National Arbor Day is April 28, and there’s no better way to celebrate than by registering for a free program on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. With over 40,000 acres of protected open spaces, the Landmarks are home to many majestic species that are a vital part of Southern California’s Mediterranean climate. Some species provide shade while others rely on the warm climate to survive, and they’re all an important part of the local habitat. From the City of Newport Beach’s Buck Gully to OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon, there are a variety of trees to admire on the lands in honor of Arbor Day.
Coast live oaks (Quercus agrifolia) are among the most recognizable trees on the Landmarks, thanks to their distinctive, contorted branches that can stretch low and spread out in all directions. Mature coast live oaks can reach a height of up to 80 feet and can live for roughly 250 years if left to grow. Hikers can admire coast live oaks during the Thursday Morning Trek: Agua Chinon and The Sinks on Thursday, April 27, which begins in the City of Irvine and stretches into OC Parks’ Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve. Paved Hicks Haul Road in Limestone Canyon also offers coast live oak sightings during weekly programs.
Aspiring and veteran arborists can also enjoy willow trees. This whimsical tree, also known as sallows, form the genus Salix which is comprised of roughly 400 species. They’re known for their elongated leaves that often reach the ground, and a lesser known fact is that their bark produces fibrous sap. Willows are a picturesque addition to Buck Gully, and can be seen during the Flora & Fauna Hike of Buck Gully on Monday, May 8 in the City of Newport Beach.
Arbor Day can be catalyst to join a variety of programs on the Landmarks. Irvine Regional Park is home to many black walnut trees (Juglans californica), and the Irvine Park Trail Restoration Day is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy them while giving back to nature. Held in OC Parks’ Irvine Regional Park, this stewardship program welcomes nature lovers to care for the land by keeping the park’s trails and habitat healthy.
Visit the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks in celebration of Arbor Day and all throughout the year. All activities are free with required pre-registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to each event. Some programs are suitable for children 10 and over, and children must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. For more details on programs on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks visit LetsGoOutside.org/activities.