Exotic Trees of Cambria

When you think of trees in Cambria, what comes to mind? Cambria pines? Sure, we have lots of them around. But, what are those other trees you see when you walk around East Village? Well, let’s take a little tour and see.

Near the southeast corner of the GuthrieBianchini property which is the location of the Cambria Historical Museum (near The Blue House) stands a magnificent Port Orford Cedar tree. Usually not found this far south, this tree was planted by the Guthries around 1900. As they often grow for 500 years reaching heights up to 180 feet this specimen is considered to be young.

Redwood tree in front of The Olallieberry Inn on Main Street

Directly across the street, in front of The Cambria Pub and Steakhouse, is a coast redwood (sequoia sempervirens). Although this is California’s state tree and there is evidence that it has thrived in California for millions of years, it requires a very special climate to grow naturally. It prefers the humid conditions of the Pacific Coast where fog is prevalent with mild winters and moderate summer temperatures. So, while it does not occur naturally in Cambria, it does quite well here. There is another coast redwood on Main Street just west of the Blue Bird Motel office. There is yet another coast redwood on Main Street in front of The Ollalieberry Inn. This one was planted in 1905 by the German pharmacist brothers Otto and Charles Manderscheid who started Cambria’s first drug store which they operated from their home.

On Bridge Street, just uphill from its intersection with Wall Street, is another Sequoia. It’s located across the street from The Bridge Street Inn and Living Waters Christian Fellowship Church and is easily seen from Main Street. According to Roger Dobkowitz, this is a Sequoia Giganteum which is the type of Sequoia usually found in Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks as well as other places in the Sierras. He believes that tree must be quite old (around a hundred years) because it is beginning to lose the typical pyramidal shape that these sequoias have only until they get to be around a hundred. He says it is a magnificent specimen and we agree.

If you wander up Wall Street just before it makes a sharp turn to intersect Bridge Street, you can see a Dawn Redwood (metasequoia glyptostroloides). This tree was thought to be extinct, represented only in fossil leaf and cone prints from Japan and Manchuria. In 1941 a Chinese forester named Gan observed three Dawn Redwoods in the village of Modaogi in Szechauan Province in China. After a number of seed collecting missions, two Chinese botanists, Hu and Cheng, named the new species. E. D. Merrill, director of The Arnold Arboretum at Harvard secured seeds from Professor Cheng in 1946. Two years later, Dr. Ralph Chaney, a paleobotanist at U. C. Berkeley and Milton Silverman, science writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, brought back seeds and seedlings distributing them to botanic institutions across North America. Dr. Chaney kept eight seedlings for himself but, despite careful nurturing, only four of the seedlings survived. Three were planted at U.C. Berkeley and one of them was given to Mrs. Florence Thatcher, a relative of Dr. Chaney, to plant in Cambria where it survives to this day.

Cow Itch tree on the grounds of the Bluebird Inn on Main Street

Just east of the Bluebird Inn office on Main Street you can see two unusual trees. One is a Monterey Cypress (cypress macrocarpa), many of which were planted in this area in the 1870s. This particular specimen was planted in 1905. The other is a Cow Itch Tree (lagunaria patersonii) planted in 1935. Native to Queensland, Australia, the Cow Itch Tree is part of the mallow family. It has burr-like seeds which were said to have plagued the cattle in its homeland thereby giving the tree it’s common name. During the summer and early fall it is covered with beautiful, hibiscus-like blooms.

Canary Island Palm tree adjacent to the Burton Inn on Burton Drive

Finally, on Burton Drive in front of Burton Inn there’s a Canary Island Palm Tree (phoenix canariensis). Many of these palm trees were planted along Burton Drive but this is the only one remaining. Several were removed by gardeners to be transplanted to the grounds of Hearst Castle. Another specimen can be seen on Main Street at the Palms Motel.

8 Responses to “Exotic Trees of Cambria”

  1. Justin C says:

    I am sad to report that after running the family through this whole list, we were very saddened to find the Monterey Cypress has been severely cut back. What had no doubt once been an impressive specimen was reduced to 8-10 foot stubs. Thanks to those contributions on this list, the trees and plants of the California coast were a major reason for my families travel from Tennessee. Be forewarned! The property the unmarked Dawn Redwood tree lives on appears to be for sale. Notice and protect your special trees Cambria!

  2. B&J says:


    Sorry, we can’t tell you anything about that tree. We’re certainly no experts on the local trees but we knew of a few unusual ones in Cambria so we put this article together. Maybe someone else will answer your question.


  3. Carol Rae says:

    Where’s a tree near Warwick and Derby approx. Looks something like a conifer but I don’t see cones…and the placement of the branches is very regular. Tall, well spaced branches. But, I’m looking at a photo so, it’s hard to tell. Can you tell me anything about it?

  4. Roger Dobkowitz says:

    In the spirit of always being as accurate as one can be, I must admit I got a factoid wrong about the Sequoia Giganteum on Bridge Street. I showed the picture and the your article to a friend who also loves trees as much as I do. He cleared up my mistake by explaining that Sequoia Giganteums LOSE the pyramidal shape AFTER 100 or so years. The tree is still (judging by it’s size) probably over 100 years old and in the next 100 years of so it will LOSE it pyramidal shape and slowly get the profile of it’s giant relatives in the national parks.

    I am sorry for the wrong info and I apologize for me being confused about the pyramidal shape of Sequoias.


  5. B&J says:


    This article was not meant to include all of the exotic trees of Cambria and especially not all of the Sequoias. However, we agree with you that this tree is spectacular and should not have been missed so we updated the article to include what you wrote.

    Are you sure this is a Sequoia Giganteum?


  6. One must not overlook the beautiful Sequoia Giganteum which is growing on Bridge Street. That tree must be quite old (at least a hundred) because I can see that it is developing the typical pyramidal shape that these sequoias get only when they get to be around a hundred years. It is a magnificent specimen!

  7. B&J says:


    We have your book and plan to review it on this site in the near future. If you send us a “new and improved” version, we’ll be happy to review that, too.


  8. taylor coffman says:

    I’m enjoying your website. I’m planning to revise and then reprint my book of 1995, “The Cambria Forest.” The Cambria History Exchange seems like a good vehicle for spreading the word about the book — and for soliciting input for corrections and improvements.

    Who would I be dealing with in that situation and others that may come up?

    Best regards,

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