Self-Guided Tree Walk: Greenmeadow

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Scroll down for video highlights from Peter Jensen, ISA Certified Arborist and Landscape Architect for the City of Palo Alto.

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

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Enjoy a video tour of a selection of trees included in the Greenmeadow Tree Walk led by arborist Peter Jensen, Landscape Architect for the City of Palo Alto.  Each number corresponds with the order of trees listed in the brochure.

1. Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)

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

This tree grows best in full sun and is often planted as a street tree in urban environments. Native to China, it is often seen in classical Chinese garden design. Fall leaves turn a brilliant and almost neon red, orange, and yellow. Fruit on the female trees begin as a bright red then turn dark blue.

2a. 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 displays brilliant fall color. It’s not a drought tolerant tree, but with ample water it will grow fairly quickly to 40-50’.

2b. 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 bear fruit at a younger age than standard apple trees. When laden with fruit, it is important to support heavy limbs with a pole to prevent them from breaking. Depending on the variety they’ll ripen somewhere between  July and early November.

3a. Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

~ 4012 Scripps Avenue, 3 trees the right side of the driveway

A small, deciduous, fruit-bearing tree, the pomegranate is an ancient fruit that originated in the region of Iran to Northern India. This is considered a dwarf variety and grows to a maximum height of 30’.

3b. Engelmann oak (Quercus engelmannii)

~ 4012 Scripps Avenue, 2 trees street trees, one on Scripps side and the other on Ben Lomond

In addition to Engelmann oak this tree is known by two additional common names; Mesa oak and Pasadena oak. It is native to Southern California and the rarest of the native California oak trees. It is not susceptible to sudden oak death.

4. Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)

~ 4005 Ben Lomond Drive, right of the driveway

A small understory tree native to California’s foothills, it tolerates heat and drought and is often found as a large shrub or small multi-trunked tree. Pink flowers cover the branches in spring before leaves appear. The purplish-brown seed pods ripen in late summer and can remain on the tree until winter.

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

Cork Oak is an evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean. The trunk and main limbs are covered with thick bark that is sustainably harvested to make cork stoppers, flooring, and on occasion, as insulation in NASA spaceships. It can grow to 50’ and is very drought-tolerant once established.

7. Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana)

~ 4055 Ben Lomond Drive, right side

Native to a small stretch of coastline near San Diego and Santa Rosa Island, Torrey pines are the rarest native pine in the United States. 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

A good example of why the common name of a tree can be misleading, this tree is actually native to Peru. Its bright red berries are distinctive, but beware, they contain active alkenyl phenols that can cause contact inflammation and should not be used as a pepper substitute.

9. Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)

~ 4081 Ben Lomond Drive, right of the driveway

A fast-growing shade tree that can reach 40–100’. It is among the least desirable maples to plant in an urban setting because of its invasive surface roots, weak branching structure and susceptibility to pests. It also requires lots of water during the dry months.

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. It grows fairly rapidly to a height of 30’ with a canopy spread of 50’ casting a dense shade underneath. Due to the heavy surface roots, they are nearly always found in lawns. The leaves are the preferred food of the silkworm.

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 considered slow growing.  The word ‘Dissectum’ in the botanical name means “deeply cut” in reference to the deeply cut, feathery nature of the leaves.

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’ and 35’ wide, it has an upright, oval-shaped crown and keeps its leaves longer than most other deciduous ash trees. What looks like a leaf is technically only 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,  a characteristic of all ash trees.

13. 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, up to a height of 40–50’ with a canopy almost as wide. With such large leaves it looks as though it belongs in the tropics but it is somewhat cold hardy. Flower buds form in the fall, lie in wait through winter, then bloom before leaves appear in early spring. Seed capsules are up to 2” long.

14. Chinese Hackberry (Celtis sinensis)

~ 288 Ferne Avenue, right side

The glossy leaves and smooth, gray, warty bark distinguishes this tree from the European Hackberry. Inconspicuous flowers are followed by orange, quarter-inch fruit that hang from stems on this fairly drought-tolerant shade tree. The City of Palo Alto stopped planting this as a street tree due to pest issues.

15. Silver Linden (Tilia tomentosa)

~ 318 Ferne Avenue, corner street tree

This is also the predominant street tree planted in 2010 in Palo Alto’s California Avenue Business District. The leaves are toothed and heart-shaped with a silvery-white underside and the flowers are pale yellow. When in bloom it has a lovely fragrance.

16. Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

~ 4107 MacKay Drive, left of the front walkway

This is the tallest growing broadleaf tree native to North America. The distinctive leaves turn a buttery yellow color before dropping in the fall. Light green, tulip-shaped flowers bloom in the summer and can be found up high in mature trees. This tree often drops a sticky sap caused by an aphid infestation that is common in our climate zone.

17. Holly Oak (Quercus ilex)

~ 4101 MacKay Drive, on Shasta Drive near the corner

An evergreen tree with leathery green leaves and a soft, pale, wooly underside. Both the common and botanical names come from its resemblance to European Holly (Ilex aquifolium). Native to the Mediterranean, this species is the most widely grown non-native oak in California.

18. 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. Nuts from the tree are used as stock feed in Europe, and oil can be extracted, as was done in Germany during both World Wars.

19. “Pathetic” Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

~ A row of shabby redwoods on Cubberley side of fence on Nelson Ave

These trees do not reflect the stunning beauty of the Coast Redwood. They suffer from a lack of moisture in their roots and leaves, which has caused the foliage to thin out.

20. Flax-leaf Paperbark (Melaleuca linariifolia)

~ 4046 Nelson Drive, left of the driveway on Tioga Court

An Australian native, the bark has a papery texture that darkens as the tree ages. As the bark sheets peel, the younger, lighter bark is revealed underneath. A profusion of creamy white flowers appear in early summer, which give the appearance of a snow-capped tree.

21. Nepal Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum glanduliferum)

~ 385 Parkside Drive,on the corner of Nelson Drive, in the 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. Crush a few leaves to get the scent of camphor.

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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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“To exist as a nation,
to prosper as a state,
and to live as a people,
we must have trees.”

~ Theodore Roosevelt
Former U.S. President

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