If you ever find yourself in southern California, just east of Los Angeles, check out the Glendora Bougainvillea. Bring your camera, because it’s a sight! Courtesy of Google Maps, you can see these magnificent bougainvillea here in this street view. Click on the arrows to take you down E Bennett Ave and N Minnesota Ave. At the time these images were taken, it looks like N Minnesota Ave was showing more color, so start down that street first.
For you history buffs: The vines of the Glendora Bougainvillea which were planted at the turn of the century, cover the lower portion of twenty-five, ninety-foot tall palm trees and comprise the largest growth of bougainvillea in the United States. Stretching for 600 feet along Bennett Avenue and 600 feet along Minnesota Avenue, this twelve-hundred foot growth borders two sides of a community that was once an orange grove. The Glendora Bougainvillea was dedicated as a State Historical Landmark on January 7, 1978.
The orange grove and palm trees (Washingtonia robusta) were planted about 1890 by Reuben Hamlin, a former Canadian, who came to the area in the late 1800’s. Hamlin’s wife, Helen, is credited with having initiated the planting of the bougainvillea in 1901. The parent stock plant was brought to California by a whaling ship about 1870. Being fertilized and irrigated as part of the orange grove, the bougainvillea’s growth was rapid. By the 1940’s some of the bougainvillea reached heights of 70 feet, forming a column of color 20 feet in diameter. In the 1950’s, heavy rainfall and winds sheared off major portions of the palm fronds – which were the framework for the vines. Over the years, the bougainvillea vines have slid down and bulged out. At the present time, some are only 20 feet high, but others still reach 40 feet with trunks 18 to 24 inches in diameter!
Such a display of tropical plants helped further the image of California as a paradise and was common to citrus ranches throughout the state from 1895 to 1940. While California’s early citrus industry has all but vanished, the Glendora Bougainvillea remain as a significant living emblem of that era.