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Home > Products > Trees > Geijera parviflora in Goleta

  The big Geijera parviflora in Goleta

The Big Australian Willow, Geijera parviflora, at the Goleta Valley Community Center
by Randy Baldwin, San Marcos Growers

Geijera in Goleta Geijera in Goleta
Peering through the Arch at the Geijera parviflora Gazing up from below at the Geijera parviflora

On February 1, 2012, while attending the 10th anniversary of Goleta City hood at the Goleta Valley Community Center, I was reminded of just how big the Australian Willow,Geijera parviflora, is that graces this building's interior courtyard. It is certainly the most magnificent Australian Willow that I have ever seen and I was quite surprised that most everyone I spoke with, was unaware of its existence. This started me on a quest to determine how big this tree is and how it ranked with other trees of this same species planted elsewhere in California.

I have not yet been able to determine who planted this tree or when they did, but the Community Center was formerly the site of the original Goleta Union School that was built in 1927. Since the genus Geijera was not listed in Maunsell Van Rensselaer Trees of Santa Barbara that was published 1948 but was in Will Beittel's Santa Barbara Street and Park Trees in 1972, there is a presumption that this tree was not planted until after 1948; in fact Will Beittel states that the first Geijera parviflora in Santa Barbara were planted in 1958 and 1959 as street trees. I however think it possible that this tree's existence in an inner courtyard may have prevented its discovery and that its planting might date back to when the school building was first completed in 1927. The campus also has large specimens of Melaleuca styphelioides and other interesting plants and, coincidentally, is located less than a quarter mile from the historic Sexton Nursery which operated from 1852 until 1917 and was quite famous for the introduction of new plants into California.

The first official planting of Geijera parviflora in the US was reported to be in 1921 at the Citrus Experiment Station in Riverside (now within the UC Riverside campus) from seed received by the USDA from New South Wales in 1920. There were two trees planted in the ground that were described in an article titled "Geijera parviflora" written in 1980 by Elizabeth McClintock for the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation. At the time of this article these trees were described as "35-40 feet tall and broadly spreading".

Though not able to determine the age of our stately Goleta Australian Willow (I am still researching this!), it is easy to visually compare this tree to ones planted in the late 1950's as streets trees on Mountain Ave in Santa Barbara and to the pictures of the trees planted on the Citrus Experiment Station (photos courtesy of Dr. Tracy Kahn and Toni Siebert) on the University of California Riverside campus. It was also suggested to me that Menlo Park had many nice Australian Willows and Menlo Park City Arborist Brian Henry graciously located the largest Geijera he knew of and sent a picture of it. Through comparison of these images it is fairly easy to determine that the Goleta tree is far larger than any of these other trees.

Geijera Mountain Ave, Santa Barbara Geijera parviflora in Riverside Geijera in Menlo Park
Mountain Ave Santa Barbara Street Tree
(planted in 1959)
UC Riverside Tree
(planted in 1921)
Menlo Park Street Tree
(planted 1980-90)

On April 26, 2012, a small group met at the Goleta Valley Community Center to measure this tree. This was the culmination of the effort to determine if this tree was possibly the largest of its species in California and perhaps in North America for inclusion on the Official Registry of California Big Trees. Because this tree was located within an interior patio, with its canopy exceeded in width, it was determined that the only way to accurately measure its height would be to drop a plum line down from the highest point. Permission was granted from the Goleta Union School District (the property owner) and the Community Center (who leases the property) to have this work performed. The late Peter Winn of WestTree volunteered Tom Winder, one of his tree specialists, to climb the tree and measure it while Peter Winn, Goleta Valley Community Center General Manager Rob Locke and I observed from the ground and took crown spread and trunk diameter measurements.


Tom throwing the Plum Bob Peter Winn caculating DBH Tom climbing the tree
Tom throwing the Plum Bob Peter Winn calculating DBH Tom climbing the tree
This magnificent Geijera parviflora was measured at:
  • 49 feet 2 inches tall
  • 65 feet crown spread
  • 82 inch circumference/ 26" Diameter at Breast Height (DBH)
  • This tree is now listed as the National Champion Australian Willow on the Official Registry of California Big Trees. In addition it was awarded the "Favorite Tree" award at the 38th Annual Goleta Valley Beautiful Awards lunch on May 6th, 2012. I encourage anyone who has not seen this tree to visit it, epecially if you really didn't think that highly of Geijera parviflora as this beautiful specimen may change your mind. For more information on Geijera parviflora, including cultural and natural habit information and more pictures, please see our database entry at Geijera parviflora Info

    Thank you to everyone that helped and encouraged me to see this project through.

    If you have any comments or information you think we should add to this page, please Contact me