Self-Guided Tree Walk: Barron Park

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About This Walk

Come stroll with Canopy and an expert arborist through the urban forest of Barron Park. Enjoy learning about the Mimosa, the California Pepper Tree, the Arbutus Marina, and much more.

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Tree Walk starting point map ››

The Barron Park Tree Walk begins at Cornelis Bol Park near the intersection of Laguna Avenue and Laguna Court.

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1. Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

Location: Grove on the left side of the park near the neighborhood bulletin board

This lawn with nearby Matadero Creek is a good setting for these thirsty trees, which were planted here in 1973. In their natural setting in foggy coastal locations, they are able to take moisture from the fog. Planting them in groves mimics their natural growth habit; they have shallow roots and the intertwining of the roots of adjacent trees helps hold them up.

2. California Buckeye (Aesculus californica)

Location: 2 trees on the creek banks next to the “Matadero 1933” bridge on Laguna Avenue on the side opposite the park

These trees are among the first to leaf out in spring and the first to lose their leaves in mid-summer. They are native to this area and were used as a source of food by many California Native American tribes. Eaten raw the seeds are poisonous, but a lengthy leaching process makes them safe to eat.

3a. New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium)

Location: 3618 Laguna Avenue, 3 small trees in front yard

Native to New Zealand, this large, evergreen shrub or small tree thrives in coastal conditions. The tree grows 10–30’ with finely textured foliage, a gnarly twisted trunk, and flowers that bloom all year long, but more profusely in spring. The flowers can be white, red, or pink. It is called the tea tree because Captain James Cook brewed a tea from its leaves as a scurvy preventative.

3b. Fig Tree (Ficus carica)

Location: 3618 Laguna Avenue, 1 small tree in the front yard

Fig is a common fruit tree in the Bay Area. They can grow to 15–30’ but can also be kept to 10’ in a large container. 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 introduced to California during the Gold Rush. After failed attempts to cultivate the fig, in 1899 the state imported fig wasps to pollinate the trees for successful fruit production.

4. Myrtle (Myrtus communis)

Location: 3700 Laguna Avenue, 2 trees right of driveway

This evergreen tree or shrub is native to the Mediterranean area. It has fragrant leaves and flowers that are used in essential oils. Popular for use in
gardens, the tree tolerates most soils and requires good drainage. It is one of the four tree species used in the Jewish religious rituals on the festival of Sukkot.

5. Arbutus Marina (Arbutus ‘Marina’)

Location: 3743 Laguna Avenue, 4 small trees in the front yard

These evergreen trees with peeling red bark are an excellent choice for a low-water garden. They grow in multi-stemmed and single-trunk forms and have strawberry-like fruit that is attractive to birds. The fruit is safe for humans to eat, but doesn’t have much flavor. Full grown, they are usually less than 30’ and almost as wide.

6. Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

Location: 896 La Para Avenue, in wall semicircle on Laguna Avenue

The Coast Live Oak is an evergreen tree that is native throughout much of California. They grow relatively quickly to 70’ with an equal spread. Once established, they take drought well. The acorns that drop in the fall can produce young oaks very readily. There are several things that can cause the health of this tree to deteriorate: summer watering, heavy construction equipment parked on top of its root system, and soil compactions anywhere from the trunk to the outer edge of the canopy.

7. Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Location: 890 La Para Avenue, left front corner

Douglas Firs are easy to recognize by their cones. The cones point down and papery bracts with three points each stick out between the scales of the cones. Environmental conditions influence the appearance of the tree. Where summers are dry, it is dense with shorter spaces between branches, as with this specimen. Where moisture or shade is abundant, it appears thin and gawky.

8. Victorian Box (Pittosporum undulatum)

Location: 879 La Para Avenue, right side of the front yard

This attractive Australian tree has glossy 4–6” leaves that have undulating edges. Fragrant white 1/2” flowers are followed by yellow-orange marble-sized fruits that open to display sticky seeds. This stickiness causes them to stick to birds, which aids in their dispersal.

9. Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’)

Location: 858 La Para Avenue, center front yard

This large, majestic tree, native to the Mediterranean, was used for shipbuilding in ancient Greece. Leaf clusters on the tops of the branches and shorter, stiffer needles distinguish this cedar from the Deodar Cedar.

10. Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis)

Location: 833 La Para Avenue, right of the right driveway near the street

This mature tree is unusually large for its species. The Aleppo Pine is native to the Mediterranean region and grows 30–70’ with a variable canopy shape. Fast-growing Aleppo Pines are well adapted to our climate, as this tree demonstrates.

11. Olive (Olea europaea)

Location: 816 La Para Avenue, right side

This attractive small tree has a rich history, from Athens and the ancient world, to their introduction to the California mission gardens by Father Junipero Serra. This tough tree can be transplanted even when large and withstands dry gardens. If it is a fruiting variety (or a non-fruiting variety that fruits anyway!), it is important to locate the tree where olives will not leave stains and make a mess on pavement.

