Who really belongs in Echo Park? Nuts. Juglans Californica, aka Southern California black walnuts. This is a walnut woodland, as was so casually declared at a master plan meeting for Elysian Park a couple of years ago. But Michael O’Brien clarified the walnut matter a bit on Monday morning. Michael took the time to walk around Kite Hill and talk about weeds. A self-taught naturalist and botanist, Michael works for the Los Angeles Planning Department, where he reviews landscape plans for larger building projects.
I learned from Michael that Echo Park is ground zero (that term again!) for the Southern California black walnut, which a protected native species. And it’s really native to this location at the true tail end (or tail beginning) of the Santa Monica Mountains. Unlike the also-native elderberry tree – which can be found all over the state, Juglans Californica created itself to live in Echo Park and Mount Washington, which also is known for these trees. According to Michael, the natural range for juggy is only from Elysian Park through the Santa Monica Mountains. They piddle off in Ventura County. Across the river, Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights are at the far western edge of the Puente Hills, and the Socal walnut doesn’t go there.