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Eucalyptus globulus

We are very excited to partner with Dolby Laboratories for a special Nature in your Neighborhood project for Dolby Cares Week. A time when Dolby brings art and science together to inspire the next generation of innovators, and address the most critical needs in their communities. Thank you for contribution to Sutro Stewards!

By: MJ DuBois

There was a time, over 100 years ago that Burlingame, "the city of trees," was a vast stretch of land containing prairie grass, wild trees and roving herds of cattle. The land between San Mateo and San Francisco was once known by settlers as a "treeless waste," where because of the shrieking winds, flooding waters, and swarms of insects, the only element of life that was willing to brave the chaotic earth were a couple barns, some hard-skinned cows and a farmer or two who understood the deeper promise that Burlingame held to the Peninsula.

Enter the Eucalyptus globulus, also known as the Tasmanian Blue Gum, the most prevalent species in the Bay Area and thriving in Burlingame today. The nearly 280 towering eucalyptus along El Camino Real in Burlingame range in height from 98-180 feet tall, shedding pods, leaves, bark in long strips and the occasional dropping limb.

But “they came here as envelopes of seeds on boats coming to California in the 1850s,” explains Jared Farmer, author of “Trees In Paradise: A California History.” Shortly thereafter, William C. Ralston, financier, and founder of the Bank of California, along with a group of local landowners hired a carpenter/landscape-designer of sorts, to design a beautification of the acreage Burlingame would become and revitalize the landscape for future growth. In his design, he placed alternating red and blue gum (eucalyptus), acacia, pepper, elm, pine and cypress trees along Burlingame's prairie. The plan worked. The eucalyptus trees grew remarkably quickly here, even in poor soil and by 1900 they had overtaken a majority of the other trees - already nearly fully grown, tall as buildings, hard as rock.

Yet, these hearty eucalyptus trees have never had it easy in Burlingame. Since their inception, industry has wanted to root them out because of their growth rate and bulky size. But the citizens of Burlingame have resisted, protecting their treasure against all odds. While the battle against them continues.


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