Two Terrific Tree Books (for San Francisco)

Birding is tough (perhaps it’s for the birds?). How about treeing? Trees stay still long enough to look closely at them, touch them, puzzle over their species. Left in the dark by the massive Sibley Guide to Trees, I turned to a few local books. Sibley might come in handy where native plants are growing, but most of SF is a cultivated garden with extremely exotic species. Of the top 20 species in town, not a single one is a native San Franciscan tree. 7 of the 20 are of Australian/New Zealand origin. (By contrast, Melbourne’s top 20 includes 14 native Australian trees, and 2 native to the US while SF only has 1 native to the US.) No wonder I’ve flung Sibley across the park so many times in frustration, trying to figure out what lies in front of me.
* Trees of the Panhandle, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco by Elizabeth McClintock and Virgina Moore
Originally published in 1965, the copy I read had an addendum in 1973 noting which trees had disappeared from the park. Includes maps of the trees in the Panhandle, but since it was published over 40 years ago, not many of the trees listed still survive. A cursory walk this morning revealed only the Redwoods, Monterrey cypruses and pines, Eucalyptuses, and a black walnut to be still among us. Decades of having to struggle to breathe alongside the highways of Oak/Fell street took their toll. Trees planted in the Panhandle pre-dated those in the rest of the GGP.
* The trees of San Francisco by Mike Sullivan
A tree nerd by weekend and venture cap lawyer by day, Sullivan guides us through several of the most common trees you encounter in SF. 90% of the forest canopy in GGP and most other SF parks is Monterey pine, Monterey cyprus, and blue gum Eucalyptus. Lombardy poplars are frequently planted as windbreaks (Alamo Square?). I think I have a bead on one of my favorite trees in the Lower Haight- Page @ Scott, the willow-ish tree that’s umbrella shaped = California Pepper Tree? Sullivan’s guide is great, including street addresses for examples of trees and a handful of neighborhood walking tours (self-guided) that I will surely indulge in before handing the book back to the library. Published in 2004, still contains relevant information. Trees in front of my apartment are Bronze Loquats!