Friday, October 17, 2014

Eucalyptus pulchella - Narrow Leafed Peppermint Tree

The Narrow Leafed Peppermint Tree is a medium sized evergreen tree growing to about 40 feet, with beautiful bark weeping small branchlets and very thin fragrant foliage. Nice soft look, can't say I have seen lots of them around so I am thinking its not commonly planted here.



Leaves are evergreen, simple, alternate, linear to narrowly falcate, 3-4" long by 1/4" wide, dark green with a peppermint smell when crushed.



Flowers are in clusters of 9-15 and open into a round ball of white stamens. Blooms early summer.



Flower buds in round clusters along the stem making for a great floral display.





Fruit is a small capsule, 1/3" diameter opening in fall.



Bark sheds in long sheets, but often smooth, cream to light green or gray colored bark. Eventually persistent close to the base.





Used to be know as E. linearis.

Thanks to Matt Ritter (CalPolySLO) for identification.

Misidentification:
The foliage of E. nicolii looks close but the willow-leaf peppermint has thicker leaves and of course persistent bark.


Location:
Aptos
151 Seacliff Dr.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Prunus lusitanica - Portugal Laurel

The Portugal Laurel is a nice large flowering shrub or small multi-stemmed tree growing 12-15' tall but can be up to 30+ feet. Planted for its wonderful floral display late spring. It's a pretty invisible plant but comes to life with the flower display in May. Saw one the other day that was pruned hard into a low shrub, pretty impressive floral display.



Leaves are evergreen, simple, alternate, narrowly ovate to lanceolate shaped, 3-5" long, serrated margins and are dark green and leathery.



Notice the young branches and petioles are reddish.



Flowers are borne on a long 5-10" thin panicle with tons of individual small white flowers.




Small reddish to black fruit, not usually eaten by humans, but the birds will strip a tree in a day.



The fruit in October.



Misidentification:
maybe another prunus, there are enough of them, but not likely in bloom, the rest of the white evergreen prunus have much shorter flower stalks and the fruit is smaller than most and seems to be more egg-shaped.

Prunus laurocerasus is the type species for the subgenus Laurocerasus or the cherry laurels. Others in this group include P. ilicifoliaP. lyoniiP. laurocerasusP. lusitanicaP. carolinana. They all have flowers that look and smell like these.

Location:
Aptos
Cabrillo Campus in the lawn behind the Sesnon House.

Scotts Valley
Civic Center Drive at MacDorsa Park

Michelia doltsopa - Chinese Magnolia

The Chinese Magnolia is a relative of the magnolias which is really obvious when you see one. Growing as a shrub or smaller tree to 30'. Habit is usually an upright to oval to perhaps spreading with age or space. Blooms very early, January for us and contrasts very nicely with the dark green leaves.



This is one at the SF Arboretum.



Flowers fragrant, white petals, 12 or more each 3" long somewhat oblong to lanceolate petals (way different than most of the magnolias you will see). All the male parts are yellow.



Flowers are axillary and not terminal like magnolias, If you look closely at a magnolia in bloom all the flowers are coming from a terminal bud. The stems maybe short and a lot of them but they do not flower from axial buds on stems. Flower buds are almost as pretty as the flowers. Green with a copper cast, 2-3" long.



This tree blooms for us like magnolias should, all at once rather than weakly over a month.



Leaves are alternate, simple, elliptical (oblong to lanceolate maybe) , 4-8" long, dark glossy green upper surface and lower covered with light copper colored hairs.



Another beauty in bloom in the Seacliff Area.



Misidentification: 
Some magnolias perhaps. Look for the flower buds in the axils. 

Location:
Aptos
535 Bayview Drive
100 Oakdale Drive

Santa Cruz
Louden Center on the Center St side of the building, about in the middle of the building.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Eucalyptus camaldulensis - River Red Gum

The River Red gum is a massive tree, growing over 100' tall with huge trunk. Generally planted along freeways, not recommended for residential areas as it tends to shed branches in minor winds, and there is a ton of litter.



