Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tamarix ramosissima - 5 Stamen Tamarisk

We are really stretching the tree list here, this is much more a shrub but its not often seen so I'll introduce it anyway. The Tamarisk (5-stamen tamarisk) is a small deciduous tree, large shrub generally forming a rounded thicket 6-15' tall and about as wide. This shot is the one on 7th Ave. Really old school plant, surprised to see them recently. Can't imagine why anyone would plant one. If you Google this plant you will see the links are mostly referring to its invasiveness. 



Leaves are alternate, simple, small, scale like and resemble many members of the cupressaceae family. 



Flowers are produced early spring in our area, covering the plant with small pink flowers held on short stiff stalks. The common name suggests the plants have 5 stamens.




Showing the size of the flowers to the branches.



Misidentification:
Likely to think its a conifer if there are no flowers as the leaves look very scale like.

Location:
Santa Cruz
800 Block of 7th Ave, open field just by the road.

216 Harrison, seems the front yard is covered with this plant.

Populus alba - White Poplar

The white poplar tree is a very large, fast growing tree reaching heights of 50-70' with a spread almost equal to the height. Often multi-stemmed with large primary branches
forming a broad rounded crown. Since is likes moister soils its not found very often in our area. I have only seen two, but where there is one there are more, as you can see, the clump below are other plants.



Leaves are alternate, simple, 3-5" long, maple-like in shape with 3-5 lobes. Dark green upper surface, but easily distinguished from a maple by the white undersides of the leaves. Like all poplars they have flattened petioles which allow the leaves to flutter in even the lightest breeze. Yellow fall color is pretty fair.




Flowers are dioecious, male and females on the same tree.

Fruit are small green capsules releasing white fuzzy cottony seeds that can cover streets with "snow" in summer.



Long cluster of fruit just about to release the white seeds.



Bark is quite pretty, stems silver when young, with black areas developing in horizontal bands that eventually coalescing turning the stem mostly dark.




Misidentification: Not likely.

Location
Aptos
Corner of Urbin Rd and Mar Vista Dr. off Soquel.

7109 Danko Dr.

Capitola
4645 Portola Dr. Among all the other trees on the overgrown lot.

Alnus rhombifolia - White Alder

Common CA native riparian tree, not commonly planted but found here and there. The alders are medium large trees growing to 50' with an upright pyramidal or spreading habit. Usually found growing in groves so they don't form a wide spreading shape. Below is a nice specimen on Monterey Ave in Capitola.



Leaves are deciduous, alternate, simple, rhomboid usually but broadly ovate to elliptical as well, 4" long, serrated to doubly serrated, dark green upper surface, lighter green below. Nice venation pattern.




Flowers are monoecious. Males overwintering as catkins elongating into 4-6" long inflorescences, generally from lateral branches. Females small, 1/4" long, with a reddish tinge.



Fruit is a cluster of nuts resembling a cone. Smaller than the other alder found here, only 1/2 -3/4" long.



Bark is smooth gray with interesting branch collars. 


Misidentification:
Alnus cordata perhaps. However the leaves are different and the size of the "cones" is different.

Location:
Aptos
Soquel Drive but the address is likely Aptos Hills Lane.

Capitola
Monterey Ave. across from the Monterey Ave Park

Soquel
Soquel Creek - almost anywhere along the creek but easy to see on the walking bridge from Main St to the elementary school.


Alnus cordata - Italian Alder

The Italian alder is a smaller more symmetrical tree than the common white alder. Growing 30' tall it forms a nice pyramidal shaped tree when young, turning oval with age. Most of the specimens seen around here are very narrow in habit and close to 30'.



Leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, ovate to cordate, 2-4" long, dark glossy green with finely serrated margins. Lower surface may have small amount of brown hairs along the mid vein. Venation pattern not like that of the white alder.



Buds are stalked. Stems with small white lenticels.



Vegetative buds are more pointed, flower buds rounded.



Male flowers are arranged in catkins which overwinter. In early spring they elongate into a 2-3" long caterpillar looking inflorescence.



Females are very small, 1/4" long, emerge in spring at the ends of branches.



Fruit is in large 1" long clusters. Very "cone" like. Wildlife use the cones, but I don't know what for, maybe decorating.



Bark is smooth gray/silver eventually developing flattened areas with shallow fissures.



Misidentification:
Other alders. Look at the "cone", its the largest of all the Alders. Also, the leaves are very heart shaped, without deep venation.

