Update September 21, 2022: The Bunya pine, which appears to have died, was chopped down today. Click here for a brief video memorial. RIP to a great sentinel tree which stood proudly for 134 years. May its memory be a blessing.

Update July 31, 2022: Here’s a video showing the state of the central quad, including fencing and new sprinklers to give the Bunya Bunya tree a chance at survival.

In the central quad of Rancho Los Amigos South Campus in Downey stand two majestic ornamental Australian Bunya Bunya (Araucaria bidwillii) trees that date back to the founding of the County Poor Farm in the late 19th century.

Recently, the taller of the two trees (tag #379) was struck by lightning and briefly caught fire. Historian Colleen Fliedner, who wrote the official centennial history of Rancho Los Amigos, grew concerned about the health of this historic tree, and personally paid for an inspection by plant pathologist Paul F. Santos, M.S. (Waypoint Analytical) to determine the tree’s overall condition and what could be done to help it recover from the lightning strike.

Paul F. Santos’ report (read it here) states that the Bunya Bunya tree is ailing—but that if an effort is made to water, fertilize and treat insects and fungus, it could recover.

Work is currently underway to demolish many of the historic structures on Rancho Los Amigos South Campus, and Los Angeles County firefighters plan to chop down the historic Bunya Bunya, too. We think that’s wrong. This beautiful tree has watched over Angelenos and sheltered birds for many generations, and it deserves a chance to live.

Please join us in asking the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to direct the County’s CEO’s Office to take the Bunya Bunya tree off the removal short list and to follow the direction laid out in Paul F. Santos’ report to help it recover from the recent lightning strike.

Learn more about Rancho Los Amigos here, and please sign the petition and pass it on!