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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Carya illinoinensis - Pecan

The pecan is an unusual tree in our area. Looking very much like a walnut, its easily misidentified as such. The pecans are large deciduous trees, 50+ tall and wide, with a large rounded crown, and several main scaffold branches. One on Laurel and this one in SLO.

Here is ours on Laurel.

Foliage is alternate, pinnately compound, 12-18" long with 9-15 elliptical to lanceolate, serrated leaflets, dark green. Leaflets have an unequal base.

Flowers are male catkins, yellowish green, pendulous, female back some distance, small.

Fruit is large, 1-1/2" long, oblong, brown, thin shelled, dry drupe, usually in clusters of three.

Bark is thin when young, becoming fissured with age. Brown, mostly.

Twigs stout, thick, pubescent in the spring, large leaf scars, pointed buds, terminal large, and pubescent. Superposed bud (one bud on top of another, usually a flower bud, with the vegetative bud being the smaller one).

Black walnuts. Look at the fruit if possible, and the lateral buds are rounded on the walnut, pointed on these.

Santa Cruz
302 Laurel Ave

Pittosporum eugenoioides 'Variegatum' - Variegated Lemonwood Tree

The variegated Lemonwood tree is an unusual cultivar seen in Santa Cruz county. This one shown here was a surprise to me walking in this neighborhood. There are other Lemonwood trees but this is the only variegated one. I wonder if it was a mistake, not a bad one, likely not intentional. My guess is this tree will grow about 2/3 the height of the species. You can see in this image its brighter green, and smaller.

Leaves are evergreen, simple, alternate, oblong to elliptical. 1-4" long with undulated margins, these being white rather than green.

If you looked quickly at the foliage you might think its a variegated ficus.

Santa Cruz
133 Jenne St

Schefflera pueckleri - Mallet Flower

The Schefflera tree, known by many as Tupidanthus calyptratus is a tropical house plant that manages to grow nicely in some of our more mild areas. Grows 15-20' or larger depending on where you live, or it lives. Generally pretty narrow in cultivation. More than likely planted out front when it was too large for the living room or someone was moving out and could not take it with them.

Leaves are alternate, palmately compound, 7-9 leaflets, each leaflet 6-8" long, elliptical, to obovate, or oblong-lanceolate, margins undulated. Leaves bright green. Leaf base usually swollen and wrapping around the stem part way.

Fruit are pretty odd, really, looking sort of like little animal faces with smiles. Seems there are two fused together on a green stalk.

Flower buds in August, they are stalked and resemble a mallet, hence the common name.

Schefflera actinophylla I guess, but this is more coarse in texture, and the flowers are very different.

Santa Cruz
505 Lembrandt Ave

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Erythrina crista-galli - Cockspur Coral Tree

The Cockspur Coral Tree is a small deciduous tree with an umbrella shaped canopy reaching 15-20' in Santa Cruz, but you may find them smaller than that. The most obvious one in town is at city hall. Not a great specimen, was not sure why, but I looked at google street view history and the space was dominated by a Hollywood Juniper and this tree was being crowded out. When in full bloom it looks pretty nice. Waiting for the fall color… supposed to be yellow….

Leaves are deciduous, alternate, trifoliate, leaflets narrowly elliptical 3-5" long, margins slightly less than smooth, and spines on the lower portion of the main veins. Distinct swollen area at the base of the petiole, the pulvinus.

Flowers in the spring occasionally in summer and into fall, fragrant, showy bright red or pinkish-red, in long drooping panicles. Individual flowers are "pea-like" with a distinct elongated lower petal shaped like the keel of a boat. This is taken in December, winter here, but you can see the elongated lower petal. Looks like thrip damage maybe.

These are the flowers about to open.

Fruit is a brown pod, with constrictions between the seeds. Ripening in the fall. This is summer. You can see the constrictions.

Interesting seeds if you take the time to look at them.

Stems are green, stout, with nasty prickles. You can even see the tell tale pulvinus on the petiole of the leaf.

Bark is usually attractive, potentially deeply furrowed.

Tree is also known as the Coral Tree, Crybabytree, Christ's Tears.

