The 5 Most Common Trees in California

California is home to many beautiful trees, flowers, and grasses. Whatever your preference, there’s sure to be a plant to match it. This post takes a look at five of the most common California trees. Bonus, they’re beautiful and won’t break the bank on your water bill.
jacaranda tree maintenance california


The Jacaranda tree is native to Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. Jacarandas do exceptionally well in Southern California. Jacaranda means “fragrant,” which should give you a clue as to why so many people love this flowering beauty.

In late spring, the drought-tolerant Jacaranda bursts forth with purple-blue clusters of flowers, and as leaves begin to emerge, the tree sometimes offers a second bloom. 

These beauties can reach over 30 feet in both height and width. You definitely need “the perfect spot” to plant one of these picturesque trees. Our landscaping team can help with this!

Because the purple-blue blossoms do eventually fall to the ground, you don’t want to place Jacaranda trees close to swimming pools or structures that might be difficult to clean. Jacarandas enjoy plenty of sun and well-drained, fertile soil. 

catalilna cherry tree california

Catalina Cherry Tree

This medium-sized tree is native to California. Sometimes categorized as a shrub, the Catalina cherry is a fast grower. Full size, the tree can range anywhere from 15-40 feet in height. In the spring, the tree is covered in beautiful white flowers. By autumn, the tree is covered in edible cherries. 

The Catalina cherry tree is a wonderful pollinator, attracting butterflies and bees. The tree smells nice and its dense leaves provide a nice source of shade from the summer heat. Fairly easy to grow, this plant tolerates summer water once or twice a month and thrives in sun as well as part shade.

The Catalina cherry can grow in a wide variety of soils, but shouldn’t be placed near concrete as its fruits are known to stain. It easily hybridizes with other subspecies, so be aware that most Catalina cherry trees purchased in nurseries are likely some sort of hybrid. 

velvet ash tree california

Velvet Ash

The Velvet Ash is a medium sized tree. Often seen in parking lots or median strips, these trees enjoy partial sun and sandy soil. The Velvet Ash is a fast growing tree, reaching a height of 30-50 feet and a width of up to 60 feet.

The tree gets its name from its young twigs, which have the appearance and texture of velvet. The leaves of this deciduous tree turn bright yellow before dropping to the ground. Once established, the tree is drought tolerant, but needs regular water until then.

Velvet Ash is a terrific shade tree and will live with little to no care after it reaches two years of age.

box elder tree california

Box Elder

The box elder is a large tree that thrives better in shade than full sun. A fairly tall tree, the 30-50 foot box elder grows quickly and can be found throughout much of California.

Often found along rivers and streams, once established, these trees are quite drought tolerant. It is not uncommon to find box elders mixed with oaks, willows, and cottonwoods along rivers, the box elder being one of the smaller trees in this mix. 

Multi-trunked, box elders are susceptible to losing branches if not properly trimmed and shaped. Available in many varieties, including a flamingo version with pink tinted leaves, this hardy shade tree is deciduous with leaves that typically turn a lovely yellow-green before dropping. 

western redbud tree california

Western Redbud

The western redbud boasts lovely magenta blossoms every spring. In autumn, you can observe this beauty in shades of red and yellow. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the western redbud’s color and blossoms. Hard to miss in a lineup, it’s easy to understand why pollinators enjoy this pretty plant.

Considered a shrub, the western redbud grows at a moderate pace and reaches about 10-20 feet in height and 10-15 feet in width. While this tree prefers partly sunny spots, it can handle sandy soil. 

Often found in the foothills and mountains of California, this plant actually grows pretty easily anywhere in the state as long as the temperatures stay above 15 degrees. The western redbud does require four season climates and a cool winter to thrive, so it doesn’t do as well near the immediate coast in southern California. 

Need Help Choosing a Tree? 

Now that you know what type of tree you have, it’s important to keep it healthy. Here are 6 indicators of a healthy tree.

If you’ve recently cut down a tree, make sure to remove the stump. Learn why stump removal is important when removing a tree.

Pacific Garden Landscaping has extensive experience in basic to complex yard maintenance and provides a comprehensive range of services at affordable prices. We would love to help you create the perfect outdoor space! Contact us today! 

Paradise Is Possible

Contact our landscaping team today for an honest and accurate quote for your next landscaping project.

Paradise Is Possible

Contact our landscaping team today for an honest and accurate quote for your next landscaping project.