Palomar College Arboretum

Friends of the Palomar College Arboretum

Plant Lists

Brief Summary Of The Palomar College Arboretum

By 1970, campus horticulturist Bob Kelly had already begun planting trees in an undeveloped area east of campus (near the Perimeter Road). ASG President Brian Hawthorne became interested in this area as the site of a future arboretum. He was impressed with the arboretum of a local university while stationed with the U.S. Coast Guard in New London, Connecticut, and thought this would be a great addition to Palomar College. The Palomar College Arboretum was officially established in 1973, largely through the efforts of Bob Kelly and Brian Hawthorne. The original Arboretum Committee also contained Ben Gill, Tom Stout, Dr. John Schettler, Gene Jackson and myself. Members of the Committee received a Presidential Ecology Award signed by Gerald R. Ford. The Arboretum was approved by the Board of Governors and land was set aside east of the campus. During the past three decades, many plants have been acquired, including original donations from the Huntington Botanical Garden, Los Angeles County Arboretum, San Diego Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park. Please refer to Edna Pulver’s “History of the Palomar College Arboretum” at the end of this summary.

Plants from all major continents are represented in the Arboretum. Our relatively mild climate and generally frost-free location on a gradual hillside enable many subtropical and tropical species to survive here. The largest families include the legume (Fabaceae), myrtle (Myrtaceae), palm (Arecaceae) and grass (Poaceae) families. The largest genera are Eucalyptus (13), Ficus (12), Pinus (11), Agave (11), Acacia (11), Quercus (9), Phoenix (7), Casuarina (6), Melaleuca (6), Livistona (5), Sabal (5), Phyllostachys (5), Cassia (5) and Erythrina(5). Native countries most frequently represented are Australia, South Africa, China (E. Asia), Japan, Mexico and South America.

If you consider all the species in the Arboretum (over 600), main campus (at least 1000), Palomar Cactus & Succulent Garden (at least 3,000), and native coastal sage scrub north and east of campus (approximately 400), the total number of different species is nearly 5,000. This is one of the greatest concentrations of plant diversity within a relatively small area in San Diego County, rivaled only by Balboa Park, the Wild Animal Park and Quail Botanical Garden.

The majority of native species in the coastal sage scrub plant community adjacent to the Arboretum are herbaceous wildflowers that appear in profusion following a disturbance, such as clearing or fire. It is imperative in this time of rapid urbanization in the San Marcos area that natural areas of coastal sage scrub are preserved. In addition to valuable study sites for classes in biology, botany and archaeology, this area also provides the ecological niches for a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates.
Arboretum Plant Lists on Wayne’s Word 
A Natural History website created by Wayne Armstrong, Faculty Emeritus Life Scinces