Protected Trees


Protected trees are specific locally native tree species, trees of specific size and other tree categories identified in our tree protection ordinance that are protected (Title 8, Palo Alto Municipal Code).  These trees must be maintained in accordance with regulations and may require permits for pruning, removal or any activities that might impact them.  Protected trees can fall under three broad categories; public trees, protected private trees, and designated trees.

Public/Street Trees

All public trees are protected.  Public trees or street trees are all trees growing within the street right-of-way, on public property such as parks, or city facilities.  In some cases property lines lie several feet behind the sidewalks.  A Tree Permit from the Urban Forestry Section of the Public Works Department is required prior to any work on or within the drip-line of any public/street tree. 

Protected Species Trees

Protected Mature Trees

Protected Mature Trees

  • Any mature tree measuring 15" or more DBH
  • Invasive species trees and high water use trees are excluded.
Species Name Common Name List Category
Alnus rhombifolia white alder High Water Use
Alnus rubra (Alnus oregona) red alder High Water Use
Araucaria columnaris (A. cookii) New Caledonian pine High Water Use
Betula spp. Birch Species High Water Use
Metasequoia glyptostroboides dawn redwood High Water Use
Populus trichocarpa (P. balsamifera) black cottonwood High Water Use
Populus x canadensis Carolina poplar High Water Use
Salix spp. willow species High Water Use


Species Name Common Name List Category
Acacia dealbata Silver wattle Invasive, Cal-IPC
Acacia melanoxylon blackwood acacia Cal-IPC, PlantRight
Ailanthus altissima Tree-of-heaven Invasive, Cal-IPC
Cotoneaster spp. Cotoneaster species Invasive, Cal-IPC
Crataegus monogyna English hawthorn Cal-IPC, PlantRight
Elauagnus angustifolia Russian olive Invasive, Cal-IPC
Eucalyptus camaldulensis Red Gum Cal-IPC, PlantRight
Eucalyptus globulus Blue gum Cal-IPC, PlantRight
Fraxinus uhdei Evergreen ash Fruit
Ficus carica Edible fig Invasive, Cal-IPC
Ilex aquifolium English holly Cal-IPC, PlantRight
Melaleuca quinquenervia Cajeput tree State of CA
Myoporum laetum ngaio tree Cal-IPC, PlantRight
Olea europaea European olive Cal-IPC, PlantRight
Phoenix canariensis Canary Island date palm Cal-IPC, PlantRight
Populus spp. Poplar, cottonwood Downy fruit
Prunus cerasifera cherry plum Cal-IPC, PlantRight
Robinia pseudoacacia black locust Cal-IPC, PlantRight
Schinus terebinthefolius Brazilian pepper Invasive, Cal-IPC
Washingtonia robusta Mexican fan palm Invasive, Cal-IPC


Designated Trees

Designated trees can belong to one or more of the three following categories:

Designated Trees

  • Any tree designated for protection during review and approval of a development project.

Carbon Sequestration or Environmental Mitigation Trees

  • Any tree designated for carbon sequestration and storage and/or environmental mitigation purposes.

Replacement Mitigation Trees

  • Any replacement mitigation tree or other tree designated to be planted due to the conditions listed in the ordinance.


Heritage Trees

Heritage Trees are also protected.  Heritage trees are individual trees of any size or species or historical significance that are deemed as such by City Council.  Property owners may also nominate a tree for Heritage Tree status if it has characteristics that are distinctive.

Trees Under or Near Utilities

Trees that are under or near power lines may be protected under Title 8 of PAMC but are also considered to be regulated trees regardless of ownership. The State of California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requires all utilities in the state to maintain vegetation clearance from their electric conductors and related equipment. The City of Palo Alto, as operator of its own electric utility, must be in compliance with CPUC rules. To comply with these rules and to deliver safe and reliable power to the residents and businesses of Palo Alto, the City has in place a Line Clearing Program

Please call (650) 496-5953 if you have questions about City-related tree services.

For information on tree-related code enforcement issues, please see this Planning Department webpage: Code Enforcement