Self-Guided Tree Walk: West Bayshore

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The West Bayshore Tree Walk begins at Ohlone School, 950 Amarillo Avenue.

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1. White Mulberry (Morus alba)

950 Amarillo Avenue, row of 4 trees in front of Ohlone School

Native to China, these trees grow rapidly to 35', with a wider spread and widely spreading roots as well. The shape of the leaves is variable; some leaves have lobes and other leaves have no lobes at all. Older trees tend to have fewer lobed leaves. The leaves turn yellow in the fall. Mulberry leaves are the food of the silkworm.

2. Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

939 Amarillo Avenue, 3 trees in the front yard

A small maple native to Japan, China, and Korea. Many cultivars have been produced with much variety in leaf color and shape. They are especially useful as decorative trees in front yards and in Asian landscapes. They remain small enough to be planted under power lines, but require summer watering.

3. California Pepper Tree (Schinus molle)

931 Amarillo Avenue, front yard left of the sidewalk

A native of Peru, this species was planted at the California Mission gardens by Franciscan missionaries. Its beautiful weeping canopy contains bright green, narrow leaflets. In summer, many tiny yellowish white flowers droop in 4–6" clusters. The flowers become rose-colored berries in the fall and winter. The trunks of old trees are heavy and fantastically gnarled.

4. Evergreen Pear (Pyrus kawakamii)

925 Amarillo Avenue, right of the driveway

The Evergreen Pear can easily be identified by its chunky, deeply-fissured bark. The leaves, which can be evergreen or deciduous, get a bacterial leaf spot disease that often makes the foliage look poor.

5. Red Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon)

906 Amarillo Avenue, right of the front walk

Once you learn the appearance of this tree's bark, you can easily distinguish it from other eucalyptus species. The dark red-brown bark, thick with deep furrows, never peels or drops litter. The wood is red in color and is as hard as iron, according to 19th century botanist George Bentham, whose 1878 book Flora Australiensis is still considered current. Limb failure is a problem with the cultivar currently available.

6. Modesto Ash (Fraxinus velutina 'Modesto')

905 Amarillo Avenue, 2 trees next to the sidewalk on Louis Road

This ash variety was developed in Modesto, California from the Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina), a native of the Central Valley of California. It grows to 50' high and 30' wide. It has naturally upward sweeping branches with glossy green 6" leaflets that turn bright yellow in the fall. It is subject to anthracnose in our local climate.

7. Mayten Tree (Maytenus boaria)

2675 Louis Road, right side of the front yard near the house

Native to Chile, this small tree has an oval, billowy form with long pendulous branches. The leaves are small, thin and light green. Scarlet pea-sized fruits, maturing to black in the fall, are barely visible in the foliage. This tree suffers in drought and is often a poor performer.

8. Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)

914 Moreno Avenue, center front yard

The trunks of Carob trees are gnarled, burly, twisted trunks full of character, regardless of their age. Almost round, dark green, glossy leaflets densely cover the tree. Female trees have hard, 6" long seed pods that contain edible seeds used as a chocolate substitute. This evergreen tree is extremely drought-tolerant.

9. California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)

918 Moreno Avenue, 3 trees right side

Native to a small area in Southern California and Arizona. It grows to 60' and has long stalked leaves that stand well apart in an open crown. These fan-shaped leaves are 5–6' long and 3–6' wide. In May and June, 8–10' long branched clusters of flowers appear. Unless pruned, dead fronds cover most of the trunk.

10a. Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis)

924 Moreno Avenue, left of the driveway

Long-lived (50–60 years) plants from the Canary Islands. They grow to 60' with a crown spread of 50'. The leaf structure is like a drooping feather rather than being folded like a fan as with the Fan Palms. Orange bunches of inedible dates fall from female trees.

10b. Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)

924 Moreno Avenue, left of the front walk, behind the fence

Grows to 70–80'. Dead fronds near the base capture moisture from the air and funnel it to the base of the trunk. The Mexican Fan Palm is taller and has a more slender trunk than the less common California Fan Palm. Native to Mexico.

11. Linden, Little Leaf (Tilia cordata)

933 Moreno Avenue, 2 trees on the left side along the fence

These are very large examples of a tree that is known as a lime tree in England, but it has nothing to do with limes. This tree is wider than it is tall. In winter, we see open seed pods on the branches, not leaves. Its leaves are dark green above and paler below. It flowers in July.

12. Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba)

939 Moreno Avenue, right of the driveway

From China, the Maidenhair Tree is slow growing, and not much pruning is needed. It is an ancient tree dating to prehistoric times. Fan-like leaves have beautiful yellow fall color. Because the leaves fall nearly all at once, they create a carpet of color underneath the tree.

