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Heritage, Part 2

It was cloudy and cool when our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group assembled last Wednesday. There was a strong turnout of 43 walkers and five K-9 best friends at the Exedra at our usual start time.

Marie R also stopped by to encourage everyone to take the Piedmont Fire Department's Disaster Preparedness Survey before April 14th. Jesse R from the City was there too to take photos of us. Additionally, Jack F brought to our attention that it was National Walking Day. It is celebrated annually on the first Wednesday in April. The day was established by the American Heart Association in 2007 to encourage the public to use walking as a method of improving health and managing stress.

The previous week we had gone to see 14 of the Park Commission's 28 Piedmont Heritage Trees. The Piedmont City Council started this program in 2018 based a recommendation from the Park Commission. The intent of the program is to recognize noteworthy, distinctive trees in Piedmont city parks or open spaces, encourage residents to visit City parks and open spaces, and promote

the study of nature.

There were eight more trees we could see in Dracena Park and the lower sections of Piedmont, so it was off to Dracena to see the first three. We went down Magnolia Avenue, up Bonita Avenue, and down Blair Avenue to Dracena Avenue and the park.

It was thought the trail along the park's top would lead to a grove of six Dawn redwoods. Jack Fischrup, who is on the Park Commission, said they are actually down below near the tot lot. We went back to the top of the park where we found a coast live oak. It is native to California's central

valleys, as far north as Mendocino County, and as far south as northern Baja California in Mexico.

We went down the park's central trail looking for another Heritage Tree, the bigleaf maple, or Oregon maple. This is a large deciduous tree that is native to western North America's Pacific coast from southernmost Alaska to southern California. Some stands are also found inland in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada of central California, and a tiny population occurs in central Idaho. However, we weren't sure which tree it was. Jack F said the Park Commission is working on signs to identify the Heritage Trees. We made our way over to the tot lot and nearby lower loop.

At its end, in the distance, are the six Dawn redwoods. We took a group photo in front of them. Their botanical name is Metasequoia. It is a genus of fast-growing coniferous trees, one of three species of conifers, which means a cone-bearing seed plants, known as "redwoods." The other two are Sequoia sempervirens (coast redwood) and Sequoiadendron giganteum (giant sequoia) of

California. Dawn redwoods are native to south-central China. Although the shortest of the redwoods, but it can still grow to at least 165 feet. Since their rediscovery in 1944, they have become a popular ornamental tree in parks in a variety of countries. Three stand over Strawberry Fields, the John Lennon memorial in New York's Central Park.

We emerged on Ricardo Avenue and continued to Cambridge Way, crossed Grand Avenue, and went up Howard Avenue to see an old friend from past walks at 46 Nace Avenue. It is a Northern Catalpa believed to have been planted by residents in the early 1900s. It has dramatic leaves, flowers, seed pods, and is native to the Midwestern United States. It is deciduous, can grow to

be 15 to 30 meters tall, 12 meters wide with a trunk up to a meter in diameter.

Then it was back to Howard, down Lake Avenue, and up Linda to see the Ceanothus in the Linda Kingston Triangle. Ceanothus is a genus of about 50 to 60 species of nitrogen-fixing shrubs and small trees in the buckthorn family. Common names for members of this genus are buckbrush, California lilac, soap bush, or just ceanothus. They are native to North America with the highest diversity on the western coast. Some species are limited to the eastern United States and southeast Canada, while others extend as far south as Guatemala.

We retraced our steps back down Linda to a set of wonderful Tea Trees adjacent to the Beach Playfield. They may be the only ones of their kind in Piedmont planted as street trees. They form a dense evergreen canopy and when in bloom have dense white bottle brush like flowers. This is a genus of shrubs and small trees in the myrtle family. Most species are endemic to Australia, with the greatest diversity in the south of the continent, but some are native to other parts of the world, including New Zealand and Southeast Asia. Just below the playfield is a grove of Coast redwoods that are native to the fog belt from southwest Oregon to the central California coast.

Time was getting on, so we changed our route for a faster return to the Exedra. We passed on seeing a grove of Coast redwoods in the Wildwood Triangle and a set of Eastern redbuds on Wildwood Avenue at the entrance to Witter Field. Instead, we went up Grand Avenue, Oakland Avenue, Arbor Drive, and Jerome Avenue to another grove of Coast redwoods in the Jerome Triangle. Then it was up Oakland to El Cerrito and Magnolia Avenues back to the Exedra. It was a longer, almost four mile walk, but a very enjoyable one too.


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