This past weekend I joined a tree walk in the Barron Park Neighborhood of Palo Alto. Never one to miss out on an opportunity to take photos of nature and learn something new, I made this my Saturday activity. The tree walk was well attended, led by a knowledgable local arborist who took us to twenty-two different trees in two hours.
Strawberry Tree (Arbutus Marina):
Native to California and regions with a Mediterranean climate, the drought-tolerant Arbutus Marina has beautiful red bark, delicate flowers, and fruit. When I used to live in Santa Cruz I rented a back-house that was surrounded by these trees, which can grow up to thirty feet tall, dripping with small round fruit that are reminiscent of a raspberry. The fruit seemed to be there year round, constantly falling to the ground and feeding a rather large family of squirrels. On the tree walk we learned the fruit of the Marina is actually edible! So I tried one, it has a lightly sweet and earthy flavor. I wish I knew this before, I would have been the squirrels’ competition for the abundant fruit!
This tree stood out with its perfectly yellow leaves, ovalish in shape with undulating edges. Framed by a classic car the Victorian Box was an excellent photo opportunity. Part of the Eucalyptus family, this Australian native tree is well-known for its honey produced by bees. During the spring the tree produces fragrant white flowers that eventually turn into fruit that is orange and woody.
Canary Island Pine:
An evergreen tree named after its native home, the Canary Islands, this pine grows in subtropical environments with varying amounts of rainfall. As a drought-tolerant tree, it can live with less than eight inches of rain a year. Lush with pine needles, they absorbs mist from the air, allowing the trapped water to drip to the ground below and absorb into the earth.
Last on the walk, the mosaic tree is not an actual tree, but an art installment by the artist Christine Heegaard. The sculpture is called, “Lives,” representing a tree in all seasons. The sculpture is covered in mosaic tile with shapes of fruit and even a squirrel climbing on the trunk.