Bill Pramuk is an independent Registered Consulting Arborist, professionally dedicated to helping people with tree care issues. Visit his website: www.billpramuk.com.
After the power went out about 7 a.m. last Sunday, I was standing at the kitchen window, in the early morning light, watching a palm and a redwood across the street, moving in the gusty wind.
I get calls from people who are concerned about the health of valued, older trees. Sometimes it is a plea for advice to save a declining tree. And sometimes they feel certain it is done for and they need an authoritative opinion, the equivalent of a death certificate.
There are about 2,500 species in the palm family, according to specialist Don Hodel, author of The Biology and Management of Landscape Palms. In my experience, only about 11 are viable here in the Napa Valley area climate zones and 3 comprise the great majority of palms found in local landscapes:
As the summer comes to a close, acorns are maturing around the valley. It is no coincidence that people have been asking about the sticky mess under the canopies of their native oak trees, especially coast live oaks. It happens every year. Large droplets of sticky sap accumulate on patios, o…
The crape myrtles all over town are showing their remarkable colors once again, as they do every summer. Valued for their useful qualities – moderate size, drought tolerance, sidewalk-friendliness and ease of care – they are now, arguably, over-used. Quoting myself in this space a few weeks …
Driving up Silverado Trail between Trancas Street and Oak Knoll Avenue, I had a pleasant sensation of shelter as I noticed the valley oaks arching over the road with masses of healthy foliage.
A homeowner in my neighborhood here in Napa contacted me with a concern about an evergreen tree in his front yard. He prizes it for the screening it provides and for its year-round greenery. The tree grew rapidly and now, about 15 years after planting, it has achieved considerable size. His …
One of the many Napa property owners who lost trees in the fires of October 2017 was concerned about a coast live oak that died this summer. This one, with no signs of fire damage, dried up suddenly.
Examining trees just about every day for many years in Napa gardens, I see the same common species again and again: maple, ash, oak, elm, redwood, cedar, pine and crape myrtle. (Enough with the crape myrtles already!) Well over two hundred tree species can be found here, but not that many ar…
“Champions” usually receive trophies, cash awards or endorsement deals. But the champions I am talking about today simply get recognition on the California Big Trees Registry.
Elms are some of the most statuesque, sturdy, adaptable and potentially long-lived shade trees growing in and around Napa Valley. Though they are non-native trees here, they thrive as long as they avoid Dutch Elm Disease. We have a few American and English elms more than 100 years old still …
Here is a problem so common and troublesome one would expect it to get more attention: Structurally defective roots systems in trees.
‘Signs” has a particular meaning in the world of plants and trees. Looking at a large Monterey pine recently, showing symptoms of stress – fewer and paler needles than in previous years and a lack of new growth this spring – I also saw “signs” of an insect pest: reddish granules collecting i…
Sequoia sempervirens, the coastal redwood, is one of the most beloved and successful trees in landscapes in the Napa area in terms of beauty, rapid growth and resistance to pests, diseases and decay. Perhaps it is too successful, considering its monumental size.
Every tree species is vulnerable to some kind of problem whether it be a biotic disease, a pest or an “abiotic” environment-related disorder. Last week I encountered a fairly unusual one in a tree that is not very common in our region. It is revered in bonsai culture as one of the longest-li…
Dr. Alex Shigo, a pioneer in the study of tree anatomy and biology, used the term “associates” for organisms found in the company of trees. I think he favored that way of thinking so much he named his self-publishing company “Shigo and Trees, Associates.” I attended a two-day seminar of his,…
On a theme of Trees and Fungi—my two most recent columns were on oak root fungus (harmful) and then “dead man’s foot” (beneficial)—I am continuing, based on this recent inquiry:
On a recent visit examining trees and making recommendations for care, the property owner pointed out several eruptions in the asphalt surrounding a large old blue oak where strange growths have been emerging. The asphalt covers the entire root zone of the tree at a radius of only two feet f…
My favorite annual, professional tradition is attending the Tree Failure conference every January at Filoli, the estate in Woodside.
I have just returned from the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA) annual conference. Moving around the country for interest and variety, this year it was in San Diego at the Paradise Point conference center, with an afternoon outdoor series of field presentations at Balboa Park.
If you are looking for beautiful, fast-growing, long-lived and pest-free evergreen conifers for your garden here in Napa, what could be better than coast redwoods?
For the eighth year in a row, Napa “citizen scientists” participated with the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab in an ongoing effort to track Sudden Oak Death (SOD), the exotic disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of oaks and tanoaks in California.
