Charles R. Harrison, Instructor Native California Plants, Saddleback College, Hort 29
Abies concolor, White Fir:
a pyramidal, evergreen tree, which is from 50 to 200 feet tall. It has anarrow, spire-like crown and short, stiff branches. Older bark is gray and furrowed. Leaves arebluish-green, from 1 to 2 inches in length, and have a rounded tip. Cones are 3 to 5 inches long,greenish or purplish in color (becoming brown with age), and have rounded scales. Birds are attracted by fir seeds. It is common on dry slopes and rocky places, from 3000 to 10,000 feet. Represents one of the most commonly grown native firs in the garden; it is slow growing in California gardens and serves best as a container plant in Southern California. It is popularly used as a Christmas tree. Wood is of second grade quality, being used for packing cases, etc.
Acer macrophyllum, Big-Leaf Maple or Canyon Maple:
a beautiful round-topped tree, which can reach a height of from 15 to 100 feet. The leaf shape is described as palmate (or finger-like), with a diameter of 8 inches. Deciduous leaves are dark green, changing to characteristic fall colors; the yellow fall colors are spectacular in cool areas. This is the true maple of Southern California. It requires plenty of room. It is common along the banks of streams and in canyons throughout California, below 5000 feet. Practically all maples in Southern California show marginal leaf burn after mid-June and lack the fall colors of maples located in colder areas. Larger maples have an extensive fibrous root system, which serves to absorb water and nutrients from the topsoil. The great canopy of leaves call for a steady supply of water; not necessarily frequent watering, but a constantly available supply of water throughout the root zone. Ample deep watering and periodic feeding will help keep the roots down. This tree is too big for a small garden or for along a street. Resistant to oak root fungus.
Acer negundo spp. californicum, Boxelder:
a deciduous maple with a height of from 20 to 70 feet. As with all Maples, the branches are opposite to each other (which is good foridentification). Leaf is composed of three leaflets. Can be messy but good in a park-like setting. Keeps its foliage longer in warm areas, but will become yellow in the fall. It needs plenty of room to spread and is fast growing. Found along streams and bottom lands, below 6000 feet. Practically all maples in Southern California show marginal leaf burn after mid-June and lack the fall colors of maples located in colder areas. Larger maples have an extensive fibrous root system, which serve to absorb water and nutrients from the topsoil. The great canopy of leaves call for a steady supply of water; not necessarily frequent watering, but a constantly available supply of water throughout the root zone. Ample deep watering and periodic feeding will help keep the roots down. In locations where other maples will grow, consider this species a weed of many faults: seeds readily, hosts Box Elder Bugs, suckers easily, and is subject to breakage.
Alnus rhombifolia, White Alder:
a fast growing, deciduous tree, which grows from 30 to 100 feet tall and will have about a 40 foot spread when mature. Usually has a pyramidal shape when apart from other trees. Dark green leaves are from 2 to 4 inches long and have a slightly toothed margin. The trunk is straight with a whitish to gray-brown patchy bark. The eyes on the trunk represent places where branches have dropped off during growth. Flowering begins in January with an interesting display of tassel-like greenish-yellow male catkins arranged in clusters; this display occurs before the leaves bud out. Female flowers develop into small woody cones which decorate the bare branches in winter; these cones are useful in flower arrangements. It’s seeds will attract birds. It is very tolerant of both heat and wind. This tree is used quite extensively in Irvine. Planting occurs in multiples evenly planted from 6 inches to 10 feet apart. It produces considerable leaf litter. Roots are invasive; however, they will be less troublesome if deep watering practices are followed. It has a problem with aphids and in it’s native areas, it is susceptible to tent caterpillars. In cultivation, the tree has a short life expectancy of about 25 to 30 years. Moist areas and riparian woodlands, below 5000 feet.
Arbutus unedo, Strawberry Tree:
. Native to southern Europe. Grows in a wide range of climates and soils. Tolerates wind and takes little watering. Grows in sun or part shade. Slow to moderate growth 8-35 ft. with equal spread. Can be pruned to make a Open crown tree. Trunk and branches have red brown shreddy bark that become twisted with age Evergreen with edible , tasteless fruit and clusters of white flowers in fall and winter. . Common ornamental. Arbutus Menziesii (Madrono) is a native from British Columbia to California, specifically Mendocino coast - North.
