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What's with all the Liquid Amber and magnloia trees?

Original post made by Harumph!, Fairmeadow, on Jul 24, 2007

I nominate whoever was responsible for planting Magnolias and Liquid Amber trees as "most useless arborist team, ever". Planting those trees had to be a joke played on Palo Alto citizens by disgruntled employees.

They are filthy trees, pouring down large hazardous cones and spikey balls on thoroughfares and sidewalks.

IN the last year alone, I have replaced my bike tires more than a dozen times. Even with special tube liners, the spiked liguid amber balls pierce bike tires.

I know a woman who tripped on a magnolia cone, and broke her elbow.

Can the city be subject to claims for oloses like this.

I absolutely LOVE trees, but how could anyone calling himself an urban arborist ever have come up with planting those two species in an urban space?

We all want to talk about our walkable environment, but try walking without tripping on the droppings trees, and sidewalks that are unended every two years by magnolia roots.

Comments (18)

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Posted by Mary
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 24, 2007 at 9:01 pm

I nominate camphor trees for the trees one loves to hate - whose roots uproot and crack driveways, walks, and raise sidewalks. They drop an enormous amount of leaves in the late winter and spring, then comes the yellow pollen then the twigs then the seeds or whatever. It is July and those @#$% trees are still dropping something - and they constanty need trimming of dead branches. Yes, liquid ambers are messy but they are gorgeous in the fall. I understand that liquid ambers can be sprayed to prevent formation of those ankle breaking little brown balls. Magnonlia are a southern tree and require water. It doesn't seem appropriate in a Mediterranean climate. More appropriate for the deep South that gets a lot of summer rain and necessary heat. But, we have to learn to live with them They are not going away in the near future.


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Posted by joyce
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 25, 2007 at 3:42 am

Those awful trees! Shame on them! Let's pave the entire place in concrete, then we won't have to look where we're going.


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Posted by Tree Hugger
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2007 at 6:07 am

Hurumphi is just another bicyclist who thinks he owns the road. Trees before bicycles any day.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 25, 2007 at 6:20 am

We had a tree planting on our old street through Caopy and the city made up plant some kind of fast-growing, sturdy elms. They did grow fast and looked pretty nice within about 3 years. The rest of the street had camphors, which I liked fine though they do have a lot of dropping sseasons. The city nixed my suggestion for more of those lovely sycamore trees -- apparently they are not hardy enough or something. So sad, because I love driving down the parts of Palo Alto that have mature sycamores -- they make a wonderful arching canopy in summer and even look pretty imho in winter, and they drop those huge "maple" leaves in fall that you can use as placemats at Thanksgiving. . . but I'll tall you, any tees are better than the barren look our old street started with. Trees rule.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 25, 2007 at 6:22 am

Oh as far as the liquidambar trees, one of the city trees was dying and its branch broke off and fell on my parents' car. Insurance wouldn't pay because it was an "act of God" and the city wouldn't pay because, well, it's the city. Those trees are pretty but they are constantly dropping branches and those little balls.


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Posted by andreas
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2007 at 9:12 am

Yes, let's just cut down all the trees and pave the whole place and turn it into a parking lot for Walmart. With nice little lines everywhere. "Hrumph" will enjoy staying within the nice little lines.


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Posted by Harumph!
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 25, 2007 at 2:47 pm

andreas, perhaps a one-way ticket to the Amazon might float your boat? Lots of trees there.

Look, the argument is NOT againt urban forest, or trees - it's against the mindless placement of CERTAIN species of trees inn urban environments. I love trees! The more, the better!

BUT, why Liquid Amber? Why a tree that drops refuse that causes people who WALK to fall, or people who ride bikes to lose their vehicle's service to a flat tire. That's just dumb, and supporting something like that is... you get my drift...


