L.A. once sold its climate as "semi-tropical" – a term that emphasized the uniqueness of its nature. Semi-tropical was semi-miraculous.

Developers with rancho land to sell were eager to recast the environment of Southern California to imply warmth and lushness but not a steamy jungle. In Southern California’s embrace, every tropical crop – from bananas to passion fruit – would flourish without the health (and moral) risks of life in the actual tropics. And Anglo Californians would flourish too, in a newly “semi-tropical” nature.

Fan Leaf Plam, ca. 1890

Fan Leaf Plam, ca. 1890