Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Case of mistaken identity leads to uniquely canopied street whose trees "...connect us as neighbors"; Los Angeles, CA

The Moreton Bay fig, 100 years old and still giving L.A. at Home Los Angeles Times:
A colossal but happy mistake
Moreton Bay figs were never meant for a Santa Monica street: They're the wrong tree in the wrong climate. But with help, they've thrived.
By Janet Eastman, Times Staff Writer

The trees loom five stories over the quiet residential street, their thick, interlocking branches forming a sweeping canopy over handsome, custom houses, their trunk bases as wide as SUVs and their tangled surface roots as thick as fire hoses.

So unexpected and exotic that they attract horticultural tourists, the Moreton Bay fig trees (Ficus macrophylla) of La Mesa Drive in Santa Monica are a triumph of urban adaptation. They were planted under the mistaken assumption they were magnolias. All 112 along the seven-block stretch, as well as two cousins, the rustyleaf figs (Ficus rubiginosa), are natives of a rain-forest climate. But they have found a way to thrive, under the watchful eye of homeowners.

'The funny thing is they should never have been planted here,' says Walt Warriner, Santa Monica's community forester and public landscape superintendent. 'They don't have enough room or water, so they've had to create their own microclimate.'

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