Self-Guided Tree Walk: Palo Verde

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The Palo Verde Tree Walk begins in front of Palo Verde Elementary School, 3450 Louis Road.

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1a. Evergreen Pear (Pyrus kawakamii)

Palo Verde Elementary School, row of 3 trees to the right of the main entry into the school

Originally from Europe, this tree is evergreen in mild climates. The chunky bark is very characteristic of this species. It offers an abundance of white flowers in late winter and early spring. Its pears are small, berry-like, and tasteless. This species is susceptible to fire blight and bacterial leaf spot, and most trees in this area show some evidence of leaf diseases.

1b. Modesto Ash (Fraxinus velutina 'Modesto')

6 trees around the front lawn of the school

These large deciduous trees are the most common street tree on this block. In the superstitious 16th century, ash keys – the single-winged seeds with a papery wing that are the fruit of the ash tree – were used to ward off witches and serpents. These trees may be reaching the end of their lives; compare their condition with others on the street. This species is no longer planted as a street tree due to problems with anthracnose, white fly damage, and inconsistent performance.

2a. Autumn Purple Ash (Fraxinus americana 'Autumn Purple')

3435 Louis Road, 2 trees close to the sidewalk

For new plantings on streets with Modesto Ashes (Fraxinus velutina 'Modesto'), the City of Palo Alto is planting these Autumn Purple Ashes instead. Autumn Purple Ashes are seedless, which eliminates the litter of ash keys found under the Modesto Ashes. The list of possible species for street tree plantings is constantly evolving based on the City's experience with older street trees.

2b. Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

3435 Louis Road, center of the front yard

This uncommon pine has two twisted needles in each bundle. Young trees are narrow pyramids and are used as Christmas trees. With age, they become open, irregular, and picturesque with sparse foliage.

3. Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida 'Cherokee Daybreak')

3455 Louis Road, center of the front yard

This small, delicate tree has lovely variegated foliage. The bright green center of each leaf is surrounded by an uneven white edge tinged with pink. Pure white "flowers" are actually white bracts, or modified leaves, surrounding a cluster of small non-showy flowers in the center. They are followed by bright scarlet berry-like fruits in the late summer.

4. Hollywood Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Torulosa')

3465 Louis Road, near the corner of Greer Road, against a fence

With its rich green foliage and twisted, irregularly-shaped branches, this tree often takes a stunning windswept form. It was a popular plant when the homes in this area were built and many examples can be seen in this neighborhood.

5. Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

3498 Janice Way, right of the driveway near the sidewalk

This deciduous oak has moderate to fairly rapid growth to 50–80'. In late spring, male and female flowers appear. The male flowers are yellow catkins, and the female flowers are small and inconspicuous. The acorns take two years to ripen. Red Oaks require moderate watering; they are fine for lawns.

6. London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolia)

3492 Janice Way, left front corner

Excellent shade trees, London Plane Trees require full sun and well-drained soil. They are reported to be the most widely planted urban forest tree in the world. In Palo Alto, they are the second-most planted street tree after Southern Magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora).

7. Shamel Ash (Fraxinus uhdei)

3491 Janice Way, right of the driveway near the sidewalk

This fast-growing tree requires some pruning when young to improve branching structure. It provides a majestic canopy over city streets when planted as a street tree, as you can see on this block, which has many. The roots are very aggressive, and it is not a good choice for a small yard.

8. Olive (Olea europaea)

3487 Janice Way, left side of the driveway

Olive trees were introduced to the California Mission gardens by Franciscan missionaries for the oil from their olives. Olive trees that bear fruit can be very messy; they are best suited to areas where dropped fruit won't be a problem. Great fruitless cultivars are now available; look for 'Swan Hill' and the low fruiting 'Wilsonii'. Olive trees are highly recommended for our climate as an interesting, evergreen, and drought-tolerant tree.

9. Cutleaf Weeping Birch (Betula pendula 'Dalecarlica')

3469 Janice Way, cluster in left front yard

At first glance, these trees look like the familiar White Birch (Betula pendula) with lacy-looking leaves and white bark with black clefts. However, they are the cutleaf variety of White Birch. Look closely at the leaves and notice the deep lobes, which give the tree an even lacier appearance.

10a. Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)

3427 Janice Way, left of the driveway near the sidewalk

This stunning tree is slow-growing, eventually reaching a height of 30'. It requires little pruning and has beautiful fall foliage: scarlet, crimson, orange, and sometimes yellow. The inedible fruit on the female tree starts out bright red and turns dark blue. In China, oil is made from its seeds and the leaf buds are boiled and eaten.

10b. White Mulberry (Morus alba)

3427 Janice Way, in the center of the left property line

Native to China, this tree's leaves provide the favorite food of silkworms. The leaves have a variety of shapes, some with lobes and some without. As is common with White Mulberries, this tree has been pollarded. Look at the ends of the major branches and you can see they have been pruned at the same location repeatedly. This is a labor-intensive way to prune and the practice must be started when the tree is young.

