Self-Guided Tree Walk: College Terrace

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The College Terrace Tree Walk begins at the intersection of College Avenue and Oberlin Street.

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1. Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

2222 Oberlin Street, front yard

Among the world's tallest species, Coast Redwoods can grow 3–5' a year. In home gardens, they often reach 70–90' with a spread of 15–30'. They have a woodsy smell, are pest free, and are fast growing. They grow well next to a watered lawn in full sun to part shade. This is the nicest Coast Redwood in College Terrace.

2. California Box Elder (Acer negundo var. californicum)

2150 Oberlin Street, right side of the front yard

Although it doesn't look like a maple, this local native is a member of the maple family. This California native differs from traditional Box Elders with its fuzzy leaves. In nature it occurs near stream banks and its root system is particularly effective in preventing stream bank erosion.

3. Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

2067 Oberlin Street, right side of the front yard

Native to western North America from Canada to Mexico, the Douglas fir is fast growing and has a classic Christmas tree pyramidal shape when young. Cones up to 3" long point downward, as compared to true firs (Abies), which have upright cones. Douglas Firs have been known to grow to 250'.

4. California Pepper Tree (Schinus molle)

2049 Oberlin Street, right side of the front yard

There's room for argument when it comes to this tree; some gardeners object to their messy litter, scale infestations, and greedy roots, yet there are many who consider them handsome trees. Despite the name, they are native to the Peruvian Andes. This tree provides welcome shade to the Japanese Maple below.

5. London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolia)

1103 Stanford Avenue, street tree

These trees "rise above the indignities of smog, dust and automobile exhaust," according to Sunset and may reach 80' high by 40' wide. Large leaves often drop in spring and early summer due to the fungus anthracnose, and seed balls may create a litter problem. Their large shade canopy and low impact on infrastructure make them a successful urban tree. They are the second most common street tree in Palo Alto.

6. English Walnut (Juglans regia)

2019 Harvard Street, left side of the front yard on Harvard Street

This species can reach 60' with an equal spread of heavy, upward-reaching branches. The walnuts that we eat are from this species and it is used as wood for furniture.

7. Purple Birch (Betula pendula 'Purpurea')

1229 Stanford Avenue, next to the driveway

This rare Purple Birch is closely related to the very common White Birch (Betula pendula). The purple-ish leaves make a nice contrast with the white bark. Like all birches, Purple Birch requires a regular supply of water.

8a. White Alder (Alnus rhombifolia)

1281 Stanford Avenue, on Stanford Avenue near the left corner of house

White Alders are native to stream banks throughout Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Alders are able to take nitrogen out of the air and provide it as a soil nutrient for the tree and nearby plants. Look for the small cone-like catkins at the ends of the upper branches. They remain on the tree even after they have released their seeds.

8b. Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

1281 Stanford Avenue, at the corner of Hanover Street

Long clusters of fragrant white flowers droop from this species in the spring. It is a large, fast-growing tree that can become hollow and structurally weak in old age. In its native territory of the central and eastern U.S. it is valued as a food source for honeybees, but considered invasive.

9. Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

1361 Stanford Avenue, at the corner of Dartmouth Street

Young Coast Live Oaks are different from the centuries-old Coast Live Oaks that dot the neighborhood. Young trees require regular watering and are more tolerant of garden conditions for the first five to ten years after planting.

10a. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

1425 Stanford Avenue, center of the front yard

This tree is a large example of the most common street tree in Palo Alto. It was a favorite back in the 1920s and 1930s when many were planted along the streets of Palo Alto. In summer and fall, these evergreen trees produce fragrant showy white flowers, which develop into an interesting seed pod. Regular summer watering is required to keep this species healthy and vigorous. A less water-thirsty tree is a better choice for planting.

10b. Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina)

1425 Stanford Avenue, 4 street trees on Dartmouth Street

A large deciduous shade tree native to the southwestern U.S. where it lives in canyons that have a perennial source of water. Female trees have clusters of winged seeds similar to maple trees. Fall color is yellow or an attractive gold. Frequent and proper pruning is required to avoid structural problems that lead to limb failure.

11. Hedge Maple (Acer campestre)

2050 Dartmouth Street, street tree closest to park

A small maple (rarely over 30') with rounded leaf lobes. It is native to Europe and Britain, where it is often planted closely and cut into hedges. Clusters of flowers in the spring turn into seed pods with wings. The leaves turn golden yellow to red in the fall.