12a. Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)

Location: 766 La Para Avenue, center front yard

This deciduous tree is native to the eastern U.S. and is widely planted there as a street tree. They grow to 35–50’ with a similar spread. Their fine leaflets produce dappled shade and little raking is needed. Unfortunately, they have proven to be poor performers in Palo Alto.

12b. Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergiana)

Location: 766 La Para Avenue, left of front walkway

Native to coastal Japan and South Korea, this slow-growing tree is widely used as a garden or bonsai tree. It is popular with horticulturists because of its resistance to pollution and salt. It has an irregular growth habit with age, often with a leaning trunk. This pine is monoecious, meaning it has separate inconspicuous male and female flowers on the same tree.

13. Valley Oak (Quercus lobata)

Location: 719 La Para Avenue, right of driveway and right of sidewalk

These two younger trees may reach a height of 70’ or more, with an equal spread. Planted about 1960, these trees illustrate how a Valley Oak planted today will grow and develop over time. The acorns from Valley Oaks were a favored food of California Native American tribes, who leached out the tannic acid and found a nut with lots of carbohydrates and little fat.

14. California Pepper Tree (Schinus molle)

Location: 3925 La Donna Avenue, 2 trees center and right front

A native of Peru, this fast-growing evergreen tree can reach 40’ with an equal spread. Its weeping canopy contains bright green, narrow leaflets, and many yellowish-white summer flowers in drooping 4–6” clusters. The flowers become rose-colored berries in the fall. The California Pepper Tree was introduced to California by Europeans and is a characteristic tree of the California mission gardens. (Note two male trees next door at 3933 La Donna Ave.).

15. Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Location: 3852 La Donna Avenue, 2 trees on San Jude Avenue

The Tulip Tree is the tallest-growing broad-leaved native to North America. Its distinctive leaves turn butter yellow before dropping off in the fall. Light green tulip-shaped flowers borne in the summer are hidden high in trees 12 years old and older. Tulip trees often drop sticky sap due to aphid infestation common in our climate zone. These trees are healthier with regular watering.

16. American Elm (Ulmus americana)

Location: 3842 La Donna Avenue, 2 trees

Native to the eastern U.S. and Texas, this deciduous tree has toothed leaves that are 3–6” long. These lovely large trees have so far escaped Dutch Elm disease and the pests that have decimated the American Elm population in this country.

17. Raywood Ash (Fraxinus angustifolia oxycarpa ‘Raywood’)

Location: 720 Paul Avenue, center front yard

This round-headed medium-sized tree is distinctive in the purple-red colors it displays in autumn. It is a fast-growing tree that will take on a difficult environment. However, with its susceptibility to branch failure (dropping branches), root problems, and various diseases, the City of Palo Alto no longer plants the Raywood Ash as a street tree.

18. Red Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon)

Location: 750 Paul Avenue, tree front yard center

This species grows in a variety of shapes from upright to weeping and from open to dense. It is easily distinguished from other eucalyptus species by its deeply-furrowed dark red-brown, almost black, bark. Reddish-pink flowers form showy clusters from autumn to late spring. The blue-green leaves turn bronze in fall.

19. Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa)

Location: 768 Paul Avenue, right front corner

Native to stream banks in Santa Clara County and elsewhere in California in canyons up to elevations of 4,000’. Stalks of 3–5 1” seed balls are apparent after leaves drop in the fall. By the time the seed balls litter the street, the light-weight seeds in the seed balls have already been forced out into the air.

20. Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

Location: 769 Paul Avenue, right of driveway

Young Dawn Redwoods grow very fast, sometimes 4–6’ a year, ultimately reaching a height of 80–90’. The needles are lighter green and softer to the touch than those of the Coast Redwood. In the fall, they turn brown and drop off completely. It is rare for Dawn Redwood seeds to sprout; trees such as this one are grown from cuttings.

21. Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis)

Location: 3737 El Centro Street, row of 4 trees in front

A drought-tolerant tree, Canary Island Pine grows fast into a pyramidal shape. Needles grow in bundles of 3 and are 9–12” long. A distinguishing characteristic of this pine is the needle growth. New needles point upwards and old needles downwards.

22. Pecan (Carya illinoensis)

Location: 3675 La Calle Court, at the corner of Barron Avenue

Native to the south-central U.S., this fast-growing deciduous nut tree can attain 70’ with a spreading canopy. Edible nuts from Pecan trees are a rarity in our climate; although the trees will sometimes set nuts, summer temperatures here are not high enough for the nuts to harden.

23. Mosaic Tree

Location: 3680 La Calle Court, left side of the front yard near the street

Not a tree at all, but an artist’s representation of a tree. Created by Palo Alto artist Christine Heegaard and called Lives, it represents a tree in all seasons that grows all fruits, and provides shade, shelter, oxygen, and colors.

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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.

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“How little we know of our trees, even those casting their friendly shadows across our daily paths.”

~ Maunsell van Rensselaer
California horticulturalist, 1897-1972

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