Entries by Christopher Altman

Liquidambar styraciflua

Here is a beautiful tree on Piedmont St, near Asbury, in San Francisco. This American Sweetgum is technically a deciduous tree, but here in our Mediterranean climate they don’t normally lose all of their leaves at once. They look a lot like Maple trees. Some of them have better fall color than others. We needed […]


I don’t know who pruned this tree, but it looks terrible. Is it really worth saving a couple of hundred dollars for this?

Some trees grow on granite

Check out this Juniper growing out of a granite boulder at Yosemite National Park.  Thousands of years of evolution has enabled this species to grow in this environment, high on a mountain, perched on a granite boulder.  It wouldn’t survive anywhere but here. California coast Redwoods need moist, temperate air, humos rich soil.  They naturally […]

Ficus Forest

These big Ficus Trees on Carolina and 19th Street in San Francisco were getting too close to the high voltage power lines. It took 5 of us 4 days to prune all these trees. The goal was three fold: First we wanted to keep PG&E out of the picture. PG&E tends to do a really […]

Make way for new a new cross light in Atherton

About a month ago I sprained my ankle. It was inconvenient, but I was still able to work from this bucket truck. It’s a wheel chair for arborists. I wouldn’t recommend this for fine pruning, but for street clearances I was able to get the job done in record time. The electric company provided the […]

Maytenus boaria, Mayten Tree

The Mayten Tree is a beautiful tree from Chile. It has a gorgeous pendulous branching that looks like a waterfall. BEWARE!!! Although this tree looks spectacular it has the most aggressive suckering roots that I have ever come across in San Francisco. If you plant it in your garden you will have suckers popping up […]

Tree of the Week, Magnolia grandiflora

*Botanical Name: Magnolia grandiflora (grandi means big andflora means flower, just in case it wasn’t obvious enough). **Family: Magnoliaceae ***Common name: Southern magnolia (most common in SF), bull- bay, evergreen magnolia. ****Native environment: Virginia to central Florida, Arkansas to Eastern Texas (left). *****Height: up to 90 feet. Wiki says the biggest ones recorded are in […]

Little Metrosideros in the Sunset

Here is what a tree looks like a few years after it’s been badly topped. It looks like a bit like a shrub on a trunk (right). Well, we trimmed this poor little tree the best we could. This will be a process of restoration that make take several years (above). We also planted the […]

Black Acacia

The goal for pruning this tree was crown reduction. Judy had wanted to plant an Acacia baileyana (Bailey acacia), but she ended up with an Acacia melanoxylon (black acacia). Oops. These are two very different trees. Judy had wanted a small tree… The baily acacia is fast growing and relatively short lived (20-30 years). They […]

Too big for its pot

I was called out to trim a large, 30 year old Pittosporum undulatum. From below I could see that there was some disease. When I climbed into the canopy I found out that the disease was much worse than it seemed. There was die back along the main branches. There were also mushrooms. Mushrooms in […]