Natives under your nose

Half-acre of Old Town reclaimed for lemonadeberry and hummingbirds

Fertilization for the lemonadeberry must come from separate plants.
  • Fertilization for the lemonadeberry must come from separate plants.

A half-acre of Old Town State Historic Park, located at the junction of Taylor and Congress streets, is a native plant landscape that focuses on coastal native plant restoration. The San Diego Chapter of the California Native Plant Society and the San Diego River Park Foundation started to reclaim this half-acre of vacant land at the west end of the park in 2008. This project, enabled by an estate bequest of plant society member Rita Delapa, has been matched by the San Diego chapter funds over the years.

Old Town State Historic Park

4002 Wallace Street, Old Town

The entrance is at Congress Street, across from the south end of the Transit Center, just north of the sidewalk. The path is mostly triangular with the one to the left going parallel to Congress Street, which is shaded as it goes toward the McCoy House. As the path turns to the right, it follows a fence until there is a choice of going left to the McCoy House or right back to the entrance.

Old Town State Park

Old Town State Park

Bring your plant book for coastal habitats to identify species or just enjoy the many plants found here. Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia), common in both coastal and chaparral habitats, is dioecious, with both male and female flowers. However, fertilization must come from separate plants. Bees are the vehicle to transfer male pollen to the female flowers.

Native plant landscape path

Native plant landscape path

Birds found in the area are Anna’s and Allen’s hummingbirds. Anna’s (Calypte anna) are medium-sized and stocky in comparison with other hummingbirds with gray and green body color. They have short, straight black bills, a small white spot behind the eye. Males have iridescent reddish-pink feathers on their head and throat, whereas some females have iridescent reddish-pink feathers on a throat patch, although most female species have none. Males also have iridescent green feathers on their back and flanks.

Yucca in bloom

Yucca in bloom

Allen’s hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) are also stocky, although considered small. They are coppery orange and green with a deep reddish-orange throat. Females and immature birds have copper sides with bronze-green above. Females also have a small reddish-orange throat patch. Allen’s hummingbirds breed on the coast from the southern end of Oregon through California. There are two subspecies: one that migrates to a small area of Mexico, with the other staying in Southern California. Hummingbirds are only found in the New World — North America and South America and nearby islands.

Multiple visits are interesting due to not only the seasonal blooms but also yearly more native plants, scrubs, and trees are added to the initial 250 that were planted here. There is also signage with information of the area along the wide flat dirt path. For more information on this location, see [email protected]

Distance from downtown San Diego: 4 miles (Old Town, San Diego). Allow 10 minutes driving time with additional time needed to find street parking. From I-5N, merge onto I-8E and take the Taylor Street exit. Turn right (west) onto Taylor. Turn left (south) onto Congress Street. At the south end of the Transit Center is a crosswalk over to the Old Town State Historic Park Native Plant Landscape. The start of this walk is just north of the crosswalk. There is no parking here!

Parking is available on Calhoun Street or arrive by trolley via the Old Town Transit Center at Taylor Street. Hiking length: Approximately 0.11-mile loop.

Difficulty: Easy, with less than 10 feet of elevation gain/loss.

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


Log in to comment

Skip Ad