Like so many things in Southern California, the palm tree was an import from somewhere else that over time became inextricably symbolic of its adopted home.
But the trees, so identified with the sun-splashed excitement of Los Angeles, are facing a decidedly darker fate. They are dying of fatal fungus and under threat of invasive insects in parks and along streets. And for the most part, the city has chosen to replace them not with new palms but with native trees that are more drought-tolerant and shadier, said Leon Borodinsky, a tree surgeon for the Department of Recreation and Parks.
City officials say they don’t know how many palm trees have been lost. In 1990, a city tally put the number of palms on L.A.’s streets at 75,000. That number has declined, officials said, but they are not sure by how much.
“Over the next 50 years, you will see a great loss in palms. It’s already begun,” added Jared Farmer, the author of Trees in Paradise.
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