Erythrina caffra, around here anyway, if you are in a more tropical area you are likely to become very confused. These have narrower elliptical leaflets and are smaller trees.

Cabrillo College Hort Department has one in back garden area, its low growing.

Santa Cruz
City Hall along Center St.

114 Myrtle St.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Wollemia nobilis - Wollemia Pine

Such a great story behind the "discovery" of another lost species of trees. Much like that of Metasequoia, the Wollemia pine was though to be extinct until 1994 when a park ranger west of Sydney Australia found a grove of what he thought looked like an Aruacaria. The plant was identified as a new species and named in honor of the park ranger.

The Wollemia pine grows to 130' in its native habitat but who knows how well or how tall they will grow in cultivation. Trees are reported to be fast growing, and sprout from the base making a grove somewhat like Sequoias. The branching is reported to be pretty unique as well, with lateral branching off the main stem to never develop laterals of their own.

Most likely will be a real novelty for many years, though if you want to spend some serious money on a small tree, you can find them. My guess is Dig Gardens would be a place to look. San Marcos Growers has sold them since 2008.

I have only seen two specimens, one at Cal Poly SLO and the other right here in Live Oak. Both seen below.

Leaves are evergreen, 2-5" long, narrow needle-like, sharp tipped, light bluish green in the spring or on new growth and turning more yellow green as they mature. Lower surface of the leaves are almost silver.

The leaves are arranged in a typical spiral fashion but all the needle curve from the stem and form two flattened ranks. Quite unusual to see four rows of leaves, two of them up like wings. Worth having just for that.

Younger stems are green with distinct leaf base scars.

Cones are produced at the ends of the unbranched laterals. Male and female on the same plant.

Females seen below.

Male below.

The leaves themselves are somewhat similar to Abies bracteata but nothing else is.

Live oak
1484 Chanticleer

Griselinia littoralis - Griselinia

Griselinia is a fast growing evergreen tree or shrub originating from New Zealand and is commonly seen as a hedge. Growing to 40-50' in its native habitat it likely will stay much shorter in cultivation. I don't think I have seen one outside of a botanic garden over 15 feet. They do make a great thick screen and can be pruned formally and hedged. Prefers coastal conditions.

Leaves are alternately arranged, simple, broadly elliptical to rounded, 4" long, thick, and light shiny green. Margins can be somewhat undulated.

There are several variegated cultivars.

Plants are dioecious, flowers are borne in the axils of the leaves in short panicles bearing 50 or more flowers. San Marcos Growers suggests that there is only one clone being grown in commerce and its a male.

Stems are an olive green color developing into a brownish bark with age.

I don't know, the leaves look somewhat like Peperomias

Santa Cruz
1320 Mission St

Elaeaganus umbellata - Autumn Olive

I encountered a specimen of the Autumn Olive (Japanese Silverberry) while looking at some ash trees and thought, wow, who would have planted that? I am very familiar with the Russian Olive, Elaeagnus angustifolia, and its weedy weak wooded habits, but not with this tree. So a little digging and the only reason someone might have planted it could have been the fruit, tiny as they are, contain significantly more lycopene than tomatoes. The plant roots are colonized by a nitrogen fixing bacteria. They are also considered noxious weeds. A deciduous small tree or large shrub, they are more or less rounded.

Leaves are deciduous, alternate, simple, narrowly lanceolate to elliptical, 1-4" long, with somewhat undulated margins. In the spring they are covered with silver scales. The scales fall off the top of the leaf by summer but remain on the lower surface.

Flowers have a long tubular calyx that spreads at the tips and are often described as bell-shaped start shaped with four white sepals, about 1" long, fragrant, opening in the spring, in the axils of the leaves singularly or in groups.

Fruit is a small red berry-like drupe (?), with silver specks. Plants produce lot of them in the summer ripening in fall.

Young stems also completely covered with silver scales when young, becoming reddish brown by years end. Buds are also silver. Trunk is reddish brown and smooth, later becoming furrowed and peeling.

My first thought when seeing this specimen was the Russian Olive but the fruit looks different.

300 Poppy Way