Each month, Pasadena Beautiful Tree Program Chair Emina Darakjy presents a ‘tree of the month’ in order to educate Pasadenans about the trees around them. Many people drive by trees they admire but have no idea what they are called or what their growing habits are. Pasadena Beautiful was founded in 1960 by a group of volunteers who saw a need to beautify their city and enhance its tree canopy.
The Australian Willow is a medium size evergreen tree with moderate growth, reaching 30 to 35 feet tall with a spread of 20 to 30 feet wide. The canopy is dense and oval with a definite weeping form similar to that of a true willow.
The trunk/bark of the tree is smooth and light gray when young, and becomes a furrowed dark gray as it matures.
The leaves are olive-green color, slender, 4 to 6” long and droop down and are aromatic when crushed.
From November to late spring the tree is covered with clusters of fragrant creamy white flowers, with a scent similar to that of the citrus tree flowers. These small flowers are known to attract a wide range of birds and bees.
The Australian willow is a very hardy tree, tolerates many soil conditions, is considered drought tolerant and can grow both in the sun and partial shade.
The tree roots grow deep down, are non-invasive and do not cause sidewalk damage. The tree has no known pests or disease problems and requires very little maintenance. When young, this tree can benefit from light pruning to help form a strong structure, and some branch clearance when planted as a street tree.
The Australian willow is a beautiful shade tree and an excellent choice for parking lot islands, parks, as a street tree, and in your garden.
You can find several examples of a thriving Australian willow planted by Pasadena Beautiful Foundation at Victory Park, to the left of the Paloma Street parking lot entrance.
Emina Darakjy is the current president of the California Urban Forests Council and the Tree Program Chair of Pasadena Beautiful. Darakjy says she has always had a passion for trees and that she is also involved with several other tree organizations such as California Re-Leaf, the Arbor Day Foundation and American Forests. She is an immediate past president of Street Tree Seminar Inc.