Bursera microphylla, Elephant
Tree: a spicy odored shrub or small tree, which may reach a height of from 4 to 10 feet. Older branches are cherry-red. Deciduous leaves are pinnately compound. The fruit is a drupe with a small yellow stone. The stems yield a resin which in Mexico is used as a cement or for the making of varnish. It is found in rocky places in the Colorado Desert.
Calocedrus decurrens, Incense Cedar:
also known as Libocedrus decurrens. An evergreen forest tree, which will reach a height of from 80 to 150 feet. It is aromatic with a straight, conical trunk with a broad base. The lower branches turn downward, while the upper branches are erect, in the from of a conical crown. The bark is cinnamon-brown, thick, and fibrous. Leaves are light green and less than ½ inch in length. Cones are about 1 inch long. Found on Mountain slopes and canyons, between 2400 and 8200 feet. The wood is light, soft, and durable in the ground, usually with cavities due to dry rot; it is used for shingles posts, and railroad ties. Also, this tree provides the wood most often used in the manufacture of pencils. It is also used for cedar closets and chests. The wood does not splinter and is well suited for ornamental purposes. The older trees are susceptible to root fungus. This tree is not a true cedar, but is rather a cypress. It was discovered by Captain John C. Fremont. It adapts to many western climates and in warm weather, it gives pungent fragrance to the garden. Although slow growing when first planted, it may grow 2 feet per year, once established. Deep, infrequent watering in youth will make this tree unusually drought tolerant when mature. It tolerates both heat and poor soils. A good tree to make a green wall, high screen, or windbreak.
Cercidium floridum, Palo Verde:
a small tree with a short trunk and smooth blue-green bark, which grows up to 30 feet high. It is as wide as it is tall. Leaves are small, inconspicuous, and few; in fact, this plant is leafless most of the year. This plant is adapted to drought: it will drop its leaves during the driest period of the year. In the spring or during moist periods, the small yellow flowers will appear in such abundance that they almost hide the branches. When not in flower, this tree displays an intricate pattern of blue-green, spiny branches and leaf stalks, which provide a lightly filtered shade. It belongs to and beautifies the desert and desert gardens. It is fast growing in the garden. It will survive much drought; however, it is denser, more attractive, and faster growing with water and fertilizer. Washes and low sandy places, below 1200 feet.
Cercis occidentalis, Western Redbud:
a large, rounded shrub or a small tree, which usually grows several trunks from a common base. It reaches a height of from 6 to 18 feet. This deciduous tree is becoming more popular in the landscape because it is interesting all year. It has blue-green, heart-shaped leaves, which will fall after the first frost. Early spring flowers are quite showy: similar in shape to Sweet Peas, arranged in clusters, and ranging in colors from magenta-pink to reddish-purple, or occasionally white. Flowers are followed by clusters of flat pods. This plant will only have a profuse flower production in areas where the winter temperatures drop to below 29 o F. It represents an appropriate tree for the garden. Dry slopes and canyons in foothills, below 4500 feet. Water regularly for the first year or two to speed growth. As it is drought tolerant, it is excellent for dry, seldom watered banks. It is resistant to Oak root fungus.
Chilopsis linearis, Desert-Willow:
a large shrub or a small tree which grows between 6 and 30 feet tall. It has few to many stems with slender twigs. In age, it develops shaggy bark. Leaves are very narrow, curved, and deciduous. Flowers are funnelform with a lavender, pink, or whitish coloration and will attract birds. Flowering occurs between May and September and is followed by narrow seed pods,which will remain on the stems long afterward. This shrub grows easily and will thrive either in a well drained soil or in clay. It is highly recommended for use in dry semi-desert areas of the southwest. It can appear shaggy, but pruning will make it look handsome. As it requires hottemperatures to induce blooming, it is not recommended for coastal areas. It grows fast at first, then slows down as it approaches it’s full height. Common along washes and water courses, below 5000 feet. In nature, this plant grows where it’s roots can reach water; consequently, it should be given water during the summer.
