom every month, so there are new trees to recognize year-round.

Join me in a look at Balboa Park’s flowering trees. You’ll learn a few fun facts about each and get some surprises along the way.

The Balboa Park trees in bloom, July 2020 are:

  • African Tulip
  • Floss Silk
  • Sweet Acacia
  • Crepe Myrtle
  • Gold Medallion
  • Cockspur Coral
  • Beestill
  • Mexican Palo Verde
  • Magnolia
  • Markhamia

**

African Tulip

https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/spathodea-campanulata

Location(s) in Balboa Park: Museum of Natural History; 28th and Beech; International Houses; Marston Point

  • Native of Tropical Africa.
  • Partly Deciduous (leafless)
  • Its flowers have been described as “blazing orange-red” and “sunset-colored, vaguely arachnoid blooms.”

Also known as Kibobakasi, Nandi Flame, and Flame of the Forest, the African Tulip Tree is from Tropical Africa (i.e., West and Central Africa) and “has great mystical significance to some native peoples. The flowers and wood are used in ceremonies by healers and leaders. The leaves, bark, and flowers are used by tribal healers for skin diseases and internal disorders.” (Puplava, p.78).

**

Floss Silk

https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/ceiba-speciosa

Location(s) in Balboa Park: Golden Hill Park at 26th Street; Desert Garden; Casa del Prado

  • Native of Brazil and Argentina, or the Tropical and subtropical forests of South America, depending on who you ask.
  • Deciduous
  • Aliases: Cotton Ball Tree. Chorisia speciosa.

Floss silk trees produce kapok, commercially-used to stuff mattresses and cushions, in softball-sized “cotton puffs.”

The mental health counselor in me appreciates clear, unambiguous boundaries. Like this specimen between the Desert and Rose Gardens, many floss silk trees make it clear how they feel about any attempt to climb their trunk.

**

Sweet Acacia

https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/acacia-farnesiana

Location(s) in Balboa Park: Desert Garden

  • Native of Mexico and Central America.
  • Partly Deciduous (leafless)
  • Alias: Mealy Wattle
  • Reportedly the first species of Acacia to be introduced to California from Australia.

**

Crepe Myrtle

https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/lagerstroemia-indica

Location(s) in Balboa Park: Plaza de Panama; Old Globe; Lawn Bowling Greens.

  • Native of China.
  • Deciduous (leafless)
  • Aliases: Crape Myrtle; Pride of India; Queen of Flowers.
  • Varieties: Glendora White, Near East, Seminole and Watermelon Red.

**

Gold Medallion

https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/cassia-leptophylla

Location(s) in Balboa Park: Morley Field Parking Lot; Lawn Bowling Greens.

  • Native of Brazil
  • Partly Deciduous (leafless)
  • This is a common street tree around San Diego.

**

Cockspur Coral

https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/erythrina-crista-galli

Location(s) in Balboa Park: Model Railroad Museum parking lot.

  • Native of South America.
  • Partly Deciduous (leafless).
  • Aliases: Crybaby Tree; Fireman’s Cap Tree.

**

Beestill

https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/cascabela-thevetia

Location(s) in Balboa Park: Lawn Bowling Greens; Prado Restaurant lawn.

  • Native of Mexico and Central America.
  • Evergreen.
  • Aliases: Yellow Oleander; Lucky Nut.

**

Surprise!!

The funkiest cactus ever. Is it just me or does the work of Dr. Seuss, aka Ted Geisel, suddenly make sense?

Highlights from the Inez Grant Parker Rose Garden:

And the Lily Pond is still in bloom, too.

A grove of enormous and funky Bunya-bunya trees:

Want to learn more about these magnificent beasts? Check out this fun and informative guide:

https://southparksdblogger.com/2020/02/25/balboa-park-the-bunya-bunya-trees/

Mexican Palo Verde

https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/parkinsonia-aculeata

Location(s) in Balboa Park: Desert Garden; Balboa Park Club.

  • Native of Southwestern United States and Mexico.
  • Deciduous (leafless)
  • Alias: Jerusalem Thorn.

**

Magnolia

https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/magnolia-grandiflora

Location(s) in Balboa Park: West of Balboa Drive from Quince to Grape Streets; Morley Field; Palm Canyon.

  • Native of Southeastern United States.
  • Evergreen.
  • Aliases: Southern Magnolia; Bull Bay.
  • It is widely planted throughout California and one of the most widely grown ornamental trees on Earth.
  • Magnolias and their close ancestors were around in the Cretaceous period (142 to 65 million years ago). 
  • These flowers evolved prior to butterflies and bees and were originally pollinated by beetles and other ancient insects.
  • The chemistry of this very primitive plant has been studied extensively, particularly the alkaloids.

Two of the Balboa Park’s current Magnolia trees were mentioned “by name” in a 1938 written guide of Balboa Park’s plant life.

To learn more about the octogenarian tour and its eccentric author, check out my exclusive post here: https://southparksdblogger.com/2020/03/03/balboa-park-the-san-diego-tree-man-and-his-hidden-treasure/

**

Markhamia

https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/markhamia-lutea

Location(s) in Balboa Park: Museum of Natural History; Former Hall of Champions.

  • Native of Tropical Africa.
  • Evergreen.
  • Aliases: Gold Markhamia; Yellow Bell Bean Tree.

**

Fascinating and funky trees have been a feature of Balboa Park ever since 1892, when Kate Sessions leased space along 6th Avenue for her nursery business. The panoply of flora from around the world provide an ever-changing display of color and form on a scale you won’t find anywhere else.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

**

See prior months’ Balboa Park in Bloom posts here!

https://southparksdblogger.com/2020/06/27/balboa-park-in-bloom-june-2020/

https://southparksdblogger.com/2020/05/23/balboa-park-in-bloom-may-2020/

https://southparksdblogger.com/2020/04/26/balboa-park-in-bloom-april-2020/

https://southparksdblogger.com/2020/03/28/balboa-park-in-bloom-march-2020/

https://southparksdblogger.com/2020/02/22/balboa-park-in-bloom-february-2020/

**

References

1. https://selectree.calpoly.edu/

2. Kathy Puplava and Paul Sirois, Trees and Gardens of Balboa Park, (San Diego, CA: Tecolote Publications, 2001).

3. Too many issues of California Garden magazine to list and still enjoy my day. Contact me directly for details.

5 thoughts on “Balboa Park in Bloom: July, 2020

  1. Thank you so much for posting this on NextDoor! You are a talented photographer and I also appreciated the names and original locations of all the bloomers! Many thanks!! Patricia

    Like

  2. I enjoyed your guide and pic to the UTMOST….Was lucky to have the opportunity to have gone to South America often and the Flora there,is fabulous……thanks for your tour…..

    Like

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