Monday, March 16, 2009

My Town Monday: Moreton Fig Tree

Near the north end of the San Diego Natural History Museum, you will find an incredibly large tree. By incredibly large, I mean 78 feet high, 123 feet wide, and with a trunk girth of 486 inches!! At least, that's what it measured in 1996.

The Moreton Fig tree, an East Australian native, was planted from a five-gallon container in 1914. Many trees were planted in Balboa Park around this time to prepare for the 1915 Panama-California International Exposition.

Here is an example of a Moreton Fig tree and its roots. This isn't the tree in Balboa Park, though.

When I first moved to San Diego, you could actually climb on the aerial or surface roots and sit under the tree for a picnic. However, all this foot traffic began to damage the roots and affect the health of the tree. In 1989, a fence was built around the tree, which has completely recovered and is doing very well now, thankyouverymuch. People do still picnic under the tree.

The Moreton Fig tree and the fig wasp share an interesting relationship. The tree is only pollinated by the fig wasp. And the fig wasp can only reproduce in fig flowers. In this complicated world of dating and courtship and global warming, this doesn't seem wise!

In Balboa Park, you will find other smaller Morteon Bay Figs along with 32 other kinds of fig trees. Here's the link to a previous My Town Monday post I did on Balboa Park

In the interests of fair reporting, I must tell you that the famous Santa Barbara Moreton Bay Fig tree has a wider canopy than ours. However, the tree is shorter. The two trees are listed as CO-CHAMPIONS in the California Registry of Big Trees. No, I am not making this up!

The largest Moreton Fig tree in the world is located on a cattle farm near Egg-rock in Queensland, Australia. It measured ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-ONE FEET in 2006!

Here's the address for the San Diego tree:
Moreton Bay Fig Tree
Village Place
San Diego, Ca 92101

And the phone number:
Ha! Gotcha! (But the address is real.)

Our regular head honcho Travis Erwin is moving. Although he still managed to post a My Town Monday! Jenn Jilks is pinch-hitting for Travis, and she'll have all our links. Thanks Jenn!



  1. That tree is huge! How beautiful.

  2. Cool pictures, Barrie. I've seen that tree when I've visited Balboa Park in San Diego. I did not know about the relationship between the fig tree and the fig wasp. Really interesting!!!

  3. Wonderful post, Barrie! I always heard that figs had wasps in them.... all ground up because they were all over the figs when they're ground up.

    I love Balboa Park. I've been there many times, but I haven't stopped to notice the fig tree. Next time I will!

  4. Beautiful tree, interesting post.

    (And where are your obsessions?)

  5. What a gorgeous tree! I used to love fresh figs as a girl until I heard that about the wasps. It's only been recently that I've been able to enjoy fresh figs again. ;-)

  6. Barrie, I once wrote about the fig wasp here. But I have never seen a fig tree like that. Next time I get to San Deigo I want to check it out!

  7. Morning Barrie,

    Great post.

    There are some wonderful spreading fig trees here in Asia, especially in Cambodia where they get locked in deadly, vegetative combat with other trees.

    Which will survive, who will suffocate the other first.

    Ahh, botanical drama!

  8. Love those roots. Are you sure the Keebler elves do not live there?

  9. The roots are as gorgeous as the leaves.

  10. I want a tree like that in my backyard... but I don't think I could handle the wasps.

  11. Baby, that's some tree! Nice post Barrie :)

  12. Ah, I love Balboa Park. So many happy memories from my childhood - like getting up before sunrise and arriving just as the sun was reflecting on the pond... have a picture of me in that spot when I was about 3.

  13. Interesting.. I keep thinking of FIG NEWTONS. Yum. :)

  14. What a gorgeous tree. Thanks for the informative post.

  15. Oh Barrie, that root base of the fig is amazing! What an entertaining and informative post!

    thank you so much for coming by my blog...I'll be back by yours!

  16. that is one beautiful, big tree.

    hope your children enjoy spring break, school was good today surprisingly

  17. That is one incredibly amazing tree!
    I love the symbiotic relationship between the tree and the wasp. Life is really like that.

  18. thanks for visiting, hope tomorrow is better for you.

    I was actually here early in the day, lurking and reading. I enjoyed your story about the tree. I really like "My Town Monday". My town is kind of small but I'm thinking of looking into some facts and seeing if I can learn some intersting things to share about my town.

    I also lifted your "gray hair" button. I'm going to use it on my family blog telling stories about "gray hair moments". I think my kids will enjoy learning how I earned the gray hairs that are oh so prevalent on my head.

    I enjoy your blog--and I've ordered your book. You're the first real author I've "known" if exchanging a few comments on a blog page constitutes "knowing" someone. The rules are fuzzy in cyber space.

    c-ya, your "cyber-friend" ;)

  19. We had a fig about that size in Santa Barbara when I was a kid. Those figs get huge!

    San Diego has a lot going on and is a lovely place to visit. My brother lives there, so I have an excuse, too.

    Thanks also for stopping by my blog. Always glad to have new commenters.

  20. Wonderful post because I love old trees. When I visited Mount Vernon they still had some the general had planted two hundred years ago.

  21. Wonderful post, Barrie. I love big trees so this post definitely makes my favorite list.

    I looked for Sherry's grandfather in the pic but didn't see him. Maybe he can land in the tree in your next book? ;-)

  22. What an absolutely beautiful tree!

  23. Beautiful tree! I am glad they put the fence around it in time before permanent damage was done to it by the foot traffic.

    And as far as the pollinators go, it actually isn't that unusual for it to work like that. Some say it is because the plant and insect co-evolved together. As the one species changed the other did too (or those individuals who did not died so only the ones adapted survived). Kinda interesting, I think. I'm a science nerd, I just had to share :)

  24. What a fabulous tree. I love the twisted roots.

  25. Wonderful post. I really enjoy your writing--from one Barry to another.

    Except you spell the name funny:)

  26. Big trees fascinate me. They are mighty -- and yet so vulnerable, too. (So interesting: that reciprocal relationship between the the wasp and tree.)

    BTW, when did you move to San Diego?


Comments are always welcome!