SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Some of the iconic palm trees that line San Francisco’s Embarcadero are dying. The tropical trees, infected by a fungal disease that will require both their removal and replacement, are getting some close attention so the disease doesn’t spread.
In 1989, damage from the Loma-Prieta Earthquake prompted the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway in 1991. When the freeway came down, 222 Canary Island date palms went up.
“These palm trees really are iconic for us. It’s a responsibility we take seriously,” said acting urban forester Chris Buck with San Francisco’s Department of Public Works (SFDPW).
The disease is called fusarium wilt and has impacted some of the trees, four of which have already been removed. Three trees close to Justin Herman Plaza and another near Fishermen’s Wharf will need to be removed and replaced.
The work is technical as the disease spreads by spores.
“We have a private contractor that will remove the trees with a crane at night when Muni’s not running. The total cost per tree is $28,000,” Buck said. A previous report in 2013 estimated the cost to be $35,000 per tree according to the SFDPW.
“I love the trees, but I wish they would put in a strain of tree that lived in this type of environment,” said Jeff Potter, who sells jewelry near the Ferry Building.
The palms trees were selected as they are tall and thin and don’t block the view.
This same species of trees is planted along Dolores Street in San Francisco and on the Oakland touchdown of the Bay Bridge.