Theater Artaud - a Palm Paradise

Chilean wine palm ( Jubaea chilensis)  on Florida Street 

Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis) on Florida Street 

I was lucky to go on a Friends of the Urban Forest walking tour of the Project Artaud grounds in the Mission recently with Jason Dewees, who I think of as SF's leading palm expert.  During the tour we met up with Benjy Young of Artaud, who is responsible for planting all of the palms around the property.  Benjy’s father collected rare palm trees and Benjy has honored his memory by planting a garden of rare palms in this little corner of the Mission.  

There are more than a dozen different palms around the property.   I had known about the Chilean wine palm on the property (Jubaea chilensis), which is the large palm with the very thick trunk on Florida Street between 17th and Mariposa - you can't miss it.  But there's a lot more here, including some very rare trees for San Francisco.  

One of the coolest trees on the property is planted in the sidewalk, right at the corner of Florida and Mariposa Streets - it'a a Guadalupe palm (Brahea edulis).  It's native to Guadalupe Island off of the Western coast of Mexico; in fact it's endemic to that island, meaning that it's found only there.  Jason believes that this palm is a great choice for San Francisco (not surprising, as Guadalupe Island's Mediterranean climate is similar to ours) and in fact Guadalupe palms were recently used to re-landscape the median of Cesar Chavez Street not far away.  

Guadalupe palm at corner of Florida and Mariposa

Guadalupe palm at corner of Florida and Mariposa


What I loved about this tree at Florida and Mariposa is that it was producing hundreds of perfectly round, golfball sized fruits.  And since that block of Mariposa slopes gently down to Alabama Street, the round seeds have rolled down the flat sidewalk and street, and self-seeded in several places on the block - little volunteer Guadalupe palms are coming up on their own.   Pretty good evidence that this tree that is well-adapted here!

Other trees in or around the Project Artaud block:

  • Brahea armada (Mexican blue palm):  Mariposa Street close to Alabama Street (small tree with bluish fronds)
  • Butia capitata (Pindo palm): on the west side of Florida St. between 17th and Mariposa (as you face the wine palm, it's the small palm with very curved fronds to your right)
  • Chamaerops humilis (Mediterranean fan palm): on Florida St. between 17th and Mariposa; just behind the wine palm 
  • Jubaea chilensis (Chilean wine palm): in addition to the huge-trunked tree on Florida St., there are also two tiny wine palms in gigantic clay pots on Florida, close to Mariposa
  • Parajubaea cocoides (Quito palm):    on Florida St. side, the tall palm growing next to the large Brazilian pepper tree inside the courtyard
  • Bolivian Mountain Coconut (Parajubaea torallyi):  on Florida St. just to the left of the wine palm 
  • Phoenix reclinata (Senegal date palm):   near the corner of Florida and 17th 
  • Rhopalostylis sapida (Nikau palm):   inside courtyard - very hard to see from the street