1. You love trees
2. You like to walk & explore new areas
3. You have a day to spare
4. You want to connect with nature
1. Download and print off the PDF of the map & the walk
2. Get going!
Cherry blossom abounds
It's that time again - next month sees the continuation of the annual, brilliant, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. Become an expert in cherry tree identification or just relax and enjoy the wonder of nature at its pinkest. You will find a plethora of maps, guides and event listings at www.vcbf.ca.
The event runs from March 4th to April 30th 2013.
kitsTREEmap is a circular walk so you can pick it up at any point. However, it has been designed to be taken anti-clockwise and the recommended starting point is at the ‘Welcome to Kitsilano’ sign at the southern end of Burrard Bridge. See link below for public transport options from downtown Vancouver and around.For public transport information use Translink
This self-guided walking route is approximately 12km in length, which if you walked without stopping to talk to the trees, would probably take you around 3 hours. To really enjoy the trees and Kitsilano we recommend taking a whole day.
Start in the morning and enjoy the breathtaking coastal scenery at Kitsilano beach and park. Then head inland and by lunchtime you will have hit Broadway. With loads of restaurants and cafes to choose from, you could stop here for lunch. Afterwards, continue the walk taking in all the wonderful tree-lined avenues until you reach 4th Ave, just in time for dinner. Depending on what time of year it is, plan to complete the walk just in time to get back to the waterfront to enjoy the sunset.
If the walking route is too long for you, use a pen and adapt it to your required length! There are lots of places for short-cuts.
Any time. The trees are ready to welcome you all year round. However, if you are lucky enough to visit Vancouver from March through to May you will catch the Cherry blossoms. There are thousands of these trees all over Vancouver and the city becomes awash with waves of pink and white. kitsTREEmap will ensure that should you visit at this time you will get to pass by some of the best specimens Kitsilano has to offer. Late spring and summer are just spectacular in Kitsilano and the life force of the trees will make your hearts sing and your spirits dance. Fall is also incredible with some of the normally green tree-lined streets turning bright yellows, oranges, purples, reds and pinks. If you are into tree identification, winter is a more challenging time, especially for those trees who like to shed their leaves for the winter. Yet, the advantage of doing the walk at this time of year is that you get to experience naked branches in their full and intricate glory.
You can print the information straight from the webpages but the PDF download has more images for tree identification than the website and you get a bigger map. So it is well worth it. If you have any problems please contact us.Download PDF here
Kitsilano is an incredibly vibrant part of Vancouver. No visitor should leave Vancouver without having experienced this great neighbourhood. Apart from its coastal areas that are busy at all times of the year, it has two great shopping and eating areas (Broadway and 4th Ave). It also has loads of green space: the most famous being Kitsilano Beach Park and Vanier Park by the coast. There are many smaller ones including Tatlow Park, Almond Park and Cypress Community Gardens, which offer an insight into community plant loving. And kitsTREEmap will take you to all of them. Kitsilano has some great looking homes, with many different styles on any one street. Here you will find lots of creativity, with art and crafty objects dangling off many a front porch. Kitsilano has a definite alternative and laid back feel, with services for a healthy mind, body and spirit prominent throughout the area. It is no surprise that Kitsilano is many Vancourites' favourite part of the city. Yet, if we had to recommend one thing about Kitsilano that really brings it alive and sets it apart as a great place to spend a day when in Vancouver, it would be the trees.
Most streets in Kitsilano are tree-lined and many have trees that have been around for quite a while, so have grown with the energy of the place. As well as street plantings of the same species of tree there are hundreds of different individual trees in front gardens, alleyways and public places. For the information we give here, we owe a lot of thanks to the late Gerald Straley and his book 'Trees of Vancouver'. This is the tree book of Vancouver, It not only tells you what species and cultivars exist in Vancouver, but also in what area and on which streets.
Kitsilano is a very friendly and welcoming neighbourhood but please remember to respect the environment and people's private property: especially if any of the trees are in or close to private gardens.