Driving around town over the past couple of weeks, I have been noticing some reds, yellows, gold, and pinks in trees one expects to be clear green at this time of year in Napa Valley. After all, it is still summer and the first day of autumn is a week away.
Japanese maple is one of the most beloved trees in Napa gardens. I don’t know exactly how so many people became fans of Acer palmatum and its many varieties, but I second that emotion. They are admirable for their natural grace, cool presence, and bright fall colors.
How weather patterns affect trees is a topic I have covered many times from different angles in this space over the past 22 years: Environment critically influences disease and pest problems.
A recent visit with an avid backyard orchardist reminded me how fruit tree growing is deeply rooted in Napa Valley culture. My work typically involves relatively few species of shade trees, so touring a well-maintained home orchard was breath of fresh air. And it was a reminder of my childho…
After writing about the “Acorns to Oaks” project, I received a number of calls from people offering seedling oaks for the project. I thanked them all but had to decline their offers. That project is mostly about planting acorns directly on the site where they are to grow for life. And last y…
The good news in last year’s Sudden Oak Death Blitz was a very low rate of infection in the 116 samples collected by the volunteers in Napa. The bad news was higher rates of infection in other counties.
My previous two columns set forth some of the benefits oak woodlands bestow on our environment and us. I was preparing for my presentation on March 12 at the forum on Measure C, the Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodlands Protection Initiative.
In my previous column, I wrote about the value of oak woodlands using the “Napa County Voluntary Oak Woodland Management Plan” as a resource. The county adopted that measure in 2010.
I have been asked to be on the panel of speakers for an upcoming presentation on the Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative (WOWPI) on March 12. The event is to be sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Napa Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Several years ago, a client was very concerned about his hedgerows of Emerald Green arborvitaes. They were no longer green. My assignment was to find out why and make recommendations to get them back to normal.
Walking with a property owner through a burned woodland area adjacent to a vineyard last week, a couple of interesting things came up.
I once asked a nursery co-worker I respected for his knowledge and years of experience: “Why do trees reach a certain height and then stop growing taller?”
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Last week, watching a documentary on the life of Dr. Marian Diamond, a UC Berkeley professor of anatomy, it occurred to me that her work on brain anatomy evokes some comparisons with tree anatomy.
For the seventh year in a row, Napa “citizen scientists” participated with the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab in an ongoing effort to track Sudden Oak Death (SOD), the exotic disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of oaks and tanoaks in California.
Napa Resource Conservation District’s (RCD) “Acorns to Oaks” project received a big boost this year. Nature provided a huge crop of acorns while volunteers came out in unprecedented numbers to plant them at our fall event.
I received an email from a local reader, Al Verstuyft saying, as a member of the Rotary Club of North Napa, “We are starting to think about how we could be part of the reforestation effort” and how the Lake County Resource Conservation District (RCD) was kind enough to share their experience…
After the bad news coming out of the fires — deaths, destroyed homes, friends and clients suffering terrible losses, and swaths of forest burned — let me offer a perspective with respect to our trees and woodlands.
A friend recently planted some citrus trees and asked me for tips on pruning. That sounds like a simple request, but when you look into the subject you find all manner of complications.
After a recent high school reunion, I got together with a good friend I had not seen in many years. When I visited with him and his wife at their home in Sacramento, he took the opportunity to ask me one of those “well, since you are here, can you look at my tree?” questions.
In my previous column, I discussed the recent increase in limb failures in trees of certain species that responded to last winter’s heavy rainfall by producing heavy loads of new growth.
During previous years of drought, we saw many trees growing more slowly and foliage thinning out. At the same time, invisibly, trees were rendered more susceptible to certain diseases, decay, and structural problems.
Taking an early morning walk one day this week we walked past a geyser. In a nicely tended, water-efficient landscape planting, water was spouting about 20 feet in the air and out onto the street. It looked hilarious, but it is a sad waste of water.
A client called, alarmed about his beautiful, mature blue oak. He had been away for a two-week trip. When he returned, he saw the oak, which had looked perfectly healthy before they left, now looking half dead.
Last week, a worried homeowner called me about a mature tree that had fallen and was leaning on her fence. She was concerned it might fall farther and cause more property damage.
OAKLAND — Dozens of teens robbed and assaulted passengers on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train in Oakland over the weekend in an apparently orchestrated attack, authorities said Monday.
The Civil Air Patrol suspended the search Monday in the Sierra Nevada mountains for a plane with two Santa Rosa residents on board that never arrived at the Petaluma Municipal Airport a week ago.