Santa Cruz County has a wide assortment of tree species grown and some great examples located in public spaces. Trees are covered like a field guide. Walking and Driving tree tours are listed on the right. I am looking for the best trees in the county. Looking for help? Find a great specimen? Let me know.
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California Glory Flannel Bush is a large evergreen rounded shrub or small tree native to California, potentially reaching 20' tall and wide. They are pretty stiff looking plants, with branches going off in various directions in mostly two dimensions or flattened herringbone pattern.
Leaves are evergreen, simple, palmately lobed with 3 to sometimes 5 lobes. Leaves are dark green on the upper surface and covered with whitish stellate shaped hairs that are an irritant to many people. There is a tremendous variability in leaf shape in many specimens of flannel bush species and cultivars. The species has yellow hairs.
Flowers are yellow with 5 yellow petals and 5 orangish sepals. Produced in the spring and summer. This cultivar is very yellow and almost flat flowers and has more orangish coloring when viewed from behind. Large stamens are obvious.
Fruit is a capsule surrounded by bracts.
Stems are also covered with those nasty hairs. Be very careful working with these plants, the hairs get in your nose and are very uncomfortable to say the least. Stipules present as well.
This cultivar is a hybrid between Fremontodendron californium and F. mexicanum and introduced by Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden in 1962. My guess is all the cultivars are hybrids. 'California Glory', 'Pacific Sunset' and 'San Gabriel' came from Rancho Santa Ana, while the others originally came from Saratoga Horticultural Foundation.
'Pacific Sunset' - Large plant, 30' and wider according to Nevin Smith (Native Treasures), Upright grower with stiff branches, flowers deep golden yellow with orange
'San Gabriel' - As large as 'Pacific Sunset' (Smith) Larger leaves and medium yellow flowers.
'Ken Taylor' - 5' tall and 8' wide, somewhat rounded and mounded.
'Eldorado Gold' - Low spreading form, see below. Picture from Cal Poly I think.
Other Fremontidendrons likely, this one has more white tomentum. Saw 'Butano Ridge' at the UCSC sale, the leaves are very dark.
Freedom Blvd at the intersection with Soquel Drive. Two specimens.
Moss Landing is not in our county but the nicest ones are at the Dolan Rd intersection around the power plant.
Also called Majestic Beauty by the patent holders, this small tree is a larger relative of the landscape shrub Indian Hawthorn. Reportedly a hybrid of Rhaphiolepis and Eriobotrya resulting in tree form with a stronger upright habit and larger leaves. Trees are evergreen growing to about 20' but are usually in the 10-12' range, with a rounded canopy on a single stem resulting in a form we used to call a lollipop. Reasonably fast growing, its a useful tree for smaller areas.
Leaves are evergreen, simple, obovate to ovate shaped, 5-6" long, about 1-2" wide, dark green, stiff, with serrated margins. Spring foliage has a nice bronze color.
Flowers are pink and larger than most Indian Hawthorns. Borne in large clusters. Most Rhaphiolepis have 5 petals, while these have more, often 8-10.
The canopy is usually very tight, possibly from hard pruning, but looks like a nightmare to prune any other way than rounding.
Naming is always a bit confusing. I have seen this listed many different ways. Some list it as a intergeneric hybrid with the X in front of the genus but with the genus name Rhaphiolepis which is wrong because if it is an intergeneric hybrid the genus name would be a combined name from the two genera. I also see the plant listed as the cultivar 'Majestic Beauty' but that's really the Trademarked name. Oregon State suggests some experts call this plant R. ×delacourii but they also use the single quotes around Majestic Beauty.Not picking on anyone, its just another example of how hard it is to know the origin of many of our plants and without knowing the origin its hard to put it in the correct spot. I have it in my database as a hybrid but I'm not sure. I think its best to leave it without an x anywhere and to exclude any specific epithet.
I don't think so. Pretty distinct. Leaves are smaller than Eriobotrya foliage.
Corner of Soquel Drive and Trout Gulch Rd.
OSH parking lot, way too round and low for a parking lot.
The 'Golden King' is a variegated foliaged female, I know, funny name for a female, but perhaps even more funny is another cultivar 'Golden Queen' is a male. Go figure. One of many hybrid hollies breed and selected for in England. This cultivar is not commonly found around here. Evergreen tree with an upright habit to 25' or so and typically with a dense canopy.
Foliage is alternate, simple, ovate to oblong, four inches long or so, about 1" wide, dark green in the center and golden to whitish colored margins. Variegation variable, not just the color but the symmetry and amount of variegation. Margins mostly entire, occasionally 2 spines near the apex of the leaf.
Flowers dioecious, white, small, females have infertile stamens. Need a male around to provide pollen.
Fruit is red, 1/4" to 3/8" diameter in clusters of 3-7 or there about. Persistent through winter, still in place when blooming the following spring. See above.
Other hollies, but this one has entire margins and the variegation pattern is in the middle of the leaf and not on the edges.
The Arroyo willow is the most common willow in central California and especially around here. They seem to be everywhere and then no where, meaning they just blend in. Growing rapidly to 20-30 feet tall and wide with a rounded or spreading canopy, usually in wet spots or shall I say, wetter spots. Rarely do you see one tree, they seem to establish in groups. Generally growing as a multi-stemmed tree.
Leaves are deciduous, simple, alternate, simple, oblanceolate to lanceolate, 3-4" long, about 3/4" wide, serrated margins, medium green upper surface, lower whitish color, at least early in the season. Stipules often present.
Flowers are dioecious, in clusters, or catkins, males are yellowish and mostly stamens, coming out slightly before the foliage.
Females also in catkins, but held upright. These have already been pollinated but you can see the remnants of the style.
Fruit are narrow cone shaped capsules, as seen above, releasing a few seed that look like cotton, same family as the cottonwoods.
Stems are yellow brown, flower buds larger that vegetative buds. Bark can be rough or smooth.
Other willows. Can't say this is my favorite group, so I don't know them all that well.
Mar Vista Dr. On the right hand side of the street before you reach the trailer park. You might find some at the nursery at the end of the street.
I really like this tree, it pushes all the right buttons for me, small, weeping, and purple. Discovered as a mutation in a nursery it is now way more popular than the species from which it was derived. Estimated height is a about 20' with a spread of 10'. Mature specimens are a bit more open and said to be less purple.
The new foliage comes out scarlet in the spring before darkening to a deep purple. Leaves are smaller than the species which adds to its soft weeping texture.
Flowers are white, with a pinkish purple center, five petals that are obovate allowing you to see though the flower.
Fruit is a small persistent capsule and should be like the species.
Perhaps Leptospermum 'Dark Shadows'. Both have small white flowers, and short purple leaves. Agonis lacks the hairs on the leaves and is by far more weeping.
There is a new purple leaved Agonis 'Burgundy', but the foliage quickly becomes green and is no way close to the dark purple of this one.
There is a dwarf, 'Nana' that I would like to see.
6500 Soquel Dr Horticulture Department
816 41st. Ave. in the alley between Verve Coffee and Penny Ice Cream are 3 nice recently planted specimens.
4690 Crystal (lots of other unique trees)
Next to Verve coffee shop on 41st are 3 nice specimens.
The Australian Tea Tree is a large evergreen shrub or small multi-stemmed tree that's often wider than tall, eventually reaching 30' but generally 20' range. The dense canopy masks the spectacular branching pattern and bark. Best pruned to expose the twisting branches.
Leaves are evergreen, simple, alternately arranged, elliptical to oval, about an inch long, dull, light bluish green, thick, stiff, entire margins with a slight point at the end.
Flowers are white, about 1" diameter, stiff looking with 5 wide spreading petals.
Fruit is a capsule, persistent on the stems for years.
This is a shot of a tree in SF Golden Gate Park. Wonderful specimen.
other tea trees I guess, the leaves are fatter.
This beautiful small tree from Chile is known as the Chilean Luma, Orange-Bark Myrtle or the Chilean Myrtle due to its resemblance to Myrtle trees. I guess I see it, but not really. Luma grows quite large in its native forests, but in our climate I think they will likely top out at 25-30'. They form an upright slightly arching habit with multiple trunks, which is great because the bark is beautiful. I can't say I have seen any others besides the one at the Civic Auditorium but my hope is there are others.
This is the clump of trees next to the fire station and the Civic. Used to be 3 trees, but one was cut down…...
Here is a single tree in SLO.
Leaves are opposite, simple, evergreen, leathery textured, dark green, 1" long, ovate, spicy fragrant with a distinct point at the tip of the leaf which is where it gets its name apiculata. Leaves are fragrant.
Flowering in the summer, in what appears to be an umbel of a dozen flowers, they are about 3/4" in diameter, white or pinkish, with four petals and lots of long stamens.
Fruit looks like a blueberry, develops late summer, Edible.
Bark is attractive, reddish - cinnamon when young and flaking off in small bits. At an older age it seems to develop patches of white.
Older tree at the SF arboretum.
I think the foliage resembles Azara microphylla if you only look closely. Luma has opposite leaves and a distinct pointed tip, along with nice bark.
Center St between the Civic Auditorium and the Fire Station.