Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Camphor Trees

Warning: This is not the only post I've published since you last checked my blog. I have posted a veritable plethora today. I seem to be in the posting mood. Something about working nine hours yesterday perhaps.

Anyway, last month I saw an article in the paper about an area near my parent's house that mentioned the street's lined with Camphor Trees. That sparked some curiousity, and I did a little bit of research. This paragraph comes from a site on Historic Wilmington:

"Camphor Trees - Planted 1927, 1200 Block of Lakme Avenue
These fifty-two beautiful trees were planted in 1927. They are the hallmark of the upscale "Banning Park Neighborhood" and are part of this unique and charming three-block area that is eligible for designation as a Los Angeles Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. These trees are approximately 40 feet tall with an even wider spread that creates a pleasant, shady canopy over Lakme Avenue. A delight in every season of the year, beautiful in the rain when the heavy trunks and branches look black and the winter leaves are a shiny light green. In the spring, new foliage may be pink, red or bronze depending on the tree. The name of the tree is appropriate since the leaves smell of camphor when crushed."

Cool to see these trees I love (and the squirrels love; it's a wonder we haven't had a ton of squirrels around before this, with so many trees containing so many berries) mentioned in an overview of the city, but the last sentence makes me laugh. I mean, "since the leaves smell of camphor"?! I can understand not knowing whether or not camphor comes from Camphor Trees, but you'd think you'd look it up before publishing a statement like that! That's like saying Olive Trees are appropriately named because these black things that resemble olives fall from them...

Many sites I went to mentioned the crushed leave camphor smell thing. So I tried it, and my immediate response was, “Oh, that smell!” I didn’t think I could’ve managed not to smell it in all my years of raking up leaves. Sure enough, it’s as familiar as Eucalyptus. Probably up until now if I'd come across some camphor, I would've thought it odd how much it smells like leaves. It’s always interesting when a plant called “exotic” by many is one you grew up with. Why, for years if you said the word “leaf” to me, the image I would associate with that word was the leaf of the Camphor Tree. Only I didn’t know its name at the time. I like knowing the names of things. Now I can refer to them as Camphor Trees, rather than something like, “the-main-kind-of-tree-that-lines-our-street.” Now I want to learn the name of that tree that has the same kind of leaves as Eucalyptus, but looks so vastly different than the Eucalyptus in our backyard, with its white bark and slender form instead of the thick shaggy old man of a tree we have… Is it just a different variety? In my little amount of tree research I did discover there are quite a few varieties.

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