Many of Los Angeles’s iconic palm trees are dying out as a result of fungus and parasitic insects, and the city has no plans to replace them, according to a report from The Guardian.
The city currently has around 75,000 trees, located from LAX airport to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, although that number is set to rapidly decrease due to the rise of heatwaves, parasites, and a fungus known as Fusarium.
Instead, city authorities will plant other species of tree designed to provide more shade and consume less water, although the move will likely change the landscape of a city whose aesthetic is defined by its palm trees.
“Over the next 50 years, you will see a great loss in palms. It’s already begun,” Jared Farmer, the author of Trees in Paradise, told The Los Angeles Times. Farmer said, “They came to represent the modern auto-based, decentralized metropolis that is L.A,” adding that “Hollywood creates this connection between palm trees, celebrities, glamour, sex and extravagant riches.”
Environmentalists argue that the decline has been brought on by climate change, as increasing temperatures create conditions where bugs destroy vegetative growth.
“Palms are decorative and iconic, but Los Angeles is facing more and more heatwaves, so it’s important that we plant trees that provide adequate shade to protect people and cool the city down,” Elizabeth Skrzat of the city’s tree-planting department told The Guardian.“I seriously doubt that palms will disappear entirely.”
Meanwhile, David Fink, policy director of the non-profit Climate Resolve, also agreed the city would have to adapt.
“The iconic association of palm trees with Los Angeles is a positive, but we’re now in a period where we have a better understanding of what’s needed,” he said.” It makes sense that we replace the palms with trees that have wide expanses of shade and help cool things down.”