March 30, 2009
Out of Our Past
Thirty years ago there was a fire in the historical area. To quote a photo caption in Lasca (Los Angeles State and County Arboretum) Leaves, May 1973, “On December 26, 1969, a fire swept by 70-mile-per-hour winds cut through the center of the Arboretum producing scenes like these in the vicinity of the Queen Anne Cottage which, fortunately, escaped with only blistered paint.” The trunks of Washingtonia robusta palms in the area still show scars from the fire.Did you know that the Arboretum once had its own TV program? “Green Leaves,” a series of 13 half-hour programs, appeared on KNBC at 11:30 on Sunday mornings in 1968-69.At about the same time, a national search was on for Camptotheca acuminata, an uncommon tree from China. The Arboretum had a specimen donated by Arcadian Willard Hagen, as well as a second tree propagated from the first. The original tree was sacrificed to medical science so that an extract, camptothecin, could be evaluated as a cancer treatment.