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.
California coast Redwoods need moist, temperate air, humos rich soil. They naturally grow in valleys. They don’t like wind. Yet, people love them and want to plant them in windy San Francisco and in the dry central valley. So they look okay for ten, twenty years. But they they turn brown. And they call me. And I have to tell them it probably shouldn’t have been planted in the first place.
Sycamores are riparian trees, but require a drier climate. They hate wind. Yet we continue to plant them all over San Francisco. Why? Who knows? They look terrible in Civic Center; thin, barely any foliage, leaning away from the wind. They keep planting them on Valencia. It’s too bad.
Jacarandas, from Brazil, need lots and lots of sun. They look great in Mexico City. Flying in to the city in March, the ground is blanketed in purple. In San Francisco they generally look sick. Some years are better than others. Sometimes they bloom well, sometimes not. This is not a tree I would plant here.
So before you choose a tree for your desired location, consider your soil type, the wind, water availability, and sun exposure. Sometimes the recipe for a successful planting can come down to being on the sunny side of the street or away from a wind tunnel.
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 all over the place, possibly in your basement. Also, if you prune this tree too aggressively it will sprout back even more aggressively. So prune lightly; make fewer, larger cuts. Be prepared to have to prune often to keep the desired shape.
***Common name: Southern magnolia (most common in SF), bull- bay, evergreen magnolia.
*******Many cultivars; some with gigantic flowers (up to a foot across), some slow growing dwarf trees, various leaf sizes, colors, and shapes. My friend Waiyde says he has one that has huge, dark purple flowers.
*******Magnolia grandiflora is an evergreen, but they still drop leaves and make a mess. The last time I pruned a magnolia street tree this little old man kept telling me to cut it down completely. He groaned and groaned about it so much we nick-named him “Mona”. He said he was forever having to sweep the sidewalk. Poor Mona; not a very happy man.
It is also the state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana and was an emblem of the Confederate army in the Civil War. It is also Mississippi’s state tree.
The baily acacia is fast growing and relatively short lived (20-30 years). They have feathery leaves and grow only 20-30 feet.
Acacia bailiana is a very pretty tree for the first 10 years or so. Afterwards they become a bit rough looking. The branches die back strangely so that there are lots of right angles, making them look like a bit like a fuzzy tumbleweed.
They also grow very fast and very tall. This is not the tree to plant if you have electric wires overhead, or if you are Judy and you simply want a small tree. The bigger ones here in San Francisco are around 50 feet. In the wild they can get to be as big as 150 feet tall.
I love pruning these trees because they can be made to look spectacular through natural layering. They can look like big, puffy, green clouds.
Judy wanted us to reduce the size of her tree since she didn’t want a large tree in front of her house. We reduced it as much as possible without making topping cuts. She would have liked to have been brought down further, but that would have been bad or the tree.
In order to keep the costs down we kept the design element to a minimum. We worked strictly on crown reduction, not layering.
I’ve been studying the acacia tree as I’m here blogging away. It’s a very complicated tree.
Family: Leguminosae. That is the pea, legume, or the bean family. The third largest family of flowering plants behind Orchidaceae and Asteraceae. 730 genera, 19,400 species.
The word acacia is derived from the word akakia, which is the name given by a Greek botanist. The name is derived from the Greek word akis means thorn.
The following is ripped off from Wikipedia:
“Acacias are also known as thorntrees, whistling thorns or wattles, including the yellow-fever acacia and umbrella acacias. Until 2005, there were thought to be roughly 1300 species of acacia worldwide, about 960 of them native to Austraila, with the remainder spread around the tropical to warm-temperate regions of both hemispheres, including Europe, Africa, southern Asia, and the Americas. However, the genus was then divided into five, with the name Acacia retained for the Australian species, and most of the species outside Australia divided into Vachellia an Senegalia.”
That’s enough for now. Soon it will be Tree of the Week and I’ll ply you with more.
I was called out to trim a large, 30 year old Pittosporum undulatum. From below I could see that there was some disease.
1319A Florida Street
San Francisco CA 94110
2926 East 19th Street
Oakland CA 94601