CSU, Chico News

Trees Gracing University Campus and Mansion Grounds Featured on Tour

Date: 02-04-2014

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

California State University, Chico and Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park are jointly offering a free tour of their remarkable collection of native and exotic trees and shrubs on Thursday, Feb. 13.

Those who wish to participate in the easy and informative walk should meet at the gazebo in front of Bidwell Mansion at 9:30 a.m. Parking is available. The tour ends at about 11:30 a.m.

The tour will cover 20 to 30 trees on the mansion and University grounds and will be led by horticulturists and botanists from the University.

Included on the tour will be the magnificent southern magnolia located in front of the mansion, which was planted by General Bidwell in 1863, prior to the building of the mansion. South of the mansion, along Sowilleno Avenue, the Bidwells planted American chestnuts, some of which still remain and still produce delicious nuts.

Other noteworthy specimens to be seen on the tour are a monkey puzzle tree (from Chile), dawn redwood (China) and water oak (southern United States).

Along the south side of Chico Creek, Bidwell planted various oaks that still survive. In 1887, when the State Normal School was established in Chico, California incense cedars and London planes (sycamores) were planted on the west and south sides of the original administration building; a few of these remain, including the striking plane tree in front of Kendall Hall, recognized as the "Founders Tree."

Recent tree plantings include red horse chestnut, black tupelo (sour gum), cut leaf zelkova and many others. Unusual old shrubs include several in front of the mansion: a white-flowered saucer magnolia from China and strawberry bush from southern France.

The trip leaders will discuss current horticultural and pruning practices as well as make suggestions as to selection of plants for Chico yards. Participants are encouraged to bring in leaves from plants they wish to have identified or talk about problems they are having with insects or diseases.

A map and guide to the mansion and the University trees and shrubs entitled “Campus Trees” is available at the Mansion Information Center along with a map and guide to the Campus Creekside Nature Walk. These can also be purchased at the Wildcat Store and at the office of the Department of Biological Sciences in Holt Hall.

Further information about the tours can be obtained from the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park at 530-895-6144 or from the University at 530-898-6222. Leaders of the tours will be Mike Alonzo, CSU, Chico supervisor of grounds and landscape; Wes Dempsey, emeritus professor of biology; and Gerry Ingco, retired U.S. Forest Service and California Parks ranger.