When Ammar Swalim took over a small hardware store in Pacific Heights two weeks ago, he knew he would inherit tight aisles filled with hammers, bleach and light bulbs. He had no idea what was growing in the backyard of the California Street business: a massive avocado tree dripping with fruit so plump each made a thud when it fell to the ground.
The avocado tree – lush, verdant and with too many branches to count – dominates the backyard with a magical presence. That an avocado tree this size, estimated to be nearly 50 feet tall, bears softball-sized lime-green avocados in foggy San Francisco adds to the mystique. They generally grow best in warm, humid climates, and it can take up to 15 years for an avocado tree planted from seed to produce fruit.