June 24, 2011

For The Love (And Hate) Of Palm Trees In San Francisco

They’ve been called names. And the planting of palm trees in San Francisco can be a polarizing issue. An issue that might be short lived, for as a plugged-in reader editorializes and educates:

The palms won't be there much longer. The city has fired all their educated arborists. Those who are left trim them to that odd pineapple shape while the fronds are still green and alive. A fusarium-type wilt then infects the palm and it slowly dies. At least 3 have died since the last trimming - that's what killed the dead palms around Justin Herman Plaza.

A Most Unfortunate Quote [SocketSite]
A Plugged-In Reader's Report: Third Street Sprouts Some Trees [SocketSite]
The Impact Of 8 Washington [SocketSite]

First Published: June 24, 2011 8:00 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

It would be cheaper to hire an arborist than replace a bunch of trees that cost $7k each!

Posted by: anon at June 24, 2011 9:15 AM

It would be cheaper to hire an arborist than replace a bunch of trees that cost $7k each!

But less profitable to the people that get kickbacks from the palm-tree sellers, I'm sure.

Posted by: pretty sure it's a conspiracy at June 24, 2011 9:25 AM

Hyperbole alert. All the palms in SF are going to die because the city lost its arborists?
Yeah. no.

Posted by: Joe at June 24, 2011 9:26 AM

Good grief. Kickbacks from the palm tree sellers?
Who knew we had an active palm tree mob in San Francisco.
Did you hear the story of the arborist with the broken kneecaps?

Posted by: Bob at June 24, 2011 9:27 AM

Have you visited your nearby park recently? The City seems hell bent on killing the parks through neglect and incompetence. Even the lawn trimmers don't seem to grasp the basics of lawn care.

Posted by: BobN at June 24, 2011 10:36 AM

I'd support privatizing the park management and maintenance, as we've done at Mission Creek Park (in Mission Bay). It's so much nicer than Lafayette Park, which I lived next to for several years.

Posted by: Happy in SF at June 24, 2011 11:15 AM

Hey the grass at Kimbell field looks nice and trimmed. Of course the fact that its not grass helps I guess.

Posted by: Rillion at June 24, 2011 11:15 AM

"...I'd support privatizing the park management and maintenance, as we've done at Mission Creek Park (in Mission Bay). It's so much nicer than Lafayette Park, which I lived next to for several years."

I've always been very struck by how well-maintained the parks in Mission Bay are compared with the regular city parks, and I'm sure the contracting out has a lot to do with it. But what happens if, as looks likely, Redevelopment gets phased out?

Posted by: zzzzzzzz at June 24, 2011 11:29 AM

Let's talk budget cuts. Parks & Rec has had their budget slashed for the past five years. Gardeners and teachers have been marked as extraneous, so have been laid off or mandated reduced hours and/or expanded work times/areas.

Palm trees were installed because they are marketed as low maintenance, when, like all plants, they need upkeep. Especially in their non-native habitat, a foggy city, palms need regular fertilizing, special grow lights and routine pruning and root control.


Palms really are "high rises for rats" which hollow out the center and create multi-rat-family burrows. From a 2000 Real Estate Brokers Association article. "Roof rats (the most common rat in SF) are excellent leapers. They can jump vertically 36", horizontally 48", and can bound eight feet from a tree to a house. ... These creatures have become more prevalent in our area in the past 15 years."

Although inter-species breeding is usually ineffective, in the SF Bay Area Norway rats now breed with Roof or Wharf rats. Guess where they love to live...palm trees. Fronds hold ratty weight better than flowering, fruit and needle tree branches do and because there are no bird nests for angry rat killing birds to defend.

Posted by: MM2 at June 25, 2011 6:26 PM

Ridiculous. So every palm that is in SF, needs a grow light?
BS

Posted by: joe at June 27, 2011 4:53 PM

Yeah, you don't need grow lights to grow things outdoors. That doesn't even make sense. Those palm trees have been planted in SF since the Victorian era, before they even invented grow lights. Plus, there, like, aren't any grow lights to be seen anywhere, because it doesn't make sense. Those palms are from the Canary Islands, not the tropics, and they are very adaptable to salty, windy conditions. They grow anywhere the temperature never drops below 20 degrees, which is far lower than the coldest temperature recorded in SF history.

Generally, those palms are lower maintenance than street trees that need branch trimmings, leaf cleanup, etc., and they are drought tolerant to boot.

Posted by: Tom at August 20, 2011 9:51 AM

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