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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tristaniopsis laurina - Water Gum

The Water Gum is a small slow growing evergreen tree, oval to rounded to 25' or so, much taller in its native habitat. Forms are dense canopy with upright scaffold branches. Nice and clean.

Leaves evergreen, simple, alternate, elliptical to lanceolate, 2 - 4" x 1/2 - 1" wide. Dark glossy green upper surface and lighter lower. Aromatic when crushed. Lasting 2 years.

Small yellow fragrant flowers in tight clusters. Individual yellow flowers about 1/4" wide, with 5 petals. Late spring or early summer.

Fruit is a small dark brown capsule, clustered in groups of about 5.

Stems are brown covered with very fine hairs brown or reddish brown.  Eventually becoming gray brown.

Older bark is mottled brown peeling in thin plates to reveal a light tan or whitish bark.

Commonly seen cultivar called 'Elegant'.  Much larger leaf.

This is a shot of the cultivar 'Elegant'.

Misidentification: The smaller leaf version of the species might look like native Wax Myrtle,
Myrica californica. Look at the stems, the myrtle are not brown changing to lighter gray or the flowers if you see them.


Capitola: A nice location to see both the species and cultivar is at the condos along Kennedy Dr and especially at the intersection of Kennedy Dr and Monterey. The cultivars are on the section of Kennedy that heads towards the frontage road.

Watsonville: On corner of Main St and Ford in front of the First National Bank are some really nice specimens.

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