Ballona Institute Publication 20 March 2020

Santa Monica College Trees in 1976: 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
March 20, 2020

          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.
Excerpted 1976 Baseline Report of Santa Monica College Trees by Grace Heintz

Page 25
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 (Cal[l]istemon viminalis) and Redbud. In the yard to the west is a Primrose Tree (Lagunaria patersonii) and Ginkgo biloba.. The first trees of those behind the bungalows is a Goldenrain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculate) the only found in the city. Return to the parking area and near the walk to the south is a small tree whose leaves hang down like a pony's mane, this is Australian Willow (Geijera parviflora). To the south of the utility building is a Carrotwood (,I>Cupaniopsis anacardioides.) which looks somewhat like Carob. [N]ext is a Liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua.). In the little fence garden tot he south is a young Blackwood Acacia, to the rear is a King Palm. Near the center is a MacNab Cypress (Cupressus macnabiana), rare even in its native habitat, Oregon and Northern California, and the only one in the city. To the southeast is a sugar Bush (Rhus ovate) a native of our Santa Monica Mountains.

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 glyptostroboides). 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 .....

Page 26
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 to the oleander. This is even called Yellow Oleander (Thevetia Peruviana ....

Page 27
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 decurrens), the tree with the leaves in flat planes. Next are two Natal Coral (Erythrina humeana) 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 propagated.

Page 28
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, firs Cedrus atlantica, then Cedrus libani, the Cedar of Lebanon, and then .....

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 (Heteromeles arbutifolia.) Those in the middle are clipped Strawberry Trees, (Arbutus undo). To the east is a[n] Eugenia.

In the Music Building yard the tree nearest the amphitheater is found in only two other places in the city, Pink Cedar (Acrocarpus fraxinifolius) with a very, very large total leaf structure, which in casual viewing seems to have 5 to 7 pairs of drooping, dark green leaflets. ........

Continue around the amphitheater: ahead are Sycamores, while on the far site is a group of undetermined Eucalyptus with one Eucalyptus sideroxylon at the far end. At the rear of the Cosmetology Building are Pines. Those with the very long needles in threes are Canary Island Pine. Those with the stiff needles in groups of five are Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana), quite rare in the city. ....

Page 29
To the west are three Kafir Plums (Harpephyllum caffrum) a member of the Sumac family with edible fruit. The leaves superficially resemble those of the Brazilian Pepper. Beyond is a row of trees with oddly angled leaves that grow in clusters at the end of the branches. These are Spiked Cabbage Trees (Cussonia spicata members of the Aralia Family. To the right is a smaller tree belonging to the Aralia Family, also. Its patterns of growth is much the same, but the leaves are divided into a number of segments that change in size and shape as the plant matures. This is the Threadleaf False Aralia (Dizygotheca elegantissima.). TO the west of the next building are Eucalyptus, the first is Silver Dollar Gum (E. polyanthemos). The common name is frequently misleading for many times the leaves are just not round. The following two are E. cinerea whose stems seem to pierce the leaves. The fourth tree is a Red Gum (E. camaldulensis), the second most common Eucalyptus found in the city. Most common are the Blue Gums. ......

          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?