Pregnant Pine

Torrey Pine cone (Pinus torreyana)

“The Torrey pinePinus torreyana, is a rare pine species in the United States. It is a critically endangered species growing only in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, coastal northern San Diego county, and on Santa Rosa Island.” — Wikipedia

Add to that short list of locations: Cesar Chavez Park. Thanks to the labors of the nonprofit DAWN activists in the mid-1980s, there is now a viable stand of Torrey Pines right here in Berkeley’s largest public park. These rare trees not only look healthy, they’re loaded with stout and heavy cones that contain the pine nuts — seeds — from which baby Torrey Pines could grow. Could, that is, if there were sunny spaces where the seeds could fall. Unfortunately, most of the ground under and around these pines is occupied by dense colonies of exotic invasive bushes (not planted by DAWN) of a kind more appropriate for freeway medians. The reproduction of Torrey Pines is one of the issues that doubtless would be discussed in the proposed study of the Native Plant Area. The study is made possible thanks to a grant from the UC Chancellor’s Office, but is held up awaiting the City of Berkeley Parks Director’s consent.

The forested grove that the DAWN workers established is not the only place where baby Torrey Pines might grow. The acres just north of the DAWN grove have virtually identical conditions. Torrey Pines might do very well there. And there are quite a few other bare, treeless slopes in the park where a majestic Torrey Pine would cast welcome shade and serve as a magnet for wildlife. One of the most common observations about the park is that it is short on trees. The current Torrey Pines, with their swollen cones, ready to burst, could go a long way toward filling that gap.

One of the Torrey Pines (Pinus torreyana) in the Native Plant Area of the park
Torrey Pine cones (Pinus torreyana)

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