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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quercus macrocarpa - Bur Oak

The Bur Oak is a beautiful medium to large deciduous tree growing quickly to 50 plus feet with a broad spreading rounded with age. The one large specimen in town has some very untypical features but with the help of Dave Muffly, an arborist and oak specialist, its been identified as a Bur oak or some bur hybrid. I am going with the variable species concept. Oaks are hard to identify, especially without acorns, and this one does not produce any. Also known as Burr Oak.



This specimen from out of town shows a more rounded specimen showing fall color.



The leaves are deciduous, simple, alternately arranged, 6-12" long, obovate shaped, with lobed margins. There is quite a bit of variability in this trait, even among leaves on the same tree.  Dark green upper surface, lower surface with white fuzzy hairs. 



Here you can see some of the variability with more deeply lobed margins.



These shots show more "typical" bur oak leaves.




You can see the nice contrast of the upper and lower surfaces on this tree.



Plants dioecious, males in elongated catkins, females in groups of 3 further back from the  males. On this tree the females start to grow but must not be pollinated, and never grow much beyond a small little bur. These are the males, from another tree. The Soquel tree does not produce any males?



Fruit is an acorn and the name Bur oak is from the cap of the acorn. Also called Mosseycup Oak.



This is a young one, again from another tree elsewhere.


Stems stout, sometimes corky. Brown.




Bark is variable, smooth when young, becoming more vertically fissured with age.




Fall color is yellow to brown but some trees do have some nice red. 




Misidentification:
White oaks are a tough group without acorns, even with them. With the variability of leaf shapes on this tree, you can see why I was stumped for a long time, I kept waiting for the acorns, which never showed up. There is a seconded tree below the one on Main St. most likely a seedling and it looks more typical for the species.

Hopefully you will have more luck than I.

Location:
Soquel
3240 N. Main St.

Acer truncatum - Shantung Maple

The Shantung Maple is a beautiful small deciduous tree with a nice tight rounded canopy to 25'. Wonderful fall color and drought tolerance once established, I am surprised its not more common. Also known as the Purpleblow maple. Drought tolerant, smallish, fall color, what's not to like?



The deciduous leaves are opposite, simple, 3-5" long, dark glossy green, with five lobes which are usually entire but can be undulated. The base of the leaf is often truncated, or flat which is were the name comes from. White milky sap can be seen if you remove the leaves in summer. New spring growth with a reddish cast.





Flowers are small, greenish yellow and look like many other maples in this group (A. platanoides, A. campestre).

Fruit is a pair of samaras, usually broadly spreading into a U shape.



Stems are smooth, as is the bark.

Fall color can be yellow, reds, oranges. This is one I planted many years ago in Spokane.



This species is related to A. platanoides and has been hybridized to produce several commercially available trees including  'Pacific Sunset' and 'Norwegian Sunset'. Both hybrids resulting in a smaller size, better fall color and drought tolerance of A. truncatum.


Misidentification:
Most likely looks like a cultivar of A. palmatum around here. But the flowers are a different color.
Other locations where more maples grow you might see A. pictum mono, A. cappadocicum.

Stumbled across this link to cultivars. Wow.


Location:
Aptos
114 Seacliff Dr
204 El Camino Del Mar

Friday, October 17, 2014

Eucalyptus pulchella - Narrow Leafed Peppermint Tree

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.

Tuesday, October 14, 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.



The fruit in October.



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

Michelia doltsopa - Chinese Magnolia

The Chinese Magnolia is a relative of the magnolias which is really obvious when you see one. Growing as a shrub or smaller tree to 30'. Habit is usually an upright to oval to perhaps spreading with age or space. Blooms very early, January for us and contrasts very nicely with the dark green leaves.



This is one at the SF Arboretum.



Flowers fragrant, white petals, 12 or more each 3" long somewhat oblong to lanceolate petals (way different than most of the magnolias you will see). All the male parts are yellow.



Flowers are axillary and not terminal like magnolias, If you look closely at a magnolia in bloom all the flowers are coming from a terminal bud. The stems maybe short and a lot of them but they do not flower from axial buds on stems. Flower buds are almost as pretty as the flowers. Green with a copper cast, 2-3" long.



This tree blooms for us like magnolias should, all at once rather than weakly over a month.



Leaves are alternate, simple, elliptical (oblong to lanceolate maybe) , 4-8" long, dark glossy green upper surface and lower covered with light copper colored hairs.



Another beauty in bloom in the Seacliff Area.



Misidentification: 
Some magnolias perhaps. Look for the flower buds in the axils. 

Location:
Aptos
535 Bayview Drive
100 Oakdale Drive

Santa Cruz
Louden Center on the Center St side of the building, about in the middle of the building.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Eucalyptus camaldulensis - River Red Gum

The River Red gum is a massive tree, growing over 100' tall with huge trunk. Generally planted along freeways, not recommended for residential areas as it tends to shed branches in minor winds, and there is a ton of litter.



Massive tree at Cal Poly SLO.



Bluish green leaves, alternate adults, lance shape. 4-8" long,





Flowers white or yellowish, clusters of 7, about 1" diameter.

Flower buds are always key in identification of Eucalyptus and these have a very long and pointed cap.



Fruit is a capsule, smallish, less than 1/2", with valves beyond the ring.



Bark is very attractive, multicolored, white, brown, green and exfoliating.


Misidentification:
Foliage is less curved than many others, more blue green, and the bark is very much mottled.

From what I have read online there are 3 subspecies and the flower buds are not the same on two of them and the bark is also different, so its pretty foggy but my guess is we have the "normal" subspecies.

Location:
Watsonville
Highway 1 at the south bound Main St exit, between the highway and the exit
Highway 1 on the north bound entrance off Airport Rd.