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.

September Tree of the Month

Afrocarpus falcatus – African fern pine

Calling this tree a pine or a fern is a misnomer as it is neither.

The tree belong to the Podocarpaceae family,  is native to Eastern Africa and can be found  growing in Ethiopia, Kenya Uganda and Tanzania.

The name was changed to Afrocarpus falcatus when the tree was removed from its original genus of Podocarpus.  You can still find this tree being sold at nurseries under the name of Podocarpus gracilior.

This is a medium to large evergreen tree with a rounded dense crown and a moderate growth habit reaching a height between 50 to 60 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide. It makes for an excellent shade tree.  In its native African habitat, this tree is revered for its lumber. 

The tree trunk is covered with a patchy multi-colored bark that tends to peel off.

The leaves are fern-like, soft, narrow, bright-green at first, turning dark gray-green as the tree matures.

The Podocarpus gracilior is dioecious which means it has 2 genders both male and female. The female trees produce a fleshy fruit that is half an inch in diameter, green at first turning yellow then purple when mature. The fruit can create a nuisance when it drops.

The Podocarpus gracilior is a though tree that does well in our harsh urban environment.  It requires very little maintenance. If you need to do some pruning to encourage new growth, do it in late winter or early spring. It is also a good idea to thin out the dense canopy from time to time to avoid branch breakage during high winds.

When used as a street tree the lower branches have to be removed for pedestrian and vehicle clearance.  

The Podocarpus gracilior can also be used as a screening hedge.

The tree performs better in full sun but can also grow in partial shade and thrives in many soil conditions.  Avoid planting this tree in areas where frost is a problem.

The Podocarpus gracilior is sidewalk friendly with no known pests or diseases at the present.

When young,  the tree requires regular watering becoming drought tolerant with maturity.

The Podocarpus gracilior is a very graceful and striking tree worthy of planting.

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