Cornus nuttallii, Mountain Dogwood:
an arborescent bush or tree, reaching from 12 to 90 feet tall. Deciduous leaves are large and green, turning bright red in fall. Beautiful large white flowers appear from April to July and there is often a second flowering in September. Decorative red to orange-red berries occur during the fall and serve as a source of food for birds. This plant is not easy to grow in the garden as it reacts unfavorably to routine garden watering, fertilizing, and pruning. Injury to its tender bark provides entrance for insects and diseases. However, with exceptionally good drainage, infrequent summer watering, and shade (which prevents the bark from sunburning), there is a chance for success. Mountain woods, below 6000 feet.
Cornus occidentalis, Creek Dogwood:
a spreading shrub or small tree, reaching from 6 to 18 feet tall. Deciduous leaves are large and green. This plant will often root at the tips of the branches. Flowers are small, but showy because they occur in large numbers, between May and July. Moist places, below 8000 feet. Requires ample water.
Dalea spinosa, Smoke Tree:
an intricately branched shrub or small tree, armed with spines, which is from 3 to 30 feet high. It is almost leafless; leaves are small and early deciduous. When leafless, it’s intricate network of gray, spiny branches resemble a cloud of smoke. Flowers appear in April through July, with a good show of fragrant, bright blue-purple blooms; flowering branches make an excellent dry arrangement. It is useful in a natural desert garden. It prefers to be located at the edge of an irrigated area. With summer water this tree will grow in rapid bursts. Easily grown from seed sown in warm weather: sow in place or in a small container and plant out. It is adapted to wash areas and the flashflood conditions found in these areas. Locally common in sandy washes, below 1500 feet.
Ficus carica, Edible Fig:
a naturalized tree, originating in India. Trunk is heavy, smooth gray bark, gnarled in old trees. Leaves are rough and bright green with 3 to 5 lobes 4 to 9 inches long. Fruit ripens in June and again in Aug.-Nov.
Fraxinus velutina var. coriacea, Montebello Ash:
a 15 to 35 foot tall tree with deciduous, pinnately-compound leaves. It is pyramidal when young, becoming spreading and more open when mature. It’s small flowers are crowded into panicles, which appear before the leaves, during March and April (flowers are not very showy). Male and female flowers are on separatetrees. It produces a winged fruit in such abundance that it represents a litter problem; however, both a male and a female tree must be located in close proximity for the female to produce the fruit. Canyons and along streams, below 5000 feet. It is fast growing and it tolerates many soil types, including alkaline. It withstands hot, dry conditions and cold to about -10oF. It’s chief uses are as a street tree, a shade tree, a lawn tree, and a patio-shelter tree. It is fairly pest free.Juglans californica,
California Black Walnut:
a low tree with several trunks, which reaches from 6 to 30 feet or more tall. Old bark is dark, with broad irregular ridges. Deciduous leaves are large and pinnately compound. Flowers appear after the leaves unfold, sometime in April or May. Fruit is an edible nut. Locally common, below 2500 feet.
Lyonothamnus floribundus var. asplenifolius, Catalina Ironwood:
a cylindrical, evergreen tree, which grows from 18 to 60 feet tall. It is known primarily for its unusual bark and unique leaf shape. The bark is red-brown to grayish and will exfoliate in narrow strips. The leaves are pinnately compound. It produces clusters of white flowers in the summer, which tend to hang on the tree, making it appear shabby. The flowers must be removed manually. It grows on dry slopes.
Metasequoia, Dawn Redwood:
deciduous tree easily to 40 feet. Pyramidal form with lime green foliage resemembling that of coast redwood.
Olneya tesota, Desert Ironwood:
a grayish tree with a broad crown, which is 15 to 25 feet tall. The bark is thin and scaly. Branches are armed with paired spines, erect in youth, and spreading in age. Gray-green leaves are pinnately compound and deciduous; the old leaves fall after bloom, but are quickly replaced with new leaves. The showy flowers are pale rose-purple, with a sweet pea-like appearance, and occur before before the new growth of leaves in April or May. Pods are 2 inches long. This tree has an extremely hard and heavy heartwood—hence, it’s name. It is deciduous in hard frosts and cannot endure prolonged freezes. It can tolerate any amount of summer heat. Found in sandy wash areas of the desert where some deep water is usually available, below 2000 feet.
