Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bunya- Bunya Tree

Notice of Intent to Remove Park Tree, SM City
Over the years one of my favorite places in Santa Monica has been Douglas Park. Off Wilshire Boulevard, it was only a short walk from my apartment in Yale Street. With its many fascinating trees, its ponds with exotic, iridescent Mallards, Turtles and visiting Herons and Egrets I always found something exciting to lift my spirits in this oasis. I regularly sat with a book and my camera on a large boulder by the pond. I regarded it as MY park.

Because of this I was particularly distressed to read in one of my emails from fellow Treesavers that one of the magnificent trees there was condemned to be killed. This was the Bunya- Bunya tree, Araucaria bidwilli, a native of Queensland- sometimes known as the False Monkey Puzzle.

Suddenly the City had decided that this historic tree- of a genus that goes back 250 million years to the Mesozoic and Jurassic era and can live to 1,200 years and grow to 160ft- was a danger to the public and must go.

The reason? the fruits of this tree- the cones- grow to a massive size in the Fall and can weigh up to 18lbs.

It cannot be denied that if one of these cones fell on one it would be traumatic- however it took Treesavers to point out to the City that there were other less drastic steps they could take- such as the simple solution of fencing the area off during the critical time.

Treesavers canvassed residents in the park, staging a visual protest- with Louise as an imploring Dryad trying to fend off Bill as he attempted a chain-saw massacre while Joe sat singing peacefully with his guitar...Many signatures were collected and remarkably the City for once saw sense and Treesavers were triumphant- the Bunya-Bunya was saved. Congratulations Treesavers!

Ironically, during their research Treesavers had located one of these deadly trees outside City Hall (4th image)...

The leaves of the Bunya-Bunya are reminiscent of its relation, the Monkey Puzzle. The Monkey Puzzle- Araucaria araucana, or the Chilean Pine, originating in Chile and Argentina- has also been having problems in the UK:

These eccentric trees are thought to have been introduced into the UK by the plant collector Archibald Menzies in 1795. All these years they have been regarded as both special and acceptable. However, Swansea has now decided that their sharp leaves are as dangerous to children as hypodermic syringes; so this 150 year old tree is facing the chop. Back to the Nanny State....

Following Photos: Supplied by Louise Steiner except final image from Daily Mail


Achava said...

Wow Wonderful blog. I liked it.
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jacqui said...

Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed reading it..I can understand why they feel the need to remove this tree but it is a shame even so. I think children have to learn what not to touch and what is safe and if we remove all things from harms way how will they ever learn to discern for themselves? I live in the home of the Bunya Bunya Tree on the Sunshine Coast of Qld Australia.