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Chico’s Chinese Color

Chico Seed Orchard (11/3/19) Robert Kermen

Growing throughout Chico in the Northern Sacramento Valley are hundreds of Chinese Pistache trees, pistachia chenensis, and their nut variety, pistachia vera.

That has happened due to the efforts of the Mendocino National Forest’s Genetic Resource Center, commonly known as the Chico Seed Orchard, where new plants from all over the world are observed as to how they will fare in this climate.

The result of all that experimentation has been to introduce farm products such as kiwis, almonds, cherries and pistachios to California agriculture.

It also has made Chico one of the most colorful urban forests in California.

Chinese pistache, Chico (11/3/19) Robert Kermen

The Chinese pistache is one of the most appreciated landscape trees because of its fluorescent fall color, its summer shade, hardiness and deep rooting, which means they don’t raise sidewalks like many other ornamental trees.

Chinese pistache are now at all stages of color throughout Chico, reports Chico area color spotter Robert Kermen. Though, he adds that this year is different – a common theme experienced not just in California, but nationwide – with deciduous plants showing fall color early, late and inconsistently.

In some areas, this has resulted in longer displays (e.g., Bishop Creek). In other areas, much abbreviated ones (e.g., June Lake Loop). That Chico’s Chinese Color now varies from Just Starting to Peak, indicates this could be a long-lasting show for Chico.

Currently, Chico’s urban forest, overall, is transitioning from Patchy to Near Peak with vibrant color appearing throughout the city’s downtown and along The Esplanade, a boulevard that is canopied with landmark trees (Chinese pistache, red maple, dogwood, Western Sycamore, various oaks and London plane trees).

A visit to Chico in autumn is a delight, particularly with stops to tour the Sierra Nevada Brewery, to dine in its excellent restaurant or any of Chico’s other first-rate restaurants, to drop into one of Chico’s exceptional art galleries or visit Orient and Flume Art Glass or to tour the Bidwell Mansion, home of one of California’s most respected pioneers.

Following a visit to Chico, head north seven miles on CA-99 to visit the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina where an 800-year-old Cistercian gothic monastic chapter house (a true architectural masterpiece) has been rebuilt to serve as the abbey’s church. Wine tasting is offered on weekends at the abbey winery.

  • Chico (197′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
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