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Recommended Plant Lists

tree-lined street in SF

The Urban Forestry Council annually reviews and updates this list of trees, in collaboration with public and non-profit urban forestry stakeholders, including San Francisco’s Department of Public Works Urban Forestry Division and Friends of the Urban Forest.

It’s important to carefully match the conditions of your site with the tree you choose. Please note that while this list contains recommendations that are known to do well in many locations in San Francisco, no tree is perfect for every potential tree planting location. This list should be used as a guideline for choosing which street tree to plant, but should not be used without the help of a tree professional.

All street trees must be approved by Public Works before planting. The application form to plant a street tree can be found here.

 

Section 1: Tree species, varieties, and cultivars that do well in most locations in the San Francisco.*  

Size

Evergreen/

Deciduous

Species

Notes

Small -

Less than 20’ tall at maturity

Evergreen

 

Arbutus x ‘Marina’
 

Fruit drop can range from low volume to significant

Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’

Not good for narrow sidewalks

Laurus nobilis ‘Saratoga’

Uneven performer, prefers heat, needs some wind protection, susceptible to pests

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’

 

Deciduous

Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’

Prefers wind protection; prefers a larger planting basin.  

Medium -

20-35’ tall at maturity

Evergreen

 

Agonis flexuosa

Fast grower – more than 12” annually, requires extensive maintenance when young.

Callistemon viminalis

Has sticky flowers

Magnolia grandiflora ‘St. Mary,’

 

Tristaniopsis laurina

Formerly known as Tristania laurina, slow grower – less than 6” annually

Tall –

More than 35’ tall at maturity

Evergreen

Lagunaria patersonii

Grows well in windy areas

Lophostemon confertus

Formerly Tristania conferta, fast grower

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Sam Sommers,’ ‘Majestic Beauty,’

 

Pittosporum undulatum

Can self-sow, take care when planting near natural areas

Deciduous

Ginkgo biloba  ‘Autumn Gold’ ‘Princeton Sentry’  ‘Saratoga’

Slow grower, prefers wind protection

Platanus x acerifolia ‘Bloodgood’  ‘Columbia’ ‘Yarwood’

Prefers wind protection, susceptible to anthracnose and powdery mildew

Ulmus parvifolia ‘Drake’ ‘Sempervirens’

Fast grower, requires extensive maintenance when young.

 

 

Section 2: Tree species, varieties, and cultivars that do well with certain special considerations, which may not appropriate for planting broadly throughout the San Francisco.

Size

Evergreen/

Deciduous

Species

Notes

Small -

Less than 20’ tall at maturity

Evergreen

 

Callistemon citrinus

Grows low, and wide canopy and needs a wide sidewalk, sticky flowers

Cordyline australis

Cabbage palm. Needs very large basin, take care when planting near natural areas

Elaeocarpus decipens

Slow growing, keep out of strong/ prevailing wind, flowers and may not produce fruit at maturity here

Laurus nobilis ‘Saratoga’

Uneven performer, prefers heat, wind protection, gets pests

Leptospermum laevigatum

Poor rooter, may need long-term or permanent staking

Magnolia  doltsopa

Formerly Michelia doltsopa; uneven performer, grows very slowly, prefers heat, wind protection

Magnolia champaca

 

Formerly Michelia champaca; needs wind protection, wide sidewalk, gets powdery mildew and very slow grower

Pittosporum crassifolium

 

Tolerates wind and fog. Can leak sap from trunk.

Pyrus kawakamii

Plant in only warmest areas of city, semi-evergreen, leaf spot/fungus likely to occur and may cause premature leaf drop, does not flower well in our climate, susceptible to fireblight

Tristaniopsis laurina ‘Elegant’

 

Formerly known as Tristania laurina ‘Elegant’; grows slowly, irregular form, mod-high maintenance

Deciduous

Acer buergeranum

Prefers heat, wind protection

Crataegus phaenopyrum

Subject to pests, has thorns, may be susceptible to fireblight

Prunus cerasifera ‘Krauter Vesuvius’

Wind protection, susceptible to shot hole fungus. Limit use to areas that have very small tree basins where other species could not fit.

Medium -

20-35’ tall at maturity

Evergreen

 

Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’

Fast grower, high maintenance, short lived.

