Letters to the Editor: Ficus is a climate ‘heavyweight champion.’ Beverly Hills is making a mistake

Ficus trees are removed from Robertson Boulevard in Beverly Hills in February 2023.
Ficus trees are removed from Robertson Boulevard in Beverly Hills this month for a sidewalk restoration project.
(Wendy Klenk)

To the editor: Your editorial praises mature ficus trees, which Beverly Hills is removing from some of its sidewalks, for their “leafy canopy.” Ficus trees do much more than provide shade.

At least two university studies in India and Taiwan found the ficus to be significantly better at carbon sequestration than all other species measured. In addition, studies have found mature trees absorb much more carbon than smaller trees.

Trees are one of our best defenses against global warming, and the ficus is one of the “heavyweight champions” of carbon sequestration. The trees should be cherished and preserved, except under the limited circumstances where there is no way of mitigating root damage.


If properly planted and maintained, ficus trees have benefits that far outweigh their detriments. Sadly, many cities consider their urban forests as mere amenities to be destroyed when businesses and developers demand it. In fairness, some do not understand the irreparable harm they are doing to the health of their citizens when they destroy these heavyweight champions of carbon sequestration.

Think before you chop.

David Dickerson, Whittier

The writer chairs the Whittier Conservancy’s urban forestry committee.


To the editor: The ficus tree is famous for growing large roots at the surface, which can cause a lot of trouble with sidewalks.

Where I live, we have many ficus trees, and I have seen the same sidewalk problems that are in Beverly Hills. The trees can also invade plumbing.


Replacing the ficus trees with crape myrtles is OK, but I agree with you that palms are a bad choice. They do not provide much shade.

Kathy Jones, South Pasadena


To the editor: We are all concerned about elderly and disabled people navigating our sidewalks safely. But do the math: More people of all ages benefit from the trees than are hurt by the rooted sidewalks.

Trees clean the air and cool nearby buildings, resulting in less air pollution and less energy consumption. Don’t make the solution worse than the problem.

Michael and Laura Bellotti, Los Angeles