Trees have played an important role in the development and history of San Luis Obispo. Local residents take pride in the rare species and sizes of trees that grow in the community due to exceptional climate. According to the City Municipal Code the “Heritage Tree” is any tree within city limits that has been designated by resolution and has a significant historic interest or is an unusual size or species. The program was created in 1971.
The first Heritage Tree was designated by resolution in 1972. Thirty-six trees have received this title to date. Twenty-seven of those are still alive today. Read the city report here.
Meg Evans, Parks Maintenance Site Manager at Exposition/Meadow Park, discovered the latest Heritage Tree, the Osage Orange, while with a city crew. It is typical after pruning trees to send portions of the wood to an outside company to save city resources, money, and for reuse. Soon after sending portions away the city was notified of the rare species.
Tree Committee members have stated that this particular tree is typically found in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Here’s a little fact for you, the Osage Orange is known for its heavy, close-grained, yellow to orange wood. It is primarily used for tool handles, fence posts, and things requiring dense wood.
The Osage Orange is expected to grow over 60 feet tall and have a life span of 50 to 150 years.
Meg Evans began the process of having the tree recognized. The City Urban Forest staff coordinated a site review by the Tree Committee which then recommended that the City Council designate it a Heritage Tree.
Upon Council approval, staff will prepare the plaque for presentation to the Council at a future meeting, as the official representative of the property.
City Geographical Information staff created a brochure in 2008 that identifies the location of each tree as well as providing information about the species.