January 15, 2008

Tree Walk: Blake Street beeches

Tree Walk Wednesday has been renamed Tree Walk. The series is inspired by the Take a Tree Walk guide book for children written by Jane Kirkland and the Tree Tuesday series published by Spacing Wire. I do take purposeful tree walks, but most of my tree walks are accidental in nature.

 

European beech (Fagus sylvatica) leaves (the American beech leaf has more serrate margins) One Saturday last fall, I walked along Blake Street to get to Lanesplitter Pizza on San Pablo. On the walk, I noticed four blocks of beech trees. I am accustomed to seeing beeches in parks (especially on the East Coast) but not in sidewalks. The tree can attain a height of 70 feet, but sidewalk conditions would certainly constrain this growth habit. I did not have my camera that day, but made a return trip in late December. My second walk down Blake Street, between Sacramento and San Pablo, was more purposeful and in addition to the beech I noticed several other species, especially between Mabel and Mathews Streets. Each block between Sacramento and San Pablo has a different species composition.



Between Sacramento and Acton, the beeches are located mostly on the north side of the block with a more continuous canopy than the previous block. Infill trees, red maples in this case, are also located on the north side of the block. Similarly, on the next block (between Acton and Mabel), there are more beeches on the north side. This is surprising because the majority of overhead wires run along the north side of Blake Street. I assume that the more established beeches were planted before the "right tree in the right place" policy became very popular with municipalities. One of the recommendations of this policy is that short stature trees (under 25 feet) should be planted below overhead wires. However, the presence of recently planted red maples below the wires does not fit the policy recommendation.



Ginkgo at Blake and Mabel The most diverse block along Blake Street is between Mabel and Mathews Streets. The beech trees are younger than on the two previous blocks while the red maples are more established. I identified two sweetgums, two red oaks, one purpleleaf plum, one butterfly bush (a shrub), and one cherry. Finally, the beeches south of Mathews were mixed age and were evenly distributed on both sides of the block with the younger trees in fair to poor condition. I identified one magnolia on this block as well as a two-needle bundle pine tree (below) at the corner of Blake and San Pablo. I did not find a cone, so I cannot identify the species. Can anyone identify the species?

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