Balboa Park Moreton Bay Fig Tree – San Diego, California - Atlas Obscura

Balboa Park Moreton Bay Fig Tree

One of the largest trees of its kind in California. 

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Standing before this bushy behemoth of a tree is enough to make anyone feel small. The enormous plant has been a beloved fixture in the park for more than 100 years.

Planted in 1914 in preparation for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, this huge Moreton Bay fig tree graces the Moreton Bay Fig Lawn behind the San Diego Natural History Museum. The leafy giant has been growing strong for over a century.  Moreton Fig trees were first planted in California in 1859 and have a life expectancy of over 150 years.

The Balboa Park Fig hasn’t been officially measured since 1996, at which time it stood a staggering 78 feet tall and had a branch canopy of 123 feet. The trunk is 16 feet in diameter. With an average growth rate of one foot per year, this fig tree could well be the largest known specimen in the state.

Though fenced off from the general public since 1989 because of heavy foot traffic and poor root health, the massive tree is thankfully in otherwise good health. A viewing platform on the west side of the tree now allows visitors to stand beneath the branches and see the figs up-close. It is in constant contention for the California state championship with two other Moreton Figs (one’s in Santa Barbara and the other’s in Glendora).

Know Before You Go

The nonprofit group Friends of Balboa Park proposed building a viewing platform that would allow folks to get up close and personal with the magnificent tree once again. A viewing platform has been built on the west side of the tree.

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