At kitsTREEmap we believe that humans can get so much from hanging out with the trees: chatting them up, showing them respect and tuning-in to their life force. After all we are all interconnected. You don’t have to be super whacky to talk to the trees and once you start you may find it difficult to stop. By both learning about the trees and being amongst them we can engage not only our minds but our body, heart and spirit. For each featured tree we offer some ideas to help you find your own connection with them.
Welcome to Kitsilano!
What better place to start a walk of Kitsilano than at the ‘Welcome to Kitsilano' sign on the corner of Burrard & Cornwall Ave at the southern end of Burrard Bridge. From here walk west along Cornwall Ave and take the first right, Chestnut St, all the way to the end. On the way you will see a huge range of fantastic trees in Vanier Park to your right and lovely tree-lined residential streets to your left. It’s easy to get side-tracked here and if you want a quick tree hit, we recommend a visit to the two Saucer Magnolia trees that sit either side of the entrance to the MacMillan Space Centre. When you reach the end of Cornwall Ave, take the footpath to your left (above the Maritime Museum). This will lead you to the first featured tree: The beautiful Japanese Zelkova tree!
Proper Name: Zelkova serrata
Common Name: Japanese Zelkova
Description: This broad, medium sized, deciduous tree has narrow oval leaves with a serrated margin, hence the Latin name 'serrata'. They start green in spring and change to a lovely orangey-red in the fall.
Defining Feature: As you can see from the picture, this tree has quite a short trunk and a big head. And so it should, it is stunning!
Who needs art when you have nature? Consider some of the great paintings of the world. Are they any better than this? The love of beauty is not always a superficial thing and can give us great joy.
The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a
green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all ridicule and
deformity, and some scarce see Nature at all. But to the eyes of the
man of imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.
William Blake, 1799
Along the sea path
Once you have connected with the Zelkova carry on west along the path. If you look back now over your right shoulder you will get a great view of magnificent downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park.
With the water to your right, the footpath curves to the left and runs down to Kitsilano Beach. On the way enjoying the variety of trees in Kitsilano Beach Park on your left. As the path levels out you will pass basketball courts on the left and in the warmer months, beach volleyball areas on the right. Just before you reach the central beach area and services (café, public restrooms) you will come across a row of three of the most frequently photographed tree in Kitsilano: The Weeping Willow.
The magical Weeping Willow
Proper Name: Salix x chrysocoma
Common Name: Weeping Willow
Description: This distinctive deciduous tree has long, narrow, leaves in a spiral formation. In fall these light green leaves turn a golden yellow colour. Catkins are produced in early spring.
Defining Feature: Some think these gracious trees with their long hanging branches have a sad appearance (ie weeping) however we think it's probably really happy: Look at its view!
Talk to the tree. Don't know what to say? How about "Hello, how are you doing?" It's amazing how a few words can trigger a whole conversation.
Trees can "talk" to each other. When a willow is attacked by webworms or caterpillars, it sends out a chemical that alerts other nearby willows of the danger. The neighbouring trees then respond by producing a chemical in their leaves that makes it difficult for the insects to digest its leaves.
Downtown Vancouver from Kits Beach
If you can bear to leave the Willows, please continue on the footpath nearest to the water. As you get to Kitsilano Swimming Pool, veer left of the pool. As you arrive at the steps that lead down to the entrance of Kits Pool, you will be greeted by two of the next featured tree sitting either side of the steps: The Evergreen Magnolia.
Proper Name: Magnolia grandiflora
Common Name: Evergreen Magnolia
Description: This evergreen tree has large oval, shiny, stiff and leathery leaves. These are a lovely dark green on top with a brownier colour underneath. It also has beautiful, fragrant white flowers that appear in spring. The flowers are replaced by a large oval, reddish fruit that produces bright red seeds when ripe.
Defining Feature: The flowers are very showy and are the reason for the Latin name: with 'grand' meaning big and 'flora' meaning flower. While it is at its most majestic in spring and summer you will often see flowers in bloom into winter.
It can be very satisfying to smell a tree. It's best to have a good sniff of everything. What does it smell like? Does the bark smell like the leaves? Is the smell of the flowers intoxicating to you? Remember to ask the tree's permission first!
