Can We All Get Along? Part 1 - Visiting Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve

Mount Sutro eucalyptus trees on a foggy morning

Rodney King did not actually say, "Why can't we all just get along?" but that's how it has come to be remembered. Misquotes and myths. Emotions and the truth. It is often really hard to find the hard core of evidence behind statements we hold to be factual.

I was recently challenged to examine my beliefs about Eucalyptus globulus, blue gum eucalyptus - three giant specimens of which flourish on our property - after hiking around Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve.

Before I say a few Ommms and post about the "Nativist" vs "Novel Landscapist" vat of vitriol I discovered while investigating Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve, I'll describe my experience of hiking there earlier this December.

Mount Sutro rises to around 900 feet in the Inner Sunset area of San Francisco, near Golden Gate Park. Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve is a 125 year-old forest of blue gum Eucalyptus planted by one-time San Francisco mayor Adolph Sutro. It's now owned and managed by UCSF.

Ivy-laden eucalyptus trees

I found my first hike a rather dispiriting experience, in part, because it was a cold, rainy December day - dreich as we would say in Scotland - and in part because so many of the trees in the lower areas are draped so heavily in funereal ivy. And because the non-native plants do out number the natives.


Himalayan blackberry


Still, I noticed quite a few native plants along the Historic Trail and East Ridge Trail, though finding them reminded me of those drawings in Highlights Magazine where you circle all the hidden objects. Then again - it is December. I look forward to returning in spring. 

Sword fern and red elderberry

Fringe cups and/or alum root

Wild cucumber

Chert, the local stone. More on this in the photo of the sign below.

For many more photos of plants, native and not, from my hikes on Mount Sutro, please visit my Flickr album.

If my set looks like there are more natives than not, it's because I didn't photograph all the non-natives whereas I pretty much did photograph every native plant I saw.

Once I climbed up out of the forest, my spirits rose. For one, there are lovely views.

View of downtown San Francisco from a Mount Sutro trail

For another thing, there is a native habitat recreation/restoration area at the top of the hill, which I enjoyed quite a bit. This signage in that area has good info:

This sign is worth clicking on to read.

The native vegetation types are coastal scrub and coastal prairie.

Native plant restoration area - coastal scrub plants

More coastal scrub plants

The meadow restoration was supported by the Rotary Club. I believe some remnant native areas also existed and local plants are being propagated for the restoration effort.
The native meadow is dormant at this time of year


Jason said…
Beautiful view. Nice to see the restoration areas.
just read your Part 2, which slipped thru on my G Reader. Pretty much the same controversy we have around pine plantations. Trees, shade to walk my dog, wassamatter? Fynbos, birds - BUT BUT there's no shade!
Country Mouse said…
Ah you were one of two people who read that draft, Diana! - I accidentally clicked Publish it took me a minute to change it back to draft. It's WIP - a difficult topic to write about so I decided to split the topic into two, the better to digest and reflect on the great divide between people on these topics!

Jason thanks for commenting -- I'd like to visit the restoration folks' propagation nursery if I can, on another visit - maybe when spring has sprung!
Million Trees said…
Yes, we can all get along. It wouldn’t be difficult. Native plant advocates are welcome to plant the plants they prefer. All we’re asking is that native plant advocates quit advocating for the destruction of the plants and trees on our public lands that they don’t prefer. We don’t begrudge your horticultural preferences and we only ask that you show us the same courtesy.

Dan Grassetti is not the author of the Save Sutro website. He has his own website about the same type of destructive project in the East Bay hills:

There are projects like these all over California. East Bay Regional Parks District is currently in the process of destroying one million non-native trees on its properties. Your attempt to minimize the destruction that is in progress is not consistent with the facts.