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ASU’s historic Palm Walk to get new look, more shade

New date palm trees are currently being installed along Lemon Mall. The leaves will be extended in about 30 days. Photos by Mike Sackley

Arizona State University students walking to class on the Tempe campus next month will have more shady spots to beat the oppressive summer heat.

The university’s iconic palm walk, which stretches from Lemon Mall to University Drive, is getting a facelift. About 110 Mexican fan palm trees, which have towered over the campus for about a century, are being replaced by date palm trees from California’s Coachella Valley. The new trees will have a different look than the Mexican fan palms.

“The canopy is broader and a lot more dense,” said ASU landscape architect Byron Sampson. “We still have a greater shade quality and character to the date palm than we do the fan palm.”

He said students have been asking for more shade for those hot months when school starts. This summer, 35 new palm trees will be installed, with the rest taking root in 2017 and 2018. Sampson said the leaves on the new palms will remain tied up at first.

“That way we know that they’re rooted in, [and we] know that they’re viable,” Sampson said. “We [want to] know that they’re really kind of established and happy in their new home.”

Once that happens, the leaves on those new date palm trees will be extended, providing more shade to students along palm walk. Sampson expects that to happen in about a month. The new date palm trees could also produce Medjool dates as soon as next year, which will be collected during the annual campus harvest.

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