Self-Guided Tree Walk: West Bayshore

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The West Bayshore Tree Walk begins at Ohlone School, 950 Amarillo Avenue.

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1. White Mulberry (Morus alba)

~ 950 Amarillo Avenue, row of 4 trees in front of Ohlone School

Native to China, these trees grow rapidly to 35’, with a wider spread and widely spreading roots as well. The shape of the leaves is variable; some leaves have lobes and other leaves have no lobes at all. Older trees tend to have fewer lobed leaves. The leaves turn yellow in the fall. Mulberry leaves are the food of the silkworm.

2. Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum)

~ 939 Amarillo Avenue, 3 trees in front yard

A small maple native to Japan, China, and Korea. Many cultivars have been produced with much variety in leaf color and shape. They are especially useful as decorative trees in front yards and in Asian landscapes. They remain small enough to be planted under power lines.

3. California Pepper Tree (Schinus molle)

~ 931 Amarillo Avenue, front yard left of the sidewalk

A native of Peru, this species was planted at the California Mission gardens by Franciscan missionaries. Its beautiful weeping canopy contains bright green, narrow leaflets. In summer, many tiny yellowish white flowers droop in 4–6” clusters. The flowers become rose-colored berries in the fall and winter. The trunks of old trees are heavy and fantastically gnarled.

4. Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata)

~ 919 Amarillo Avenue, 2 trees left of the driveway

This California native likes coastal weather. It is fast growing and tolerates poor soil. Pine pitch canker disease is currently affecting many of these trees. Bark beetles are also a threat – they bore through the cambium of the tree tops and the trunk. Beetles usually seek out trees stressed from drought or excessive pruning. In Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa, where it is free from pests, this tree is an important timber tree.

5. Red Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon)

~ 906 Amarillo Avenue, right of the front walk

Once you learn the appearance of this tree’s bark, you can easily distinguish it from other eucalyptus species. The bark is very dark red-brown and is thick with deep furrows. It never peels or drops litter. The wood is red in color and is as hard as iron, according to 19th century botanist George Bentham. He published a book called Flora Australiensis in 1878 that is still considered current.

6a. Flowering Pear (Pyrus calleryana)

~ 905 Amarillo Avenue, 2 trees right of the driveway

Native to China, Flowering Pears deliver profuse displays of white flowers in the spring before the leaves appear. Pears, if any, are small and inedible. This tree is prone to poor branching structure, which can cause limbs to drop. Careful pruning of young trees in the area where the branches emerge from the trunk can improve the structure of the tree.

6b. Modesto Ash (Fraxinus velutina ‘Modesto’)

~ 905 Amarillo Avenue, 2 trees next to the sidewalk on Louis Road

This ash variety was developed in Modesto, California from the Arizona Ash, a native of the Central Valley of California. It grows to 50’ high and 30’ wide and is widely used as a street tree. It has naturally upward sweeping branches with glossy green 6” leaflets that turn bright yellow in the fall. It withstands drought, but is subject to anthracnose in our local climate.

7. Carob (Ceratonia siliqua)

~ 914 Moreno Avenue, center front yard

The trunks of Carob trees are gnarled, burly, twisted trunks full of character, regardless of their age. Almost round, dark green, glossy leaflets densely cover the tree. Female trees have hard, 6” long seed pods that contain edible seeds used as a chocolate substitute.

8. California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)

~ 918 Moreno Avenue, 3 trees right side

Native to a small area in Southern California and southern Arizona. It grows to 60’ and has long stalked leaves that stand well apart in an open crown. These fan-shaped leaves are 5–6’ long and 3–6’ wide. In May and June, 8–10’ long branched clusters of flowers appear. Unless pruned, dead fronds cover most of the trunk.

9a. Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis)

~ 924 Moreno Avenue, left of the driveway

Long-lived (50–60 years) thirsty plants from the Canary Islands. They grow to 60’ with a crown spread of 50’. The leaf structure is like a drooping feather rather than being folded like a fan as with the Fan Palms. Orange bunches of inedible dates fall from female trees.

9b. Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)

~ 924 Moreno Avenue, left of the front walk, behind the fence

Grows to 70–80’. Dead fronds near the base capture moisture from the air and funnel it to the base of the trunk. The Mexican Fan Palm is taller and has a more slender trunk than the less common California Fan Palm. Native to Mexico.

10. Little-leaf Linden (Tilia cordata)

~ 933 Moreno Avenue, left side along fence

Known as a lime tree in England, it has nothing to do with limes. This tree is wider than it is tall. In winter, we see open seed pods on the branches, not leaves. Its leaves are dark green above and silver below. Flowers in July.

11. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

~ 939 Moreno Avenue, right of the driveway

From China, the Ginkgo is slow growing, and not much pruning is needed. It is an ancient tree dating to prehistoric times. Fan-like leaves have beautiful yellow fall color.

12. Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis)

~ 959 Moreno Avenue, left side of the front yard

In China oil is made from its seeds and the leaf buds are boiled and eaten. The species Pistacia vera, which yields the edible pistachio nuts, is frequently grafted on roots of this species. Nice fall color – from green to yellow to brilliant orange and red.

