Self-Guided Tree Walk: Greenmeadow

Sign up to take an arborist-led Tree Walk. Tree Walk starting point map.

The Greenmeadow Tree Walk begins at the Greenmeadow Community Center, 303 Parkside Drive.

View the Symbols Legend

1. Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)

303 Parkside Drive, 8 trees in the lawn in front of the Montessori School

This deciduous tree has foot-long compound leaves composed of 10–16 narrow 2–4" long leaflets. Its fall foliage colors are stunning – scarlet, orange and yellow. The fruit on female trees is initially bright red, turning a dark blue. To avoid litter from fruits, plant the male variety 'Keith Davies'.

2. October Glory Maple (Acer rubrum 'October Glory')

4003 Scripps Avenue, left of the driveway on Parkside Drive

A Red Maple cultivar with intense fall color. It has a rounded oval crown and is known for dependable fall color and fast growth. Not drought tolerant, this location surrounded by lawn is a good choice.

3. Apple (Malus domestica)

4003 Scripps Avenue, right side of the front yard on Scripps Avenue

Dwarf apple trees, such as this one, are 5–8' tall and wide. They take up little room and bear at a younger age than standard apples, but they need the support of a post, fence or sturdy trellis to withstand wind and heavy rain. Apples ripen from July to early November, depending on the variety.

4. Western Red Bud (Cercis occidentalis)

4005 Ben Lomond Drive, right of the driveway

A small native accent or understory tree that tolerates heat and drought. It is usually a large shrub or small multi-trunked tree. Pink flowers cover the branches before leaves appear in the spring. Flattened, oblong seed pods turn purplish to brown as they ripen in late summer and persistent into winter. The leaves turn showy yellow to orange-red in the fall.

5. Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)

4017 Ben Lomond Drive, front yard

A Pacific Coast native whose habitat ranges from California to Alaska. Locally, it grows naturally near streams in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The leaves turn bright yellow in the fall.

6. Cork Oak (Quercus suber)

4043 Ben Lomond Drive, front yard

The Cork Oak is an evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean. You can thank this tree for the cork in your wine bottle. The trunk and main limbs are covered with thick bark harvested to make corks. This tree can grow to 50' with an equal spread. It needs good drainage or its leaves will turn yellow. It is very drought-tolerant once established.

7. Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana)

4055 Ben Lomond Drive, right side

This tree is native only to a small stretch of Southern California coast near San Diego and Santa Rosa Island. Like most pines, the number of needles per bundle and the length of the needles are good keys to identification. Torrey Pines have bundles of 5 needles that are 8–13" long.

8. Brazilian Pepper Tree (Schinus terebinthifolius)

4073 Ben Lomond Drive, left side against the fence

Although they don't look at all alike, Brazilian Pepper Trees are related to the more common California Pepper Tree (Schinus molle). Contrary to its common name, it is actually native to Brazil's neighbor, Peru. The dark green glossy leaves are divided into 5–13 oval leaflets. Its bright red berries are very showy in winter and are sold as pink peppercorns, though seeds are toxic in large amounts.

9. Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

4081 Ben Lomond Drive, right of the driveway

Fast-growing shade tree that grows to 40–100' with attractive foliage and fall color. Tiny flowers appear in late winter before the leaves. However, it is among the least desirable of maples because of invasive surface roots, weak branching structure and susceptibility to pests. This tree requires summer water.

10. White Mulberry (Morus alba)

4090 Ben Lomond Drive, right of the driveway

This is a fruitless cultivar of the White Mulberry, a tree native to China that is the food of silkworms. The glossy dark green leaves have rounded teeth and may be lobed or not lobed at all, even on the same tree. It grows fast to 30–50' feet tall and wide, casting dense shade. Heavy surface roots and many fibrous yellow roots invade the soil below, which is why they are nearly always found in lawns.

11. Laceleaf Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Dissectum')

4094 Ben Lomond Drive, center front yard

Growing low to the ground and in a wide dome shape, Laceleaf Maples are showcase trees. They are slow growing and can reach up to 6' high by 12' wide. Like other Japanese Maples, they come in many different leaf colors.

12. Moraine Ash (Fraxinus holotricha 'Moraine')

253 Ferne Avenue, center front yard near the sidewalk

A fast-growing deciduous tree that can reach up to 40' high by 35' wide. Like all ashes, what looks like a leaf is technically a leaflet. The long compound leaf is a collection of 7-9 leaflets arranged opposite each other on the stem with a single leaflet at the end. The leaflets turn yellow in the fall. Trees are either male or female. Heavy seed drop from female trees can be a messy problem.

