Learn About Tree Species

In our campaign to combat the Urban Heat Island effect and increase the urban canopy of Altadena and surroundings, Altadena Heritage is offering another free tree give away.

This giveaway is being done with the generous support of Southern California Edison. We are grateful also for the invaluable assistance of Martin Kelley, Yerba Buena Design Company (323-344-8176), whom we thank for all his hard work and providing access to wholesale prices.

Applications should be submitted by October 21st 2022

Understanding the tree descriptions in this list

  • Evergreen, semi-deciduous (partially or briefly deciduous), and deciduous trees are indicated by E, S, and D, respectively.
  • Sizes at maturity are indicated as Height x Width, for example, 20-25’ x 15’ means that, generally, the mature size of the tree will be between 20 and 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
  • Many factors can influence the final size of the tree, including shade, root run, and geographical location. The sizes given in SelecTree are not always accurate for Southern California. We have tried to give you sizes you can expect in this area.

The list below presents a brief description of each tree. You may read more about each tree, including growth rate, sun or shade preference, and much more, by clicking on its botanical name.

The link will take you to that tree’s entry in SelecTree, a database maintained by the Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo.

Small Trees  – Up to 25 Feet Tall

Parkinsonia ‘Desert Museum Palo Verde.A hybrid. Parents are native to the Sonoran and Chihuahan Deserts of the southwestern U.S. D, 20′ x 20-25′. Throws filtered shade. Very low water use when established. Full sun exposure. This tree has vigorous growth (24″-36″/year) and a sturdy, upright branching habit with oval, light green leaves and smooth green bark. It provides a brilliant and rather conspicuous fragrant yellow bloom to announce the arrival of spring. In the fall, it produces a very large brown legume. The yellow blossoms attract black and brown bumble bees, honeybees, wasps and birds, including small finches.

Medium Trees  – 25 to 40 Feet Tall

Handroanthus heptaphyllus  (Tabebuia heptaphyllus)

Handroanthus heptaphyllus (Tabebuia heptaphyllus) Pink Trumpet Tree. S, 20-30’ x 15- 25’. Moderately low shading, well-drained soil, medium water use when established, full sun, and 12″-24″ growth per year. Established trees can get by on infrequent deep irrigation. Spectacular when in full bloom with showy pink or purple flowers that attract hummingbirds. Does well in lawns with good drainage.

Schinus molle

Schinus molle California Pepper, Peruvian Pepper. E, 25-50’ x 25-40’. Gives moderate to dense shading, low water use when established, full sun to partial shade and 12″-24″ growth per year. The fragrant flower and fruit attracts bees. Old trees will become hollow.

Cassia Leptophylla
Gold Medallion Tree. S, 20’-25’ x 30’. Gives moderate shading, requires medium water use when established, prefers fast draining soil and full sun. Established trees can get by on infrequent deep irrigation. Grows ~36″ per year. Yellow flowers in summer. The blooms attract butterflies and other insects. Seeds are considered poisonous.

Large Trees  – Over 40 Feet Tall

Quercus Agrifolia
Coast Live Oak. California native tree. E. Grows up to 70′ with a 20′- 70′ spread. Partial shade to full sun. Medium water use when established. Established trees can get by on infrequent deep irrigation. Grows ~24″ per year. With age, this tree develops a large spreading canopy which is often greater than the total height. Provides dense shading plus food and habitat for many species of mammals and birds and a variety of insects. Large, well established trees are often protected by local tree ordinances and removals can be regulated.

Platanus × Hispanica
‘Columbia’ London Plane Tree. Hybrid. D. Grows up to 80′ with a 30′-40′ spread. Partial shade to full sun. Medium water use when established. Established trees can get by on infrequent deep irrigation. Grows ~ 36″ per year. Red/brown scales flake to show cream-colored inner bark. Large distinctive leaves with lighter undersides. Yellow fall color. Some bird species use high canopy for nesting, and to forage for insects. Also favorites of hawks, juncos, finches and squirrels. Resistant to anthracnose, mildew and verticillium. High tolerance for air pollution

Tree images are from the SelecTree website
No warranties or guarantees as to the accuracy of the data and information in this list are expressed or implied. Altadena Heritage shall not be responsible for any loss of profit, indirect, incidental, special, or consequential damages arising out of the use of the data and information provided here.