Thanks to urban sprawl, habitat destruction, climate change and a host of other factors, many wildlife populations are experiencing troubling population declines. But fortunately, there’s something you can do to help give your local critters a helping hand: Plant trees with a high wildlife value.
What Makes a Tree Valuable to Wildlife?
Trees support animals in a number of different ways. One of the most obvious methods they do so is by feeding squirrels, birds and insects. Some trees – oaks and cherry trees are great examples – do so by producing abundant and calorie-rich nuts, fruit and seeds, while others do so through the production of nectar, upon which birds and insects feed. And don’t forget that these birds and insects serve as food for larger predators, meaning that trees essentially support two rungs of the local food chain.
Other trees provide things like shelter or habitat to the local animals. Many owls, nuthatches and wrens take up residence in tree hollows, while woodpeckers make their own cavities to inhabit. Others simply take shelter among the tree’s leaves, particularly those trees with exceptionally dense foliage.
Additionally, trees also alter the local habitat’s temperature, humidity and wind flow patterns, which also affect the local wildlife. For example, animals seeking shelter from the mid-day sun often move into the shade provided by trees.
Six Great Wildlife Trees
The following six trees will not only make great additions to most Bel Air, Beverly Hills or Santa Monica properties, while also providing a little bit of help for the local fauna. Whenever possible, it is helpful to include species that provide different types of resources. For example, you may want to install one species that provides food and another that provides cover or shelter.
1.Willow Acacia (Acacia salicina)
Willow acacias are relatively small trees, who grow to about 40 feet in height; however, they are able to attract large numbers of birds in spite of this modest size. A drought-tolerant, sun-loving species, the willow acacia is capable of adapting to most soil conditions and will thrive in most yards.
2. Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo)
Strawberry trees often become an instant favorite of those who see them covered in orange to red fruit during the fall or winter. But these fruits aren’t only attractive – they’re quite appealing to an array of wildlife species, including everything from crows to foxes to raccoons.
3. California Ash (Fraxinus dipetala)
Unlike many of its cousins ranging throughout the northern and eastern parts of North America, California ashes are fairly drought tolerant, and can be grown outside of low-lying areas. Birds are not only attracted to the tree’s numerous and calorie-rich seeds, but they also benefit from the shade provided by the dense foliage.
4. Monterey Cypress (Hesperocyparis macrocarpa)
In addition to being one of the most iconic trees native to the state, the Monterey cypress is also a great wildlife tree, which attracts birds, squirrels and many other animals. In addition to being drought tolerant, Monterey cypresses can withstand the salt spray that can be a problem for other trees growing near the coast.
5. Blue Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida)
Blue Palo Verde perform very well in most Bel Air, Beverly Hills or Santa Monica properties due their drought tolerant characteristics. They generally reach heights around 25 feet and are another great choice for attracting birds.
6. Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)
Coast live oaks are good candidates for Southern California landscapes because they do not require a lot of water. They are also great trees for attracting wildlife and as they mature, can provide a large canopy covering for birds.
If you would like to help feed and shelter your local wildlife, contact your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. Whether you live in Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica or any other part of the greater Los Angeles area, we’d be happy to help you select species with the highest possible wildlife value for your Southern California property.