Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

December 27, 2005 > Fremont's oldest residents

Fremont's oldest residents

by Tina Cuccia

While Fremont is a relatively young city (incorporated in 1956), many of its trees that line the streets and adorn the districts: Irvington, Mission San Jose, Centerville, Niles and Warm Springs are some of the city's oldest -- and biggest -- residents.

You may be amazed to learn that Fremont ranks second to Sacramento in the state of California for having the most "big" trees as well as different varieties of trees (currently at 24).

If you are curious to learn more about the trees (both native or non-native) that exist in California as well as those that can be found in Fremont, several tree registries are available online including the California Register of Big Trees (; Roadside Arboretum, (at, and Landmark Trees (, all of which list Fremont trees.

All 50 United States have an official state tree. Except for Hawaii's state tree, each is native to the state. In California, we actually have two state trees: the giant redwood and the giant sequoia.

These big trees are not only beautiful, but provide a canopy that lasts hundreds of years. Such canopies in Fremont can be found in several areas including Palmdale Estates in Mission San Jose, the Patterson House at Ardenwood Historic Farm, and on Fremont Blvd. near Central Ave. A few gems can also be found at the California Nursery Company Historical Park in the Niles District and at the Shinn Historic Park and Arboretum. Built in 1876 by pioneer and nurseryman James Shinn, it also features rare plants and shrubs that Shinn collected from all over the world including Japan and South America.

The Shinn Historic Park and Arboretum is the home of two state champion trees: the Chilean bellotto tree and the Chilean jubaea palm, which bears edible miniature coconuts the size of walnuts. In addition, the tree is used to make palm wine.

Fremont has a long history of tree planting dating back to the early 1800s when several nurseries introduced many different varieties of trees to the area. "Fremont has had many nurseries that have helped proliferate trees from all over the world," says Nelson Kirk, Park Field Supervisor for the City of Fremont.

"The California Nursery Company Historical Park moved to Niles from San Jose in 1884," Kirk said. "It has about 20 acres and has been used continuously as a nursery since then."

Today, if you take a closer look in Fremont or perhaps your own neighborhood, you'll find trees as old as 400 years old as well as new saplings that have recently been planted. For example, during October's "Make a Difference Day" in Union City, volunteers helped plant 250 trees to restore wildlife and picnic areas.

Many trees in Fremont come from the Himalayan Mountains and were probably brought to the area in the 1800s. According to Kirk, if Fremont had to name a "city" tree, there were would probably be a three-way tie: the cedar Deodara (means "tree of God"), an evergreen; the olive tree and the Phoenix canariensis palm. All three can be found in abundance all over Fremont and have been here since the 1800s.

"The biggest cedar Deodara is at Niles Elementary School on Second Street," Kirk said. "The bald cypress tree at the Patterson House is a state champion and a black maple tree and a weeping false cypress, there too, are also state champions."

Planting a tree is an art form and a science. There's more to it than just selecting a specimen and a good spot. Kirk notes that weather and soil conditions, shade and available sunlight and much more must be considered. The right tree for the right spot is most important while considering the tree's size at maturity, concrete lift and potential obstructions such as overhead utility wires and in-ground plumbing. Maintenance is an important factor such as falling leaves to be swept each season. Trees that are properly trained and pruned at a young age will have a good chance at living a very long life.

Organizations such as East Bay Regional Parks District continue to reforest areas including Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area, Fremont. Currently, city landscape planners are working with new developers to add forest cover and compliment new developments and structures. City urban foresters and park crews have recently reduced the number of tree plantings due to limited resources.

Residents of Fremont can help replenish the earth and the area by planting a tree. Oak trees, for example, provide shade and food for wildlife. Planting flowering trees and palms helps to create beautiful and healthy visual art. Those who plant trees leave a legacy of beauty for all to enjoy today and in the future.

Navlets nursery is offering a class on Fremont's Historic trees from 10 a.m. - noon on February 19. For more information, please call (510) 657-7511.

Navlets nursery
Class on Fremont's Historic Trees
46100 Warm Springs Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94539-7988
(510) 657-7511


What does he plant who plants a tree?
He plants the friend of sun and sky;
He plants the flag of breezes free;
The shaft of beauty, towering high;
He plants a home to heaven anigh
For song a mother-croon of bird
In hushed and happy twilight heard,
The treble of heaven's harmony-
These things he plants who plants a tree.

What does he plant who plants a tree?
He plants cool shade and tender rain,
And seed and bud of days to be,
And years that fade and flush again;
He plants the glory of the plain;
He plants the forest's heritage;
The harvest of a coming age;
The joy that unborn eyes shall see-
These things he plants who plants a tree.

What does he plant who plants a tree?
He plants, in sap and leaf and wood
In love of home and loyalty
And far-cast thought of civic good-
His blessing on the neighborhood
Who in the hollow of His hand
Holds all the growth of all our land.
A nation's growth from sea to sea
Stirs in his heart who plants a tree.
-Author unknown.

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