Sunday, July 7, 2013

Flora of Eagle Rock: Mexican fan palm

Mexican fan palm, or Washingtonia robusta, at night -- near Loleta
The Mexican fan palm, or Washingtonia robusta, the tall, skinny palm tree that lines Hill Drive and so many other parts of Los Angeles, is reaching the end of its time in our city.

The trees, which are native to parts of California, and western Sonora and Baja California Sur in northwestern Mexico, were planted throughout Los Angeles prior to the 1932 Olympic Games, to help beautify the city and as a Depression-era unemployment relief program.

Many of the trees planted during the 30's are reaching the end of their life-spans.  The City of Los Angeles has stated that it will not be replacing the palms with new palms as they die off, but instead with other trees, such as oaks and sycamores, which offer more shade, absorb more pollution, and require less water.  Our current mayor, Eric Garcetti, came out years ago against the continued cultivation of the Mexican fan palm in the city.

In the future, the tall, skinny palms will likely be remembered as symbols of the twentieth-century glamour of Hollywood, part of a bygone era and landscape.

Mexican fan palms near Dahlia