The tallest tree in SD

Heymatt: What’s the tallest tree in San Diego? I have some guesses, but I suspect I’m completely wrong. And I wonder if the tallest tree in these parts is one that was planted by humans or grew naturally.

— Ernie

To the best of my knowledge, nobody has measured and recorded an official “tallest tree in San Diego.” Be that as it may, it’s a safe bet that the tallest tree around is a eucalyptus and was therefore planted by human hands. As a species, eucalypts are some of the tallest trees in the world — only the giant redwoods grow taller. The blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) is the species that grows the tallest in San Diego. For some reason, they grow taller in Northern California, but we still get trees that grow significantly past 100 feet, sometimes half again that much. The tallest native species is the sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana). Large specimens abound in the mountains, but because the local climate doesn’t support giant trees very well, they’re (again) smaller than sugar pines in NorCal and Oregon.

While it’s not the tallest tree in town, the massive Morton fig out front of the Natural History Museum in Balboa park is probably the largest tree in San Diego, based on the volume of wood it contains. It’s so girthsome that it can easily outweigh a much taller eucalyptus tree.

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Though technically not "San Diego" Mataguay Scout Ranch near Santa Ysabel was home to a spectacular tree so tall we speculated it was a transplanted Coastal Redwood when we were there about five or six years ago. It was near their old main building. It's image was part of the camp logo. Many renovations to the camp have taken place. Hope the tree has remained protected.

They may not be the biggest, but anyone who wants to see "knock your socks off" trees should take a stroll on the pedestrian bridge that runs over Palm Canyon in Balboa Park.

This is the wood bridge that connects the small parking lot behind the Alcazar Garden with the sidewalk across from the Spreckles Organ Pavilion, It's the bridge that offers a long series of wooden steps down into the canyon.

I'm pretty sure those giants are ficus (fig) trees and cousins of the Morton Bay Fig. While the trees themselves are impressive, it is their roots that amaze. You can climb down there and disappear between the folds of the root system.

Do palms count? Some of those 1910s to 1920s queen palms, like on Sunset Street in Mission HIlls sure seem taller than any Eucalyptus.

Encinitas has two large pines that get decorated each Christmas.

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