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Yucca's Crest

The weather was great and there was another large turnout of 47 walkers and two K-9 best friends at the Exedra last Wednesday for our Piedmont Recreation Department’s Walking on Wednesdays weekly walk.

On our walk the week before we passed a tall yucca tree on Oakland Avenue just beyond Grand Avenue that no one ever notices. There was another unusual yucca in Piedmont that is hard not to notice right now. It is in front of a home on Hampton Road at Crest Road. It will be in bloom for a short time, so this was the Wednesday for us to go see it. We could then continue on to some of the streets we don't go to very often because they are away from the center of town, and there is some elevation with walking them. But anyone not wanting to walk up them could turn back at the yucca tree. Either way, it would be a great walk.

We headed off going up Highland Avenue. We decided to have a little variation from our usual route to Wildwood Avenue by continuing down Highland to the little walked, lovely Caperton Avenue and going up it to Sheridan Avenue. We then continued on to Wildwood and Crocker Avenue. We wanted to check on the new garage that has been under construction at a previously garageless, 1906 Albert Farr design home. We have been monitoring its progress for months, and noticed a new, spiral staircase at its back. Workers appeared to be putting the finishing touches on the project, and it looks like cars could actually be in its not-to-distant future.

After the inspection, we went on to Hampton Road and past Crocker/Bear Park. We noticed a magnolia tree at its front is starting to bloom. A giant sequoia in a backyard behind the park that was struck by lightning last winter has taken on an Any Goldsworthy environmental sculpture look. As we continued on, we also noted a long row of attractive, short palms that have been planted in a car strip in front of a home.

We passed Hampton Park, where a youth soccer camp was getting started, and then it was on to our yucca tree. After a short walk, there it was in front of the home across from Crest. We were immediately impressed by this unusual blooming tree. Jim Kellogg used his plant identifier phone app to share this is a chaparral yucca, also known as our Lord's candle, Spanish bayonet,

Quixote yucca, or foothill yucca.

A Wikipedia search further revealed that this is a flowering plant native to southwest parts of North America. It has a stemless cluster of long, rigid leaves which end in sharp points of gray-green color. The leaf edges are finely saw-toothed. These trees grow extremely fast, and reach three to ten feet tall, bearing hundreds of bell-shaped white to purplish flowers about an inch in diameter. The fruit is a dry winged capsule, which splits open at maturity to release seeds. The plant usually takes over five years to reach maturity.

We thought the tree was wonderful with its plume of flowers and lizard skin-like bark. We were also pleased to see another, smaller version of it further back in the yard. The larger tree provided a fine background for the attached group photo.

Those who didn’t feel like climbing further up Hampton peeled off and returned to the center of town, and the rest of the group continued on to Inverleith Terrace and Estates Drive, and then down Estates to Selborne Drive. Along the way we enjoyed the view of Oakland, but San Francisco was hidden in haze. A number of dogs were out for walks with their human best friends, while others that were indoors warned us not to trespass.

Selborne took us to Sandringham Road and then there was a quick side trip up and back the lovely Marlborough Court cul-de-sac. In the front of one home there was a forest of beach ball sized and shaped box hedges almost blanketing the yard. Back on Sandringham, we made our way down to Hampton to La Salle Avenue and St. James Drive to see some different streets on the way back to the Community Hall parking lot. In all, it was a little over 3 ½ mile walk (See Mike's attached map) with some good climbing and lots of interesting vegetation on a beautiful, Piedmont summer morning.


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