San Diego Botanic Garden says goodbye to historic Torrey pine at Encinitas site


Lumber from a diseased historic Torrey pine tree is collected June 29 as the tree is removed at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. (San Diego Botanic Garden photo)

North Coast Current

A historic Torrey pine tree predating the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas was cut down on its grounds June 29 and 30 after garden officials found it was severely compromised by a parasitic fungus.

The tree’s lumber will be used to create furnishings for the garden’s Larabee house and items to sell in the gift shop, garden officials said in a statement.

The tree, which stood for more than 60 years on the property, was originally planted by the Larabee family in the late 1940s or early 1950s, according to the statement. The 100-foot-tall tree was leaning precariously over a path in the site’s rainforest area, and garden staff members had grown concerned it could be a hazard to visitors.

“Sadly for San Diego Botanic Garden, we have to do some logging in our own rainforest in order to ensure the safety of our visitors and the other plants in this exhibit,” garden President and CEO Julian Duval said in the announcement. “We feel deeply the loss of this historic and rare Torrey pine tree that has been a part of our collection since the Larabees planted it more than 60 years ago.”

One of three Torrey pines located in the garden’s waterfall deck area, the tree had been infected by the fungus to some degree for nearly a decade. Several large fungal conks were found at its base in 2006 when the tree lost most of its needles, according to the garden.

When the fungus was first discovered, San Diego County plant pathologist Pat Nolan found that it belonged to a genus of parasitic species. The tree remained in relatively good health for several years until it took a turn for the worse in the past year, according to garden officials.

The other two Torrey pines, both more than 100 feet tall, remain in good health, the garden said.