Self-Guided Tree Walk: Rinconada Library & Art Center

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The Rinconada Library and Art Center Tree Walk begins at the Rinconada Library parking lot, 1213 Newell Road.

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1. Jelecote Pine (Pinus patula)

3 trees in library parking lot medians

One of the fastest growing pines in the world, Jelecote Pine is well suited for this area because of its drought tolerance. The long, slender needles look beautiful swaying in the wind.

2. Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia)

Row of 4 trees in the library parking lot median

Highly resistant to Dutch Elm disease, it makes an excellent street tree. This tree generally has a weeping form and some of the most beautiful bark of any tree. It commonly grows to 60'. Elms are easily recognized by their leaves; the base of the leaf where it emerges from the stem is uneven (one side of the leaf is longer than the other).

3. Campbell Magnolia (Magnolia campbellii)

In the center of the lawn in front of the library entrance

An unusual magnolia, native to western China and the Himalayas and known for spectacular flowers that appear before the leaves emerge. This location provides three especially important things for Campbell Magnolias: room to spread out, moist soil (from lawn irrigation), and protection from wind (provided by the library building).

4. Red Horse Chestnut (Aesculus x carnea)

2 trees in the lawn near the entrance to the library

This tree is commonly planted as a street tree. Its striking, long, flower spikes come in red or pink. Red Horse Chestnuts begin to flower when they are about 10 years old. This tree provides a canopy about 40' high by 30' wide. It benefits from some summer watering.

5. Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

Grove of trees along the sidewalk leading from the library parking lot to the Art Center

This is a very nice stand of about a dozen trees. They are a favorite small to medium-sized garden tree. The Japanese Maple is a great tree for a sheltered area or courtyard as its leaves will show signs of sunburn in summer if planted in full sun. Verticillium, a common soil fungus, can cause branches to die back.

6. Camellia (Camellia japonica)

Along the sidewalk between the Japanese Maples and the redwoods

Although it is normally not considered a tree, this large multi-trunked specimen was moved to this location in the early 1960's as a mature tree. It is now well over 100 years old. In the spring it is covered with beautiful deep pink flowers.

7. Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

Grove next to the Art Center parking lot

This stand was probably planted when the library was built in 1958. Fossils found in different parts of the world indicate that there have been up to 15 species of redwoods throughout the world. They have an extensive root structure in the top several feet of soil. A Palo Alto city ordinance protects Coast Redwoods.

8. Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba)

Left of the library entrance, in front of red block wall

Considered the oldest cultivated tree on earth, Maidenhair Trees are likely extinct in the wild. This particular tree is special because it is among Canopy's "Mayors' Trees." Each year since 1997, Canopy has planted a tree in honor of Palo Alto's incoming mayor. This young Maidenhair was planted by Mayor Karen Holman in January of 2015.

9. Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)

Left of the Art Center entrance

A relative of the Southern Magnolia (the common Palo Alto street tree with white blossoms), this deciduous species from Asia has beautiful late winter creamy pinkish flowers up to 6" across. It is a worthy specimen tree in a lawn or other prominent location in the landscape.

10. Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

Along the front wall of the Art Center

This is an extraordinary specimen because of its size and the interesting bend in the trunk. At some point it probably tipped over and was left to continue growing.

11. Plume Cryptomeria (Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans')

Two trees along the front wall of the Art Center

The soft and textured green foliage of this fast-growing evergreen conifer turns bronze in the winter and thin red-brown bark peels off in strips. It has a swooping growth habit, and the trunks often lean or curve, as this multi-trunked one does. Native to Japan, it is the national tree of Japan, where it is called Sugi.

12. Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Atropunicea')

Far left side of the front wall of the Art Center

Purplish-black leaves in spring turn to a copper color in fall. It has a brown nut with a rough husk covered with short burr-like hairs. The grayish trunk becomes more wrinkled as it ages. This is a large tree best suited as a specimen tree in a large space with full sun.

13. Weeping Cherry (Prunus x subhirtella 'Pendula')

In the parking lot median between the Art Center front parking lot and the Maintenance parking lot

This is an ornamental tree that is rarely more than 12' high. If you look closely, you can see that the trunk has been grafted onto the rootstock and the branches have been grafted onto the trunk. It has a graceful weeping form and a spectacular spring display.

14. Edible Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)

To the right of the small parking lot

An evergreen with large leathery leaves, this China native can grow to 30'. It has small white flowers in autumn. Edible orange-yellow fruit with big seeds inside ripen in spring. Loquat trees can be difficult to eradicate because the roots re-sprout readily.

15. Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Row of 10 trees in the Art Center back parking lot median

In addition to their stunning bark, sensuous appearance, and bright summer flowers, Crape Myrtles provide beautiful fall color. To guarantee a tree resistant to powdery mildew, choose one of the "Native American Tribe" cultivars. Good for small gardens and drought-tolerant.

16. Brisbane Box (Lophostemon confertus)

Young tree immediately to the left when entering the lawn area

Native to eastern Australia, this species is drought-tolerant once established. It is evergreen with 4–6" long leathery, glossy, dark green leaves. In June, clusters of small, delicately-frilled white flowers appear. Bell-shaped seed capsules on short stalks that resemble eucalyptus pods ripen late in summer. This tree was planted in 2012.

17. Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora)

Street and lawn trees along Embarcadero Road

Camphor Tree is native to China and Japan and was commonly planted as a street tree in Palo Alto. This group along Embarcadero Road has thrived because of the abundant lawn watering. When crushed, the leaves have a distinctive camphor smell.

18. Green Mountain Linden (Tilia tomentosa 'Green Mountain')

2 large and 1 small trees along Embarcadero Road after the Camphor Trees

A fast-growing shade tree that tolerates heat and drought. The 'Green Mountain' cultivar has a dense rounded form. The dark green leaves with silver-green undersides make a nice two-tone effect when they flutter in the wind. Tilia tomentosa are native to southern Europe and western Asia.

19. Arbutus Marina (Arbutus 'Marina')

2 young trees with peeling reddish brown bark

An elegant, well-behaved small tree that is easily recognized by its thin reddish brown bark that exfoliates annually. Hanging clusters of pink, lantern-shaped flowers are followed by orange to red, warty, spherical fruits. It has evergreen foliage and grows to 40'. These were planted in 2012.

20. Holly Oak (Quercus ilex)

Oak tree in lawn near dark orange metal sculpture "Homage to Science"

An exceptionally large specimen that benefits from the open space of the lawn area. This species is locally known for abundant acorn production and susceptibility to sooty mold. The leaves have wooly white or tan undersides. Grows well in lawns.

21. Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

2 oak trees in the lawn area

One of two oak species native to this area (the other is the Valley Oak, Quercus lobata). Like the Coast Redwood, it is protected by a City of Palo Alto ordinance. The differences in leaves and bark between Coast Live Oak, Holly Oak, and Cork Oak (next in this walk) are easy to see here. A lawn setting is not recommended for mature Coast Live Oaks; they prefer a dry setting in the summer.

22. Cork Oak (Quercus suber)

Near the corner of Embarcadero Road and Newell Road

The bark of this tree is much softer than the bark of the Coast Live Oak and the Holly Oak. The trunk and principal limbs are covered with a thick, corky bark that is commercially cultivated in the Mediterranean and used to make corks for wine bottles. The correct amount of cork must be removed each harvest to enable re-growth to occur.

23. London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolia)

Street trees along Newell Road

The most widely-planted urban forest tree in the world, it tolerates a broad range of soil and urban conditions. This stand has become large and healthy because the trees receive ample water from the adjacent lawns.

24. Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba)

Two trees in the back of the library near the red block wall

These specimens are more mature examples of this ancient species. Maidenhairs are distantly related to conifers, but instead of needles they have broad, fan-shaped leaves that turn brilliant yellow in late fall. Female trees are generally not planted due to the foul-smelling seeds they produce. Because of their hardiness and beauty, Maidenhairs are a popular choice for the urban environment.

25. Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis)

Medium-sized pine with lighter green needles

An upright pine with light to medium green needles in bundles of three, this pine is the most widely cultivated pine in California. It is resistant to oak root fungus and drought tolerant when established, but it can cause infrastructure damage. Native to the Canary Islands in Spain.

26. Chinese Tallow Tree (Triadica sebifera)

5 trees near the corner of the red block wall

Look for a plaque where the lawn makes a corner. It honors Kathryn Stedman, a Palo Alto resident and landscape architect whose work for the Eichler homes was featured in Life Magazine about 1955. She lived next door to the library and these trees were planted in her honor in 1994 by the Palo Alto Tree Task Force, the precursor of Canopy. With ample water, Chinese Tallow Trees are fast-growing shade trees with spectacular fall color.

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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.