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Tree Questions Answered!

Quercus suber , commonly known as the cork oak, can be planted as a street tree, in a park or in one’s garden with ample space. Damage to the sidewalks from its roots is minimal. (photos from Emina Djarksy)

Several weeks ago, Emina Darakjy, a tree enthusiast we are proud to publish in the Buzz, posted a story about the Quercus suber, commonly known as the cork oak. Her article prompted Buzz reader Vince Cox to post a comment asking several questions about the cork oak such as where could he find one, which trees do best when planted with lawns, what are her thoughts on multi-trunk trees versus single trees, what trees look best seasonally and when should a tree be replaced. Today, we are pleased to post Emina’s answers to his thoughtful questions, which you can see was too long to fit into our comment box!

Dear Vince,
I am glad you found my article on the cork oak helpful and thank you for the A+ grade!

To answer your questions, I think about any tree can cause some sidewalk damage if not planted properly and given ample space to grow. Correct irrigation is also important and can reduce damage to sidewalks, it is best to water deeply and infrequently.

Let’s take the example of the ficus for instance, this is a great urban tree, has good growth, always green, tolerates a lot of abuse and is very drought tolerant once established. The problem with this tree occurs when humans plant it in narrow parkways 3 to 6 foot wide (or less) and complain about the damage that its roots cause.

Almost all trees do well in a lawn when the lawn is irrigated properly, again deep and infrequent watering. Having said that, some trees like Liquidambars tend to have surface roots that can be damaged by lawnmowers. Remove the grass that is near the tree, form a wide dirt circle, cover it with a layer of mulch making sure to keep the mulch away from the tree trunk.

I am not a fan of multi-trunked trees I prefer single trunk specimens. For me a tree is a trunk, with a canopy of branches, leaves and maybe flowers and fruit. Multi-trunks are not suitable as a street tree because very often one trunk breaks aways or leans into the traffic and ends up having to be removed resulting in the tree being lobsided. If you have to have a multi-trunk tree, some varieties to consider in a garden or a park are the Platanus racemose, the Arbutus ‘Marina’, and the Parkinsonia florida– blue palo verde.

For spring blooms, I love the pink and yellow tabebuias (trumpet tree), both were introduced to the trade by the Los Angeles County Arboretum.

For fall color, the Ginkgo and the Koeltreuteria are good choices.

A couple of species that are drought tolerant are the Quercus engelmannii – Engelmann oak commonly known as the Pasadena oak AND the Parkinsonia florida – blue palo verde. The magnolia and the tulip tree are a couple of species that rank high as far as water guzzlers. Some trees that landscape designers tend to recommend are olive trees (non-fruiting kind) and the Parkinsonia. Not bad trees just over planted.

If a tree is not performing well, continues to show signs of decline or is diseased, it maybe be time to remove it and replace it. Having said that, it is always a good idea to consult with a certified arborist as very often a tree can be helped.

The photos I included with my article were all taken at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
and the Los Angeles County Arboretum, both are excellent places to meet new trees! You can also find cork oaks growing in Los Angeles on Vermont Ave. between Beverly and 3rd St. AND San Rafael Ave. between Danforh Dr. and Rome Drive



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  1. Emina:
    I’m delighted that you took the time to think about my questions. Thanks so much to you and the Buzz for the great information! I’ll be sure to check out the cork oaks on Vermont.

    I can’t help but notice how very much of the world’s flora is the product of human choice. We need to make good choices.


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