Majestic flower! How purely beautiful
Thou art, as rising from thy bower of green,
Those dark and glossy leaves so thick and full,
Thou standest like a high-born forest queen...
And while thy breeze floats o'er thee, matchless flower,
I breathe the perfume, delicate and strong,
That comes like incense from thy petal-bower...
Christopher Pearce Cranch
Extracts from Poem to the Magnolia Grandiflora
View of downtown Vancouver from behind Kits Pool
Cut through the metal gates by the side of the magnolia to take you around the back of the swimming pool. You will pass the Kitsilano Showboat, an open-air amphitheatre. At the western end of the pool, the path will carry on through the trees and you will pass a boat club on your right. Keep going past a lookout area, then on to a smaller gravel path until you reach a pebbled beach at the end. Take the steps up on your left to the top. You are now at Point Grey Road. Walk past a couple of big trees on your right (give them a wave as you go by) and take Point Grey Road westward. When this road meets 1st Ave, cross over the road and enter Tatlow Park. Take the footpath to the right over one of the small bridges and pass through this little green grotto enjoying the trees within. Sitting either side of the pathway you will find two of our next featured tree: The English Holly.
Proper Name: Ilex aquifolium 'Variegata'
Common Name: Variegated English Holly
Description: This easily recognisable evergreen tree is thick with foliage. Leaves are shiny, waxy and prickly with 3-5 spines on both sides pointing up and down.The bark is smooth and grey. Red berries replace small white flowers in fall and stay until winter when they sweeten enough for the birds to take them away.
Defining Feature: Variegated means having a variety of colour and this version of English Holly has white edging on the normally all green leaves.
Especially in cities, many of us lead fast-paced lives. Our roots don't always ground us and we are not often still enough to always remember what is important. Think about how solid a tree is. Use its power to make you calm and relaxed. Breathe out and enjoy this moment.
If a tree dies, plant another in its place.
Or even two
Look out for raccoons, they are behind every bush
Once through Tatlow Park, you will come out on 3rd Ave. Turn right here and at the next crossroads turn left onto Bayswater St. On the north east corner of 5th Ave and Bayswater St you will come across our next featured tree. Here it is not just the type of tree that we think is interesting (a lovely maple), but the shape it has become: A Pruned Tree.
A Pruned Tree: How do they do that?
This shape of tree is a very common sight in Vancouver. In order to avoid the telephone cables above, the central branches of trees are removed to create a U shape. There are some fantastic examples all over Kitsilano but we think this is one of the best. Let us know if you come across a better one.
Imagine you and the tree are the only things left on earth. The tree is your only living companion and any connection you can make will have a big impact on your life. Does the tree now seem any different?
We are the same as plants, as trees, as other people, as the rain that falls. We consist of that which is around us, we are the same as everything.
Broadway still has lots of trees!
Continue south along Bayswater St and soon you will arrive at one of Kitsilano's main drags: Broadway. Turn right onto Broadway and enjoy this humming area for a few blocks. When you reach Blenheim St go one block further south to 10th Ave. Look both ways along 10th Ave taking in this fantastic tree spectacle. You have now arrived at one of the grandest tree-lined streets not only in Kitsilano but also Vancouver. This is the location of our next featured tree: The Tulip Tree.
Tulip Trees run along 10th Ave from Blenheim to Dunbar
Proper Name: Liriodendron tulipifera
Common Name: Tulip Tree of Yellow Poplar
Description: The leaves have a very distinctive shape (see download), and are light in the summer turning brown and gold in the fall. The trees get their name from the beautiful and fragrant green and orange flowers. They are replaced in fall by a thick large capsule. The bark is a dark grey and furrowed.
Defining Feature: The trees on 10th Ave don't really look like Tulip trees as they have been pruned to go up instead of out. Notice the bumps at the bottom of the trucks where the lower branches have been chopped off.
Trees renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. We are nothing without trees. Concentrate on your breathing and think about how this wouldn't be possible without trees.
It takes an acre of trees to produce the amount of oxygen that will be consumed by 18 people in one year.