Location
Aptos:
102 Pebble Beach

Temple Beth El on Soquel Drive and Porter Gulch Rd

Capitola:
Monterery Blvd at the sports field, there are 3-5 of them in the grass planing area. (There is an Alnus rhombifolia across the street in a residence front yard.)

Acer platanoides - Norway Maple

The Norway maple is a fast growing medium to large deciduous tree growing into a dense rounded tree of about 40 feet tall. Can't say they look like that here, though there are not that many to see. Spring time brings on the yellowish flowers prior to the leaves and fall brings a pretty decent display of yellows. Invasive in many areas of the country.



Foliage is opposite, simple, palmately lobed with 5-7 bristle tipped lobes (7 if you count the  tiny ones at the bottom). Usually 6-7" long and wide, dark green and decent fall color. One of several maples that have a white latex sap coming out of the petiole if you pull off the leaves. Foliage may vary due to cultivars, some dark purple, some variegated.



Stems are pretty stout, with a large terminal bud.



Flowers appear prior to the leaves and light up a city like Spokane which has so many of them. Showy yellowish green flowers in branched clusters shorter and broader than our native flower clusters.



Fruit is a winged samara up to 2" long. Wings are about 180 degrees. In areas up north every single one germinates.



Bark is smooth for many years, finally developing some shallow furrows. 


One of many cultivars, 'Drummondii' with its variegated leaves. The other I have mentioned is 'Crimson King' which is purple.


Misidentification:
Around here you might think its a Platanus, but those have alternate leaves. Since I have yet to see a Sugar Maple in SC County its not likely to be in play.

Location:
Aptos
316 Clubhouse Dr

Capitola
222 Esplanade

Acer campestre - Hedge Maple

The recent water pipe work on Soquel Drive made me think about posting up this tree as they are not doing that great anyway and with the construction they may not last much longer. The Hedge maple is a nice smaller maple developing a rounded crown to about 25'.  Trees are often low branching and need to be pruned if used as a street tree.



Leaves opposite, simple, palmately lobed, usually 5 rounded lobes, 2-4" long, dark green, lighter below, sometimes lightly pubescent below, another maple with white sap.



Flowers are yellowish green, small, at the same time as the leaves emerge. Found at the end of the stems.



Fruit are winged samaras, 1 to 1-1/2" long and spreading at 180 degrees.



Stems thin, light brown, sometimes with corky growths, usually not.



Bark is thin, light gray to brown with some shallow furrows.



Misidentification:
not sure, rounded lobes are a good feature,


Location:
Aptos
Soquel Dr in median from Cabrillo to Capitola Rd

Santa Cruz
5000 block of Logan St at Mott.

Magnolia stellata - Star Magnolia

The Star magnolia is a great little tree,  (okay medium shrub) for the early spring landscape. Blooming very early spring, late winter around here, they are covered with almost pure white flowers with small strap like petals. Rarely growing more that 15' they are perfect for almost any garden. Lots of cultivars around, some with lots of petals, some pure white, some pink. In cold areas it might bloom too early and the flowers can be damaged by the cold, or they can be ruined by heavy rains. If cool weather persists during blooming they can put on a show for weeks. Trees generally have an upright spreading multi-stemmed habit usually branching to the ground but often limbed up to show the trunk.



Leaves are alternate, simple, obovate to oblong, 4" long by about 1.5" wide, pale green, slightly hairy on the lower surface.



Flower buds large, at the ends of the branches, vegetative buds in axils more round but smaller.



Flowers are fragrant, consisting of 9-12 strap shaped petals (tepals) about 2-3" long and 1/2" wide, wider at the tips. This image is the cultivar 'Rosea'. Opening before the foliage appears.



Fruit is an aggregation of small follicles each releasing a seed with an orangish red seed.



Here are a few more shots of them in landscapes.





The cultivar 'Rosea'  in Seascape area.


Other cultivars exist. 'Royal Star' has double white flowers. 'Centennial' has an upright narrow habit.

There is some confusion about the name of this species. It is often considered a botanical variety of M. kobus but the current thought is they are distinct species. Which makes it easier to understand how we might have M. x loebneri which is considered a hybrid between M. kobus and stellata.

Misidentification: Hard to say, unless you run into some of the cultivars of M. x loebneri which you might which have flowers slightly larger as well larger leaves.

Location:
Santa Cruz
132 Pacheco Ave is a beautiful white one,
710 Melrose has 2 spectacular Rosea cultivars