Self-Guided Tree Walk: Community Center

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The Community Center Tree Walk begins at the Children’s Library, 1276 Harriet Street.

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1. London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolia)

5 street trees in front of the library

A deciduous tree that originated in England in the 17th century. Named after the city of London, it accounts for more than 50% of the planted trees in London. It was introduced to America in Colonial times. On University Avenue in Palo Alto, they replaced the Glossy Privet.

2. Western Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis)

1043 Parkinson Avenue, right of the front walk behind the gate

A member of the cypress family sometimes called Sierra Juniper because it is native to dry mountain slopes and high country of California, Oregon, and Washington. It is seen as a large shrub or small tree, 15–20', where summers are long and dry and in thin, rocky soils. In this friendlier environment, this specimen grows tall and full.

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

1035 Parkinson Avenue, right front corner of the house

This small deciduous tree with 2–4" oval leaves is native to the eastern U.S. White, pink, or nearly red flowers almost cover the tree in mid-spring before the leaves expand. Often wider than tall, Flowering Dogwoods are known for their open growth, which makes the flowering season spectacular.

4. Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata)

813 Melville Avenue, right front corner

This large Monterey Pine is somewhat crowded by the two nearby Black Acacias and the Coast Redwood. It likes coastal weather and is native to a small area of California near Monterey. The cones of Monterey Pine can remain on the trees for years and remain closed until they are opened by the heat of a forest fire; the seeds are then discharged to begin a new forest. This species is very susceptible to insects and disease in this area.

5. Spanish Fir (Abies pinsapo)

815 Melville Avenue, front yard near the front door

Spanish Fir is native to a limited number of dry mountainous areas in southern Spain. The short, sharp-pointed needles are arranged all the way around the branchlets. Cones sit upright on the branches and at maturity disintegrate to release winged seeds.

6. Green Dracaena (Cordyline australis)

839 Melville Avenue, left of the driveway

This palm-like sub-tropical tree from New Zealand has sword-like leaves and is related to yuccas and agaves. They tolerate drought, poor drainage, any soil conditions, winds, sun, and shade. They require only occasional pruning to eliminate multiple trunks and old fronds or flowers.

7. Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca')

863 Melville Avenue, left front corner

A magnificent specimen! Named after the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco, this cedar can grow to 60'. The short blue-gray needles are grouped in clusters and the cones are carried upright on its branches.

8. Silver-dollar Gum (Eucalyptus polyanthemos)

984 Harriet Street, corner of Greenwood Avenue

Previously a member of the 'box bark' series of eucalypts, this tree has recently been grouped in the 'gum' series (so named because of the gummy resin beneath the bark). The tree's real name is Red Gum. Sunset popularized the name Silver-dollar Gum due to the blue-silver color of the round adolescent foliage. Native to Australia.

9. Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca')

985 Harriet Street, 2 trees at the corner of Greenwood Avenue

These trees are the green version of the Atlas Cedar seen earlier. This large, majestic tree, used for shipbuilding in ancient Greece, needs a large area to develop properly. Once established, Atlas Cedars are very drought-tolerant.

10. Australian Willow (Geijera parviflora)

1135 Greenwood Avenue, 2 street trees

A graceful, fine-textured tree from Australia. The foliage is similar to the Weeping Willow, but it is unrelated. It is not recommended for planting because of structural problems and poor performance.

11. Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Atropunicea')

1159 Greenwood Avenue, left side

Copper Beech is native to central Europe. Beeches have a dense network of fibrous roots near the soil surface that inhibits the growth of lawn beneath. The Purple-leaf Plum (Prunus cerasifera) two doors to the left at 1143 Greenwood Avenue looks very similar at first glance, but if you compare the leaves, you see that the Copper Beech leaves have fine hairs around the edges.

12. Autumn Gold Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba 'Autumn Gold')

1181 Greenwood Avenue, 2 street trees

A cultivar of an ancient tree found around the world whose fossilized leaves have been dated from prehistoric times. It has been planted in Chinese temple grounds since ancient times as a sacred tree. The foliage turns a bright pure yellow after fall rains. While quite barren in winter, this is a "must see" street tree in October and November.

13. European Beech (Fagus sylvatica)

1048 Hutchinson Avenue, center front yard

Another lovely beech that can live up to 250 years. The leaves of this green-leafed version turn russet and bronzy in fall. It is hardwood native to Europe, where it was used in shipbuilding. It was imported to America during the Colonial era.

14. Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara)

1189 Harker Avenue, corner of Hutchinson Avenue

Native to the Himalayas, this drought-tolerant tree is commonly planted throughout Europe and North America. Notice the upright cones that are characteristic of all true cedars. It is similar to the Atlas Cedar, but the top of the tree and the branches are droopy and the needles are longer and softer. The botanical name is derived from the Sanskrit devadara, which means tree of the gods.

15. Liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua)

1236 Harker Avenue, street tree

Love them or hate them, Liquidambars have been planted extensively in Palo Alto. This tree shows one of the problematic features of Liquidambars: their ability to break sidewalks. The original sidewalk has been replaced with one that curves around the tree. On the street side, roots were cut when the curb and gutter were replaced after being broken by the tree.

16. Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

1141 Cedar Street, to the right of the alley to the right

The naming of this tree is rather complicated, especially because it is not, technically, a fir at all! The common name is in honor of David Douglas, the Scottish botanist who first documented the tree on Vancouver Island in 1791. The genus name (the first part of the botanical name) means "false fir." The species, or second, name honors Archibald Menzies, the first botanist to collect California specimens in 1792 and 1794 and a rival of David Douglas.

17. Columbia Sycamore (Platanus x acerifolia 'Columbia')

1301 Parkinson Avenue, street tree nearest the front door on Cedar Street

Columbia Sycamore, also known as the London Plane Tree 'Columbia' cultivar, is one of the best London Plane cultivars for planting in this area; it is the least susceptible to anthracnose leaf drop and is less likely to cause root damage. Compared to the London Plane Tree, which you can see on either side of this recently planted tree, the Columbia Sycamore has a tall central trunk rather than a spreading form. Once established, it is drought tolerant.

18. Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis)

1231 Parkinson Avenue, right side of the house

A grand tree! Tolerates poor soils and is generally insect and disease resistant. Often grows at an angle, usually towards the sunny Southwest. Native to the Mediterranean area, its name comes from the ancient city of Syria. The light-colored sapwood and reddish-brown heartwood are dense, strong, and very durable. This wood was used to build the historic Roman ships of Nemi. The bark is rich in tannin and was used to tan animal hides.

19. Chinese Tallow Tree (Triadica sebifera)

1249 Pine Street, street tree

This tree is known for its dramatic red, yellow, or purple fall color. Chinese Tallow Trees grow to 35' with an upright, rounded canopy and lovely heart-shaped leaves. The light green foliage is dense, but flutters at the slightest breeze. They give light-to-moderate shade and can grow fast when given plenty of water. The name "tallow tree" is derived from the Chinese practice of using the waxy coating around the seeds for making candles.

20. Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

"The Magic Forest" along Hopkins Avenue

Coast Redwoods are protected by the City of Palo Alto. Their native habitat is coastal hills and valleys where foggy weather is more prevalent. "The Magic Forest" was named in memory of Edith Ellery Patton, a teacher at Walter Hays School who took her students to the grove to read stories to them.

21. Valley Oak (Quercus lobata)

1335 Hopkins Avenue, center of the front yard

"California's mightiest oak," according to Sunset's Western Garden Book. A Valley Oak should determine the other landscaping around it, since watering of smaller plants around its roots can cause root crown fungus to develop, leading to falling limbs and death of the tree. The lack of landscaping around this tree is ideal.

22. Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergiana)

1290 Cedar Street, near the corner of Hopkins Avenue

A slow-growing native to Japan, where it is an important timber tree. It has an irregular growth habit with age, often with leaning trunk. This tree is leaning away from the big Coast Redwoods.

23. Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

1295 Wilson Street, on Hopkins Avenue

One of two species of oaks protected in Palo Alto by city ordinance. They are native to coastal California and south to Baja California. The species is endangered by a disease called Sudden Oak Death Syndrome.

24. Red-flowering Gum (Eucalyptus ficifolia)

1280 Wilson Street, behind the fence on Wilson Street

The Red-flowering Gum has a stout trunk, fibrous bark, and dark green, shiny leaves that are lighter on the underside. It has a spectacular display of clusters of red flowers in summer followed by large almost-round seed pods. Although rare in the wild, growing only in scattered stands in the far southwestern corner of Australia, it is one of the most common ornamental eucalypts in the world.

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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.