The Lone Cypress clinging to a granite promontory above the surf on California’s Monterey Peninsula has survived arsonists’ fires, vandal’s paint, drought and relentless winds along the famously scenic 17-Mile Drive edging the Pebble Beach Resorts.
But on Thursday, the most photographed tree in North America was lashed by a brutal Pacific storm that knocked off one of its largest branches, significantly altering the appearance of the tree that has been a marketing tool and a registered trademark of the Pebble Beach Co. since 1919.
Until now, the tree, believed to be more than 250 years old, had posed for generations of camera-toting travelers like a steadfast example of rugged individualism.
The Pebble Beach Co. told the Associated Press on Friday that the loss of a limb was “a natural part of the evolution of The Lone Cypress Tree,” and that an arborist recently concluded that it is “healthy and remains secure on its rocky perch.”
But judging from KSBW Action News 8 reports, however, visitors gathering around the tree over the weekend were engaging in a new activity that started immediately after word spread that it had lost a limb, along with an estimated 1/3 of its foliage.
They were comparing images of the tree captured in personal snapshots, postcards and advertisements with the damaged contours of the world-famous example of the Monterey Cypress, which naturally occurs no other place on Earth but around Pebble Beach and Point Lobos.
Among them was Richard Yaus. His eyes alternating between the image on a Pebble Beach brochure and the spindly old conifer on the Gibraltar-like headlands, he sadly confirmed, “It doesn’t look like it used to.”