11. Yarwood Sycamore (Platanus x acerifolia 'Yarwood')

3403 Greer Road, near the street corner

This large tree to 70' tall and 60' wide has dark green leaves and yellow fall color. The bark exfoliates at an early age, creating attractive patches that expose layers of greens, browns and yellow-white. Severe susceptibility to anthracnose and mildew are problems for this cultivar.

12. Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

3407 Greer Road, near the front door

This maple is one of the many green cultivars of Japanese Maple available. When purchasing, select a tree in the fall for the best view of its fall color. Best planted in part shade, leaf scorch is common when planted in the full sun.

13. Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia)

3415 Greer Road, on the cul-de-sac side in front of the fence

A common street tree with many cultivars, this particular tree has long weeping branches that reach almost to the ground. The tree's interesting bark is "exfoliating," which means that small patches of the bark regularly peel off as a mechanism for the tree to eliminate toxins from air pollution.

14. Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara)

3427 Greer Road, on the corner

Highly scented and native to the Himalayas, it is used there as incense. This tree has been allowed to grow in its natural form: its lower branches touch the ground and then sweep up. The needles are 1–1½" long, softer than on other cedars, and are bunched into clusters on the branches. The cones sit on top of the branches, take a year to mature, and disintegrate while they are still on the branches.

15. Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)

3451 Greer Road, left side

Russian Olives are native from Europe to Asia. Although the narrow silvery-gray leaves and small fruit resemble Olive trees, the Russian Olive is unrelated to the edible olive, genus Olea. It grows to 20' high and is very tolerant of heat, drought, and poor soil.

16. Fuyu Persimmon (Diospyros kaki 'Fuyu')

3458 Greer Road, center of the front yard

Fuyu Persimmon is one of the best fruit trees for ornamental use. It is a small deciduous tree with large, glossy leaves that turn color in the fall. It is very low maintenance, and the best part is the tasty fruit. Fuyu persimmons have a tomato shape rather than the pointy shape of the more common Hachiya persimmons. They are best eaten while crisp like apples. Hachiya are ripe and edible only when soft.

17a. Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

3468 Greer Road, 2 trees left and right of driveway nearest the garage

Native to Japan and Korea, this small tree has white "flowers" on the tops of branches in the late spring. Like all dogwoods, what appear to be flower petals are actually bracts – petal-like modified leaves – that surround the inconspicuous true flowers. Red fruits that look like raspberries stick up from the branches in the summer.

17b. Arbutus Marina (Arbutus 'Marina')

3468 Greer Road, left of driveway near the sidewalk

This evergreen tree has dark green leathery leaves and rosy pink fall flowers. The red bark is outstanding. It exfoliates in the late summer to expose the next year's bark. The decorative red fruit is edible, but mealy, and best left to birds.

17c. Eastern Redbud Forest Pansy (Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy')

3468 Greer Road, 2 trees on the far left

A delicate-looking small tree with heart-shaped, mottled green and purple leaves. Pink flowers cover the twigs in spring and oblong seed pods split open in late fall or winter to reveal flat, bean-like seeds. The Eastern Redbud is the largest and fastest growing of all the redbuds and the most apt to take on the form of a tree. They prefer shade and need ample water.

18. Carolina Laurel Cherry (Prunus caroliniana)

3469 Greer Road, center of the front yard near the sidewalk

This evergreen tree is native to the coastal regions of the southern U.S. and Texas. It was used as a landscape tree by the Williamsburg colonists. The fruits turn from green to deep reddish-purplish as they ripen, then black when fully ripe in late summer. They are edible, but the stone is large and covered by only a thin layer of flesh. They are greatly enjoyed by birds.

19. Linden, Little Leaf (Tilia cordata)

3475 Greer Road, left front corner

A deciduous tree that flowers in July with leaves that are green above and lighter below. In winter, we see open seed pods on the branches, not leaves. In our area, Little Leaf Linden suffers from aphids, which drip sticky honeydew. A better choice for a lawn or street tree is Sterling Linden (Tilia tomentosa).

20. Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

3481 Greer Road, 2 trees in the front yard

The tallest tree in the world, the Coast Redwood can grow up to 340'. It is a relative of the Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) of the Sierra Nevada, which is the biggest tree in volume. Fire-resistant bark protects the hard wood that is used for lumber. As seen here, these large trees can overwhelm a small yard.

21. Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo)

3487 Greer Road, against the house

A slow-growing evergreen shrub or tree with small flowers that turn into strawberry-like red fruits. The fruits may remain on the tree for months and birds find them attractive. The trunk and branches tend to become twisted and gnarled with age. This tree does well in a variety of climates and soils. It is native to Ireland and southern Europe.

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Trees protected by the City of Palo Alto tree ordinance

A permit is needed to remove or prune these trees.

Check the City of Palo Alto Tree Regulations.

Trees with low watering needs

These trees are best adapted to our climate and water availability.

Thirsty trees

These trees require frequent summer irrigation and will suffer from the drought cycle in our area.

Do not plant unless you are aware of a water source such as high water table or creek proximity.

Trees not recommended for planting

These trees are either invasive, do not perform well or create infrastructure or other problems.