12. Black Acacia (Acacia melanoxylon)

2325 Dartmouth Street, right of the driveway

Native to eastern Australia, Black Acacias grow fast, up to 40' with a 20' spread. The cream-colored flowers grow in clusters. Roots, litter, and brittle branches are a problem in confined spaces. It is not recommended for planting.

13a. Western Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

2349 Dartmouth Street, street tree right of the driveway and street tree on California Avenue at the corner

The heart-shaped leaves, 6–12" long, give an odd odor when crushed. The tree grows 25–50' and nearly as wide. Pyramidal clusters of white blossoms with orange and purple spots appear in late spring. They develop into bean-like pods up to 12" long that remain on the tree after the leaves fall.

13b. Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa)

2349 Dartmouth Street, left of the front walk

Native to Monterey County, these familiar, picturesque trees grow narrow and pyramidal when young, reaching up to 40'. Away from their foggy coastal habitat, these trees often develop coryneum canker fungus which kills them.

14. Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara)

1410 California Avenue, front yard on the left

This very large specimen shows the characteristics that distinguish the Deodar Cedar from other cedars: a pyramidal form with a curved or drooping top, drooping branches, and long soft needles. Look elsewhere in the yard for a young Deodar Cedar, an unusual Coast Redwood cultivar that has straggly-looking branches and more cones than typical, and a young Monterey Pine.

15. Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)

2390 Hanover Street, 2 trees next to 1330 California Avenue

The familiar sight of dark green cypress columns is the essence of the Mediterranean landscape. These two specimens are exceptionally large. Italian Cypress is native to Italy and other parts of southern Europe and Asia. Evergreen and drought-tolerant once established, these columnar trees can add sculptural permanence and interest to a landscape.

16. Autumn Purple Ash (Fraxinus americana 'Autumn Purple')

2390 Hanover Street, proceed around the corner, two street trees

This medium-sized tree is known for its showy fall color. Introduced in 1956, all trees are male, so they are seedless. Each leaf is made up of seven oval-shaped leaflets, each 2–4" long.

17. Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

2344 Hanover Street, street tree

This deciduous native of the south-central U.S. is the source of the pecans we eat, but is rare in the Bay Area. Naturally a large, majestic tree, this particular tree is much shorter than usual due to trimming for the overhead power lines. George Washington planted a Pecan in 1765 at his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia. That tree is now over 135' with a 12' trunk diameter.

18. Briotii Red Horse Chestnut (Aesculus x carnea 'Briotii')

2240 Hanover Street, street tree

A rounded, very symmetrical tree that produces long clusters of gorgeous dark pink flowers with yellow throats that cover the tree in the spring. Grows to 40–50' by 30' wide. Large spiny green seed pods appear in summer.

19. Valley Oak (Quercus lobata)

1311 College Avenue, front yard on the right

Considered the monarch of California oaks by virtue of its size, age, and beauty. This impressive specimen is older than this neighborhood. Ideally, the tree should have no summer irrigation underneath it. Watering of other plants around its base can cause root crown fungus, leading to the death of the tree.

20. Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis)

1289 College Avenue, left of the driveway

A heavy-trunked plant that grows to 60' with a 50' spread of many gracefully arching fronds. This relatively short specimen makes it easy to see the sawn-off leaf stubs that are characteristic of this palm and to examine the feather-like fronds close up. Look closely and you may see that the seeds of other plants have germinated in the debris on the trunk and have become small plants.

21. Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea)

1181 College Avenue, front yard right side

This native of the eastern U.S. can reach heights of 60–80' with deep roots and is fast-growing. Leaves up to 6" turn bright scarlet in crisp autumn weather. This is a good street or lawn tree that is fine for growing plants underneath, though not at the base of the tree.

22. Japanese Flowering Crabapple (Malus floribunda)

1145 College Avenue, front yard right side

Japanese Flowering Crabapple is a small deciduous tree suited for many locations in the urban landscape. Many varieties are available. Most mature at 15–25' and the flowers range from white to rosy pink. The trunks of older trees often have a lot of character. This specimen has a very short trunk and interesting angled branches.

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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.