Looking south from Guy Fleming trail. A lone Torrey
pine (Pinus torreyana)clasps to eroding coastal cliffs.
Torrey Pines
State Reserve

San Diego County

January 1, 2002

Surrounded by expensive housing tracts of northern San Diego County, dissected by Pacific
Coast Highway and Amtrack's "Surfliner" tracks, nearly swallowed by a golf course to the
south, and threatend internally by bark bettle and drought stress, Torrey Pines has endured as
one of the last refuges for the Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana). Endemic only to California, the
Torrey pine's range is restricted to two places: Santa Rosa Island and 5 miles of coastal bluffs in
the northern San Diego/Del Mar area. It is estimated that no more than 10,000 trees remain in
these natural populations (Lanner, 1999).

From the High Point trail, looking north toward Del Mar (developed within the northern
portion of the Torrey Pine forest). The panoramic view suggests the diverse environment of
Torrey Pines Reserve. Within the preserve you cross through pine forest, open coastal sage
scrub/chaparral communities, and salt marsh habitat of Los Penasquitos Lagoon. The lagoon
provides an important stopover for birds along the Pacific Flyway. For visitors to this small, but
stunning reserve, there are plenty of easy to moderately strenuous trails to explore every
community within the reserve, including access to Torrey Pine State Beach, which offers
stunning exposures of the sedimentary rock on which the reserve is situated.
(Photo taken February 1, 2001)

Looking south from Razor Point. The rills and gullies cut into oxidized sedimentary rock nearly
glow in the low-angle winter light. Called a "badland" landscape, this type of erosion is typical
in softer rocks as winter rains wash away the surface sediment. The constant battering of storm
waves on the cliff base below furthers this erosion by keeping the slopes above steep and unstable.
These eroded cliffs are relatively recent in age, only about 120,000 years old (Evarts, 1994).
(Photo taken February 1, 2001)

The Torrey pine forest along Guy Fleming trail. This species of pine prefers sandy or sandy
loam soils, between 100-500 feet above sea level, and is usually found growing on seaside cliffs,
ridges, and mesa tops (Lanner, 1999). Barkbettle is a serious threat to the health of this mainland
population, having killed about 15% of the grove. In 1991, to prevent the bark bettle threat
from devastating the remainder of the forest, a two prong approach was taken based on
the bettles' own scent signals. Phreromone baited traps were place amongst dead trees (to attract
beetles away from healthy trees) and a "repellant" phreromone was released within trees still alive
to keep the beetles from spreading into uninfested areas. The program was highly successful
(Evarts, 1994). The funnel shaped traps can still be seen within portions of the reserve.

A particularly severe example of a wind-sheared Torrey pine perched on the edge of the coastal
cliffs. It is sprawling only a few feet above the ground in this extreme environment. Looking
north towards Del Mar, along the Guy Fleming trail.

Coastal Agave (aka. Shaw's agave) (Agave shawii) seen along the Beach Trail.
Rare in southern California, but common to Baja California.
In what seems like a contradiction in plant community associations,
this coniferous woodland is home to many drought tolerant species such as:
Mojave yucca, fishhook cactus, coast prickly pear, snake cholla,
coast cholla, velvet cactus, and coast barrel cactus.
Indeed, the 10 inch average rainfall along this coastline encourages
such a mix (Lanner, 1999; Evarts, 1994)

Lanner, Ronald M. 1999. Conifers of California. Cachuma Press: Los Olivos.
Evarts, Bill. 1994. Torrey Pines: Landscape and Legacy. Torrey Pines Association: La Jolla.


Revised: June 21, 2004

This site ©2004 Ann Dittmer.