When working with trees daily, arborists tend to see all the attributes, good and bad, and tend to develop a basis towards certain trees. People have favorites for a variety of reasons: the tree might hold memories of a certain person or place, or because trees are so large and majestic, others appreciate trees for their functionality, and reliability, and still others for their overall beauty. We recently asked the certified arborists on staff at Traverso Tree Service what their favorite tree is.


John Traverso, (the owner of Traverso Tree Service) became an arborist right at the start of the ISA certification program in 1986. He built the company on the cornerstone of continuing education and encourages the pursuit of tree knowledge for all his employees. His favorite tree is the Acer rubrum freemanii “Autumn Blaze”, the common name red maple. John likes this tree for its function coupled with its beauty. Fast-growing to 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide, this tree has a reliable structure, radiant fall color that lights up the neighborhood, and is relatively clean as it drops all its leaves during a short 3-4 week period in the fall. John liked this tree so much he planted one at his home.



Scott Foster joined Traverso Tree Service in 1987 and became a Certified Arborist in 1996. His favorite tree is the majestic Quercus lobata, the common name valley oak. The valley oak is California’s mightiest oak reaching 70 feet or taller with equal or greater spread. Its grandeur and size are the reasons Scott picked it. He also picked it because of its longevity; a valley oak can live for almost 300 years. As a history buff, Scott can imagine all the history an old oak has seen.




Steve Sprickman started with Traverso Tree Service in 1990 and became a certified arborist in 1996. Steve grew up in Hayfork, a tiny northern California town just west of Redding. He grew up in a valley suitable for growing hay (hence the town’s name) that butts up to the redwood-covered hills. Steve spent his youth exploring those forests and did some logging before he moved to the Bay Area and got a job with Traverso Tree Service. Steve’s favorite tree is Cornus nuttalli, the common name Pacific or western dogwood. This variety of dogwood grows to 50 feet tall and 20 feet wide and can take on a single or multi-trunk form. It is spectacular when it shows off its gleaming white bracts (bracts are petal-like modified leaves) on the bare branches in spring. Steve chose this tree for the memories of his youth hiking through the forests and because the dogwood was his mother’s favorite tree.


Scott Minch started with Traverso Tree Service in 1995 and became a certified arborist in 1997. He moved to the Sierra foothills and started his own tree business in the early 2000s and returned to Traverso Tree Service in 2010. Scott’s favorite tree is the Sequoia gigantea, the common name giant sequoia, native to the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. There are several “Old Growth” groves with specimens reaching 325 feet in height and having the most massive trunks in the world (up to 30 feet in diameter). Scott picked this tree for its grand size and its iconic status in California, not to mention the exhilaration he has experienced climbing one of these 3,000-year-old behemoths.


Jaime Zaragoza joined Traverso Tree Service in 1998 and became a Certified Arborist in 2014. His favorite tree is Quercus agrifolia, the common name coast live oak. Native to coastal regions of California this oak is rounded in form and densely foliated, and can reach heights of 70 feet or more with even a wider spread. Although an evergreen, it drops most of its old leaves in spring, just before the new shoots come out. As it ages its canopy opens up and you can see the unique spreading structure of its grey branches. Jaime likes it for its unique spreading structure, and its ability to provide dense shade on a hot summer’s day.


Rafael Ceja applied to work for Traverso Tree Service in 1999 and quickly adapted from the restaurant business to a career in the canopy. Rafa became a certified arborist in 2008. His favorite tree is Pistacia chinensis, the common name Chinese pistache. Originally from China, this tree has slow to moderate growth, to 30-60 feet tall with a nearly equal spread. It has a wonderful fall color, where the leaves turn from yellow to orange and then to red. It is a reliable tree that needs minimal care, and if you plant the male variety (Keith Davey) you avoid the messy red berries that grow on the female. Rafa likes this tree for all the reasons stated above and can speak from experience as to its virtues because he planted one in his own yard.


Arnulfo Merino started with Traverso Tree Service in 2001. He arrived here from El Salvador and barely spoke English. Yet he quickly mastered the language and became a Certified arborist in 2015. His favorite tree is the Sequoia sempervirens, commonly known as the coast redwood. Native to the Coastal Ranges from southern Oregon to the central coast of California. It is California’s state tree. Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world where native specimens can reach well over 300 feet tall. It is fast growing with minimal pruning needed except to remove the occasional dead or broken limbs, and although a fog belt tree, it can thrive inland with ample irrigation. Arnulfo likes the tree for its ladder-like structure making it fun to climb. Arnulfo has himself has climbed several redwoods in the 300-foot range.


Danielle Schrader joined the team at Traverso Tree Service in 2004. With no experience in trees, but a college degree in Spanish, she jumped in and learned on the job. Once she mastered office skills she became a certified arborist in 2011. Danielle’s favorite tree is the Magnolia soulangeana, better known as the saucer magnolia or tulip tree. This magnificent tree is best known for its showy flowers in spring. There is no better way to welcome spring than when this tree flowers. The tulip trees grow to 25 feet tall and their canopy can be just as wide. Hardy to cold weather and thrives in various climates in the West. Danielle picked his tree because of the beautiful display of flowers in spring.


Jennifer Tso joined Traverso Tree Service in 2015. After graduating from UC Davis she became a certified arborist in 2013. She worked alongside several leading consulting arborists and brought lots of consulting talent to our team. Her goal was to learn how to climb so she could “touch” trees daily and thus expand her knowledge of trees. Her favorite tree is the iconic Quercus lobata or valley oak. Possibly the largest North American oak, this species tolerates high heat and can grow fast in deep soils where it can tap into a water source. A magnificent tree for shading large outdoor living areas. This is the tree that gives much of California’s Central Valley the look of a giant park. Jennifer chooses this as her favorite because of its size and grandeur. Plus this was the dominant tree species where she started her career as an arborist.

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…these are a few of our favorite TREES!” What’s your favorite?

From all of us at Traverso Tree Service have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!