Agonis flexuosa ‘After Dark’

‘After Dark’ is a fast grower that requires extra tree care

Eriobotrya deflexa

 

Needs wind protection, does not perform well in sandy soils, susceptible to fireblight

Geijera parvifolia – prefers heat, wind protection

Prefers heat, wind protection

Jacaranda mimosifolia

Uneven performer, prefers heat, wind protection, good drainage

Melaleuca quinquenervia

Grows fast, dense, irregular form, prefers wind protection

Melaleuca styphelioides

Can root poorly, and prickly leaves

Metrosideros excelsus

Needs a very large basin, and very wide sidewalks

Olea europaea

Needs a very large basin, prefers wind protection

Phoenix dactylifera ‘Medjool’ or ‘Zahidi’

Palm tree. Needs a large basin and wide sidewalk

Podocarpus gracilior

Better as a shrub, gets pests

Syagrus  romanzoffianum

Palm tree. Needs heat, wind protection

Deciduous

Aesculus x carnea

gets windburn easily in summer even in protected sites

Koelreuteria paniculata

Uneven performer, prefers heat, wind protection

Pistacia chinensis ‘Keith Davey’

Prefers heat, wind protection

Pyrus calleryana ‘New Bradford’

Needs wind protection, susceptible to fireblight

Tall –

More than 35’ tall at maturity

Evergreen

Brahea edulus

Palm tree. Very slow growing in San Francisco, needs a large basin.

Corymbia ficifolia

Needs a very large basin, wide sidewalk, drops large seed pods

Eucalyptus polyanthemos

Needs a large basin, fast grower, high maintenance

Hymenosporum flavum

Uneven performer, prefers heat, wind protection, good drainage

Lyonothamnus floribundus asplenifolius

Prefers heat, wind protection, prone to transplant shock

Quercus suber 

Needs a large basin, wide sidewalk

Washingtonia robusta

Palm tree. Prefers some warmth

Deciduous

Acer rubrum ‘Armstrong’

Prefers heat

Liquidambar styraciflua

Needs a very large basin

Liriodendron tulipifera

Uneven performer, susceptible to aphids and sooty mold.

Tilia cordata

Susceptible to aphids and sooty mold.

 

Section 3: Tree species, varieties, and cultivars which are experimental.

San Francisco does not have many of these species planted yet and would like to plant more of these trees to test how they do.

Size

Evergreen/

Deciduous

Species

Notes

Small -

Less than 20’ tall at maturity

Evergreen

 

Prunus lyonii

Fruit drop may get messy

Eucalyptus conferruminata / Eucalyptus Lehmanni

 

Deciduous

Crataegus x lavallei

Appears to be less susceptible to fireblight and other pests than other Crataegus

Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Rustica Rubra’ and other varieties

Can be difficult to find stock in a standard form, hard training needed when young to maintain single trunk/standard form

Medium -

20-35’ tall at maturity

Evergreen

 

Banksia integrifolia

Requires extensive maintenance when young.

Brachychiton populneum

Prefers heat and wind protection, needs a large basin

Cassia leptophylla

Semi-evergreen, requires extensive maintenance when young.

Cedrella fissilis

 

Chorisia speciosa

Prefers heat, wind protection

Pittosporum eugenioides

 

Pittosporum rhombifolium

Use in warmer parts of the City

Quercus virginiana

 

Cupaniopsis anacardioides

Uneven performer, needs heat, wind protection

Deciduous

Celtis sinensis

Prefers heat, wind protection, uneven performer

Corylus colurna, Turkish hazel

 

Pyrus calleryana ‘New Bradford’

Needs wind protection, susceptible to fireblight

Tall –

More than 35’ tall at maturity

Evergreen

Quercus ilex

Needs wind protection, sidewalk space, gets powdery mildew

Quercus tomentella

Availability improving

Quillaja saponaria

 

Deciduous

Acer x freemanii

 

Platanus x acerifolia ‘Liberty’

Prefers wind protection, susceptible to anthracnose and powdery mildew

Quercus frainetto ‘Forest Green’

 

Quercus phellos

 

Ulmus parvifolia x carpinifolia ‘Frontier’

 

Ulmus wilsoniana ‘Prospector’

 

Ulmus japonica x wilsoniana ‘Accolade’

 

Zelkova serrata

Needs wide sidewalk

 


*For more information about planting trees under and around power lines, visit the Right Tree, Right Place website.

 

Plants