6 Trees Native To San Francisco

California is known as the home to some of the largest trees in the world, and every area has specific trees that can thrive without any problems. Trees native to San Francisco are very unique due to the microclimate, sandy and serpentine oils, and windy conditions. The trees in San Francisco are usually not as big in other areas but have their own qualities that make them worth planting.

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We will be talking about common trees in San Francisco in this article. Keep reading to find out more about their characteristics, requirements, and maintenance!

Trees Native to San Francisco – Characteristics, Requirements, Maintenance

1. Bigleaf Maple

Bigleaf maple is named due to having the biggest leaves of all maple trees. Its leaves are usually about 10 inches wide, making it a very good shade tree. The sapwood of maple lumber is most commonly used rather than its heartwood, unlike most other hardwoods. The heartwood tends to be a dark reddish-brown color. Bigleaf maple should be very moderately priced, so it is suited even for beginner gardeners who haven’t planted any trees yet. Its wood is softer and lighter than that of other hard maple trees. 

At maturity, Bigleaf maple can grow up to 100 feet in height with a 3 feet trunk. Part shade or full sun exposure is preferred as well as moderately high moisture. Additionally, the tree thrives in loamy or clay soil but will do well in sandy soil too. 

2. White Alder

White alder is a member of the Birch family and it can is one of the most common trees in San Francisco. The tree has amazing adaptability to different climates, so it is common in other areas of the state too. This deciduous tree has pale gray bark that’s smooth on young trees but becomes scaly as the tree matures. The leaves are alternate, elliptic to rhombic in shape, and about 4 inches in length. 

Once it hits maturity, White alder can grow about 85 feet in height in an optimal environment. It has a fast growth rate according to most tree services California, so you can expect it to start thriving soon after planting the tree. Full sun exposure and sandy or clay soils are preferred for healthy development and blooms each year. 

3. Blue Elderberry

Blue elderberry is easy to grow, quite tough, and has a fast growth rate. It is almost in the whole state, from Oregon to Baja California. Its beautiful yellow flowers in the spring and purple berries in the fall are usually the main reasons why people opt for this tree. Trees native to San Francisco are usually an important food source for birds, and Blue elderberry is also on that list. For some reason, Blue elderberry that goes through a drought period is usually more attractive than ones that have access to water all year round. This may be the reason why they’re so successful in the area. 

This tree grows about 30 feet in height when it hits maturity. It will thrive in any type of sun condition and soil, but it prefers well-drained soils with moisture. 

4. Pacific Madrone


Pacific madrone is arguably one of the most dramatically beautiful native trees in the area. If you can provide proper growing conditions, enough space, and combine that with some patience, you will be rewarded with a specimen that has something of interest throughout the whole year! Its reddish bark is the most striking feature. It gradually peels away and exposes the smooth coppery bark beneath. Gardeners admire this tree very much due to its clusters of bright white flowers and red-orange fruit

This adaptable tree can grow up to 50 feet in height once it hits maturity. It is easily grown in acidic, moist, and well-drained soils in full sun. Tree service San Francisco companies consider this tree to be slow-growing if it receives too much water, especially while it is young. 

5. Tanbark Oak

Tanbark oak actually belongs to the Beech family but is considered to be an evolutionary link between chestnuts and oaks. This close relative to oak trees also produce acorns that are loved by wildlife, thus you will frequently notice birds and squirrels at the tree if you decide to plant this tree. This persistent, versatile specie has a narrow crown in forest population, and a more rounded crown if you plant it where it has a lot of space to spread out. 

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At maturity, Tanbark oak can grow up to 85 feet in height in optimal conditions. It prefers partial shade and considerable amount of water. Tanbark oak is one of the most common trees in San Francisco since it is cost-effective, adaptable, and looks great. 

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6. California Buckeye

California buckeye is perfectly fitted for the climate in the state. Therefore, this native thrives and successfully grows almost everywhere in California, especially in San Francisco. Usually, it is used as an accent tree due to its showy fall flowering display, attractive multi-trunk habit, and wintertime silhouette of white trunks against an evergreen background. Its foliage drops leaves without supplemental irrigation after changing its color to brown in midsummer. 

California buckeye is a smaller tree, growing only about 25 feet tall at maturity. This makes it suitable for planting around the house and in your yard without any problems. Full sun to partial shade exposure is optimal if you combine it with moist to dry soil. The tree is drought tolerant, so you don’t have to worry if there’s no rainfall for a prolonged period. 

Local Tree Experts Overview

Trees native to San Francisco are usually drought-tolerant, with big leaves, and great looks. They tend to grow pretty high, so you can frequently use them as shade trees too. The biggest problems may persist while you’re still in the planting process, so we recommend you consult with your local arborist about it. Also, don’t hesitate to ask questions about irrigation and fertilization. In addition, regular pruning and trimming are recommended for most trees to thrive and continue growing properly. 

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