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We’ll start with native Los Angeles trees and then delve into trees that are originally foreign imports but have since become a staple of the landscape. This is just a taste of the hundreds of tree species that can thrive in the sunny Southern California climate.
The Most Common Native Los Angeles Trees
Native trees are good for the environment, attract native birds and butterflies, and help out the ecosystem. They’re guaranteed to thrive in the climate and they’re readily available if you’re looking for a local tree.
California Fan Palm
If you live in the area, you’ve seen thousands of these Los Angeles city trees. These classic California icons are also known as petticoat palms for their “skirts” of dead branches that form below their leaves. They make great habitats for native animals and insects, and they’re unfortunately very flammable, contributing to many California forest fires. Los Angeles just wouldn’t be the same without these beautiful native palms.
The Ironwood is technically native to the Channel Islands, but they’re fairly close to the California mainland. These beautiful trees bloom with lovely yellow clusters and handle sunny weather and sloped surfaces with ease.
This impressive Los Angeles tree icon grows up to 100 feet tall. Its light-colored bark and aesthetic leaves make for a beautiful addition to any residential or commercial property. Squirrels, rodents, beavers, hawks, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds live in harmony with these beautiful trees.
Coast Live Oak
This gorgeous, sprawling oak gives beautiful shade and lives for up to 250 years. They’re a very common tree in Southern California, and they grow easily, attracting many birds and butterflies. Don’t fertilize oaks; the best fertilizer is their own leaves, which they need to produce essential fungi.
California Box Elder
These common trees have a huge root system, so they’re more suitable for big parks than small residences. They thrive along waterways and can grow very bushy. They can even have multiple trunks, growing up to 30 feet wide!
The Most Popular Non-Native Los Angeles Trees
You might quickly notice that the list of common non-native Los Angeles trees is much longer than the native tree list — and you’re right! There are hundreds of tree imports that have since become emblematic of the local landscape.
If you’ve lived in Southern California for a while, you’ll know the magical feeling of being surrounded by blooming jacarandas. These incredible trees thrive in sandy soil and bright sunlight, and they put on a beautiful show every spring and early summer with bright lavender blossoms. Jacarandas are originally from South America, but they’ve assimilated in the California climate for centuries.
Mexican Fan Palm
These towering palms are actually the most common Los Angeles tree, beating even the California fan palm. That’s because there was a remarkable Depression-fighting initiative in the 1930s where more than 25,000 of these trees were planted by out-of-work job seekers. They grow more than 100 feet tall, but they only survive about a century, so the Depression-era fan palms won’t be around for much longer.
The Queen Palm is originally from South America, but you’ll have seen it absolutely everywhere in Los Angeles, just like the other palms. They’re extremely popular for landscaping for their elegant appearance and sprawling fronds. You’ll also see them lining streets and sidewalks everywhere you go.
Believe it or not, oranges are not native to California! The first orange grove was planted in Southern California by Spanish missionaries in 1804. Orange County is now full of urban sprawl, but it originally got its name from the huge orange groves that once had homes there. Citrus fruits are now famous for being a California specialty, and they grow wonderfully in the year-round sunlight. They make a delicious addition to any property.
Moreton Bay Fig
These Australian trees are slightly invasive, as they come from a wet rainforest climate and often suck up Los Angeles’s precious water resources. Still, these gigantic trees are very beautiful, and the trees remain popular.
These unique trees are native to China and are a very common tree in Southern California. They have recognizable fan-shaped leaves that make a charming addition to any yard. Sadly, their orange, squishy fruit smells a bit sickly and makes quite a mess in the fall.
Blue Gum Eucalyptus
Another Australian tree that’s taken over California, the blue gum has distinctive bluish-green leaves and greyish bark. The eucalyptus oil in the leaves and bark is incredibly flammable, and these beautiful trees are unfortunately infamous for spreading wildfires.
Canary Island Date Palm
These palms were once seen as the posh, fancy palm of Beverly Hills, especially in the 1920s and 30s. They have a unique diamond pattern on their trunks and beautifully bright orange flowers. They’re certainly eye-catchers, and they remain a very popular Los Angeles tree.
Red Flowering Gum
This Australian tree has a delightfully sweet smell and vibrant, unique blossoms in late summer. They can bloom red, pink, or orange, and provide a lot of shade. This tough, durable tree is one of the most common trees in Southern California along with a number of other Australian gum trees.
Contact Gutierrez & Sons for More Los Angeles Tree Information
Looking to remove a pesky tree and/or replace it with a new one? We’re also specialists in safe, responsible Los Angeles city tree removal and tree planting, and we can help you tackle any task. We perform both small residential and large commercial tasks, and we’re willing to help you no matter the job. Contact us for a free consultation.