As part of "The greatest trees of Los Angeles" project, The Times asked readers to tell us about the trees they love in L.A. What flooded our inbox were not simply specimen names and locations but personal stories. Trees, it turns out, can spark memories, mark time and give us a comforting place to return to. Here are some readers' favorites.
The tree where we waited for Mom
"I grew up in West L.A. and attended school at Clover Avenue Elementary. Across the avenue from the school, standing between a church and its nursery school, there's an ancient fig tree. While I didn't attend the church, in the 1970s and ’80s, the tree offered a secondary pickup spot as I awaited my mother's station wagon. I have quite a few memories of playing around its roots and marveling at its girth. I delight in knowing it's still there."
— Roy Hembree, Sylmar
Read more: The greatest trees of Los Angeles
The tree we can no longer hug
"One half block south of Melrose Avenue, on Detroit Street, in front of the house my three brothers and I grew up in, there grows a Ficus religiosa. I believe there are only two or three others growing on walkways in the city. When my brothers and I were young, any one of us could hug the tree and touch our hands together. Today, it would take a group of four to six people to do the same thing. The older photo (below) was taken in the late 1960s. The second in 2015. The tree is even more massive today. It is a one of a kind."
— Bruce Gurnick
The city's oldest palm tree
"The oldest palm tree in L.A. is right outside the Coliseum/SoFi/California Science Center. My daughter lives nearby in an apartment while she attends college. It took a couple of CicLAvias and finally the Endeavour booster rocket trip up Figueroa to find it, but I've now taken pictures. The fact that it's been moved and still thrives makes my day."
— Angel Zobel-Rodriguez, San Fernando
The tree that welcomes me to L.A.
"We visit Santa Monica a few times a year. We have often stayed at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel. The Moreton Bay fig tree is located within the circular driveway outside the main door of the hotel. It is always there to greet you. It has grown considerably over the decade since we first began to see it. Its branches are spread wide open, resembling arms welcoming you to the iconic hotel. We have many happy memories of the tree for we have often gathered as a family in Santa Monica, and we have admired the beauty of the majestic tree."
— Blanca Uzeta O'Leary, Aspen, Colo.
The tree that a high school community saved
"This is a champion tree located at University High School Charter in the middle of Los Angeles. It is the same species as the [Árbol del Tule] in Oaxaca. It's located yards from a high school football field. I went to high school in the ’90s and little did I know that the community organized to protect the Kuruvungna Springs [where the tree is located] and save it from demolition. I lived in Hawthorne and commuted 24 miles back and forth between my home and my high school and was proud to return as an alumna and nominate the tree for further protections of the sacred springs. It's a gorgeous tree and is probably over 200 years old."
— Michelle Matthews, Monrovia
The tree with vibrant coral blooms
"At 6601 West 82nd Street, there is the biggest naked coral tree I have ever seen. It's stunning. Instead of spreading wide, which many do, this tree is both wide and about 50 feet high. In the summer, it's full of dense green leaves creating beautiful shade, and as the name implies, it is naked in the winter — except for the gorgeous coral colored blooms. This tree is a gem and I can tell the owners of the home have taken good care of it, keeping it pruned so it has grown so beautifully. When I walk in the neighborhood I always make a point to go by this lovely tree."
— Dana M.
The pair of trees that neighbors fought for
"There are a couple of trees I love in my neighborhood. They are oak trees and look to be pretty old. One is on Kanan Road behind a Starbucks. Starbucks wanted to build a drive-through lane and needed to remove the oak tree behind the store. The whole neighborhood was upset that the tree was going to be cut down and protested to the city council. The tree was saved and I drive by it and smile because it’s beautiful and protected. There’s another oak on Agoura Road at Kanan Road. It’s also been speculated to be cut down because it protrudes into the street. Actually, the street was laid around the tree. Again, the neighbors have complained that the tree is more important than the road and if there’s a traffic problem, the road should be changed to protect the tree. Its fate is still unknown. Both trees appear to be very old and hopefully preserved for posterity, as Agoura Hills is known for its oak trees and open space."
— Carol Nelson, Agoura Hills
The trees that cause headaches
"It’s a love/hate relationship with a pair of [giant eucalyptus] in the parkway of Lorenzo Place. The one closer to the corner with Glenbarr is the fuller head, but both are 70- to 80-foot specimens. For anyone who lives alongside a giant eucalyptus, the hatred is owed to the constant falling pods, twigs, leaves and bark. It’s when the winds sweep across Rancho Park Golf Course that we pay for that green pastoral view. Our garden becomes a scene of neglect from the debris that is strewn about, clinging to shrubs and our trees. Then there is the tension that goes with their reputation for falling over ('widow makers') — if either one of these giants falls to the east, our home would be crushed. But we love them. Go figure!"
— Fran Andersen, Cheviot Hills
The trees that smell like L.A.
"I was born in L.A. and moved away at age 10. To this day (age 68), my overwhelming association with Los Angeles trees is the aroma of eucalyptus. Absolutely intoxicating."
— Sybil Wyatt, El Cerrito
The tree that goes unnoticed
"This is a very old California bay laurel, situated at the edge of L.A. Tennis at Griffith Park, on Riverside Drive next to a parking lot. I was alerted to it by a friend and tree-loving colleague, and since then, I try to drive by as often as possible on my way home from work. I love it because most people probably don’t notice it or don’t know what it is — a very mature and protected native species. And I like that I probably don’t have to have my heart broken by careless construction or removal, like what happens all over the city."
— Shelley Billik, Los Angeles
The tree that dazzles with pink blooms
"My favorite tree in L.A. is the cotton oak. There are many of them around the condo property where my aunt and uncle lived in Century City off Avenue of the Stars (Empyrean Way). The tree is so amazing. The trunk has thorns. In the spring it has beautiful pink blooms that become cotton pods. Love seeing those trees when I visit L.A."
— Fritzi Lareau, Redwood City
The tree I had forgotten about
"The tree mentioned at St. John’s Presbyterian [in “The greatest trees of Los Angeles”] is one I used to see every morning and early evening while I was in high school. The church was the pickup stop for my mom’s work carpool, so I got to see a lot of sunrises and sunsets by that tree. Now working with forests full-time, I hadn’t thought about that one St. John’s tree until the article. I’m so glad to be reminded of it now."
— Grace Dean, Culver City
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.