Bay Nature magazineOctober-December 2004

Urban Nature

Book Review: The Trees of San Francisco

October 1, 2004

The Trees of San Francisco, by Mike Sullivan, Pomegranate Communications, 2004, 160 pages, $19.95 (

This is not a book about the native trees of San Francisco. In fact, there are very few trees native to San Francisco, which was once covered mainly by sand dunes, grasslands, marshes, and coastal scrub. But the people who settled in the city over the past 150 years brought with them trees from many parts of the world to plant in their parks and neighborhoods.

Mike Sullivan, San Francisco resident and past president of the nonprofit Friends of the Urban Forest, loves San Francisco and its trees (yes, he loves the nonnative eucalyptus, too) and shares his enthusiasm in this reader-friendly guide. The Trees of San Francisco profiles 71 of the most commonly planted trees in the city and includes walking tours in seven neighborhoods with notable trees. Each profile includes the origin, growth habits (both good and bad), and other facts about the tree as well as a color photograph with exact location information. The walking tours, with easy-to-follow maps, introduce the reader not only to 15 or 20 trees in a neighborhood, but also to some local history and good tree care practices. Various sidebars cover issues from the native vs. nonnative plant controversy to the wild parrots that live in the city’s trees and parks. For anyone curious about the trees of the city, this is an informative, fun, and well-written guide.

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