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Monday, January 13, 2014

Agonis flexuosa - Peppermint Willow

The Peppermint Willow is a fast growing small evergreen tree, to 25' around here (potentially 35' plus) forming a wide spreading weeping habit, like a weeping willow perhaps. Very interesting look when in full bloom as the flowers borne along the stem seem to show off the long arching stems. The largest ones I have seen locally is on Cedar St. at the Kuumbwa.

Leaves are evergreen, simple, alternate, narrowly lanceolate, 4-5" long by about 1/2" wide. Often slightly curved or falcate shaped with neither a top or bottom. They are stout like many in the family and showing reddish new growth as well. They are know for having a very strong peppermint smell. 

New foliage emerges reddish pink in spring, very nice looking.

The flowers emerge in the spring and cover the branches with small white fragrant flowers that last 4 plus weeks. The white petals (5) often have a tinge of pink at the base.

Fruit are small capsules, really small, arranged in a round 1/4" cluster. 

Young stems show a strong zig-zag characteristic, hence the name flexuosa

Bark is deeply furrowed.  

This one is located in SF Golden Gate Park and shows its size potential.

The purple leaf cultivar 'Jervis Bay Afterdark' is much more popular than the species. I have never seen an older specimen that forms a shape like its species. They really grow much slower I suspect.

Misidentification: Without flowers, smell the foliage, look at the habit. The leaves resemble so many others in the family, Melaleucas and Callistemons.

1122 Toledo Dr. (seen in the top picture)

Santa Cruz:
Cedar St. in the parking lot of the Kuumbwa club
201 Chilverton (morrissey west) is a nice one

1313 Escalona Dr - 5 After Dark in one yard

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this! Will take a drive and look for ourselves.