Massive tree at Cal Poly SLO.



Bluish green leaves, alternate adults, lance shape. 4-8" long,





Flowers white or yellowish, clusters of 7, about 1" diameter.

Flower buds are always key in identification of Eucalyptus and these have a very long and pointed cap.



Fruit is a capsule, smallish, less than 1/2", with valves beyond the ring.



Bark is very attractive, multicolored, white, brown, green and exfoliating.


Misidentification:
Foliage is less curved than many others, more blue green, and the bark is very much mottled.

From what I have read online there are 3 subspecies and the flower buds are not the same on two of them and the bark is also different, so its pretty foggy but my guess is we have the "normal" subspecies.

Location:
Watsonville
Highway 1 at the south bound Main St exit, between the highway and the exit
Highway 1 on the north bound entrance off Airport Rd.

Eucalyptus viminalis - Manna Gum

Manna Gum is a very fast growing evergreen tree commonly seen on freeways. These trees grow to over 100' tall and maybe 50' wide. They often branch low resulting in several very large thick trunks where the shedding bark accumulates. 





The evergreen leaves are alternately arranged, simple, narrowly lanceolate to linear, 4-6" long, often slightly curved, dull light green, no upper or lower surface as they hang vertically. Typical Eucalyptus smell when crushed.




Flowers are white, borne in groups of threes thought there are lots of these little cymes making it look like a larger group.








Fruit is a capsule, 3/8" in diameter with a nice ring around the top, valves are sticking out past the ring.



Beautiful bark, shedding most of the way to the base of the trees.



Misidentification:
Flower number is always key with Eucalyptus, leaf shape, and bark.

Location:
Aptos
Freeway just behind the Safeway at RDM shopping center

Capitola
41st Ave and Highway 1 intersection, on the Auto dealer side of the roads.

Scotts Valley
Highway 17 on the right side heading north just before the first sign for the Granite Creek exit.

Acer x freemanii 'Armstrong' - Armstrong Maple

The best and worst examples of this tree are in Scotts Valley, where they were planted to create a nice vertical accent to the entrances of the shopping center, then had the tops cut out of them. Anyway, a nice hybrid red/silver maple with a tall narrow habit, 40+ feet tall and 15' wide. Potentially fair fall color.





Leaves are opposite, simple, palmately lobed, 5-6" long and deeply lobed margins much more silver maple like that red. Very long red tinged petioles.




Fruit is a samara, red wings turning brown. Wings are almost parallel.



Considered to have good, but not great fall color. I suspect it has too much of the silver maple fall color gene (to go along with the leaf shape).



Misidentification:
Other A. x Freemanii hybrids, but this one is very narrow. There are other similar columnar hybrid or red maples but they have leaves more like a red maple. 'Bowhall' and 'Columnare'.

Location:
Scotts Valley
Mt Herman Dr at most entrances to the shopping center.

Watsonville
Library at Freedom Blvd and Airport intersection.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Juniperus chinensis 'Kaizuka Variegata' - Variegated Hollywood Juniper

The Variegated Kaizuka Juniper or sometimes called the Variegated Hollywood Juniper is an uncommon sight in SC county, with only a few registering in my travels. Growing slowly to 15' with a spread of 10', the plants are very much tighter than the green hollywood juniper and lack the wide spreading branches, though the branches do twist. Grown for its splashes of cream foliage, it makes a nice specimen.




Evergreen leaves are spirally arranged, scale like, very small with juvenile awl-shaped leaves thrown in. The cream areas lack chlorophyll completely and provide no help in growth, but look cool.



Juvenile foliage awl-shaped and some lacking chlorophyll.



Quite frequently the cream foliage dies in summer heat.



This clone has cones.



Also known a Juniperus chinensis 'Torulosa Variegata'

Misidentification:
Not sure


Location:
Aptos
Corner of Soquel Dr and State Park in the parking strip of the Church, across from the Safeway gas station.

706 Clubhouse Dr.

Capitola
102 Grand Ave