Pinus attenuata, Knobcone Pine:
this pine grows from 6 to 40 feet tall and will form a straggling crown with age. The old bark is thin with loose scales. Leaves are in clusters of three, yellow green, and between 3 and 7 inches long. The cones have prominent knobs on them (hence the name). Found on dry, barren or rocky places, below 4000 feet. Wood is light, soft, and weak; it has no real timber value.Pinus coulteri, Coulter Pine: a medium-sized pine growing from 40 to 80 feet tall, although it generallystays under 40 feet tall in cultivation. The crown is either a broad pyramid or asymmetrical. This evergreen has dense, blue-green needles, which are in clusters of 3 and up to one foot long. The bark is dark gray to blackish-brown, with thin scales. Often called the Big Cone Pine or the Widow maker Pine, as it’s cones are from 8 to 12 inches long and weigh up to 8 pounds. These cones will remain on the tree for several years after releasing it’s seeds. It is found on dry, rocky slopes, between 1000 and 7000 feet. This pine is named after Thomas Coulter, who was an English forest collector. The tops of these trees are often broken off by winds and heavy snows. The wood is quite brittle; not good for commercial use. The seeds of the Big Cone Pine are hard but very tasty. Hybrid Coulters mixed with Jeffrey have been found here at Idyllwild. This pine is a member of the Yellow Pine family.
Pinus jeffreyi, Jeffrey Pine:
this evergreen will reach heights of from 60 to 180 feet. It has a large, symmetrical crown. The bark is reddish brown, with small scales, and will peel easily into odd shaped sections. Especially on a warm day, the bark has a vanilla scent (although some think it has an odor of pineapple). The needles are in clusters of 3 and are from 4 to 11 inches long with a blue green color. It is similar to the young form of Pinus ponderosa; however, it’s cones are not prickly to the touch and it’s bark tends to be darker. It is a member of the Yellow Pine family. This pine was discovered by the eminent Scottish botanist John Jeffrey. It is prized for it’s lumber. Attractive in youth with silver gray bark and bluish foliage. One of the best natural bonsai trees. This hardy tree grows best at higher elevations and is drought tolerant. Arctostaphylos spp., Manzanitas serve as a fine understory for this pine. Found on dry, rocky slopes, mostly from 6000 to 9000 feet.
Pinus lambertiana, Sugar Pine:
a very stately pine, which is the largest of all pines, reaching from 60 to 250 feet in height. It’s crown is open and narrow when young, becoming flat-topped with age. Older branches are well spaced and wide spreading. The bark is reddish brown to gray, with loose scales. Note: young trees will have smooth, dark green bark. The needles are from3 to 4 inches long and occur in bundles of 5. Long cylindrical cones hang from the branch tips. A common forest tree, from 2500 to 9000 feet. It needs a great deal of room. The name is derived from it’s sweet tasting sap; beware, the sap can act as a cathartic. This pine may reach an age of 500 years or more. Slow growing when young. Hardy but temperamental. It is susceptible to white pine blister rust, but usually safe if no currants or gooseberry bushes (which are alternate hosts of this rust) are nearby.
Pinus monophylla, One-Needle Pinyon Pine:
this low evergreen will grow to be about 40 feet tall. Needles are mostly in groups (known as fasicles) of one, between 1 and 1-1/2 inches long, and pale gray-green. The seeds of this pine are edible and in fact, are considered one of the best. This pine is extremely slow growing in the desert environment. It makes a good bonsai and is excellent in a rock garden. Also, it fits readily into dry, rocky locations, especially when planted with Juniperus californicus. The wood is light, soft, and brittle; it is used largely for fuel and charcoal. In nature, it grows mostly on dry rocky slopes and ridges, between 3500 and 9000 feet. This plant may reach an age of 200 years or more. This pine was discovered by Captain John C. Fremont. It served as an important food source for many inhabitants of Southern California. This plant may reach an age of 250 years or more.
