Morro Bay, a nationally recognized tree city, has an officially designated tree: the Monterey cypress.
Dauntless tree committee members braved last winter’s cold and rains at Morro Bay’s Community Market on Saturdays and Spencer’s Market on Thursdays, whenever or wherever there might be Morro Bay residents who would talk to them about which tree represented the essence of Morro Bay.
Neil Farrell, news editor of The Bay News, published a ballot suggesting several trees ultimately whittled down by Morro Bay’s Official Tree Committee from a humongous list of trees that live in Morro Bay.
The choices were the red flowering eucalyptus, avocado, Channel Island oak, blue gum eucalyptus, Canary Island date palm and Monterey cypress.
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A few people suggested write-ins, but the Monterey cypress was the favorite, receiving 194 votes out of 465.
Voters preferred the cypress, a prehistoric native of the Central Coast and a street tree originally planted in Morro Bay by city founder Franklin Riley.
Surviving the last ice age, the evergreen has many successful specimens planted throughout Morro Bay. And it likes fog!
“One voter put it perfectly — giant redwoods say Northern California, the palm tree says Southern California and the cypress says Central California,” said Ann Reisner, representing Morro Bay Beautiful, the organization providing seed money for ongoing tree plantings by the independent tree committee.
Councilman Noah Smukler, who also chairs the Morro Bay Tree Committee, said, “Having an official city tree or flower (the dahlia is Morro Bay’s official flower) does not mean the city of Morro Bay will plant that tree all over the city. Designation recognizes a special connection to the community and creates an opportunity to publicize and market these specimens with pride.”
However, not to be confused with all things Monterey, several quipped “a cypress is a cypress is a Cupressus macrocarpa and the official name adopted by the City Council in February should be the Morro Bay cypress.”
Besides Reisner and Smukler, the tree committee consists of landscapers, tree trimmers, city employees, environmental advocates and interested citizens whose key desire is to plant trees to keep Morro Bay green and pink and orange and beautiful.
Active leadership includes Taylor Newton, Wally McCray, Joe Woods, Gabriel Frank, Cory Paul and Sean Ellis.
The public can support and be recognized for more tree plantings or maintaining the 100-plus trees already in the ground by contacting members of Morro Bay Beautiful or the Morro Bay Official Tree Committee.
In collaboration with Morro Bay’s Garden Club, a joint official tree and flower celebration is planned for August called “Dahlia Daze and Cypress Nightz.”
Contact Judy Salamacha at 801-1422 or email@example.com.