As a plugged-in reader first reported two years ago:

The [Embarcadero] palms won’t be there much longer. The city has fired all their educated arborists. Those who are left trim them to that odd pineapple shape while the fronds are still green and alive. A fusarium-type wilt then infects the palm and it slowly dies. At least 3 have died since the last trimming – that’s what killed the dead palms around Justin Herman Plaza.

With twenty-six of the $35,000 trees now infected, the palms have, in fact, been dying in droves ever since our reader’s report warned. But according to the Chronicle’s report today, the Department of Public Works crew doesn’t know how the trees were infected.
An educated arborist is a terrible, and rather expensive, thing to waste.
For The Love (And Hate) Of Palm Trees In San Francisco [SocketSite]
Chronicle Watch: Palms dying in droves [sfgate.com]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Mark

    Inevitable that they will all have to be replaced at some point. However, is it worth the expense to replace them, especially when the city has proven it cannot afford the upkeep on the ones they currently have?
    As nice as they look, they do seem out of place, like Colonial-inspired sub-divisions in the outer east bay.

  2. Posted by taco taco

    LET THEM DIE!!! Replace them with something locally appropriate. Please. This ain’t socal.

  3. Posted by bob

    Unnecessary drama-rama.
    Some of the oldest trees in SF are Canary island date palms. Almost all trees in SF are unnatural in that they are not supposed to be growing here.
    These trees are as appropriate as ANY tree to our climate. They are evergreen, and they do lend beauty to any area.
    Take a look at the dolores park median and tell me that those trees should have never been planted, or that its too cold in SF to have them.
    It’s amazing how far people will go to complain/bitch about how SF isnt conforming to their ideas of how things should be.
    Improperly pruning the trees causes the spread of the disease. The disease is endemic in CA, FL, and place where the palms grow.
    I cant wait until there is something else in the news for people to harp about

  4. Posted by sf

    I love the palms. I hope they stay. And as a California native (rare in SF), we typically don’t have jealousy issues with SoCal. You can always tell the transplants by their reactions.

  5. Posted by EH

    Palm trees say “California,” and there are few areas more emblematic of California as Justin Herman Plaza and the ferry building. Regardless, it probably doesn’t matter what trees are there, and I say this as an East Bay native.

  6. Posted by Steve

    Don’t know if it’s true, but I was told by a DPW engineer years ago when the palms were being planted that the trees would ultimately not survive. He said that the DPW staff responsible for designing the boxes in which they sit made them too small and that it was only a matter of time before they started dying.

  7. Posted by BrO

    Palms are not southern Californian, they’re Californian. You can still see double-rows of palms – planted in the 19th century – lining long (originally dirt) driveways leading to old farmhouses in the Sacramento Valley. Look at 19th-century etchings of grand houses in northern California and what do you see? Invariably, a palm in the picture. True, you don’t see palms in high elevations or in the far north of the state, but they were commonly planted just about everywhere else in northern California, including San Francisco, starting about 150 years ago. I repeat: Palms are not southern Californian, they’re Californian.

  8. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    Let’s plant some giant redwoods on the Embarcadero instead. That’ll show ’em.

  9. Posted by RonMonster

    Where’s the owner of the Lone Palm bar when you need him…There is a sale to be had here.

  10. Posted by drew

    The palm tree’s look great here, when alive. They look great at AT&T Park as well.

  11. Posted by Maybe

    Has anyone considered that the jilted tree experts might be sabotaging these trees? These things seem to last pretty fine in the wild and on private properties where there are not experts on the scene.

  12. Posted by Cory.

    Potatoes aren’t native to California, they’re from South America. Pineapples and many fruits aren’t from here either. Should we bar them from being served in our stores or eaten anywhere inside SF city limits? People complain too much. The palms on Embarcadero may not be native to SF, but they’re beautiful, they’re not hurting anyone or anything, and there’s no reason to replace them with something different except that people like to complain.

  13. Posted by Larry

    I am sorry to see these beautiful palms perish. WE have for 4 years been testing a product which suppresses Fusarium oxyporum. We have had great results. Completely organic.
    We could help with the trees of San Francisco.

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