Out & About—The top 10 most important trees in Balboa Park

Out & About The World

Now that I’m retired, I have more time to go exploring each day.

This past Sunday I took a walking tour of the ten most important trees in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

Number 8 on the list is one of the four Dragon trees (Dracaena draco) in the Desert Garden just across the street from the San Diego Zoo, the tallest one in the following picture.

Dragon tree (Dracaena draco)

These four were planted in 1914 for the Panama-California Exhibition of 1915-16. That tallest one is about 25 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 3½ feet. It has been named Frank Allen Jr. in honor of the man in charge of designing and installing the landscape for the 1915 Exposition.

Dragon trees are members of the asparagus family.  They are indigenous to the Canary Islands where the Guanche people used its sap in their mummification process.

Quite popular in Southern California landscapes in the 20th century, they rarely are planted today.

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9 thoughts on “Out & About—The top 10 most important trees in Balboa Park

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      My own personal belief is that it takes too long to grow them to specimen size. Time is money, so the specimen sizes are too expensive, especially considering that there are much less expensive alternatives. It’s the same way with saguaros. Everyone loves them, but it takes years to grow one to just three feet; 3-foot specimens of other cacti are much less expensive.

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  1. Leya

    I love the Dragons, and pick seeds every time I visit the Canary islands. I had one for 15 years or more, that grew to about 3-4 feet. I was so proud of it. Unfortunately one rainy summer I forgot to take it inside the glassed room and it got too much rain in the top – which made it rot up there. It did not recover. Now I have three little ones, seeds picked two years ago, and they are 12 centimeters. I doubt that I will see them grown up to what my first tree was. Maybe my children will …

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