Australia Set California on Fire

A Bit of History

First, let’s go back to the late 1800’s. Ellwood Cooper was an educator, entrepreneur and is now considered a local legend to many in Santa Barbara. His ranch housed hundreds of different types of trees including walnut and fig trees. A certain type of Australian tree called Eucalyptus globulus, better known as the blue gum tree, caught Cooper’s eye while in San Francisco. These trees are easy to spot, thanks to their waxy blue leaves. Moreover, with his entrepreneurial spirit pushing him, he managed to plant over 200 acres of the tree.

Once 1900 rolled around, aspiring businessmen were planting acre upon acre of the timber hoping to make a healthy profit and a name for themselves. It was all for naught though, because, by the time the tree was ready to cut, the timber was a mere shadow of it is ancestors in Australia. Many investments went down the drain, but the trees stayed.

It is Not A Nice Tree

The blue gum tree is considered an invasive species today and is blamed for the Oakland Firestorm of 1991. Now, I do not know about you, but it seems to me that those Australians responsible for showing those big shot Californian businessmen the blue gum tree were not totally forthright. It takes up to, if not more than, 100 years for these trees to fully develop. Out of all the businessmen planting this tree, wouldn’t you think that at least one of them would’ve known how long it takes for these trees to reach full maturity? The tree is also incredibly flammable, and the oil it secretes is quite toxic. The animals that would feed on the leaves of the tree in Australia were well adapted to the toxicity, but with no predators in California, the trees proceeded to take over the state. These trees are tough as nails, too. They can grow where other plants cannot, such as in soil that has been ruined by mining and on overly farmed soil.

Were California Entrepreneurs Conned?

I do not think we have enough information on those shadowy figures from down under. Nor do I think that there’s enough evidence to prove that there was a “long con.” However, it is almost too perfect of a crime.

You can blame climate change all you want for the vicious fires, but the facts do not support that. The many outlandish theories that circle back to climate change cannot hold a candle to how the blue gum trees contributed to this disaster. After all, they are nothing more than theories. California’s drought and the blue gum trees are both to blame. Also, maybe Australia. Who knows? I still love our Aussie brothers and sisters.

Landon Jordon / Writer

I am a father, moderate Libertarian and ordained Christian minister. My life has been a whirl of excitement but I’m proud of the fact that I've never been to a Kid Rock concert.
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  1. Pets hope Californians learn from this, and take steps to remove and keep out these trees in the future.

    1. When I was writing this I looked at a map of where the trees were located and they're just about everywhere. You can drive any back road and they'd be one of the only things you'll see.




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