Self-Guided Tree Walk: Main Library and Art Center

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

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1. Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata)

~ At the end of the row of parking spaces in front of the library entrance

The most widely cultivated forest tree in the world with vast forests in Chile, New Zealand, and throughout the southern hemisphere. Native to the central California coast, it used to be planted widely in this area, but is no longer planted because it suffers from many pests and diseases.

2. 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.

3. 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’.

4. 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).

5. Red Horsechestnut (Aesculus x carnea)

~ 2 trees between the parking lot and the entrance to the library

This tree is commonly planted as a street tree. Its striking, long, flower spikes come in red or pink. This tree provides a canopy about 40’ high by 30’ wide. It benefits from some summer watering.

6. Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)

~ Next to the drive-through book return

With spectacular fall colors of scarlet, crimson, orange, and yellow, this moderately-sized tree is used as a street tree in Palo Alto. The fruits become bright red, then turn a deep blue-red and remain on the tree for several months. They are not edible; the edible Pistache (Pistacia vera) is a relative.

7. Italian Stone Pine (Pinus pinea)

~ 2 trees at the end of the parking lot by the community gardens

This is the tree of early Roman and Renaissance paintings. It is the source of edible pine nuts. The tree becomes very large, making it inappropriate for a small garden. Beautiful red-brown bark is common on mature trees. Ground level roots lift anything (curbs, sidewalks, and street paving) in their way.

8. 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.

9. Black Mulberry (Morus nigra)

~ Next to the grove of Japanese Maples

A dense, spreading head and a short trunk are characteristic of Black Mulberries. The heart-shaped leaves turn gold in the fall. This tree is a fruitless form, which avoids the messy berries on the sidewalk that are common to fruit-producing mulberries.

10. Camellia (Camellia japonica)

~ Along the sidewalk between the Black Mulberry and 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.

11. 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 a extensive root structure in the top several feet of soil. A Palo Alto city ordinance protects Coast Redwoods.

12. Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

~ Back corner of the library on the courtyard

Unusual for this area, the Scotch Pine has bundles of 2 twisted needles. Younger trees are used as Christmas trees. Older trees, such as this one, have showy red bark, sparse foliage, and leaning trunks. Scotch Pines are a principal timber tree in Europe.

13. Japanese Flowering Crabapple (Malus floribunda)

~ Row of 5 trees in the parking lot median in front of the Art Center entrance

A dependably beautiful tree, year in and year out, that was introduced to the U.S. in 1862. Deep pink to red buds grow into fragrant flowers and gradually fade to white. These trees are carefully clipped into topiary umbrellas, which is a very labor-intensive way to prune.

14. Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia soulangeana)

~ 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.

15. 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.

16. Plume Cryptomeria (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’)

~ Group along the front wall of the Art Center

The soft and textured green foliage of this conifer turns bronze in the winter. It has a swooping growth habit and the trunks often lean or curve, as this multi-trunked one does. Provide enough space for this tree to be elegantly displayed.

17. Purple 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. Notice that about 12′ up the trunk a small lateral limb has grafted itself to the main trunk – this is extremely rare. The grayish trunk becomes more wrinkled as it ages.

18. 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.

19. Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)

~ Next to the Maintenance building

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.

20. Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia hybrid)

~ 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.

21. Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora)

~ Street and lawn trees along Embarcadero Road

Camphor 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.

22. Green Mountain Silver Linden (Tilia tomentosa ‘Green Mountain’)

~ 3 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. Silver Lindens are native to southern Europe and western Asia.

23. Cork Oak (Quercus suber)

~ Near the corner of Embarcadero Road and Newell Road

The bark distinguishes this tree from the three Coast Live Oaks nearby. 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 leave the inner layer of the tree intact. If the inner layer is damaged, re-growth will not occur.

24. 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 lawn.

25. Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

~ Near Newell Road, underneath the redwoods, to the left of the driveway to the Art Center

A deciduous shrub or small tree that is native to Japan. In late spring, its creamy white flowers turn pink along the edges. This tree was planted in 2000 in memory of Arnold Soforenko, Canopy’s Co-Founder. It is well suited to its location as an understory tree beneath the nearby Coast Redwoods.

26. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

~ 2 trees in back of the library near the red block wall

Considered the oldest cultivated tree on earth, ginkgos are extinct in the wild. They are related to conifers but instead of needles, they have broad, fan-shaped leaves that turn yellow in the late fall. Female trees are generally not planted due to foul-smelling fruit.

27. Chinese Tallow Tree (Sapium sebiferum)

~ 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.

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Blame not the sun but yourself.”

~ Ancient Chinese Proverb

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