Ballona Institute Publication 28 March 2020

Santa Monica City College Trees in 1956:
Environmental Studies
Conservation Biology/Applied Ecology, Field Botany, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Economics

Robert Jan van de Hoek
Santa Monica College
Santa Monica, California
March 28, 2020

          Santa Monica College, in Los Angeles County, California, has many kinds of trees, but a great many trees have been lost, most notably native trees, but also many international trees from around the world. 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 1956, George Hastings wrote and published the first baseline report on the trees of Santa Monica College. Here, for the first time on the Internet is the narrative of his SMC TREES report, excerpted from his book, Trees of Santa Monica, printed in Denmark by S. L. Mollers Bogtrykkeri, Copenhagen, then shipped to George Hastings in Santa Monica. I have no record of how many books were printed, but my research I have located about 10 copies at this time, so likely a minimum of 100 copies was printed, many of them now lost, no doubt, making this book fairly rare at this time.
Excerpted 1956 Report on Trees of Santa Monica City College by George Hastings

Page 18:
On the campus of Santa Monica City College are found some fifty species of trees if we include a number that are usually shrubs, like the Mountain Lilacs, or which are kept trimmed back to shrub form, as the Orange Pittosporum.

Entering at Pearl Street at the end of the Administration Building, inside a small wall two Large-leaf Figs (Ficus mysorensis) and close to the building some London Planes. In the corner of 18th Court are Laurel-leaf Sumacs, usually shrubs but at times small trees. To the west, near the walk, several Silk Oaks and Chinese Elms. Further in on the lawn Brazilian Peppers and nearer the Main Building at each end a Cork Oak and a Magnolia, and a row of small Fig or Rubber Trees (Ficus retusa), and close to the Main Building at the southwest corner a group of slender Lemon-scented Gums. On Pearl Street further west are several large Blue Gums part of a row that stood along the street before the college was built.

At the west end of of the Main Building are more Ficus Trees, two Olives and a group of shrubby Sumacs, the Lemonadeberry, and at the end of the walk to the street a group of Japanese Pittosporum. Near the south-west corner of the Library is an interesting group of Sequoias, the Big Tree, Coast Redwood, and Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia). Along the side of the Library are shrubby Mountain Lilacs, Ceanothus cyaneus and Ceanothus thyrsiflorus. Near the Library is a New Zealand Christmas Tree. At the end of the building are Catalina Cherries and toward the Student Activities Building a small group of Sweet Gums and a New Zealand Christmas Tree.

Page 19:
Going back to the passageway between the Administration Building and the Main Building there is against the west end of the Main Building an ornamental Evergreen Pear. Close to the end of the Science Building is a Maidenhair Tree or Ginkgo. Near the Main Building a Jacaranda, beyond this an Olive and further on a group of Lemon-scented Gums. Near the walk to the Library are Chinese Elms and on the lawn another Olive. On the lawn to the north a number of London Planes, frequently but inaccurately called Oriental Sycamores. Close to the building more Lemon-scented Gums and another Evergreen Pear. And just to the south of the Student Activities Building several Myoporums of two species. Where the walk from the east enters the Student Activities Building is a Fern Pine (Podocarpus). Along both sides of the walk from the Administration Building to Pico Boulevard are Carob Trees. In the court between the Student Activities Building and the Little Theater is a Coral Tree (Erythrina caffra) at the left and across the walk from it a Senegal Date Palm. Prominent on the west side is a group of Bottle Trees (Brachychiton), the species not certain but possibly hybrids. Close to the wall of the Activities Building a small tree of Sparmannia. On the west side of the fence is a row of Carolina Cherries; on the east side of the Little Theater are Catalina Cherries, and the north west corner of the Theater some Portuguese Laurels, a third species of Cherry grown for the sake of the glossy green foliage, Manna Gum and others. Toward the center of the lawn are two Aleppo Pines. Going back to the south end of the Science Building on the east side is a Lily-of-the-Valley Tree close to the steps and beyond several Brisbane Box Trees, close relatives of and resembling Eucalyptus and toward the north end a southern Bald Cypress. At the west side of the Art Building are Catalina Cherries and along the north side California Holly or Toyon and the closely related Chinese Toyon. In the court between the Art Buildings is a Brazilian Pepper on the west and a Chinese Elm on the east. Several Tree Ferns to one side, several Sparmannias close to one of the walls and a small Japanese Maple. To the east of the Art and Music Buildings are Jacarandas. Close to the Music Building are Orange Pittosporums which grow to good sized trees unless kept trimmed back. near the north-east corner grows the uncommon Snail Seed, Cocculus. Across the lawn are a number of Chinese Elms, a Jacaranda, a Deodar, Brazilian Peppers and at each corner of the lawn near Pico are groups of Eucalyptus including Manna Gum and Lemon-scented Gum.

Page 20:
To the west of 18th Street where it enters the campus is a group of Acacias, - closet to Pico Boulevard is the Knife Acacia with very small leaves, then the Bailey Acacia with finely divided, bluish leaves, some Silver Wattles with larger finely divided leaves, a Golden Wattle with long, somewhat twisted, narrow leaves, The Sidney Golden Wattle and the Broad-leaf Acacia, these two have the flowers in slender spikes and simple leaves, and the Blackwood Acacia with the cream-colored flowers in little round balls. Near these are Canary Island Pines with long slender needles in bundles of three and Torrey Pines with stiff needles in bundles of fives. Close to the road by the parking area is, another Acacia, the Water Wattle, nearly always with flower clusters and where the road forks groups of Hibiscus.

          George Hastings (1875-1964) made the first baseline report of the trees of Santa Monica City College in 1956. In that report, he did not mention the famous Moreton Bay Fig Tree, excellent proof that this tree had not yet been planted on campus. I did not notice that the court yard of the Clock Tower was mentioned, whereas in 1976 we see that Grace Heintz mentions the Clock Tower area several times, even including a photographs of the Clock Tower area. However, in 1976, Grace Heintz completed a survey of Santa Monica College (SMC) and wrote a new report of the trees of SMC, essentially providing us with a second baseline, in which the Moreton Bay Fig is now listed as growing on the campus. Now we can bracket the age of the Moreton Bay Fig as between 44 and 64 years of age (planted between 1956 and 1976, with my estimate being sometime in the early to mid-1960s, making this unique fig tree approximately 50 years of age).

All the California native trees/bushes discussed by George Hastings in 1956 have been lost, including several Lemonande Berry, at least 2, possibly more Laurel Sumac, at least one California Holly and several Catalina Cherry. trees. None of these 4 California native plant species are listed at SMC by Grace Heintz in her writings in 1976, 1981, 1989,, nor seen by me in 2018-2020 during my recent surveys of the SMC campus.
          In 1989, 13 years later, Grace Heintz provided us with a third baseline report of the trees of Santa Monica College (SMC). In that Supplement, SMC is mentioned for some new trees, and clearing up the identification one of the two Brachychiton trees, as well as the earlier misidentification of a Coral Tree at the south side of the courtyard of the Clock Tower. Both George Hastings and Grace Heintz have passed now, and I appear to have been given to the torch, so as to continue educating us about the trees of Santa Monica College and the City of Santa Monica. 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 is not replanting the same trees lost at Santa Monica College and in other parts of the City of Santa Monica?