Self-Guided Tree Walk: La Plaza

Update March 2020: In-person tree walks have been temporarily suspended for COVID-19 prevention. Join our mailing list to stay updated on self-guided tours, video-led tree walks, and our new Interactive Tree Walk Guides!

Begin Walk

Tree Walk starting point map ››

The La Plaza Tree Walk begins in the supplemental parking lot for La Plaza, across from the market, at 40 South Rengstorff Ave.

View the Symbols Legend ››

1. Liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua)

~ Directly behind La Plaza parking sign

Liquidambar trees were originally planted as street trees in the Santa Clara Valley for their brilliant fall color. You’ll find the fruit, a prickly, round cluster, littering sidewalks during the fall. The bitter resin was once used as a medicinal chewing gum and to make perfume.

2. Valley Oak (Quercus lobata)

~ 102 Fair Oaks St. – Front corner

No other native California oak matches the sheer majesty of a mature Valley Oak. They, along with the Coast Live Oak, were the predominant native trees in the Santa Clara Valley hundreds of years ago. Landscape irrigation within the root zone of native oaks can cause a fungus to develop that can cause the death of the tree.

3. Blue Gum Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)

~ 102 Fair Oaks St. – Left of driveway

When this tree was first introduced to California from Australia it was planted for lumber, firewood, medicinal products, windbreaks, and as street and park trees. It is now considered an invasive species and is no longer recommended. Known as Blue Gum for its blue-grey, waxy leaves, it is a habitat for the monarch butterfly.

4. Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)

~ 2189 Leland Ave. – 3 on College Ave.

These three Italian Cypresses are the same tree species that Vincent van Gogh included in a number of his paintings. Cypresses produce wood that is highly aromatic. It was used to build the doors of the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica.

5. Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)

~ 104 College Ave. – Left side of front yard

This fast-growing deciduous tree resembles a pink umbrella during the summer months when the canopy is covered with fluffy pink flowers. Native throughout Asia, from Iran to Japan, bees and birds are attracted to this tree.

6. European White Birch (Betula pendula)

~ 128 College Ave. – Center front yard

A medium-sized deciduous tree, the common name comes from the white peeling bark on the trunk. This variety is sensitive to changes in moisture and shows signs of stress in drought conditions.

7. Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora)

~ 142 College Ave. – Front yard

Originally from China and Japan, the new leaves of this evergreen tree are often tinged pink or red. Crush the leaves to smell the camphor. The roots have a habit of lifting sidewalks, therefore Camphors are not ideal as street trees.

8. Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)

~ 155 College Ave. – Front yard

The Coast Redwood is America’s tallest tree and lives to well over 1,000 years. They were heavily logged in California to help rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. They are no longer considered suitable for planting in the valley floor due to their excessive water requirements and poor drought tolerance.

9. Yew Pine (Podocarpus macrophyllus)

~ 192 College Ave. – Right property line

The name Yew “Pine” is misleading as Yew Pine is not a pine at all. Not to be confused with the European or Pacific Yew of the genus Taxus, Yew Pine is usually pruned as a hedge or formal column.

10. Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)

~ 217 College Ave. – Front right of 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.

11. Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana)

~ 217 College Ave. – Just behind Western Redbud

In addition to edible flowers and fruit, the Pineapple Guava plant can be shaped in a variety of forms; espalier, screen, hedge or small tree. It is drought-tolerant but needs regular water to produce fruit.

12. Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

~ 223 College Ave. – Right property line

This pomegranate is growing near other trees and shrubs and is hard to find unless you see its striking red-orange flowers or red fruit. A small, deciduous, fruit-bearing tree, the pomegranate is an ancient fruit that originated in the region of Iran to northern India.

13. Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

~ 238 College Ave. – Front yard

Endemic to Norfolk Island, a small island in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand. It grows slowly, eventually reaching 150’-200’. It also makes a good houseplant.

14. Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia)

~ 277 College Ave. – Front yard

Fern-like leaves are deciduous and drop in late winter then blooms a brilliant bright purple during late spring. It can be seen in abundance lining the streets of Santa Barbara (it’s worth a trip). Jacarandas can be sensitive to frost damage.

15. Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)

~ 292 College Ave. – On University, right of the driveway

The Chinese Pistache grows best in full sun and is often planted as a street tree in urban environments. It is native to China and often seen in classical Chinese garden designs. Fall leaves turn a brilliant and almost neon red, orange, and yellow. The fruit on the female trees (which is not edible) begins a bright red then turns dark blue.

16. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

~ 2217 University Ave. – Front left of the property line

The Southern Magnolia is a medium-sized evergreen tree with large leathery leaves that are glossy green above and rust colored and velvety underneath. The large, showy, white flowers have a pleasant fragrance that appear throughout the spring and summer.

17. Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)

~ 2155 University Ave. – Street tree

A California native found near moist stream beds, this specimen thrives in an irrigated landscape. The current national champion Bigleaf Maple is located in Lane County, Oregon. It has a circumference of 39’ and is 119’ high.

18. Olive (Olea europaea)

~ 2146 University Ave. – On Fair Oaks

There are a few olive trees along the side of this yard. The fruit from local olive trees is edible, but only after a lengthy process that removes the bitterness. Fruitless varieties are available and should be considered when planting near a sidewalk or decking to prevent stains from the fruit.

19. London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolia)

~ 260 Fair Oaks St. – 2-3 street trees

The most widely-planted street tree in the world, this tree is very tolerant of atmospheric pollution and root compaction commonly found in cities. The fungal disease, anthracnose, is common in older varieties but newer hybrids are now resistant to the disease.

20. Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica)

~ 247 Fair Oaks St. – Left property line

This tree is native to the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco and may grow to 60’. It needs a large area for full development and should not be crowded. The wood is excellent for carpentry and has a strong scent that repels insects.

21. Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

~ 214 Fair Oaks St. – Far right end of property

The Coast Live Oak is an evergreen native throughout much of California and grows relatively quickly to 70’ with an equal canopy spread. Once established, this tree tolerates drought conditions very well; summer watering within the dripline should be avoided.

22. Avocado (Persea americana)

~ 2136 Stanford Ave. –  Front yard left

With full sun and good care, an avocado can become tall and full, providing excellent evergreen shade and tasty fruit. Varieties that do well locally include Haas, Bacon, Jim Bacon and Fuerte.

23. California Pepper (Schinus molle)

~ 186 Fair Oaks St. – Near the stop sign

Originally native to Peru, this tree has been in California since the early 1800’s and has now naturalized in many parts of the state. In traditional medicine, Schinus molle was used to treat wounds and infections for its antiseptic properties.The spicy fruit or peppercorns are toxic to humans if consumed in large quantities.

24. Mulberry (Morus alba)

~ 143 Fair Oaks St. – Front yard

This is a fruitless cultivar of the White Mulberry, a native of China. It grows fairly quickly to a height of 30’ with a canopy spread of 50’ which provides dense shade underneath. The leaves are the preferred food for silkworms.

25. Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

~ 127 Fair Oaks St. – Right property line

Douglas Fir is the principal lumber tree in the United States. It is found locally in the Santa Cruz Mountains as well as much of western North America. Cones that hang from the tree pointing downward make it easy to recognize. The needles, 1-1&½ inches long, stick out from all sides of the branch.

Return to Tree Walk index ››

Symbols Legend

Trees protected by the City of Mountain View tree ordinance

A permit is needed to remove or prune these trees. Check the City of Mountain View 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.

Sign up for local tree news, events, volunteer opportunities, and more.

Sign Up

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

~ Maunsell van Rensselaer
California horticulturalist, 1897-1972

Volunteer Learn