February 14, 2017
Celebrating an iconic tree: Art to be created from Baldwin eucalyptus
A stately Tasmanian blue gum, planted some time in the late 19th century, is among the most magnificent trees at the Arboretum. Sadly, the tree must is being removed this month due to age and disease.
To celebrate its long life, art will be created from the historic tree. Reprising the Arboretum’s Forces of Nature exhibition that followed the devastating 2011 windstorm, artists and artisans will receive wood and then create works to be sold at an exhibition planned for December 2017. Proceeds will go toward the planting of new trees at the Arboretum.
The history of the tree encompasses over 130 years of cultural and environmental changes. The towering specimen was located next to the historic 1885 Queen Anne Cottage, a landmark structure best known as part of the set for Fantasy Island, a hit television series of the late 1970s. Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin, the same man who built the Cottage so long ago, is also believed to have planted the tree, probably in the mid-1880s.
The tree’s demise can be traced to several factors. Recently, the drought has stressed the Arboretum’s Eucalyptus globulus trees allowing for an invasion by pests. Typically, blue gums require more moisture than they receive in Southern California. Pests such as tortoise beetles (leaf beetle family, Chrysomelidae), among others, introduced locally from Australia in the last 30 years have taken their toll. All over California, the stress of drought, beetles, termites and fungi have weakened gum trees.