There are some great hedgerows in Kitsilano
It would be easy to stay talking to these trees all day, but the walk carries on! Continue west along 10th Ave until you reach Dunbar St where you turn left. After a couple of blocks you will arrive at Almond Park. There are many marvelous trees here and a great place for a rest. Continue up Dunbar St until you reach the dead end at 13th Ave. You have now arrived at the next featured tree: The Copper Beech.
Copper Beech on the corner
Proper Name: Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea'
Common Name: Copper Beech or Purple Beech
Description: These large deciduous trees have purple or bronze leaves. The bark is recognisably pale grey and very smooth. Twigs are dark brown. Leaves are oval with smoothish margins and 5-9 pairs of distinctive veins.
Defining Feature: The colour of this particular cultivar of beech makes it hard to miss.
You probably do, but many people don't show nature the respect it deserves. Some of these trees have been around a long time and will be on earth a lot longer than you will. Trees deserve our respect. They have wisdom.
Beech Trees can live up to 300 years old. Although trees in cities often don't get to grow very old because of size implications and pollution.
Look out for handmade bird houses around Kitsilano
Not far to the next tree. Walk one block east along 13th Ave and you will reach the cross street of Waterloo. The next block (on 13th Ave) is full of our next featured tree: The Norway Maple.
The Norway Maple is a common tree in Vancouver
Proper Name: Acer platanoides
Common Name: Norway Maple
Description: The leaves have five lobes (divisions) and the leaf stem is usually longer than the leaf itself. Leaves are green turning yellow and orange in fall. The samara (the winged seed) is long and flat with the wings horizontal to each other. The tree can grow up to more than 20m high.
Defining Feature: Unlike other maples they have an additional pair of points on the sides of each lobe.
Stand next to the tree and close your eyes. Take deep breaths. First concentrate on just listening to your breathing. As you start to relax, let in the sounds of the city around you. Once you have done that tune in to the sounds of the tree next to you. What does it sound like?
Trees love to toss and sway; they make such happy noises.
Enjoy the creative front porches in Kitsilano
Continue through the maples along 13th Ave until you reach Trutch St. Although not a featured tree we want to draw your attention to the energy of the English Oaks lining both sides of Trutch St. After doing that, carry on a few blocks more (along 13th Ave) until you reach the cross street of MacKenzie. Another tree-lined street and another featured tree: The London Plane Tree.
London Plane Trees form graceful canopies
Proper Name: Platinus x acerifolia
Common Name: London Plane Tree
Description: This large deciduous tree has a pale grey flaky bark. The leaves are thick and stiff, wide and palm shaped (similar to the maple). The fruit is like a spiky ball, hanging in pairs on a long stem, which turns from green to brown in winter before breaking up to release many seeds.
Defining Feature: The leaves while like maple are distinguishable by being wider than they are long.
Cuddle the tree. Cuddle it just like you would your partner, child or cat. If you are with others, link arms around the tree and cuddle it together.
The fattest oak tree in Britain would take about nine adults to hug it, finger tip to finger tip.
You will often see shoes hanging above
you in Kitsilano
Carry on along 13th Ave all the way to Larch St where you turn left. Cross over to the north side of 12th Ave and you are now at the corner of Connaught Park. On both sides of the park and 10th Ave is our next featured tree: The Catalpa, sometimes known as the Indian Bean Tree.
Catalpa Trees surround Connaught Park
Proper Name: Catalpa speciosa
Common Name: Catalpa, Indian Bean Tree or Cigar Tree
Description: Large heart shaped leaves with pointed tips, green until fall then turning a lovely yellow before shedding. Beautiful flowers arrive in the spring before turning into long hanging seed pods (see below) that remain until after the leaves have disappeared.
Defining Feature: The seed pods! They look like long straight runner beans that can grow up to 40cm long. They come in the summer and last until winter, turning from green to brown when some drop off.
Trees give us and other creatures shade and lower air temperature by evaporating water in their leaves. Canopies give off very strong energy when beneath them. Stand under the tree and feel the air when beneath the canopy. Stand outside the canopy does it feel any different?
Friendship is a sheltering tree.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Lots of wildflowers and shrubs too!
