Self-Guided Tree Walk: Rengstorff Park

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Scroll down for video highlights from Bruce Hurlburt, ISA Certified Arborist and Former Parks and Open Space Manager for City of Mountain View.

The Rengstorff Park Tree Walk begins in front of the Mountain View Community Center, 201 S Rengstorff Ave.

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1. Fern Pine (Podocarpus gracilior)

Native to eastern Africa, but well-adapted to California. This slow-growing evergreen shade tree is a good pest-free tree for streets, lawns, and gardens. Although it is nicknamed Fern Pine, it is neither a fern nor a pine. It is also known as Afrocarpus elongatus

2. Swan Hill Olive (Olea europaea ‘Swan Hill’)

The ‘Swan Hill’ variety of olive is fruitless with little or no pollen. It grows 25-30’ high, is drought tolerant, attracts birds, and can be used as a screen or hedge. Leaves are narrow and gray-green, with inconspicuous flowers in spring. It likes full sun to partial shade with moist to dry soil, and is drought tolerant when established.

3. California Bay (Umbellularia californica

This evergreen tree is native to Oregon and California and can grow up to 100’ high. It has small yellow flowers and greenish fruit. The aromatic leaves can be a substitute for Laurus nobilis leaves in cooking, but the flavor is stronger. California bay has become a host of the fungus that causes Sudden Oak Death throughout the coastal regions of California. 

4a. White Ironbark (Eucalyptus leucoxylon)

 The name “Eucalyptus” is from the Greek words eu (“well”) and Ikalyptos  (“covered”), referring to a leathery, dome-shaped bud cap. The bud cap falls off as the flowers open showing their most conspicuous component: white, red or pink flowers.

4b. Red Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon)

Once you learn the appearance of this tree’s bark, it is easily distinguishable from other eucalyptus species. The bark is a dark red-brown with deep furrows. The wood is red in color and is as hard as iron, according to 19th century botanist George Bentham. It never peels or drops litter. 

5. Maidenhair Tree (Ginkgo biloba)

This prehistoric species—the oldest cultivated tree on earth—provides intense yellow fall color. It comes in two genders that cannot be differentiated until the sapling is 5-6 years old. The fruit of the adult female emits a terrible odor in the fall, which is why most people buy male trees. 

6. Golden-rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)

A small tree native to eastern Asia, it is noted for very showy 8-14” yellow flower clusters in summer. The flowers are followed by fat, papery fruit capsules that resemble little Japanese lanterns. The fruit capsules are red when young, change to shades of brown, and remain on the tree well into fall.

7. Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)

The trunks of Carob trees are gnarled, burly, twisted and full of character, regardless of their age. Round, dark green, glossy leaflets densely cover the tree. Female trees have a 6” long pod that take a year to fully develop and ripen. When the pod is dried and pulverized it, and not the interior seeds, can be used as a chocolate substitute.

8. Mayten Tree (Maytenus boaria)

This native of Chile has narrow 1–2” long light to medium green leaves. Its weeping form makes the Mayten a good and smaller substitute for the Weeping Willow (Salix babylonica). Water deeply to reduce the likelihood of surface roots. 

9a. Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

The Coast Live Oak is a native that grows throughout much of California. This drought-tolerant evergreen can live for up to 200 years and reach up to 70’. Avoid watering around the tree during dry summer months. Sprinkler water that hits the trunk is especially damaging. 

9b. Catalina Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. lyonii)

It is often seen at a height of 12- 25’ but can reach up to 40’. Birds love the black-ish fruit. This is a drought-tolerant native that is slow to establish but then grows fairly fast, particularly if given supplemental irrigation, which it tolerates well. Catalina Cherry is resistant to Oak Root Fungus (Armillaria mellea) and any fire blight infection common to plants in the rose family.  A great urban plant for visual screening from the neighbors or as a foundation plant for use against a building.

10. Silk Oak (Grevillea robusta)

The common name is misleading as Silk Oak is not an oak or species of the Quercus genus, but is instead a member of the Proteaceae family whose relatives are proteas, banksias, and macadamia; the tree that gives us macadamia nuts. This is a fast growing evergreen with a single, main trunk that can get close to 100’. Due to its resistance to wood rot, the wood is used in the manufacture of furniture and more recently for side and back woods on guitars because of its tonal and aesthetic qualities.

11. Glossy Privet (Ligustrum lucidum)

A relative of the olive tree and an evergreen often used as a dense hedge. It is now considered an invasive species and is no longer recommended for planting.

12. Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

The tallest deciduous tree in the world, the Tulip Tree has inconspicuous tulip-like flowers and bright gold fall color. Its wide-spreading roots need summer water. It is very prone to aphid infestation that results in a sticky, sugary coating on and around the tree that in turn provides food for a sooty mold fungus.

13. Chinese Tallow Tree (Triadica sebifera)

This attractive deciduous tree with good red fall color is native to China. The flowers are 4” catkins that cover the tree in summer. It is widely grown in the tropics where the seeds yield vegetable tallow used for soap, oil, and candles.

14. Valley Oak (Quercus lobata)

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 often leads to the demise of the tree. 

15. Italian Stone Pine (Pinus pinea)

Originally from the Northern Mediterranean, Italian Stone Pines have been cultivated for their edible seeds for thousands of years. Pine nuts, “pignolis” in Italian, are a great source of protein, thiamin, phosphorus, and iron.

16. Flowering Crabapple (Malus spp.)

Crabapple trees produce small and largely inedible fruit. For this reason they’re not grown for their fruit but for their flowers. This tree is stunning when in bloom in mid-spring with fragrant, white, pink, or purple-ish flowers.

17. European White Birch (Betula pendula)

A fast-growing, but sometimes short-lived tree. Birches do not store water internally making them  very sensitive to changes in moisture. In this region, lawn water has been the typical source of summer water. When stressed by lack of water or when infected by insects, they die from the top down.

18. Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) 

Often erroneously called a Tulip Tree, this deciduous magnolia is typically planted as a lawn ornament because of its showy white, pink, or purplish-red flowers. In spring, large saucer-shaped flowers appear like tulips before leaves appear.

19. Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Native to China, Crape Myrtles are strikingly beautiful small specimen trees that grow 14–25’ high and 8–15’ wide. These deciduous trees have profuse and showy summer blooms, bold fall color, and extremely attractive winter bark. Naturally multi-trunked, they can also be trained into single trunks.

20. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Southern Magnolias thrive with lots of water. Provide regular summer watering to keep this species healthy and vigorous. They are evergreen and drop their thick, leathery, leaves all year long. In summer and fall they produce fragrant showy white flowers, which develop into an interesting seed pod.

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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.

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