Pasadena Beautiful Foundation works with the city to plant trees in parks, in streets and around neighborhoods as well as on Arbor Day. 

Pasadena Beautiful was founded in 1960 to plant street trees
to enhance the beauty of Pasadena. One of our primary goals continues to be the selection, purchase and planting of street trees. Following the City’s Master Street Tree guidelines, a very dedicated Pasadena Beautiful volunteer, Emina Darakjy hand selects each tree for a specific site. Supervised planting and maintenance by trained professionals ensure a healthy tree canopy for our city.

The beautiful green tree canopies in Pasadena are in small part
an example of our efforts over the last 60 years making it a
special place to live, work and raise a family.

A PBF member represents the organization on the Urban Forestry Advisory Committee (UFAC) board and attends their monthly meeting to advocate for the future care and protection of our urban forest because we want to protect and preserve.

May Tree of the Month

Cinnamomum Camphora (commonly known as camphor tree)
Synonyms: Camphora officinalis, C. officinarum
Family: Laurel
Origin: China, Taiwan, southern Japan, Korea and Vietnam

The camphor is a gorgeous evergreen large shade tree, grows moderately fast, its canopy is rounded, very dense with arching strong branches. The tree can grow up to 50 feet tall and more and twice that wide which results in overcanopying in several streets throughout Pasadena.

One such street where you get to drive through a tunnel-like-effect of greenery is Prospect Boulevard from Orange Grove to Prospect Terrace in Pasadena where the first camphor trees were planted in 1904 and several of them still grace the neighborhood. An interesting example is the black and white photo below taken in 1904, courtesy of the Pasadena Museum of History and a recent color photo of the same location showing the overcanopying.

The camphor tree requires a large space to grow, does better in an 8- to 10-foot parkway, tolerates the summer heat and most soil conditions from acid to alkaline, it makes a great street tree, and does well in parks and large medians. The camphor tree is very prevalent in southern California and other southern states, it is however considered invasive in Florida. In Pasadena it makes up 9.17% of the city’s tree inventory list.

The trunk has furrowed light gray bark and becomes enlarged at the base with age. This unfortunately can cause the sidewalks to lift. The leaves are elliptical to ovate and emit a pleasant aroma of camphor when crushed. Even though the tree is considered evergreen some of the older leaves tend to drop in the late winter and early spring and are replaced with new pink to copper colored leaves that turn bright green and glossy as they mature.

In the spring the tree is covered with tiny little white to creamy, green-colored flowers that are fragrant, followed by clusters of globular black berries which contains a seed inside that birds love to eat.

Some of the diseases to worry about are Verticillium wilt, root diseases and anthracnose. The tree is valuable commercially for the camphor that is distilled from its leaves and wood.

Article and photos by Emina Darakjy

Tree Request Information for Homeowners:

Typically, when the city is ready to start their planting cycle, they will leave a note to inform the homeowner that they are about to get a tree which is usually a 15-gallon tree. If you prefer a larger tree than the one provided by the city, please inform the city of your preference. The city will then contact Pasadena Beautiful about the homeowner’s request for the upgrade, and PBF will instead provide a 24 in. box size tree. 

Please note that the planting site has to be approved and the curb marked by the city after the dead tree is removed and the stump is ground prior to planting a new tree.

Alternatively, as the homeowner, if you want to pay for a larger tree, please email us at [email protected] and include your address and contact information where you can be reached. The cost is $500 and includes the tree, delivery, stakes, ties, trunk guard, slow-release fertilizer, soil amendments, mulch and labor.

Street tree requests should be directed to the 311 call center or (626) 744-3846

Any questions or inquiries regarding urban forest, please call or email:
Michael King
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (626) 744-3846