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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Neolitsea sericea

I came around a corner and this tree looked so unfamiliar I had to stop to look. That's when I saw the red foliage that was growing on a sucker at the base and wow! No chance I had seen that before. I sent pictures to Matt Ritter of Cal Poly SLO for some ID help, and this was his educated guess from pictures.

This evergreen tree has a rounded, dense habit, reportedly growing up to 35'. This one seems to be close to 25' and about the same width.



Foliage is evergreen, simple, elliptical, oblong to ovate, about 3 -7" long, with three distinct veins coming from the base. Medium to dark green.



When the leaves emerge they have a downy look to them. This is the lower surface of the leaf.



Soon afterward the hairs fall off (?) and the the blade turns red. I must get to the tree in early spring. I cant image the foliage change over those few weeks.



Stems should have the same reddish colored hairs eventually turning green.



Flower buds are copper colored in clusters at the tips of the branches.



Fruit is a small red berry. Though I read the plants are dioecious, I doubt there is another one around supplying pollen.



Smooth bark.



Misidentification:
not sure, look at the leaves for the silvery lower surface and the 3 veins, and of course the red newish foliage.

Location:
Santa Cruz
100 Myrtle St.


Picea glauca - White Spruce

I was really surprised to see this specimen the other day while walking the cemetery next to Dominican Hospital (seems oddly convenient to be next to the hospital). I actually went to look at the allee of Calocedrus decurrens. To bad they are on their way out, I bet they were beautiful years ago. This specimen was hard to photograph because it was so close to the liquidambar.

The white spruce is rarely planted around here. The species has tons of cultivars but most are dwarf versions of the dwarf Alberta spruce.



Leaves are needle-like, 1/2" to 3/4" long, stiff, blue-green upper surface and white lower surface. Can be flattened on the stem or radiating around the stem in a circle.






Cones are small, 1-1/2" - 2-1/2" long, narrow, light brown, with rounded entire scale tips.  Lots of pitch is common, so don't put them in your pocket.


You are more likely to see something like this in the landscape, where the plant reverted to the large normal form. I think the newer cultivars are more stable.




This is one where King runs into Mission. You can barely see the original dwarf foliage at the bottom.



There are lots of issues with this plant in the landscape, the most common one is an aphid that created a gall at the tip of the stem. This gall dies and looks sort of like a cone.

There are wonderful dwarfs available and a beautiful weeping form.



Misidentification:
you could easily misidentify these trees, many of the spruces look very similar, especially if you find a few that are not common. In our area, look for short needles, small cigar shaped cones, and bluish colored leaves. And, if you think its a white spruce around here it might not be…..

Location:
Santa Cruz at the cemetery, next to the Hospital


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Acer palmatum dissectum 'Seiryu' - Seiryu Japanese Maple

The Japanese maple cultivar 'Seiryu' is the considered the only upright growing dissected maple available although my guess with such variety in the species there are others. Growing to about 15' they are usually a bit more open than the one shown below, which has been pruned over the years. These are fast growing maples with great dissected leaves and nice fall color. We had one in Spokane years ago and the fall color was fantastic.



Leaves are opposite and maple like though deeply dissected and each lobe is deeply serrated. Medium to light green in color, about 2" long. Fall color is nice gold though you might see some red depending on the site and the environment.



Flowers and fruit identical to other Japanese maples.

Misidentification: Doubt it.

Location:
Aptos
524 Humes, just recently planted.

Seacliff
421 Hillcrest Dr. See above, pruned into a ball but still nice.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

x Chiranthodendron lenzii

I can't tell you how many times I must have driven past this tree and not seen it. Then, a few days ago there is was in full bloom standing up against a larger magnolia that must have caught my eye.

This is a man made hybrid between the Mexican hand tree and a California native.
Chiranthodendron pentadactylon x Fremontodendron 'Pacific Sunset'. Sometimes called x Chiranthofremontia lenzii and I recall a citation that the whole group might be one species. There is not a lot of information on these trees and I think I have only seen 3-4 of them in person. I think the more common name is the Hybrid Monkey Hand Tree.

Evergreen tree growing 30+ feet tall upright branching, sort of pyramidal to columnar with stiff branches. Lower branches flattening out, which is nice because the flowers sit on the tops of the stems.



Foliage is attractive, resembling its parents, alternately arranged, simple, 4-5" long and wide, palmately lobed with 3-5 lobes, dark green glossy leathery upper surface and a whitish bronze below due to all the hairs on the surface.






Stems are also covered with hairs, at least when young. The oldest specimen I have seen shows smooth bark.



Flowers are really pretty cool looking. Borne on the upper surface of the stems, they are a yellowish orange color on the outside and more orange inside. The monkey paw part of the flower is the 5 stamens and are golden colored rather than red like one of its parents. You can see the stigma pointing to 11 o'clock.



Flowers with the stamens still closed.



Flower bud.



Flowers are often found along the tops of the branches.



Misidentification:
Likely to think its a Fremontidendron but the flowers these flowers have red/orange inside and not yellow like our native tree.

Chiranthodendron pentadactylon has red stamens.


Location:
Corralitos
2957 Freedom Blvd

Santa Cruz
Arboretum, past the small nursery growing area.

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).



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

Location
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.





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

Location
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.


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

Location:
Santa Cruz
505 Lembrandt Ave