Saturday, August 2, 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.



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

Prunus lyonii - Catalina Cherry

Catalina Cherry is a small CA native tree or large shrub growing 10-25' tall. Upright to lightly spreading, they attract birds for the fruit. Considered to be a botanical variety of Prunus ilicifolia by some and a distinct species by others. I have even seen multiple LL's in the name…..




Evergreen leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to broadly ovate, entire or lightly serrated margins, glossy green above 3-5" long.



Stems are green or brown, buds more pointed than P. ilicifolia.



Flowers white, early spring in upright racemes. Look very much like so many other Prunus species in this group but are longer than P. ilicifolia.




Fruit is a red drupe turning bluish black when mature.



 Trunk silver gray colored.


Misidentification:
Prunus ilicifolia as this one does not always have the holly like leaves and the fruit is black not red like the species.

Heres what I have been able to come up with to distinguish these 2 closely related species:
Las Pilitas Nurseries suggests that its very unlikely to find true P. lyonii, most are hybrids.
P. lyonii has larger leaves, up to 5" and mostly entire (no teeth) mostly flat without rolled over margins, thinner and a longer petiole as well as longer inflorescences, up to 5" long.

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

P. lusitanica has narrow long leaves with nice teeth, and very long inflorescences.
P. laurocerasus has very wide leaves, except the dwarf cultivars like 'Otto Luyken'.
P. carolinana has smaller leaves and the shortest inflorescences, about 1-2" maximum.

Location
Aptos
Corner of Clubhouse Dr and St. Andrews Dr., both sides of the street on St. Andrews Dr.

Capitola:
Center St and Bay Ave along the property line of the Nob Hill Shopping center.

Santa Cruz
304 Grant St.

Prunus laurocerasus - English Laurel

The English Laurel is another big hedge gone wild, and like others, its not their fault, its ours. We plant them to be hedges and when the plants get over our head we can't prune them anymore, so they grow into what they want to be. Classic hedge for sure. Broadleaf evergreen 10-20' tall, easily wider, dense, can't say I have ever seen one grown by itself.



Leaves evergreen, simple, alternate (but forming such a uniform flat spray they often look opposite), obovate to oblong, 6-8" long, up to 2" wide, small accumulate tip, and lightly serrated margins. Medium to dark green upper surface. Two glands at the base of the petiole (typical of many Prunus). Leaves are toxic, do not eat them.



Flowers in narrow upright 4-6" racemes, individual flowers small, white and fragrant (though I am not a fan of the smell).





 Stems not thin, not thick, pointed lateral buds.



Fruit is a black drupe, about 1/2" diameter.



Often seen in colder climates as one of the dwarf cultivars which are considerably cold hardy. 'Otto Luyken' is very common.



Misidentification:
Can't think if any, large leaf with gland is pretty clear.

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: 
Rio Del Mar Blvd and Clubhouse Drive on the corner.

Prunus caroliniana - Carolina Cherry Laurel

The Carolina Cherry Laurel is a pretty invisible tree native to the southeaster states. Growing quickly to 30' it forms an oval to rounded crown depending on being single or multi-stemmed. 



Evergreen foliage, alternate, simple, oblong elliptical, to lanceolate having a dark green shiny upper surface and entire margins. Foliage is somewhat toxic.



Flowers in early spring, small individual flowers having 5 petals, are in upright 2-3" racemes. Showy if you happen to stop near one, but something you are likely to walk right by. Fragrant, but I don't like the smell of this or some others like it.




Fruit is a 3/8" diameter black drupe.


Misidentification:
Prunus lusitanica perhaps, the foliage is similar (except the margins are serrated) as are the fruit and habit, but the inflorescences are much larger that this species.

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
Twins Lake Church close to the Perimeter Rd on the Campus of Cabrillo College

Scotts Valley
Lockwood Ln. just past the entrance to Oak Tree Villa (corner of Mt Mermon and Lockwood Ln.

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' - Bloodgood Maple

The Bloodgood maple is one of the most commonly planted purple Japanese maples anywhere. They are by far the hardiest, and most tolerant of full sun. Bloodgood maple grows as a small tree, often multi-stemmed with a rounded canopy rarely reaching 20'.


Leaves are purple or greenish in the shade, opposite, deciduous, palmately lobed but only  shallowly, with fairly wide triangular lobes being lightly serrated.



Fruit in summer is a nice addition, bright red in large quantities. Samaras in pairs, wide spreading, maturing brown and falling individually.





Great fall color.

Misidentification:
There are several purple japanese maples but this one has pretty shallowly lobed leaves.

Location:
Aptos
317 Clubhouse Drive

Capitola
4585 Opal Cliff Dr (lots of great specimens) Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz
221 Ross St   (excellent specimens)

Stenocarpus sinuatus - Firewheel Tree

The Firewheel tree is an evergreen tree from Australia growing narrowly to 30-35' by 15' in our area, with distinct leaves and flowers arranged in a pinwheel. Not common at all in SC. Root suckers on the one we have.



Leaves are evergreen, alternate, simple, highly variable size and shape, 6-15" long with entire margins or deeply lobed, margins consistently undulated, tough, leathery, glossy dark green. Young fast growing stems develop juvenile leaves, which are deeply lobed, and have a bronze color when emerging.



Adult foliage show entire margins.



Individual flowers are 1-1-1/2" long, red to reddish orange. Inflorescences are about 3" in diameter with 6-20 flowers arranged like a pinwheel and borne below the stem at the base of a leaf petiole. Flowers sporadically mid to late summer. You are better off googling for good pictures…. the flowers are often pretty high up the tree.



Fruit is a cylindrical follicle 2-4" long, light brown to tan.

Bark is smooth gray colored. Younger stems are brown, thick.




Misidentification: Pretty distinct and rare here...

Location

Santa Cruz
City Hall, inner courtyard.

Eucalyptus pulchella

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.