13. Patmore Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica 'Patmore')

958 Moreno Avenue, left of the driveway near the sidewalk

An exceptional shade tree that grows to 40'. Large, deep green, shiny leaves change to golden yellow in fall. Known for its straight trunk and symmetrical shape, it likes moist soil and is tolerant of wet soils.

14. Silver-dollar Gum (Eucalyptus polyanthemos)

967 Moreno Avenue, left of the driveway

This eucalyptus species was brought to California in 1856 (during the Gold Rush) from Australia. Originally planted as a lumber tree, it was also grown in the 19th century as a windbreak and for firewood. This eucalyptus is fast growing and needs little water. Silver-dollar Gum has round juvenile leaves used in flower arrangements and lance-shaped mature leaves.

15. American Elm (Ulmus americana)

966 Moreno Avenue, left side

Found throughout the U.S., but rare in California, this tree can grow 100' high and 50–60' wide. Its toothed leaves are 3–6" long, and its bark is dark and furrowed. It is fast-growing, but it is a thirsty tree susceptible to insects and Dutch Elm disease. This specimen is probably about 50 years old and in poor condition.

16. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

984 Moreno Avenue, front yard

A very thirsty tree that is native to the southeastern U.S. It is evergreen, but its leaves die and fall off throughout the year. Its beautiful huge white flowers are powerfully fragrant. The above-ground roots and the vertical shoots on the lower branches of this specimen are signs of confinement and stress. Many Southern Magnolias in Palo Alto are showing signs of aging and not enough moisture.


2607 Greer Road, center of the front yard near the sidewalk

This tree is a smaller cultivated variety of the next tree on this walk. In April and May, showy plumes of small red flowers with yellow throat markings stand upright above the foliage. The leaves are composed of 5 leaflets grouped in a fan. Compared to the next tree on this walk, the dark green leaflets are wavier and have more teeth. Interesting 2" round fruits have tough green skins with prickly spines.

18. Red Horse Chestnut (Aesculus x carnea)

2657 Greer Road, on the right property line

This big tree can cast dense shade when it grows to 40' high and 30' wide. In April or May, it bears hundreds of plumes of soft pink to red flowers. The dark brown chestnut seed is held in a spiked husk ball that falls in the autumn.

19. Purple-leaf Plum (Prunus cerasifera)

1013 Amarillo Avenue, row of 10 trees next to the sidewalk on Greer Road

These trees burst into very attractive early spring blossoms in pink tones. The purple leaves soon flush out. Many varieties of Purple-leaf Plum are available; in a setting like this, the fruitless varieties are preferred.

20. Olive (Olea europaea)

1008 Amarillo Avenue, 3 trees in the front yard

Willow-like foliage is a soft gray-green. Branches become gnarled in maturity when the tree reaches a height and width of 25'. Most lush when grown in deep rich soil, it thrives in areas with hot dry summers. Without processing, olives are inedible; they must be treated and cured to rid them of their bitter taste.

21. River She-oak (Casuarina cunninghamiana)

1003 Amarillo Avenue, tree nearest the sidewalk

This Australian tree has weeping branches of green needle-like twigs. Look at the "needles" to see lines like joints. Although it looks like a pine and bears small cones, it is unrelated to pines. It tolerates coastal and arid conditions and is used to reforest burned and logged areas.

22. Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora)

991 Amarillo Avenue, front yard

The 2½–5" leaves of the Camphor Tree smell like camphor when crushed. These trees often spread out to a width as great as their height, creating a shady canopy as wide as 50'. Native to Japan and China, the Camphor Tree is the official tree of many cities in Japan including Hiroshima City.

23. Fern Pine (Podocarpus gracilior)

990 Amarillo Avenue, right of the driveway

Native to eastern Africa, but well-adapted to California. In youth, the leaves are dark green, 2–4" long, and ½" wide. With age, the leaves become lighter green, more densely spaced and 1–2" long. Depending on the method of propagation and the type of pruning this slow-growing and pest free plant receives, it can take on a variety of tree and shrub shapes. It is also known as Afrocarpus elongatus.

24. Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca')

950 Amarillo Avenue, right of the entrance to the side parking lot at Ohlone School

The Atlas Cedar has short blue green needles that appear in bunches on the tops of stiff branches. The bunches, or rosettes, remain on the tree for 3 or 4 years before falling off. The cones sit on top of the branches, too, pointing up. This Algerian native will typically reach 60'.

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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.