Cal Poly to Host Oct. 23 Tree Planting to Honor Arbor Day and Celebrate Campus Urban Forest

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly will host a tree planting Wednesday, Oct. 24, to honor the university’s commitment to its trees in what is the nation’s most-diverse urban campus forest.
The event will take place at 11 a.m. at the northwestern side of the Fisher Science Hall (No. 33) near North Perimeter Road near the heart of campus.
The university has been recognized since 2014 as an Arbor Day Foundation Tree Campus USA. It hosts its annual Arbor Day celebration each autumn because it is the ideal time of year to plant trees on the Central Coast.

“We’ll be planting a palo blanco tree (Acacia willardiana) — the first of its kind on the Cal Poly campus,” said Professor Matt Ritter, the Cal Poly Conservatory director, adding that landscape services staff will be joined by Botany 121 students, conservatory volunteers, plant sciences club, and plant medicine clubs members and representatives.
“As we move to more and more drought-tolerant species on campus in an effort to save water on the landscape, we need to experiment with drought-tolerant yet beautiful trees,” said Ritter, a recognized expert, author and speaker. “Palo blanco, which comes from the Sonoran Desert in Northern Mexico is a beautiful, papery barked, weeping acacia.”
The tree has a lifespan of 50 years and can grow to 20 feet high.
Cal Poly is among 13 California colleges or universities and more than 350 other schools across the U.S. to carry the Tree Campus USA designation. But it stands apart from the rest boasting the largest variety of tree species on a university campus in the nation. Campus officials have inventoried 6,600 trees and nearly 550 varieties in the campus core alone. The coastal live oak (Quercus agrifolia) is the most common tree on campus, but the university also has many exotic and rare species represented.
In addition, the campus is home to two national champions listed on the Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute’s Registry of California Big Trees. “There’s the red gum across from the Baker science building and karri gum up in Poly Canyon,” Ritter said.
The River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) measured 111 feet high, with a trunk circumference of 267 inches and a crown spread of 130 feet when it was nominated in 2014. The karri gum (Eucalyptus diversicolor), nominated in 2007, measured 154 feet high, with a trunk circumference of 201 inches and a crown spread of 74 feet.

Contact: Jay Thompson

October 23, 2018

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