On my first few drives to my new job way up in North Hollywood I passed by a large, grassy park loaded up with – by my standards – enormous trees. I vowed to check them out, and on Wednesday of last week, I took a lunchtime walk down there. It’s only a few blocks, though they are large, city blocks. It’s probably not a full 10-minute walk, so it’s not bad.
Looking it up later, I learned that it’s North Hollywood Park. The Days of Our Lives cast did a ‘green week’ thing there a few years back. That’s about all I could find on it. Here it is on Google Maps.
Large trees greeted me right away at the Tujunga/Magnolia intersection. You can see a tiny man on a bench beneath the one in the center, behind the yellow fire hydrant. Nothing approaches this size nearer my home in west LA (Culver City/Venice/Marina Del Rey/Santa Monica):
A closer pic of the guy:
There’s a nice, wide, dirt path around the triangular park that has bikers, joggers, and dog walkers on it throughout the day. I drive up this road in the morning, back home in the evening, and now I’ve stopped by at lunch, and usually I see about 15-20 people just on the stretch here. This was the emptiest I’d seen it:
I didn’t know what these were while taking this photo, but later realized they were black walnuts. Now I’m not sure, as the leaves seem to better match butternut. I’m pretty sure they’re in the Juglans genus, either way:
This one was over 3’ in diameter:
It had quite a canopy, of which this shows only about 1/3rd or so:
I would have been thrilled to make off with this missing limb, probably 2’x3’ in size:
Note the little guy hanging off the trunk at the bottom here:
This is one of those parks where the squirrels have become quite accustomed to humans:
Here’s one of the fallen leaves:
And here are more of the wonderful, twisty limbs:
The big reason I’d wanted to come to the park was what this family is looking at – Eucalyptus. In particular, lining the street I drive on each morning are a particular euc with currently tons of red blooms. I’ve seen some online eucs with such floral plumage, but never any up close, and I was keen to get over there to investigate.
You’ll note in the above shot the person on the right of the path, with the huge trunk next to them. I got sidetracked as I neared that one:
This particular species dots the landscape here, and is obvious with its coloration, distinctive peeling (different than all the other peeling eucs in the area), spiral growth, brownish limbs, and the particular leaf shape, coloration, and fullness. In particular, though, the bark is just really neat:
The leaves look almost like bright plastic:
But back to the trunk :)
I felt very small next to this thing, which is saying something. Nothing ever makes me feel tiny:
And here’s my hand for a little bit of scale:
I wonder if they grow like that in the forests of Australia, or if this has gotten so big because it’s been by itself for a long time, with lots of room to spread.
On the way to the red blooms, I passed a path with purple plums and what I think were large sycamores:
Pretty sure this is a sycamore. All of them in this park, and the ones I’ve seen in Burbank parks (Griffith) lean hard in one direction:
I spotted what at a distance looked like coast live oaks, so I went to have a look. They’re always so pretty online:
Closer up, the leaves were a match for CLO:
This is what I expect from my live oaks – lots of bendy, long branches spidering all over:
The 50gal barrel trash can gives some good scale. These are big trees.
This shot almost looks sideways, the branches are so long.
I would love to walk through a forest of these, blotting out the sky:
I don’t know about coast live oaks, but regular live oaks have curved branches like this, and that’s what made them great for ship builders. Instead of trying to bend or cut a beam, the old craftsmen would simply find a trunk or branch with the bent shape they needed and shave away the excess, kind of like this guy did with curved pieces of black locust. It also means the grain runs continuously up the piece, instead of cutting a curved shape from a wide piece and having grain lines run down the long lengths, but across the short parts of the curve, creating fragile points.
Another woodland pal on a sycamore:
Very expectant these little guys…
Back to the coast live oaks, here’s my hand for some scale:
They are apparently quite messy trees:
But that doesn’t bother the squirrels:
This guy came within about 6” of my left foot:
One last CLO shot:
Finally I made it to the blooming eucalypts. I was eager to see the red blooms up close. It’s nice to have goals :)
They won’t do this for too long, so I was glad I had the opportunity to come see them this year.
Blooms and pods:
The ground was covered in seed pods, too:
The pods start out light green:
Blooms on the ground:
Some bloom closeups:
And now some nice closeups of the pods. All Eucalyptus pods, though highly varied in shape, size, and coloration, have 2 halves. The bottom, cup-like portion attached to the stem is the calyx. The lid-like top is called the operculum, and this always pops off to allow the flowers to spill out. Eventually the blooms fall away and the remaining cup grows seeds and showers them down. I’ve had a few pods that were closed the day I brought them home, then sprang open overnight and sprinkled hundreds of tiny seeds, each about the size of a pepper flake. Each pod can hold dozens.
“Eucalyptus” comes from the Greek words “eu” (ευ), meaning “well” and “kalyptos” (καλυπτος), meaning “covered.” “Well-covered” refers to each little flower pot (calyx) that hides the flower until the lid (operculum) falls off. Okay, that’s enough learning for now :)
I’m pretty sure these are red ironbark, aka mugga, aka mugga ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon). Again, from the Greek “sider” (“iron”) and “xulon” (“wood”) which often transforms to xylo-, we get a species name that means “iron wood.” It’s hard stuff. Here’s a good shot of the pods in various stages:
If anything, the bark doesn’t seem quite right for E. sideroxylon, but it might be within the range:
It’s a weepy tree:
Finally, I do NOT envy this guy his job:
That is a lot of grass.
I loved the park, and the trees, and I plan to head back every now and then and wander among the old giants. It’s very relaxing. I felt quite good the rest of the day at work knowing the old-timers were over there, and that now we had met :)
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator