Self-Guided Tree Walk: Edible Urban Forest Tree Walk

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The Edible Urban Forest Tree Walk begins at Johnson Park, 268 Waverley St, meet at the Avocado Tree in the concrete tree well next to the playground.

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1. Avocado (Persea americana)

Johnson Park, in the concrete tree well

This large avocado tree is probably a frost-resistant variety. The avocado tree is an understory tree native to the humid and semi-humid tropics. There are over 1,000 varieties of avocado trees, with only a small number commercially grown. Avocados usually take 7-10 days to ripen after picked.

2. Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Johnson Park, by edge of playground

This tree is native to central California and is often used as rootstock for the edible English walnuts. Each compound leaf contains 13-21 leaflets. As a survival mechanism, the roots give off a chemical that makes it difficult for other plants to grow under the tree.

3. Peach (Prunus persica)

Johnson Park Community Garden, next to garden driveway on Kipling

The peach tree is a deciduous tree native to northwest China, where it was first domesticated. Peaches grow in dry or temperate climates, and require a chilling period. The tree flowers in the spring, followed by the fruit which ripens during the warm summer months.

4. Orange (Citrus sinensis)

453 Hawthorne Ave, to left of the driveway

The evergreen orange tree is one of the top cultivated fruit trees. It can be grown from seed, but typically a mature plant is grafted onto rootstock to yield the desired variety of orange. A few well-known orange varieties are Navel, Cara Cara, Valencia, and Blood orange.

5. Brush Cherry (Syzygium paniculatum)

Johnson Park, large tree on corner of Everett & Waverley

This rainforest tree is native to eastern Australia. In spring the tree produces dark pink to red fruit that has a pleasantly sour taste, which can be eaten fresh or made into jam.

6. Fuyu Persimmon (Diospyros kaki 'Fuyu')

Johnson Park, exact corner of Everett & Waverley

Fuyu persimmon is one of the best fruit trees for ornamental use. It is a smaller deciduous tree with large, glossy leaves that turn color in the fall. The fruit typically ripens in early winter. Fuyu persimmons have a tomato shape rather than the pointy shape of the Hachiya persimmons. They are best eaten while crisp like apples.

7. Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

327 Waverley St, to left of the front door

The pomegranate tree is a deciduous tree often found as a shrub. It requires full sun and is somewhat drought tolerant. Inside the pomegranate, which is really a berry, are about 1200 seeds called arils. Depending on the variety the arils can be soft or hard and have a sweet and tangy flavor.

8. Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba)

555 Waverley St, several street trees

This prehistoric species - the oldest cultivated tree on earth - provides intense yellow fall color. It comes in two genders, which cannot be distinguished until the sapling is 5-6 years old. While these trees are likely cloned males, the fruit from adult female trees can be made into a tea or roasted, but emit a terrible stench in the fall.

9. Olive (Olea europaea)

Waverley St, by the Post Office at 380 Hamilton

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 remove their bitter taste.

10. Valley Oak (Quercus lobata)

635 Waverley St, look up!

The Valley Oak is a deciduous tree endemic to California. The tree can grow up to 100 feet and can survive for over 300 years. Mature oaks can produce up to a ton of acorns a year, helping to support a variety of wildlife habitat. Acorns were widely used by Californian Native societies as a staple food item. After leeching out tannins, the acorns were crushed to a flour and prepared into items such as flat bread.

11. Sweet Bay (Laurus nobilis)

683-685 Waverley St, two trees along entry path

The Sweet Bay is an evergreen tree or large shrub native to the Mediterranean region. Their aromatic leaves are what you find in the grocery store to flavor dishes like soups and stocks. The leaf from the native California bay laurel (Umellularia californica) can also be used, but only a little is needed as the leaves are strongly flavored.

12. Edible Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)

729 Waverley St, between Surgery Center & 729 Waverley

Native to China, the loquat is an evergreen tree or shrub that is cultivated in temperate and subtropical places as an ornamental plant. The tree flowers in winter and produces edible, if small, fruit in the spring. Yellow to orange in color, the fruit is sweet and tangy, and commonly used to make jam, jelly, chutney, and slightly immature fruit are used in pies. The fruit is also used to make a fermented fruit wine, and in Italy the seeds are made into a liqueur.

13. Dwarf Apple(Malus spp.)

857 Waverley St, on fence to the left

Notice the dwarf apple espalier, this horticultural practice is used to control the growth of the tree and its fruit production, as well as better absorb heat near a building. The branches are tied and pruned to the wall to encourage vertical branch growth. This practice is also helpful for growing in tight spaces.

14a. Apple(Malus spp.)

1010 Waverley St, on fence along Addison Ave

A deciduous tree that originated from Central Asia, the apple tree is now cultivated worldwide. There are over 7,500 cultivars of apples ranging in tastes and uses. Apples typically mature in late summer or autumn.

14b. Japanese Persimmon Hachiya (Diospyros kaki 'Hachiya')

1010 Waverley St, in corner to the right of entry gate

This tree produces big, slightly pointed fruit quite astringent until they become very soft and ripe. The fruit can be pureed and used as a replacement for applesauce in bread and other recipes.

15. Brazilian Pepper Tree (Schinus terebinthifolius)

1037 Waverley St, to right of house

Although the leaves are quite different, Brazilian Pepper Trees are related to the more common Californian Pepper Tree (Schinus molle). Contrary to its common name, it is actually native to Peru. Its bright red berries are very showy in winter and are sold as pink peppercorns or mixed with commercial pepper that is cultivated from the fruit of a flowering vine (Piper nigrum).

16. Fruit Salad Trees(Prunus spp. & Malus spp.)

405 Lincoln Ave, along the fence

Although the leaves are quite different, Brazilian Pepper Trees are related to the more common Californian Pepper Tree (Schinus molle). Contrary to its common name, it is actually native to Peru. Its bright red berries are very showy in winter and are sold as pink peppercorns or mixed with commercial pepper that is cultivated from the fruit of a flowering vine (Piper nigrum).

17. Edible Fig (Ficus carica)

405 Kingsley Ave, left of house in corner by fence

The fig tree is grown throughout the world as an ornamental plant and for its fruit. It was one of the first cultivated edible plants in the ancient Middle East, and was later widespread in ancient Greece. The deciduous tree can tolerate seasonal drought.

18. Silver Linden (Tilia tomentosa)

1207 Waverley St

The Silver Linden is a beautiful shade tree that is native to Europe and western Asia. The tree produces fragrant yellow-white flowers that bloom in the summer months. The flowers are used in France to make a popular tea known as “Tilleul”.

19a. Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana)

409 Melville Ave, on Waverley St right of driveway

An evergreen tree or perennial shrub, the pineapple guava is native to South America. The tree is widely cultivated for its fruit which matures in autumn. The fruit is rich in flavor and gives off a distinctive aroma.

19b. Banana(Musa spp.)

409 Melville Ave, on Waverley St corner of house

The banana plant is an herbaceous flowering plant that is often mistaken for a tree because of its trunk, which is actually a “false stem.” The banana plant is native to tropical Indomalaya and Australia, but is currently grown in about 107 countries. The ubiquitous Cavendish (Musa acuminata) is just one of many banana species available worldwide.

20. Edible Fig Black Mission (Ficus carica 'Black Mission')

Gamble Garden, fenced area near Hort Office

Fig is a common fruit tree in the Bay Area. The ‘Black Mission’ variety produces purple-black fruit with pink flesh that is good either fresh or dried. Edible Fig is one of the first plants cultivated by early humans.

21. Kiwi(Actinidia deliciosa)

Gamble Garden, near the Coral tree

While not a tree, the kiwi plant is a species of woody vines that produce edible berries. Native to China, the name kiwi was adopted in 1974 after New Zealand began exporting the fruit to the US in the 1960s. There are a variety of cultivars, but the most common one has brown, fuzzy skin with bright-green flesh.

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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.