Pinus ponderosa, Ponderosa Pine or Yellow Pine:
an evergreen which grows from 50 to 200 feet tall. Branches are short and are generally turned up at the ends. Mature trees have large plates of yellowish-red bark, while younger trees are ashen gray with small bark scales. Needles are in clusters of 3 and are a green to yellow green in color. The cones of this species are prickly to the touch, which helps to distinguish them from the Pinus jeffreyi. Also, they are from 4 to 5 inches in length. It forms large, park-like forests, from 2000 to 8500 feet. It’s wood is hard, strong, and much used for many types of construction. This long lived pine needs a great deal of room. A moderate to rapid grower which is very hardy, but it is not good in desert heat and wind. A bushy, attractive tree at all ages. Eventually for a large garden only. Small trees make a fine bonsai or large container tree. A tree to plant for posterity as it is long-lived, requiring space and time for development.
Pinus quadrifolia, Four-Needle Pinyon Pine or Parry Pine:
this low evergreen has a pyramidal shape and may reach a height of 40 feet. Needles are mostly in groups (known as fasicles) of four, between 1 and 1-1/2 inches long, and pale blue-green. It’s pine nut is edible and in fact, some people consider it to be the best. The nuts were once traded much like currency. Drought tolerant. This pine was discovered by Dr. C. Parry. The wood was used for fuel and for fence posts. This plant may reach an age of 250 years or more. Dry slopes, between 2500 and 5500 feet.
Pinus torreyana, Torrey Pine:
this broad, open-crowned evergreen is extremely rare: it occurs naturally here and on Santa Rosa Island; it is being cultivated in Kenya and New Zealand for its cosmetic values. It has also been planted throughout coastal Southern California. It will grow to be about 30 or 60 feet tall, if not windswept. In cultivation, it is more or less symmetrical with liberal foliage in its youth; as it matures, it develops a small crown composed of a few large branches. Needles are in groups (known as fasicles) of fives, usually over 10 inches long. Foliage is light green or greenish-gray. Cones may remain on the tree for 15 years, dropping seeds yearly. The seeds of this pine are edible. This pine seems to be more smog tolerant than other pines. It is drought tolerant and long-lived. This pine was discovered by Dr. C. Parry. Does well in a garden or naturalized landscape
.Platanus racemosa, California Sycamore:
a deciduous tree, commonly located around water, which can reach a height of from 30 to 90 feet. It’s main trunk often divides into a spreading or leaning secondary trunk: with care in pruning, it can be trained into a picturesque multitrunked clump. The leaves are large and palmately lobed. The bark is pale, thin, and exfoliating. Brown, ball-like seed clusters hang from the branches on long stalks through the winter; they are popular in flower arrangements. It is tolerant of heat and wind; however, this tree would profit from periodic deep waterings during the summer. This fast growing tree is great in native or wild gardens; it also works well in large, informal gardens. It is often used in lawn areas, such as parks. Along stream beds and water courses, below 4000 feet. Sycamore blight may cause leaf drop in the spring or in the summer, but the tree will eventually develop a full canopy. Fungicide applications in the spring will control anthracnose and permit vertical growth. It is also susceptible to leaf miner and red spider mites. Chlorosis may be a problem in desert areas.
Populus fremontii, Fremont Cottonwood:
a large deciduous tree, with a broad open crown, which will grow from 40 to 100 feet tall. The bark is whitish and roughly cracked. The bright yellow-green leaves are lustrous, spade-shaped, varying in width from 3 to 5 inches, and has a toothed margin; they turn a bright lemon yellow in the fall. A very picturesque tree if placed in a large area. Always found in nature near water. Female trees bear masses of cottony seeds which blow about and become a nuisance; consequently, it is best to plant a male tree, which is easily grown from cuttings. Best with regular deep waterings. Do not plant near water or sewer lines and septic tanks, as the roots are invasive. Also, not for streets, lawns, or small gardens. Requires little water unless in the desert where weekly waterings are required during the hot weather if the roots haven’t tapped an underground water source. It grows best under conditions of extreme temperature variations: cold winters and hot summers. It’s appearance and performance is poor along the coast. Suitable for locals where fast growth, toughness, and low maintenance are considerations. Moist places, below 6500 feet.
Populus trichocarpa, Black Cottonwood:
a large deciduous tree, with a broad open crown, which will grow from 120 to 200 feet tall. The bark is grayish and furrowed in age. Leaves are dark green above and pale beneath. Along streams, below 9000 feet.
