A forest of botanical treasures goes unnoticed in Elysian Park

Walking under a Tipu tree.

It’s the oldest arboretum in Southern California, boasting a century-old grove of trees imported from around the world: Tipus from Argentina, Dawn Redwoods from China and Cape Chestnuts from South Africa. Some of the trees in the Chavez Ravine Arboretum soar more than 100 feet above the floor of a grassy canyon, with some of the specimens ranking as among the largest of their kind in North America, according to a recent story by Silver Lake resident and journalist  Colin Berry in The California Report.  Yet, for all of its botanical treasures, the Chavez Ravine Arboretum remains mostly forgotten and overlooked by most of the people who visit the nearly 600 acre park.

It’s easy to see why the arboretum gets overlooked despite some of its large and rare collection of trees. There are hardly any signs to direct people to the arboretum, which runs along a portion of Stadium Way near Academy Road, and there are no paths that run under the trees.  Only a few of the trees have small labels with their name and place of origin. While California Report describes the arboretum as thriving,  the story also notes that many of the trees are showing sign of neglect and damage:

Inspecting the knotty trunk of an ancient Umbu tree, horticulture adviser Donald Hodel points out the damage done by dumping hot charcoal and climbing on it. “It takes a beating,” he says. It’s not the only damage — others are carved up with initials, and all the trees are in desperate need of pruning.

Some of the work of maintaining trees has fallen to volunteers, including the Citizens to Save Elysian Park, which helps mulch and water the trees.

Related Link:


  1. There really needs to be an easy way to get to the Arboretum… better signage!

  2. You found the one sign that doesn’t have graffiti on it

Leave a Reply to Daniel Cancel reply

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *