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Monday, May 25, 2015

Diospyros kaki 'Fuyu' - Fuyu Persimmon

The 'Fuyu' Persimmon tree is much like the 'Hachiya' except the fruit are less pointed, and from an eating perspective, less astringent. Trees typically growto 25' with an equal spread forming a rounded, oval or umbrella habit.  While I have not read others mention the spring or summer color of the leaves, these trees all seem to have yellowish foliage. Trees will reliably develop wonderful fall color.

Leaves are deciduous, simple, 3-5" long, ovate to elliptical shaped, entire margins, dark glossy green with distinct veins with a slight leathery texture. Very attractive in summer.

Especially attractive in the fall as they turn to yellow and orange.

Trees are monoecious, male and female flowers blooming in the spring to summer.

Fruit is a large orange berry, 3" wide, but about 2" tall, looking like a squatty apple. Retains its large green calix.

Stems originally slightly hairy, eventually without hairs. Dark rich brown with large lenticels.

Bark is great on all the persimmons.

As a persimmon I doubt it, but cultivars are another matter. Distinguishing between 'Fuyu' and 'Hachiya' is easy if you see fruit, otherwise you are on your own. There are lots of 'Fuyu' like cultivars available.

If you have a different cultivar in a public space I would be very interested in seeing them.


7535 Soquel Dr.

Corralitos Rd close to the Market, across the street is a row of both cultivars.

Santa Cruz
1104 King St
935 High St

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cupressus sempervirens 'Swain's Golden' - Swain's Golden Italian Cypress

This is a pretty cool vertical conifer with nice golden foliage that shows up here and there in Santa Cruz. Reportedly slow growing to 20' tall and about 3' wide, but taller than the 'Stricta' plants in the photo. Arose as a seedling from 'Stricta' seeds in Australia.

Foliage is yellow or gold early but changes to green over the summer so that only the newest foliage is yellow.

There are several columnar or fastigiate yellow cypress trees, but this one is not really all gold like the newer cultivars. One new one is a C. macrocarpa 'Golden Pillar'.

3600 Sevilla Dr.

Castanea sativa - European Chestnut

The European chestnut trees are absolutely beautiful while blooming in the spring as well as in the fall with it's yellow-brown foliage and spiny fruit. Trees are deciduous, large, 60' tall and 40' wide with a rounded crown. Usually branching low resulting in a multi-stemmed tree.

 Beautiful tree in full bloom in Palo Alto.

Leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, lanceolate, 6-10" long by 2-4" wide, dark green in the sun, lighter below, coarsely serrated with nice 1/4" long teeth and a rounded leaf base. Petioles are long, almost an inch. Lower surface can be covered with white hairs or not, do wish they would be consistent.

Flowers are monoecious, on the same inflorescence, males at the tips maturing after the females, very showy and attract lots of bees. Inflorescence can be 4-6" long with lots of flowers.

Fruit is a nut and have been eaten for ages. Like others in the Beech family (Fagaceae), the fruit is partially or totally enclosed by vegetative floral parts. In this case, they completely cover the developing fruit (2 or more) in a sharply spine covered cupule. (The oak fruit is also a nut and is only partially covered by what is commonly called the cup.)

 Sort of a mess, unless you collect them and eat them…..

There is a cool looking star shaped pattern formed by the vascular connections on the flat end of the fruit. The American chestnut patterns look more like a sunburst (reference, then click on the image of the fruit to see all of them).

Stems are stout, dark brown eventually, though green early in the season, with lots of lentils, lateral buds somewhat diverging from the stem. Bark has longitudinal grooves, potentially pretty deep.

As mentioned below, many chestnut plants are likely hybrids making identification difficult, but look for the long petiole, narrow and long leaf, leaf base rounded, long pointing spines on margins.

Don't be mistaken by the horse chestnuts, they are not edible. They have compound leaves.

Scotts Valley/Felton
Mt Herman Rd to the left of the Heavenly Roadside Cafe are 2 specimens.
MacDorsa Park

There are at least four species of arborescent Castanea. The American chestnut C. dentata was essentially wiped out due to chestnut blight that struck the eastern mountains in New York in 1904 and by the 40's millions of trees were dead. I viewed some trees over the years at Finch Arboretum in Spokane that were planted as C. dentata. The other species include the European chestnut (C. sativa) and the Chinese Chestnut (C. mollissima).

Researchers found some American chestnuts that showed some resistance and were hybridized with the Chinese and European chestnuts and these are likely to be found North American landscapes. The Chinese chestnut introduces disease resistance and cold hardiness. In fact breeding has been going on since the late 1800's on the east coast. According to the Flora of North America, if a tree does not fit the key exactly, its likely a hybrid, and all the trees I have found do not fit as nicely as I would like.

UC Davis suggests that Chinese immigrants introduced C. mollissima in the mountains of Northern CA during the gold rush and Italians planted C. sativa along the coast of central CA. The results suggest that many trees may indeed be hybrids.

I have used almost every key I have found, and have settled on the European Chestnut. I found the American Chestnut Foundation key from the 2012 Chestnut Summit to be excellent.

Hakea salicifolia 'Gold Medal' - Golden WIllow-Leaved Hakea

The first time I saw this tree I was walking around the UCSC arboretum in summer and it jumped out at me like it was lit up. I wandered over and spent 10 minutes looking for a name tag, nothing, man I hate that. Anyway, took a few photos and went on my way. Not sure how great they perform in the landscape. Taking with a few nurserymen I had decided not to buy one for school. Discovered in Australia, this evergreen tree/shrub grows 8-15' tall and wide forming a pretty dense screen. Known for its beautiful foliage, especially in the spring.

This is younger tree in the spring.

Foliage is alternate, evergreen, simple, narrowly lanceolate, often twisted or bent, 3-4" long, about 1/2" wide, creamy variegation is not uniform with large patches of green. Spring color is a beautiful pink.

The fruit of Hakea are pretty weird looking, spotted reddish turning brown.

I really had no idea what it was the first time I saw it and without the odd fruit it looked something like an Acacia with phyllodes. My experience with Hakea was limited to noticing the flowers and not paying much attention to the foliage.

Santa Cruz
1045 N. Branciforte Ave.
UCSC arboretum

Eucalyptus leucoxylon - White Ironbark

The white ironbark is a beautiful evergreen tree from Australia growing 30-90' in their native habitat and depending on the botanical variety. Most are upright with spreading branches with weeping smaller branches. According to some experts, the most popular variety has red or pink flowers. Ours seem to be of the white variety, Eucalyptus leucoxylon var. connata.

Leaves are evergreen, alternate, simple, lanceolate to slightly falcate, 4-6" long, pendulous with both surfaces the same.

Flowers off white though many images show red. All stamens. Flower buds with a long pointed cap, which you can see on the lowest flower. Inflorescence with 3 flowers.

Fruit is a small urn shaped capsule, with the valves hidden below the lip.

Bark is beautiful, retained near the base, but exfoliating above. Younger stems mottled.

Any white flowered Euc, look at the fruit, 3 flowers per cluster and the bark on younger branches.

Santa Cruz
Ocean St at the county court house, hasn't everyone been there?

Fraxinus ornus - Flowering Ash

The Flowering ash or sometimes called the Manna ash is a small to medium sized deciduous tree growing 25-50' with a spreading habit. Most literature suggests they are small trees in their native habitat of Spain. Not a great shot below, nor a great specimen being pruned by highway crews, but for now it's all I have.

Leaves deciduous, opposite, pinnately compound, 8-12" long, with 7-9 leaflets. Each leaflet about 2-3" long, medium green, oblong except the terminal which is a bit wider, margins serrated, cuneate base and acuminate tip, lower surface lighter green. Known to have weak reddish fall color, but having just stumbled on this one specimen, I have not seen the fall color.

Flowers creamy yellow in mass but more or less white close up. Trees are androdioecious, new term for me, where plants can produce perfect flowers or they can produce only male flowers. Then again I read that they might not be "functionally" androdioecious?? The flowers are borne in very showy panicles emerging with the spring foliage, males with two stamens, four white strap-like petals and fragrant. They have the typical privet smell.

Fruit is a narrow samara typical of ash trees.

Terminal bud is large, dull brown, many other Ash trees are copper colored buds. Leaf scars are pretty small and more or less flat topped.

Any other ash tree if not in bloom. Actually, I drive by the specimen almost every day on the freeway and I suspect I thought it was a Sambucus but the other day it just looked different to me so I went back to look. Flowers in May, looking a lot like Chionanthus flowers. Foliage is slightly different that others around here, the terminal is quite broad and the terminal buds are large and dull brown.

9057 Soquel Dr. Really across the street at the bus stop.

Strelitzia nicolai - White Bird of Paradise

The White Bird of Paradise is usually planted to create a tropical feel in the garden with it's large banana like leaves. They are upright growing monocots on "woody" stems with the foliage clustered at the tips. Plants sucker at the base and can spread as wide as they grow tall.

Leaves are evergreen, banana-like, 5-8' long, about 12-16" wide, grayish green. Leaves get shredded along those veins running from the central to the margins. I like the edges of the petioles.

We often think of monocots having parallel venation, and they do, but they also have leaves like these where the veins seem to be in a pinnate venation pattern like a dicot. Well, they are. Kew Gardens says they are "pinnate with parallel-arching", while others call this penni-parallel venation.

Stems are eventually exposed when the older leaves fall off.

Flowers are strange indeed. They are cluster in a very complex inflorescence with a bluish boat shaped bract from which the individual flowers arise. Each flower has three free white steals and two fused petals and a purplish bit enclosing all the reproductive parts.

It took me years to "see" the bird in these flowers, not sure why but one day it just jumped out at me.

I have read they are somewhat triangular resembling the Traveller's Tree, Ravenala, I wish, wow, what a plant that is.


537 Humes Ave

Santa Cruz
302 Oceanview Ave
603 Washington St.