One of the beautiful things about Chico is the variety of trees.
On a recent outing sponsored by the Lassen chapter of the Native Plant Society, several people strolled the grounds of Bidwell Mansion learning about many of the trees that call this “front yard” home.
Some of the trees—28 different species were on the handout—were actually planted when John Bidwell, who founded Chico, lived in the house that is now part of the State Parks system.
At the same time it’s easy to appreciate and take for granted all of the trees in Chico. The beauty no matter the time of year is evident, but also expected by those who live here. This excursion was welcome because it made me slow down and really look at the trees.
This leisurely stroll gave our group time to appreciate these trees individually instead of as a cluster. To really see them instead of whizzing by in a car or even walking past without acknowledgement.
The irony that most of the trees are not native to California was not lost on the group. Nonetheless, it was an interesting education. The only downside, other than the chilly temperatures, was weather postponed the event from November to Dec. 9 so most of the deciduous trees had lost their leaves.
Even so, the Goldenrain Tree was still full of yellow leaves. This plant is native to China. It’s appropriately named—the leaves appear to be a stream of “raining” yellow. It can be seen throughout Chico.
The Southern Magnolia was planted in 1858, reportedly by Bidwell. Trees more than 100 years old are not uncommon on the property.
Species are from other parts of the state, other parts of the country and world, including Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Rocky Mountains, Mexico, Asia, and Europe.
We were told the Gray or Foothill Pine only grows in California.
Trees at Bidwell Mansion also include the California Fan Palm, Chinese Pistache, Italian Cypress, Giant Sequoia, Turkey Oak, London Plane Tree, and Purple Norway Maple.
Liquidambars, which have some of the prettiest leaves, are actually called American Sweet Gum.
I learned not to pluck the leaves off the English Laurel, as they are poisonous. This is unlike the California Laurel where bay leaves are popular for seasoning.