Ballona Institute Publication April 2020

Santa Monica College Botanical Garden:
Environmental Studies
Conservation Biology/Applied Ecology, Field Botany
Geography, History, Philosophy, Ethics, Psychology, Economics

"Roy" Robert Jan van de Hoek
Santa Monica College
Santa Monica, California
van_de_hoek_robert_j@student.smc.edu
roy@naturespeace.org
April 1, 2020

INTRODUCTION
          Grace Heintz (1976/1981: 25) informs us that Santa Monica College (SMC) had a "little fenced garden" with trees and at least one native California Chaparral species, Rhus ovata in the college Botanic Garden, which included California native plants, but also plants from around the world. As I perused her book further, TREES OF SANTA MONICA, I discovered an important passage by Grace Heintz (1976/1981: 164) about our notable California native plant, a chaparral bush she called SUGAR BUSH (Rhus ovata being at the "Santa Monica College Botanic Garden" in the urbanized portion of Los Angeles County, California. Today, 2020, there is no official SMC Botanic Garden, and the year that the Botanic Garden was destroyed is unknown to me at this time. Sadly, Sugar Bush and many more California native plants once growing at SMC from the 1950s to 1980s, are now locally extirpated (locally extinct) on the campus. Santa Monica College, in Los Angeles County, California, has many kinds of trees. However, a great many trees have been lost. Most notably are the loss of native trees, but also many international trees from around the world have been lost. Trees are regularly removed over the decades to make way for new buildings, making the campus not environmental, nor sustainable, and thus a violation and impacting social justice and environmental justice, with regard to clean air and climate change issues, assisting the wealthy and discrediting the poor, women and minorities.
          In 1976, Grace Heintz wrote and published her baseline report on the trees of Santa Monica College. Here is the narrative of her report. Her comprehensive report was based in part from information of Robert Armacost, the first Botany Professor of Santa Monica College.
RESULTS
Excerpted 1976 Baseline Report of Santa Monica College Trees by Grace Heintz

Entering the Campus from Pico near 20th Street, the tree on the right is a Eucalyptus viminalis with buds and fruit in threes. Next is a long row of Silk Oak (Grevillea robusta). In the yard of the Music Building is a Redbud. At the southeast corner of the Art Building stands an Evergreen Pear. (Pyrus kawakamii). On the north side of the brick utility building Weeping Bottle-brush (Calistemon viminalis) and Redbud. In the yard ....

On the east side of the Science Building is a Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) with long slender feathery foliage. Nearer the the street is a pyramidal Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroides). This native of China, once thought to exist only in fossil form, was discovered in the 1940's. It is related to our Coast Redwood which is the next tree farther back on the lawn. At the southeast corner of the building are three Brisbane Box (Tristania conferta), trees that resemble the Eucalyptus but have no lid on the fruiting capsule. In the corner by the stairs is a Lily of the Valley Tree or Flowering Oak, yet it is neither a lily nor oak but a tree from Chile called Crinodendron patagua. The smaller tree just .....

On the Pearl Street side of the Administration Building are two Mysore Figs (Ficus mysorensis), members of the Mulberry family and native to India, and two London Plane Trees (Platanus acerifolia). In the yard between the Administration Building and the Liberal Arts are Evergreen Pear and Red Ironbark .....

In the parkway at the end of the driveway is a Desert Gum (Eucalyptus rudis). Another Cork Oak is seen on the lawn near the driveway. At the entrance to the Liberal Arts Building are Olives, one on each side. .......

North of the steps is a row of 'miniature' trees which are related tot he oleander. This is even called Yellow Oleander (Thevetia Peruviana ....

Now enter the court between the Bookstore and the Little Theatre. Here one comes upon three unusual Brachychiton which Mr. Hastings thought were hybrids. ......

Beside the door to the Health Offices is the Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana). Opposite is Podocarpus gracilior. .....

The shrubs along the walk on the Southside of the Faculty Cafeteria are India Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica). The trees in the clock tower area are Sycamores. Some are Western Sycamores with fruit hanging in threes or fours on a zig-zag axis; The others are London Plane Trees with larger one or two fruits. The London Plane leaves are three-lobed while the Western ones are five-lobed.

In front of the library is an Evergreen Pear and three Lemon-scented Gums. South of the clock tower is an Olive and a Chinese Elm. The shrub by the English Offices which bears red leaves and catkins is a Queensland Poplar (Homalanthus populifolius, a member of the Euphorbia Family. There is also a small Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergiana), Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrent), the tree with the leaves in flat planes. Next are two Natal Coral (Erythrina human) native to South Africa. A Ginkgo is found in the southeast corner of the court. The leaves are so like the maidenhair fern it is sometimes called Maidenhair Tree. This is a male tree. The female tree has such evil-smelling fruit it is seldom grown. (There is one in the County Arboretum). The surprising thing[s] is that the seeds are sweet and resinous, and edible. The tree can be grown by cuttings, grafting or layering so only male trees need be propagates.

At the northwest corner of the Sciences Building, are a Bailey Acacia and Chinese Juniper. In the court north of the Science Building are cedars, .....

Along the north wall is a double row of shrubs, those to the rear tall, those to the front trimmed. The shrubs at each end of this row are natives found in our local mountains, Christmas Holly (Hetermoles arbutifolia.. Those in the middle .....

In the Music Building yard the tree nearest the amphitheater is found in only two other places in the city, Pink Cedar (Acrocarpus fraxinifolius). ........

Continue around the amphitheater: ahead are Sycamores, ....

To the west are three Kafir Plums (Harpephyllum caffrum) a member of the Sumac family with edible fruit. ......


CONCLUSION
          The Bald Cypress and Dawn Redwood are extirpated from Santa Monica College, as is the closely related Giant Sequoia Redwood. Two California Native Plants, both small trees/shrubs, in the genus, Ceanothus, present in 1956, were gone by 1976, possibly due to the new library construction? And what happened to two other California native plants, also a tree-like bush in the Sumac family, known by the fascinating name of Sugarbush and Laurel Sumac, both in the same genus of Rhus, but the generic names have been changed around by some botanists.

The Redbud discussed in the first paragraph of her report of SMC trees does not provide a botanical name, however, a careful perusal of her species narratives, shows that the Redbud on campus was not our native Californian Redbud, but instead was another closely related species from eastern U. S., known by the English name as American Redbud, and with a botanical name as Cercis canadensis. So sad, that the Redbud is now gone, and very curious as to why our western Redbud, a California native plant was not used for landscaping in 1956 or 1976?

George Hastings (1875-1964) made the first list of trees of Santa Monica College in 1956. And then, virtually 20 years later in 1976, Grace Heintz made a new list of trees of Santa Monica College, essentially providing us with a second baseline. And 13 years later in 1989, Grace Heintz provided us with a third baseline of the trees of Santa Monica College. Interestingly, the City of Santa Monica dedicated a plaque to both George Hastings and Grace Heintz in Palisades Park. Since the city of Santa Monica honored Grace and George and they both lamented the loss of trees in Santa Monica, one wonders why the City and College are not replanting the same trees lost again at Santa Monica College and in other parts of the City of Santa Monica?