At the eastern end of Connaught Park, take a left down Balsam St to 10th Ave. Or if the grass allows take a shortcut through the park and pick up 10th Ave heading east. Here is our next featured tree as part of a tree-lined street that continues up as far as Maple St: The Smooth-leaved Elm.
Elm trees on 10th at Arbutus
Proper Name: Ulmus minor
Common Name: Smooth-leaved Elm
Description: A tall, upright, compact tree which has green oval shaped leaves that are leathery to the touch (although smoother than others) and serrated at the edge. Like maples, their seed is in the form of a winged samara.
Defining Feature: The leaves at the base where they join the stalk are asymmetrical in shape giving them a distinctive look.
You are now in a tree-lined road. Look along all the trees back and forth. Are you drawn to any one tree. If you are, move towards it and see if you can find out why.
... make us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets,
trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything
to git attention we do, except walk?
Community plant loving at its best
From the Elms continue along 10th Ave to Cypress St and turn left. Cross Broadway again at the lights where a funny Cedar tree leans out from the wall on the corner. Head north down Cypress St and at 6th Ave you will reach Cypress Community Gardens. Cross over to the far side of 6th Ave and after enjoying the view down the hill straight ahead, turn left and follow the disused railway tracks. Continue along 6th Ave until you reach Arbutus St. On the south-side of 6th Ave are a row of three trees that are at their most stunning in the springtime. Our next featured tree: The Flowering Cherry.
Cherry Blossom time is very special.
Proper Name: Prunus 'Pandora'
Common Name: Flowering Cherry
Description: This beautiful small tree's branches become covered in pale pink blossom in spring. Then as if it is just showing off its leaves turn a lovely bronzed-red in fall.
Defining Feature: If you are lucky enough to catch it for a short period in the spring you can't miss the profusion of pink.
Ask the tree if you can have a cherry blossom (or leaf if not in blossom). If it says yes take one and have a nibble. What does it taste like?
In Japan cherry blossoms are used as food. Both the blossoms and the leaves are edible. Also, a drink called Sakurayu is made from salt-pickled blossoms and hot water and is drunk at weddings and special events.
Maples in the fall
6th, 7th and 8th Avenues are all really lovely streets heading west from this point. So you could take 6th Ave all the way to Trafalgar St but if you have the time (and energy) kitsTREEmap takes you along 6th Ave as far as Yew St, then turns left and then the first right onto 7th Ave. Take this street (7th Ave) as far as Balsam St, and then turn left, walk one block, and then right onto 8th Ave. On the way you will pass lovely maples and oaks. Continue along 8th until you reach Trafalgar and our next featured tree: The European Hornbeam.
European Hornbeam from Broadway to 4th Ave
Proper Name: Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata'
Common Name: European Hornbeam
Description: This medium sized deciduous tree is densely conical in shape. It has a grey-green bark and distinctive green leaves with corrugated texture and a serrated edge. They turn a lovely yellow in fall.
Defining Feature: The word fastigiata comes from the word fastigiate which means 'rising to a pointed top'. And when you walk down Trafalgar it's hard not to notice this.
Trees serve us in so many ways. Not only do they clean the air that we breathe, they also supply us with food and wood to build our houses, furniture, fires, pencils etc. The uses of trees are far too many to list here. Thank the tree for its help. Does it feel good to give something back?
They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half just to see'em.
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone.
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi 1970
A really big Monkey Tree to sidetrack you
Take Trafalgar north as far as 3rd Ave and head east. If you fancy a small detour on the north-west corner of 2nd and Larch is a super Monkey Puzzle tree. The walk however, carries on along 3rd Ave and between Larch and Balsam Streets is a row of our last featured tree: The Weeping Birch.
Find shade under the Weeping Birch
Proper Name: Betula Pendula 'Youngii'
Common Name: Young's Weeping Birch
Description: These small deciduous trees form an attractive dome shape with their weeping branches. The leaves are a diamond shape, which turn yellowy in fall.
Defining Feature: These are novel looking little trees with really thin trunks and a shaggy head.