13. Lily-of-the-valley Tree (Crinodendron patagua)

256 Ferne Avenue, center front yard near the sidewalk

In its native Chile, this tree is used for honey production and the tannin in the bark is used for tanning leather. Long-lasting flowers that appear through the summer months are white 3/4" bells. Four-sided fruit capsules stay fleshy and red for some time.

14. Empress Tree (Paulownia tomentosa)

272 Ferne Avenue, right rear corner of the front yard

This deciduous Chinese ornamental tree is one of the fastest growing hardwood trees in the world. It grows up to 10' a year to create a 40–50' tree that is almost as wide. The very large leaves give it a tropical look. The flower buds are formed in the fall and lie in wait through the winter until they bloom before the leaves appear in early spring. The seed capsules are up to 2" long and remain on the tree along with next season's flower buds. The capsules dry up and split to release lots of winged seeds.

15. Chinese Hackberry (Celtis sinensis)

288 Ferne Avenue, right side

This tree can sometimes be troublesome in the San Francisco Bay Area, needing lots of water for establishment and causing infrastructure damage. Also, its growth habit is quite variable, with some individuals being notably pendulous. Not recommended for planting, though birds find the berries delectable.

16. Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)

318 Ferne Avenue, right front corner

Trying to stay away from chocolate? Thick, flat pods from the female trees that take a full year to develop are milled to a fine powder and used as a substitute for chocolate. The foliage is glossy dark green, the spring flowers are red, and the trunk is full of character. It is also a very drought-tolerant tree.

17. Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

4107 MacKay Drive, left of the front walkway

A thirsty deciduous tree native to the eastern U.S. The leaves have four lobes and turn to bright yellow in the fall. Greenish-yellow tulip-shaped flowers appear in late spring, but usually not until the tree is 12–15 years old. In our area Tulip Tree can suffer from aphids, which drip sticky honeydew. Deciduous magnolia trees are often erroneously called Tulip Trees; this is the true Tulip Tree.

18. Holly Oak (Quercus ilex)

4101 MacKay Drive, on Shasta Drive near the corner

This evergreen tree has leathery green leaves, pale and soft underneath. The shape of the leaf is variable; lower leaves are larger and may be spiny. The names (both common and botanical) come from its resemblance to European Holly, Ilex aquifolium. A Mediterranean native and drought-tolerant, it produces many acorns that can be troublesome.

19. Purple River Beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Riversii')

396 Shasta Drive, center of the front yard

One of the earliest imported tree species established in the American colonies. The wood is used for timber. This cultivar has deep purple leaves in spring that gradually turn green during the summer. Beechnuts are used as stock feed in Europe, and oil can be extracted from them, as was done in Germany during both World Wars.

20. Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)

4094 Nelson Drive, left side of the driveway on Shasta Drive

A light-textured shade tree with colorful fall foliage. Its bright green, fernlike foliage is divided into many oval leaflets. Although a successful street tree in its native eastern U.S., the Honey Locust often grows poorly with a short lifespan in the Palo Alto area.

21. Chanticleer Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Chanticleer')

362 Diablo Court, front yard

This tree was planted by Canopy in 1996 in honor of former Palo Alto Mayor Lanie Wheeler. This tradition began as a way to thank the mayor for his or her service to the community. The 'Chanticleer' variety of this ornamental pear grows to 40' and is colorful in the fall. It blooms early in the spring, then produces small, round, inedible fruit.

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

363 Diablo Court, right front corner

This cultivar of the London Plane Tree (Platanus acerifolia) has a strong central leader and pyramidal shape. It was developed to be mildew and disease resistant and was planted as a street tree in Palo Alto, but is no longer planted. It has poor limb structure and is highly susceptible to anthracnose.

23. Flax-leaf Paperbark (Melaleuca linariifolia)

4046 Nelson Drive, left of the driveway on Tioga Court

Native to Australia, this tree has very interesting pale bark that tears off readily and is composed of thin paper-like sheets. Creamy white flower spikes in the form of a bottlebrush appear in early summer and give the effect of snow on branches.

24. Golden-rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)

4010 Nelson Drive, left of the driveway on Parkside Drive near the corner

A small tree native to eastern Asia, it is noted for very showy 8–14" yellow flower clusters in summer. The flowers are followed by fat, papery fruit capsules that resemble little Japanese lanterns. The fruit capsules are red when young, change to buff and brown shades, and last well into fall.

25. Nepal Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum glanduliferum)

375 Parkside Drive, front yard

Native to the Himalayas, it is faster growing than its relative the more common Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora). It is also more upright in its branching habit and more sensitive to cold weather.

Symbols Legend

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.