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Heritage Trees Walk

There was a chance of a shower last Wednesday morning, but it was low and there was a good turnout of 33 walkers and two K-9 best friends at the Exedra for our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays weekly walk.

The Piedmont Heritage Tree Program was created in 2018 by the City Council, acting upon a recommendation from the Park Commission. It has designated 28 Piedmont trees as "Heritage Trees." 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.

Last spring we submitted the mulberry trees in front of the Piedmont Play School at Hampton Park as a Heritage Tree, and with the help of the tots who also proposed it, we won. We have proposed another candidate this year and the winners will be announced before Arbor Day, April 26th. For this morning, we thought we would to go see some past winners and our mulberry

trees at Hampton Park.

Getting started was easy. We just looked up at the trees that surround the Exedra Plaza. This grove of ten Highland poplars are Heritage Trees. They are a hybrid of two North American plain poplars that are native to the northern hemisphere. We then made our way over to City Hall to see a group of Evergreen dogwoods at its entrance. These trees are native to Bhutan, China, on the Himalayas' eastern edge. However, some walkers were skeptical.

These trees don't look like the dogwoods we know. Then it was down Vista Avenue, with a few short-lived rain drops, past Havens students having loud fun on their playground. We took a left on Hillside and went to the front of the Recreation Center. The palm tree there was a Rec staff and Hillside Pre-school students' 2023 winner too. These trees are also known as Canary Island date palms or pineapple palms. It is native to the Canary Islands off the coast of Northwestern Africa. Jim K said this is a popular palm species because its trunk doesn't grow large and the canopy of palms at its top have a uniform shape.

We turned up Magnolia Avenue, past the high school, to the tot lot behind the Exedra. We found a Coast live oak grouping, and continuing on, more near the path to Bushy Dell Creek. A large, twisting Coast live oak that has been used for family photos is a Heritage Tree too. These oaks are native to California's central valleys, as far north as Mendocino County, and as far south as northern Baja California in Mexico.

In front of the Community Hall, was a Yulan magnolia. It is native to central and eastern China, is deciduous, and produces stunning white flowers in the spring. They were already gone, but it provided a good background for a group photo.

Other Heritage Trees are near this magnolia. Japanese maples are native to Japan, Korea, China, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia and a group of Akebono cherries are from Japan. Just above them, near the Community Hall parking lot, is the Coast Redwood that serves as Piedmont's lighted holiday tree. It's native to the fog belt from southwest Oregon to the central

California coast.

We continued up the short hill to Guilford Road, and a path took us to Hazel Lane. At Hazel and Requa Road, we regrouped and noted another large Coast redwood Heritage Tree. This specific tree once marked the entrance to the Miss Ransom and Miss Bridges School for Girls, Piedmont's first school, which opened in 1913.

We went up Requa, down Highland, and up Wildwood Avenue. This two block section of Wildwood was originally lined with American elms, but they died from Dutch elm disease. Their loss gave the City the opportunity to try a new tree species, Autumn Blaze maples. The ones on Wildwood are Heritage Trees. This is a naturally occurring hybrid maple that is the result of a cross between red and silver maples. Wild Autumn Blaze maples are found in eastern North America where the parent species overlap.

Just off Wildwood is the Hall Fenway and a grove of European white birches that are native to Europe and parts of Asia. We went on to Crocker Avenue and Crocker Park looking a Copper beech. It is deep purple in the spring, and turns to a coppery hue in the autumn. They are native to Central and Southern Europe. However, not all trees in the park had their leaves, and we

weren't sure which one was the Heritage Tree.

We exited the park on Hampton Road and went up it to Hampton Park and our mulberry trees in front of the Piedmont Play School. These trees are known as white mulberry, common mulberry and silkworm mulberry. The species is native to China and India and is widely cultivated elsewhere including in the United States, Mexico, Australia, Kyrgyzstan, Argentina, Turkey, and

Iran. Mulberry trees were brought to Piedmont In the early 1880s as silk worm food for the Ladies' Silk Culture Society's unsuccessful "Silk Farm," which was on what is now Littlewood Drive.

Time had run out on us and we needed to return to the Exedra via LaSalle Avenue and St. James Drive. Two Southern magnolias Heritage Trees, one in the Lexford and Hampton Triangle and the other just beyond it at Hampton at Huntleigh Road would have to wait for another Wednesday morning.


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