Source: California Invasive Plant Council

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Don't Plant a Pest

Trees of the Central Valley region

Invasive plants are listed in red boxes. Alternatives are listed below in green.
Invasive plants that are also a fire hazard are identified by this symbol: 

Invasive! Do Not Plant! Invasive!

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tree of heaven
Ailanthus altissima
Although not commonly sold in nurseries, this tree is sometimes "shared" among gardeners. Tree-of-heaven produces abundant root sprouts that create dense thickets and displace native vegetation. These root sprouts can be produced as far as 50 feet away from the parent tree. In California, it is most abundant along the coast and Sierra foothills, as well as along streams. A single tree can produce up to a million seeds per year.
Invasive!   Do Not Plant!   Invasive!

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blue gum eucalyptus
Eucalyptus globulus
Found along the coast from Humboldt to San Diego and in the Central Valley. Most invasive in coastal locations. Easily invades native plant communities, causing declines in native plant and animal populations. Fire departments throughout Southern California recommend against using eucalyptus trees for landscaping because they are extremely flammable.
Invasive!   Do Not Plant!   Invasive!

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Russian olive
Elaeagnus angustifolia
Found throughout California. Able to spread long distances with the help of birds and mammals. Invades river and stream corridors, pushing out native willows and cottonwoods. Reduces water levels. Provides poor wildlife habitat. Serious invader in other western states.
Invasive!   Do Not Plant!   Invasive!

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black locust
Robinia pseudoacacia
Widely distributed, particularly in northern California and the Great Basin. Spreads by seeds and root sprouts. Forms large dense stands. Seeds, leaves, and bark are toxic to humans and wildlife.
Invasive!   Do Not Plant!   Invasive!

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Tamarix spp.
A serious invader throughout California and southwestern states. Uses excessive amounts of water, increases soil salinity, changes water courses. Diminishes wildlife habitat, and increases fire hazard. Not commonly sold but still occasionally available.
Invasive!   Do Not Plant!   Invasive!

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Chinese tallow tree
Sapium sebiferum
Chinese talow trees are able to produce a large number of seeds and new shoots can sprout from roots. Seeds are dispersed by birds and in moving water, where they can remain viable for several weeks while floating. Wetlands, creeks, rivers, and native plant habitat are particularly vulnerable to infestation by this tree. A huge problem in southern states, this species has recently been found in California wildlands. Grows and spreads rapidly, pushing out native plants.
Invasive!   Do Not Plant!   Invasive!

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Maytenus boaria
Mayten has been found escaping in Davis in the Sacramento Valley. More information is being gathered about potential potential ecological damage this tree may cause.
Invasive!   Do Not Plant!   Invasive!

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edible fig
Ficus carica
Can be a problem in the San Francisco Bay area, the Central Valley, and southern California. May be spread by birds and deer, as well as by vegetation fragments. Can dominate stream and riverside habitat.
Key to plant care
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hybrid crape myrtle
Lagerstromeia hybrids
full sunmedium water
Stunning tree; great in a hot area. Showy summer flowers in hot pink, white, lavender, and other colors typically give way to brilliant fall foliage. Somewhat susceptible to aphids. Not the best choice for coastal locations. Deciduous. Zones: Varies by hybrid. Height: 8-25 ft., varies by hybrid.

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eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis
full sunpart sunhigh watermedium water
Can be fast-growing. Rosy pink flowers bloom before new leaves appear and are followed by beanlike pods. Prefers well-drained soil. Cercis reniformis 'Oklahoma' is also popular. Deciduous. Zones: 1-24. Height: 25-35 ft. Width: 25-35 ft.

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marina strawberry tree
Arbutus 'Marina'
full sunmedium waterlow water
Rosy pink, urn-shaped flowers, deep red bark, and strawberry-like fruits in yellow and red. Easy to plant and care for. Can be susceptible to greenhouse thrips. Doesn't tolerate very alkaline or poorly-drained soil. Can be slow to reach tree size. Evergreen. Zones: 8,9, 14-24. Height and Width: To 40 ft.

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Nyssa sylvatica
full sunpart sunmedium waterdrought
Crooked branches and dark, red-tinged bark make a dramatic winter picture. Birds are attracted to the fruit. Leaves turn yellow, orange, and red before dropping in fall. Excellent shade tree. Poor in air pollution. Needs acidic soil with no salinity. Deciduous. Zones: 2-10, 14-21. Height: 30-50 ft. Width: 15-25 ft.

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southern live oak
Quercus virginiana
full sunhigh water
Relatively fast-growing and long-lived. Very attractive in hot, interior climates. Easy to plant and care for. Evergreen. Zones: 4-24. Height: 40-80 ft. Width: 80-160 ft.

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fern pine
Podocarpus gracilor
full sunpart sundrought
Evergreen tree 20 to 60 feet tall. Makes an excellent street tree or individual specimen in a park setting. One of the most pest-free trees, able to tolerate a variety of soil conditions and temperatures. Can also be used as a hedge or screen plant. Many species and varieties are available at nurseries.

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valley oak
Quercus lobata
full sunpart sunhigh watermedium water
This graceful, decidous native tree provides habitat for birds and has year-round appeal. Deeply lobed leaves, rough gray bark. Grows up to 100 ft. tall in many Central Valley soil types.