Speed Reads

The end of an era?

A beetle and a fungus are killing off L.A.'s iconic palm trees

The landscape of Los Angeles is about to change, officials say, with palm trees disappearing and being replaced by other species that provide more shade and need less water.

In 1990, the city estimated that more than 75,000 palm trees lined the streets, the Los Angeles Times reports, and that number hasn't been updated since. Officials believe over the next few decades, palms will start dying in droves, due to a beetle called the South American palm weevil and the Fusarium fungus, and other palms that escape the wrath of the bug and fungus will die of old age.

Instead of replacing those palms with the same type of species, city officials will shift their focus to trees that offer more shade. The only species native to the state is the Washingtonia filifera, the California fan palm, and it's believed that in the 18th century, Franciscan missionaries planted the first decorative palms in Los Angeles. "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, program director of the city's tree planting department, told The Guardian.