Prunus lyonii, Catalina Cherry:
a small, dense evergreen which may reach up to 50 feet high. It can be used as a tree or as a hedge. It will tolerate shade. It produces edible fruit in the summer. Very reliable. Found in canyons on Santa Catalina, San Clemente, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa Islands.
Pseudotsuga macrocarpa, Big Cone Spruce:
a pyramidal, evergreen tree, from 35 to 60 feet high, with drooping branches. Bark is divided into broad, rounded ridges. Needle-like leaves are blue-green and spirally arranged on the branches, although they appear to be in a flat spray because the needles are turned at the petiole base. Needles are ¾ to 1-1/4 inches long with a pointed tip. Cylindrical cones are 4 to 6 inches long and have a 3 fingered bract overlapping each rounded scale. Drought tolerant. This little known tree is a relative of Pseudotsuga menziesii, the Douglas Fir, which is found in Northern California and represents one of the most economically important trees in the U. S. Dry slopes and canyons, between 2000 and 6000 feet.
Quercus agrifolia, Coast Live Oak:
an evergreen oak which reaches a height of from 30 to 80 feet. Often in the form of a broad dome, but this varies by location. The trunk is smooth or with broad checkered ridges in old trees. The acorn matures during the first year. This hardwood is fast growing when young, especially withample water: after 10 years growth, it will reach a height of 25 feet and after 25 years growth, it will reach a height of 50 feet. It prefers marine influences, but will do well inland on not-too-dryslopes. It is peerless as a large specimen in parks and it can also serve as a magnificent year- around cover for the small garden. Also, it may be sheared into an attractive hedge of 10 to 12 foot height. Common in valleys and on not-to-dry slopes, below 3000 feet. Seeds will not germinate in areas of compact soil. It has a problem with oak moth larvae and is susceptible to root rot if the soil level surrounding the trunk is either raised or lowered. It has greedy roots and will drop almost all of its old leaves in the early spring.
Quercus chrysolepis, Canyon Live Oak:
an evergreen that with age, can reach over 60 feet tall. It’s crown is roundish or spreading. The bark is pale gray and is rather smooth-scaly. Most leaves are smooth (entire) but younger leaves are spiny and look like a holly leaf. Used as slow-growing ornamental even in medium-sized yards. Drought tolerant. It looks good with Rhamnus californica, Coffeeberry and Heteromeles arbutifolia, Toyon. Common in canyons and on moist slopes, below 6500 feet.
Quercus dumosa, Scrub Oak:
a small oak (mostly a shrub, but sometimes tree-like), which grows to a height of about 10 feet. It has angular branches and large acorns. In nature, it is common on dry slopes, mostly below 5000 feet. This evergreen is useful on slopes for erosion control and in a wild garden, but otherwise, it is seldom used as an ornamental. This hardwood will thrive in poor, rocky soil. Very drought tolerant.
Quercus kelloggii, California Black Oak:
a deciduous oak with a broad, rounded crown, which can grow to a height of from 30 to 75 feet. The trunk is thick with dark smooth bark, which becomes deeply ridged with age. The dark color of the bark gives this oak its name. The unfolding leaves are a soft pink or dusty rose, becoming a glossy green, and finally, yellow or yellow-orange in the fall. These leaves have bristly tips. Spectacular color change of the leaves will occur after a cold spell in the fall or winter, resulting in a golden color. The flowers of this oak occur in April and May and are known as catkins, which are dangling clusters of unisexual flowers. It has large, edible acorns, which mature during the second year. Grown primarily for spring and fall color, and for winter trunk and branch pattern. Works well in a landscape either singly or with other oaks in a forest setting. Drought tolerant. Common in hills and mountains, mostly 1000 to 8000 feet. At higher elevations, this tree may be shrubby.
