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Pahavit's Universe

Date: 1-18-2009 10:12 PM
Subject: Tree Walk, Southgate, Palo Alto
Security: Public
Tags:canopy, field trip, palo alto, tree walk, valley oak
Tree Walk, Southgate, Palo Alto

Last weekend D. and I went on a tree walk in Palo Alto, organized by Canopy, a cool local tree advocacy group. Once a month they get a local tree expert to lead the public on free walks through selected neighborhoods to look at the really cool and notable trees and talk about the proper care of them.

This walk's tree expert was arborist Ted. He told us lots and lots of stuff about all the trees we saw.

First off are D.'s pics.

We gather at Palo Alto High School to begin our tree walk.  "Hi, I'm Ted, I'll be your arborist today . . . "

Ted discusses how magnolias cope with the Bay Area climate.  He also explains to us the origin of the name magnolia (after the 17th Century French botanist Pierre Magnol).


A sharp-eyed member of our group spies an oak seedling sprouting from the crotch of an ailing robinia along our walk.

This enormous sequoia is but a baby tree, as sequoias go.  It's still quite young and tiny, relatively speaking (they can go over 300' tall).

We see the flowers and fruit of a strawberry tree.   The fruits are not true strawberries, although they are edible and taste a little like their namesake.

An enormous valley oak has a huge presence to it, dominating the neighborhood from blocks away, its gnarled limbs twisting up into the sky.  These trees can live to be over 200 years old and can reach 120' tall.

The cone of an Atlantic cedar looks like a wood rose.  They are sometimes called wood roses.

Arborist Ted shows us the 2 kinds of acacia leaves.  The small feathery one is the original leaf.  The blade-like one is what the feathery ones turn into after time (called phyllodes).  These thin, blade-like leaves help protect acacias from the intense sunlight of their native habitats.

Here's one leaf that's having a bit of an identity crisis.

❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧  ❧

Here's my pics.

The green world of a Magnolia grandiflora canopy.

The seed pod of a magnolia.  The seeds are sticky and are held snugly within the pod by little thread-like fibers. They do not get casually knocked out of the pod but must be pulled purposefully by a bird, attracted by the bright red color, and thus dispersed away from the parent tree.

A contrail, a queen palm and a coast redwood intersect in the same patch of sky for a moment.

A scrub jay makes off with an acorn from one of the many oaks in the neighborhood.  If he forgets where he stashes it, a new oak may sprout.

Enormous valley oak.

This tree had several plum-sized oak galls on its branches, created by a wasp laying eggs in the leaf bud.

Here's a leafless ginkgo tree with withered fruit.  When fresh, they look like little apricots but smell totally foul. That's why you rarely see female ginkgo trees.

These bright acacia blossoms almost outshine the sun itself.

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