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The Big Tree of Santa Barbara (Lyrical Poem)


History of the Moreton Bay Fig Tree in Santa Barbara

It was July 4th, 1876. A young Santa Barbara girl was a given a mysterious seedling as a gift from an Aussie seaman at the Wharf. He was visiting Santa Barbara after a long Australian voyage. He told the young girl to plant the seed and see what happens.

The young girl planted the seed right away at a location on State Street. She watered the seed and made sure that it was covered by plenty of soil.

A year later the young girl left Santa Barbara and her precious tree behind. She asked her good friend, Adeline Crabb, to take care of her tree as best as she could. Adeline later transplanted the tree across town to where the tree now resides at Chapala and Montecito Streets.

Little did these girls know that the rich, fertile soil and bountiful California sunlight would help the tree grow to its fullest potential. In fact, the tree grew more than anyone’s expectations.

The tree is a Moreton Bay Fig Tree, native to Moreton Bay in Australia and is a cousin to the rubber tree family. It became the largest Moreton Bay Fig Tree of its kind in the United States. It is located off of Highway 101 in a well-manicured park in Santa Barbara, right next to the Amtrak train station.

The tree’s measurements are astounding with its crown spreading out at a length of 198 feet. The trees total height is approximately 80 feet. The trunk of the tree measures 12.5 feet in diameter. Its massive canopy can shade up to 10,400 people on a hot summer day.

Many people make the journey to see the tree.

Big Tree

Big tree

spreading an enormous canopy

with dinosaur roots and limbs

with muscle made of steel

taking over a neighborhood

like a rich entrepreneur.

Big Tree

a brown-green paradise

shielding me from the sun

i hide in your creases

comfort in your folds

rest my head against your belly.

Big Tree

i’ve taken lovers to you

to consummate our desire

carved our initials in your wood

became part of your history

ingrained in your romantic narrative.

Big tree

from an Australian seaman

to a little girl planting your seed

you’ve become an energy source

of communal devotion and friendship

at Montecito and Chapala Streets.

Big tree

i introduced you to my daughter

to see what myth's been told

you stood there proudly

leaves fluttering like butterflies

as she posed in your arms.

Big tree

i think of you when i visit unfamiliar woods

how you spread so much further

how your meaning, genealogy grows deeper

as the others are just pulp and timber

you’re a true miracle of nature.

Big tree

some days i look upon you sadly

with jealousy and envy in my heart

knowing that you'll always remain

vibrant and full of life

long after i go.

Big Tree in Santa Barbara by Mark Tulin

Big tree located at Montecito and Chapala Streets in Santa Barbara

Big tree located at Montecito and Chapala Streets in Santa Barbara

© 2017 Mark Tulin

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