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 25, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Harumph! --
I spoke with a Canopy rep. in 1999, and he told me at that time that Palo Alto was no longer allowing Liquidambar (aka Sweetgum) to be planted in Palo Alto public property because it was too problematic, partly for the reasons you stated. They are no longer on the list of plantable trees for Palo Alto.


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Posted by Andreas
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 26, 2007 at 4:41 pm

And what is it with the squirrels? Chattering all day and night, running across the roof, darting out in traffic. How about some police action here? Does the Palo Alto Police have squirrel handcuffs?


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 26, 2007 at 5:23 pm

Take a chill pill, Andreas. You seems like you are wound a little tight today. We all like the trees dude!

Natasha, what about the magnolias? Those leaves are really brutal (ever step on one barefoot?) and moreover, they don't compost. They do seem to be all over the place though.


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Posted by Language Lover
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 26, 2007 at 6:38 pm


Actually magnolias should never have been planted in Palo Alto for another reason. THey are water loving trees. They thrive in humid climates such as the southeastern US. Our area is too dry for them.

They were planted a long, long time ago, and I believe they are no longer on the list of trees planted by the city.

Otherwise, yes trees do make a mess. I often gripe about my neighbor's redwood trees and the sticky goo it drips on our cars that is next to impossible to remove.

But guess what? I would not have it any other way. Having so many trees is wonderful and well worth the minor troubles they cause us.


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Posted by natasha
a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 27, 2007 at 4:40 am

Yes, the magnolias are messy. But I would not remove them though I would not plant new ones. I have fond memories of plaing pirates in them with my elementary school friends, gathering "rubies" from their pods. And my kids sit in the big magnolia across the street with their friend, having wonderful discusions and just enjoying being in that green place. Of course, I don't have to live with one on MY property. But if I did I still would not cut them down. just choose differently, which I think Palo Alto is doing.


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Posted by joyce
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 29, 2007 at 12:21 pm

I love the magnolias in front of my house. Those leaves are amazing. I think they could be sewn together to make canoes or something. You want a permanent mulch? Get those leaves.


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Posted by kate
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 29, 2007 at 12:24 pm

What's with all this stepping on things and running over things with your bike, doesn't anyone look where they're going? Suppose a skateboard were in the sidewalk?


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Posted by Rain
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 10, 2008 at 8:43 pm

Did you know that the beginning of humanity-no, the beginning of life, started with plants and trees? It is those loyal plants who provide us with oxygen, our vital needs. And now you choose to destroy them just because, as trees, they let out a little pollen? What is the matter with you? If you're going to trip on trees, why not start watching where you're going? A little pollen is nothing, why not park your car somewhere else? Our ozone layer is already in danger, do you really want palo alto to go next? geez..


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Posted by Nancy
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2008 at 10:24 am

I love trees, I even planted a Redwood tree in my front yard. The Liquidambar trees are horrible. I have twisted my ankle on them, which has affected my bad knee as well. My neightbor will not trim his tree which overhangs my sidewalk and driveway. I cannot go around with a flashlight at night to see where I walk. My daughter feel down on one and injured her knee as she was going to her car. These trees are the worst and my neighbor says he can't trim it as well, because then it will be lopsided. What a jerk, I'm just asking him to trim a few branches so the balls don't fall on my property where I walk!!!!!!!!!


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Posted by Edward S.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2008 at 10:33 am

I thought property owners are legally allowed to trim anything that overhangs their property. Grab a pair of shears or a gardener and trim away, Nancy. If your neighbor doesn't want a lopsided tree, he can trim his other half when you're done.


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Posted by good tree lover
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2008 at 10:34 am

I'm a tree lover, but any city arborist who placed trees that drop hazardous obstacles on sidewalks and streets should earn a special Darwin Award. It's absurd to plant trees in an urban landscape that drop material that can literally kill or seriously injure someone. In the long run, any tree that drops dangerous objects on streets and sidewalks should be marked for eventual replacement. Chop them down and replace them with trees that don't put people's lives and well being at risk!


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