Quercus lobata, Valley Oak:
a stately graceful deciduous tree with an open head, which is between 40 and 100 feet tall. The trunk may reach 12 feet in diameter. The bark is light colored, thick, and checkered. It has deeply lobed leaves, which are shiny above and paler beneath, with a toothed apex. Each lobe is not bristly, which makes it distinguishable from the Quercus kelloggii. Like other oaks, this tree has an acorn which served as an important food source for early inhabitants; acorns mature during the first autumn. Rich loam, valleys and slopes, below 2000 feet. The city of Thousand Oaks was named after this tree. Associated with the Chaparral Plant community
Quercus turbinella, Turbinella Oak:
this oak is closely related to Quercus dumosa; it grows to a height of about 15 feet. The acorn is edible. In nature, it is common on dry slopes, mostly from 3000 to 6500 feet. This evergreen is useful for slope cover or screen, as it is drought tolerant. In fact, this plant can survive on almost no water. It is good for erosion control.
Quercus wislizenii, Interior Live Oak:
an evergreen tree with a rounded top, mostly between 30 and 75 feet tall. Bark is smooth, but becomes broadly ridged near it’s base in old age. Leaves are shiny green and may be toothed. Acorns mature during the second year. Valleys and slopes, below 5000 feet.
Salix gooddingii, Willow:
an erect shrub or small tree, which is between 6 and 30 feet tall and has rough dark bark. It’s leaves are deciduous, dark green, and linear. Leaves appear in early spring and will remain until late in the season (until Christmas in milder climates). It flowers in March and April with tiny blooms in the form of catkins. It will tolerate any soil type and can survive under poor conditions of drainage. It’s roots are invasive, making it difficult to garden under this tree. Principally grown for use as a screen plant or for erosion control on stream or river banks. A very fast grower which is excellent for behind a pond or along a stream. Allow room for it to spread. It is common in streambeds and other wet places, mostly below 2000 feet. It is subject to tent caterpillars, aphids, borers, and spider mites. It does best in an area with pronounced winters.
Salix hindsiana, Marsh Willow:
an erect shrub or small tree, which is between 6 and 25 feet tall and has gray, furrowed bark. It’s leaves are deciduous, green, and linear. It flowers from March through May with tiny blooms in the form of catkins. It will tolerate any soil type and can survive under poor conditions of drainage. It’s roots are invasive, making it difficult to garden under this tree. Principally grown for use as a screen plant or for erosion control on stream or river banks. A very fast grower which is excellent for behind a pond or along a stream: allow room for it to spread. It is subject to tent caterpillars, aphids, borers, and spider mites. It is common locally along ditches, on sandbars, and other wet places below 3000 feet. It does best in an area with pronounced winters.
Salix lasiolepis, Arroyo Willow:
an erect shrub or small tree, which is between 6 and 30 feet tall. This evergreen has smooth bark. The leaves are dark green above and lighter beneath. It flowers from February through April with tiny blooms in the form of catkins; flowering generally occurs before the leaves reappear. Principally grown for use as a screen plant or for erosion control on stream or river banks. It can be used as a small tree, a hedge, or a background planting. It is good near water. It will tolerate any soil type and can survive under poor conditions of drainage. It’s roots are invasive, making it difficult to garden under this tree. A very fast grower which is excellent for behind a pond or along a stream. Allow room for it to spread. It is subject to tent caterpillars, aphids, borers, and spider mites. Common on stream banks and beds, below 7000 feet. It does best in an area with pronounced winters.
Sambucus cerulea, Blue Elderberry:
a large shrub or small tree which is deciduous. It will reach a height between 6 and 30 feet and will have a rounded appearance. Nicely shaped specimens look great with leaves, but will look scrawny in the winter when leafless. The leaves are pinnately compound and green. It blooms from June to September with small white flowers, which are attractive. The edible berries are very small, frosted, and nearly black: they are often used in jams, jellies, pies, and wine. Also, birds are attracted to the fruit. Note: the species of Elderberry which produces a red fruit has poisonous berries. This tree is a good background plant in natural gardens. In a large garden, it can be effective as a screen or windbreak. During the dormant season, prune it hard to ensure denseness. Also, new growth will sprout readily from the stump. It thrives in sun or shade, and in damp or dry conditions. It will take wet conditions with good drainage. Open places, up to 10,000 feet. This plant is poisonous.
