This is a Moreton Bay Fig. It's also a ficus, a Ficus macrophylla; one of the largest. This particular Moreton Bay Fig seen below is the biggest and oldest tree in the Santa Monica Bay Area. It was planted in 1879 by the founder of Santa Monica, John P. Jones. It reins over the courtyard of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel on Wilshire.
The Moreton Bay Fig is often multi-trunked with thick surface roots and broad, leathery leaves. It bears a red-speckled fruit an inch big. It's native to Australia and parts of Wales.
Growing up, my friends and I talked a lot about a particular street called La Mesa Drive. It is small, exclusive street carved out above San Vicente. It's only about four blocks long. Every Halloween we would trek a couple miles up to La Mesa to get the good candy and to eye-ball the mansions. But as I got older, I realized the lure was the trees. The knotty and gargantuan-rooted trees that cocooned the road. La Mesa is lined with Moreton Bay Fig trees. Check these out:
Aren't they fantastic?
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