Who says a tree doesn't have a mind, a spirit or a soul? Just think for a moment that they do have all these things and you never knew it. Do you now perceive it any differently?
The expression ‘touch wood’ for good luck originated from primitive tree worship when tapping on trees was thought to summon protective spirits from the trees and ward off evil.
4th Ave a great place for dinner
Continue along 3rd Ave another couple of blocks passing a lovely street of maples between Balsam and Vine Streets. At Yew St (another beautiful street, so have a good look down the hill) turn right and one block south is 4th Ave. The walk heads east for a few blocks showing all that is cool and happening on 4th Ave. Once you have had enough, the walk winds its way back to the start. Turn left back onto Cypress St and wander through the cherry trees all the way to York Ave. Turn right here and that will take you back to Burrard St. Turn left on to the footpath through the green space ahead passing the fountain and back to the start. You've finished. Phew!
The cityscape from Kits Beach after sun down
Photography: Sandy Singers, BJ Matthias and dentdelion
Alternatively, head back to Kits Beach to catch the sunset!
We love trees so much
At 13th Ave looking north down Collingwood St
In a garden on 10th between Larch and
Trafalgar in Fall.
Patterns of the Mimosa Tree leaves
The seed of kitsTREEmap was sown in the summer of 2009. My parents were coming to visit me from overseas and I was trying to think of the best way to show them this fantastic place that I lived, beautiful Kitsilano. They love nature but also houses and gardens. They like to explore and feel the vibe of a community. How could I give them the best possible experience? The obvious way to show them all this was to take them walking, but which streets in which direction, and for how far? I've walked and rode my bike down all of the streets in Kitsilano many times and thought to myself that's a lovely tree or what a beautiful tree-lined road, or great garden, nice park, interesting house etc. But now that I needed a route I could not remember where everything was, so kitsTREEmap was born. The area of Kitsilano, as you can see from the walk map is bordered by the ocean to the north, 16th St in the south and by Burrard (east) and Alma (west). That is 17 blocks wide by 16 blocks high. Quite a large area and one that I thought many people visiting Vancouver would love to explore if only they knew how.
The trees of Kitsilano are magnificent. They blossom in the spring, continue changing and blooming in the summer before transforming in the fall. The trees that are at their showiest in spring are often different to those in the summer and in the fall. Even in the winter, the trees form beautiful canopies above your head. So for kitsTREEmap I decided to identify some of the grandest trees and tree-lined streets and plot a walk around Kitsilano using them as my markers. If you complete the walk you can be rest assured you've probably had a good look at the best of what Kitsilano has to offer. The walk starts minutes away from the famous kits beach: it crosses the two main shopping and eating streets at their most active parts, Broadway and 4th Ave, and passes the Kitsilano community gardens plus a number of the smaller parks. It might take you all day but once completed, you can definitely say you've done 'Kitsilano'.
kitsTREEmap is a fun and interesting way to spend one of your days in Vancouver. Even if you're not interested in the details or the trees, the experience of walking underneath their canopies and taking in the local environment is fantastic.
It took me a while to collect all the information necessary but it would have taken longer without the aid of one particular book. It's currently out of print (not sure why) but I would like to pay tribute to it anyhow. Gerald Straley's 'Trees of Vancouver'. This book not only tells you all about hundreds of different trees, it also tells you on which side of the street, at what point you can see them. Straley is no longer with us, and I believe this was just one of his many achievements. But what a great one.
Ryanne Leigh Florence
Gerald Straley's 'Trees of Vancouver'. Currently out of print but if you can get hold of a copy it will be well worth it.
UBC Botanical Garden Botany Photo of the Day. This site should be world famous if it isn't already. Sign up for the RSS feed into your email and enjoy a little bit of pleasure every day.
We love to hear from locals what they think are the best trees in Kitsilano. Send us your pictures and a location and we will make them our featured tree of the month or post them in a special section on the site.
Send us interesting facts or quotes or anything else about trees and get them posted online.
This site is new. We would love to get feedback on how to improve the walk and the information supplied.
Kitsilano is in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. To see the area (and the start of the walk) in relation to the whole world see below.