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 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.