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Photo: Historian Neal Graffy checks out an olive tree near the school. Image: Betsy J. Green

Olive Trees on the Mesa- Part 1


The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean and has been growing there for thousands of years. Some of the trees in that area are believed to be more than 2,000 years old. Generally, the older the tree, the broader and more gnarled the trunk. Based on this description, there are several very old olive trees right here on the Mesa, near the main door of Washington School on Lighthouse Road. Not thousands of years old, but possibly more than a hundred. Mesa farmers were growing olive trees in the 1870s.


So how old are the olive trees near the Washington School? I asked Steve Junak, former botanist at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, what he thought. He agreed that the olive tree in the photo looked ancient, but said it would be difficult to put an exact age on the tree.


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