Sambucus mexicana, Elderberry:
a large shrub or small tree which is deciduous. It will reach a height between 6 and 30 feet and will have a rounded appearance. Nicely shaped specimens look great with leaves, but will look scrawny in the winter when leafless. The leaves are pinnately compound and green. It blooms from March to Septemberwith small white flowers, which are attractive. The edible berries are very small and either blue orwhite, with a frosted appearance: they are often used in jams, jellies, pies, and wine. Also, birds are attracted to the fruit. Note: the species of Elderberry which produces a red fruit has poisonous berries. Open flats and cismontane valleys and canyons, below 4500 feet. This tree is a good background plant in natural gardens. In a large garden, it can be effective as a screen or windbreak. During the dormant season, prune it hard to ensure denseness. Also, new growth will sprout readily from the stump. It thrives in sun or shade, and in damp or dry conditions. It will take wet conditions with good drainage. This plant is poisonous.
Sequoia sempervirens, Coast Redwood:
this tall evergreen tree will require lots of room as it can reach a height of from 150 to 300 feet or more (unfortunately, not in one persons lifetime). The trunk is strongly buttressed at the base, slightly tapering upward. The bark is red, spongy-fibrous, and deeply ridged. Leaves are dark green and up to 1 inch in length. Cones are red-brown and up to 1-1/2 inches long. Flats and slopes, mostly below 2000 feet and in the coastal fog belt. Wood is reddish, light, soft, and easily split, making it very important for lumber. Also, the wood resists decay. This tree will often attain an age of 1500 years. It is used in parks and homes with large lots.
Tamarix aphylla, Tamarisk or Athel:
a tree, which grows from 20 to 50 feet tall. Greenish, jointed branches give this deciduous tree an evergreen appearance. In late summer, it becomes grayish in saline soils, due to secretions of salt. Small leaves are thickish and scalelike. Small flowers are pinkish-white and appear from May through July. In the California deserts, it has no equal in resistance to wind and drought. It tolerates saline soils which are toxic to other plants. It is fire retardant if reasonably well watered. It develops a long tap root; consequently, it cannot be left in a container for too long. Heavy damage will occur if exposed to 0 o F temperatures; fortunately, it will come back rapidly. Fast growing from planted cuttings: 10 feet or more in 3 years and by 15 years, it may reach it’s full height with a deep soil and water. It is not a good choice for a highly cultivated garden because it’s roots are too competitive. This tree is associated with Chilopsis linearis. It is actually a native to Asia and Africa which was introduced to the California desert by early settlers as a shade tree and a windbreak.Ulmus americana, American Elm: a native to Europe
Umbellularia californica, California Bay or Oregon Myrtle:
a large evergreen, with a broad crown, which can reach a height of 15 to 100 feet. In dry environments, this tree may remain as an erect shrub. It is easily identified by its pungent odor: a little of the crushed fragrance is pleasant, but too much can cause a headache. Bark is greenish to reddish-brown. Leaves are thick and lance-shaped, often reaching a length of 5 inches: they are useful in cooking as a more potent substitute for true bay leaves (i. e., Laurus nobilis ). Flowers are yellow-green and occur from December to May. Inedible fruit is greenish, becoming dark purple when ripe. It is found in moist areas of canyons, between 2000 and 6000 feet. It is commonly used as an ornamental, serving as a screen, a background planting, or a tall hedge. It will grow on a slope. Also, it is a good patio or street tree when thinned to one or a few trunks. It will grow in deep shade and will eventually become large enough to serve as a shade tree itself; it casts a very dense shade unless thinned. In the garden, it tends to grow slowly, about 1 foot per year. For best and fastest growth, plant in a deep soil with ample water; however, it will tolerate many other conditions, including drought. The wood is hard, strong, and takes a polish.
Washingtonia filifera, California Fan Palm:
a columnar tree, which is from 30 to 80 feet high. The unbranched trunk is up to 3 feet thick and is commonly clothed with a dense thatch of dead, drooping leaves, which may be burned away. The large leaves are gray-green, heavy, and fibrous, with numerous folds. Flowers are whitish and appear in June. This is the only native fan palm in the Western United States and it is the largest of the true desert palms. It can survive in fresh and alkaline water areas where the water table is high. Tolerant of desert heat and some drought, but will thrive with moisture in a well drained soil. Hardy to around 18 o F. Young trees can be used in containers. It serves well as a street or parkway planting, in groves, or in large gardens, either singly or grouped. Found in groves in moist alkaline spots about seeps, springs, and streams, below 3000 feet.