Self-Guided Tree Walk: Sylvan Park

About This Walk

Come stroll through the urban forest of Sylvan Park. Enjoy learning about the Valley Oak, Japanese Maple, Coast Redwood, and much more.

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 Sylvan Park Tree walk begins at the front parking lot, near the park entrance sign, 600 Sylvan Ave.

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1. 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 root crown fungus to develop that leads to the death of the tree.

2. Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

After centuries of selective breeding, horticulturists have created hundreds of ornamental cultivars that range in size from dwarf shrubs to tall trees, some are deciduous while others are evergreen. Though not drought-tolerant they have adapted to the Mediterranean climate in Santa Clara Valley.

3. Coast Redwood (Sequoia Sempervirens)

These are America’s tallest tree species and can live for well over 1,000 years. Due to high water needs and poor drought tolerance, they are no longer considered suitable for planting in the Santa Clara Valley floor. In the Santa Cruz Mountains fog supplies the moisture they need.

4. Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea)

This deciduous oak, originally from the northeastern United States, has great fall foliage color but tends to hold its brown dormant leaves well into winter. It grows quickly to 60-80’ high and 40-60’ wide. These trees were planted in 1989.

5. European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

A dense and pyramidal shaped tree that grows to 40’ high with the same canopy spread. This is a deciduous tree with leaves that turn yellow or dark red in the fall. Grows best in full sun.

6. Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)

A popular street tree locally, in China it’s often found in classically designed Chinese gardens. During the autumn months the leaves turn a brilliant, almost neon red, orange, and yellow while the fruit on female trees starts out as bright red then turns a dark blue.

7. Red Horse Chestnut (Aesculus x carnea)

A deciduous tree native to Germany, it’s a hybrid of the European horse chestnut and the North American Red Buckeye. The flowers are fragrant and showy. All parts of horse chestnut and buckeye trees contain poisonous glycoside aesculin and should never be consumed.

8. Ornamental Pear (Pyrus calleryana)

This tree provides an abundant display of white flowers in late winter or early spring. Pear fruit, if any, is so small it’s considered inedible. Without proper pruning when the tree is young it can develop poor branching structure that weakens the limbs attachment to the trunk. If you plant this tree, be sure to prune properly when young.

9. Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara)

For centuries Deodar Cedar trees have been used to make incense, essential oils, and insect repellent. This tree has been allowed to grow in its natural form: the lower branches touch the ground then sweep up. The cones of Deodar Cedars sit on top of the branches, pointing upward.

10. Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis)

Wisteria is a genus of climbing, flowering plants in the legume family and are related to alfalfa, clover, garbanzo beans, lentils, and peanuts. These seeds are toxic to pets and humans and should never be ingested as they can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

11. Sweet Bay (Laurus nobilis)

Another Mediterranean native that grows well in our climate. The leaves are legendary as a culinary seasoning. In ancient Greece, they were a symbol of victory, honor, and heroics, and branches were worn as crowns. This tree can be very resilient and practically pest-free, especially the cultivar ‘Saratoga’. Expect slow growth, eventually reaching 20’ to 40’ high.

12. Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

This is a large deciduous tree native to eastern North America. It looks similar to Elm trees but smaller. The small berries are eaten by a number of birds.

13. Saw-leaf Zelkova (Zelkova serrata)

A member of the elm family, this tree has become a popular park and street tree in the United States. It is resistant to Dutch elm disease and insect pests and grows well in a variety of different climates and soils. The fine-grained wood is prized in Japan where it is used in temple construction.

14. Crape Myrtle ‘Muskogee’ (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Muskogee’)

This small ornamental tree has stunning lavender flowers in the summer, interesting bark, and brilliant fall color. It grows best in warm spots, with full sun and well-drained soil.

15. Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

In spring, the Redbud flowers emerge directly from the woody parts of the trunk and large branches. This is called cauliflory and is found mostly in tropical trees. They have few notable pests or problems.

16. Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

A young Coast Live Oak differs from the fully grown, centuries-old Coast Live Oak trees that dot the neighborhood in that the young trees require regular, deep-root watering for the first five to ten years after planting. As the tree matures, continued watering around the trunk will encourage growth of the Armillaria fungus on the roots. This can cause the tree to die or fall over from too few roots to anchor its top weight.

17. Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia)

A deciduous tree native to Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil. The fern-like leaves drop in late winter then bloom a brilliant bright purple from June to September. This can be seen in abundance lining the streets of Santa Barbara and it’s worth a trip. Jacarandas can be sensitive to frost.

18. Tawhiwhi (Pittosporum tenuifolium)

Most of California’s cultivated pittosporums come from Australia and New Zealand. This particular species is native to New Zealand, but there are hundreds of others found in Australia, Africa, and Asia. Small, dark colored flowers are filled with nectar and exude a honey scented fragrance in the evenings.

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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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“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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