Foul play suspected with dying church palm trees

Palm trees near St. James by the Sea on Prospect may have been poisoned by vandals. Photo: Dave Schwab
Palm trees near St. James by the Sea on Prospect may have been poisoned by vandals. Photo: Dave Schwab

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

It appears that a vandal has taken his passion out on the palm trees next to St. James by the Sea in La Jolla.

Several trees lining the sidewalk in front of the church’s gift shop at 743 Prospect St. appear sickly, with their fronds yellowing, and the church has filed a police report on the situation.

Parishioners raised the money to plant the trees about 20 years ago, according to Blayney Colmore, the former rector.

He shared a message in the church's recent newsletter from Rev. Randal Gardner who reported, “After several months of working to improve the health of the palm trees that surround the St. James campus, we have come to the conclusion that their poor health is very likely the result of poisoning. An arborist who is an expert in palm trees confirms that conclusion.”

The rector was out of town and couldn't be reached for additional details, but his message to parishioners states there has been a pattern of “malicious intent” the past two years with those palms, claiming they’ve been “salted” and “copper spikes have been nailed into their trunks.”

The latest apparent “attack” on the trees, according to Gardner, appears to involve an herbicide used to affect them.

“Our arborist believes that there is really nothing to be done to save the trees,” Gardner concluded. “We have begun to make plans to work with the city to have them removed.”

He also noted, "For whatever kind of hardness of heart that moved someone to do this, we pray not to be afflicted with hardness of heart ourselves."

Church officials noted that the harm done to the trees on the grounds of the Episcopal church does not seem to include the king palms or the dragon tree that are part of the front lawn and patio of the grounds of the church’s buildings.



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