California’s largest 145-year-old fig tree. This is a one-of-a-kind historical monument here
Santa Barbara is one of a few towns and cities along the Southern California coast that are particularly notable for their historic events and landmarks. While the majority of historic landmarks in the area are structures associated with the town’s early development, one stands out. The famous Moreton Bay Fig Tree in Santa Barbara is over 145 years old and is a unique natural historic landmark in Southern California.
The Moreton Bay Fig Tree, also known as Ficus Macrophylla, was brought to Santa Barbara by an Australian sailor in 1876 and has since thrived in the Mediterranean-like climate of this coastal town. It was designated a State Historic Landmark in 1970 and is now given special care and is legally protected from being cut down.
This tree was added to the California Register of Big Trees and is thought to be the country’s largest Ficus Macrophylla. A sign around the tree tells the story of this beloved landmark. The sapling was given to a young local girl as a gift. A year after she planted it, it was moved to the land where it now grows, near the intersection of Montecito and Chapala streets.
When compared to the size of the tree and its roots, the car in the photo provides excellent perspective. The branches span more than 175 feet!
A protective barrier now surrounds the tree’s base, and visitors are asked to admire it from the outside. Unlike other giant California trees, such as the Sequoia redwoods in the north, the branches of the Moreton Bay Fig have grown thick and reach out from the trunk, providing incredible views and photos.
The above-ground roots, which are actually extensions of the tree’s trunk, are both large and interesting in size and shape. They resemble octopus legs and extend nearly as far as the canopy of the tree.