13. Silver Dollar Gum (Eucalyptus polyanthemos)

~ 967 Moreno Avenue, left of the driveway

Eucalyptus was brought to California in 1856 (during the Gold Rush) from Australia. Originally planted as a lumber tree, it was also grown in the 19th century as a windbreak and for firewood. This eucalyptus is fast growing and needs little water. Silver Dollar Gum has round juvenile leaves used in flower arrangements and lance-shaped mature leaves.

14. American Elm (Ulmus americana)

~ 966 Moreno Avenue, left side

Found throughout the U.S., but rare in California, this tree can grow 100’ high and 50–60’ wide. Its toothed leaves are 3–6” long and its bark is dark and furrowed. It is fast-growing, but because of the current problem with Dutch elm disease, it is not recommended for planting. This specimen is probably 40–50 years old and in poor condition.

15. Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

~ 984 Moreno Avenue, front yard

A very thirsty tree that is native to the southeastern U.S. It is evergreen, but its leaves die and fall off throughout the year. Its beautiful huge white flowers are powerfully fragrant. The above-ground roots and the vertical shoots on the lower branches of this specimen are signs of confinement and stress. Many Southern Magnolias in Palo Alto are showing signs of aging and not enough moisture.

16. Red Horsechestnut (Aesculus x carnea)

~ 2657 Greer Road, on the right property line

This big tree can cast dense shade when it grows to 40’ high and 30’ wide. In April or May, it bears hundreds of plumes of soft pink to red flowers. The dark brown chestnut seed is held in a spiked husk ball that falls in the autumn.

17. Purple-leaf Plum (Prunus cerasifera)

~ 1013 Amarillo Avenue, row of 10 trees next to the sidewalk on Greer Road

These trees burst into very attractive early spring blossoms in pink tones. The purple leaves soon flush out. Many varieties of Purple-leaf Plum are available; in a setting like this, the fruitless varieties are preferred. Plums make a tasty jam and birds like them.

18. Olive (Olea europaea)

~ 1008 Amarillo Avenue, 3 trees in the front yard

Willow-like foliage is a soft gray-green. Branches become gnarled in maturity when the tree reaches a height and width of 25’. Most lush when grown in deep rich soil; thrives in areas with hot dry summers. Without processing, olives are inedible; they must be treated and cured to rid them of their bitter taste.

19. Silk Tree (Albizia julibrissin)

1002 Amarillo Avenue, left side

A tree with delicate, ferny leaves similar to the Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia), but larger. The leaves of the Silk Tree fold up at night. The crown is very broad, often twice as wide as the tree’s height. In summer it is covered with fluffy pink flowers.

20. River She-oak (Casuarina cunninghamiana)

~ 1003 Amarillo Avenue, tree nearest the sidewalk

This Australian tree has weeping branches of green needle-like twigs. Although it looks like a pine and bears small cones, it is unrelated to pines. It tolerates coastal and arid conditions and is used to reforest burned and logged areas.

21. Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora)

~ 991 Amarillo Avenue, front yard

The 2½–5” leaves of the Camphor Tree smell like camphor when crushed. These trees often spread out to a width as great as their height, creating a shady canopy as wide as 50’. Native to Japan and China, the Camphor Tree is the official tree of many cities in Japan including Hiroshima City.

22. Fern Pine (Podocarpus gracilior)

990 Amarillo Avenue, right of the driveway

Native to eastern Africa, but well-adapted to California. In youth, the leaves are dark green, 2–4” long, and ½” wide. With age, the leaves become lighter green, more densely spaced and 1–2” long. Depending on the method of propagation and the type of pruning this slow-growing and pest free plant receives, it can take on a variety of tree and shrub shapes. It is also known as Afrocarpus elongatus.

23. Idaho Locust (Robinia x ambigua ‘Idahoensis’)

972 Amarillo Avenue, right front corner

This fast-growing, fairly drought-tolerant tree produces many large clusters of lavender or magenta blossoms in the spring. The deciduous leaves are divided into many small oval leaflets and do not produce much leaf litter in the fall. Its smooth gray bark has vertical scar-like lines.

24. Lemon Bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus)

~ 967 Amarillo Avenue, 2 trees right of the driveway

Native to Australia. Tolerant of heat, cold, and poor soils. Large shrub, but with staking and pruning can be trained into a round-headed 20–25’ tree. Bright red 6” brushes attract hummingbirds.

25. Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica)

~ 950 Amarillo Avenue, right of the entrance to the side parking lot at Ohlone School

The Atlas Cedar has short blue green needles that appear in bunches on the tops of stiff branches. The bunches, or rosettes, remain on the tree for 3 or 4 years before falling off. The cones sit on top of the branches, too, pointing up. This Algerian native will typically reach 60’. 

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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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“Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets. To plant a pine, one need only own a shovel.”

~ Aldo Leopold
American author and environmentalist, 1887-1948

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