PDA

View Full Version : Help identifying a tree



honeygirl1971
12-04-2008, 12:23 PM
I know there are lots and lots of gardeners and other plant/treeexperts here, so I was hoping someone would help me identify a tree in our yard. I don't have a camera handy, but will try to post a pic later. I have visited a bunch of websites trying to identify it, but they keep giving me answers that I know are wrong. So, here goes. This tree is about 20 feet tall. The trunk is about 6-8 inches in diameter, light brown bark. Slightly rough, but not much loose bark. The leaves are about 3 inches long, smooth, pinnately compound, alternate, and, at the moment, yellow and falling. It has small pink-to-red berries on it that look sort of like large peppercorns. The berries grow in sprays, separate from the leaves. About 8-10 feet from the ground, the trunk divides into 3 large branches that each branch out into multiple smaller branches. Is this enough info? Does anyone have any ideas? We are in Northern California, at sea level, with hard clay soil. TIA!

mkc
12-04-2008, 01:00 PM
Chinese pistache?

honeygirl1971
12-04-2008, 01:26 PM
Wow, that might be it! I am not 100% sure since the leaves on ours seem longer and thinner than some of the photos I've seen, but so far this one matches much better than the ones I got through my own searches (I kept getting mountain ash, and that's definitely not it, or California pepper tree, and that's not it either. Or poison sumac, also not it!) THANKS! I've never even heard of that tree before, but I'm not very knowledgeable about tree types.

Robyncz
12-04-2008, 01:45 PM
Chinese pistache?

That's funny! That was my first guess, too, based on the clusters of berries. But I didn't know if they had them in California.

Robyncz
12-04-2008, 01:47 PM
Me again. Here are some very helpful pictures!

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/134027/

honeygirl1971
12-04-2008, 02:43 PM
Robyn, thanks! Those pics WERE helpful, and in fact I now think it is in fact a chinese pistache! Those leaves look just the ones on our tree. Thanks so much!

Okay, since you guys were so helpful so fast, there is another tree with red berries in the back yard, but the berries on this one are different. Instead of looking more like peppercorns, they really look like holly berries. The leaves are wrong for holly, though. This one also has compound leaves, smooth edges, etc., but the leaves are much darker green color, and the berries are more interspersed with the leaves, in much bigger clusters (whereas the other one really was in sprays). The leaves on this tree are smaller, too, and a bit rounder, but also pinnate like on the other one. This one is more shrublike, too. Any ideas?

When my own internet searches failed, I knew I should ask here--you guys and gals are amazing! :D

honeygirl1971
12-04-2008, 02:46 PM
Oh yeah--the second tree also has white flowers (now, along with the berries, but I think it is the endof the flowers since there aren't many left). I'm alo guessing it is evergreen, unlike the other one.

mkc
12-04-2008, 04:37 PM
Oh yeah--the second tree also has white flowers (now, along with the berries, but I think it is the endof the flowers since there aren't many left). I'm alo guessing it is evergreen, unlike the other one.

I don't recall white flowers, but yaupon holly? Or maybe wax myrtle? Or Chinese photinia?

Were the previous owners transplanted Texans? :)

Michelle

Robyncz
12-04-2008, 04:46 PM
Okay, since you guys were so helpful so fast, there is another tree with red berries in the back yard, but the berries on this one are different. Instead of looking more like peppercorns, they really look like holly berries. The leaves are wrong for holly, though. This one also has compound leaves, smooth edges, etc., but the leaves are much darker green color, and the berries are more interspersed with the leaves, in much bigger clusters (whereas the other one really was in sprays). The leaves on this tree are smaller, too, and a bit rounder, but also pinnate like on the other one. This one is more shrublike, too. Any ideas?

When my own internet searches failed, I knew I should ask here--you guys and gals are amazing! :D

Nandina? I'd call it a bush and not a tree, but maybe it grows differently in CA than in Central TX.

honeygirl1971
12-05-2008, 04:43 PM
Those are great leads...I am still trying to determine what exactly these trees/plants are.

We are just renting this house, and I asked the landlord, and he gave me very vague answers telling me only that "most berries are toxic" and I should plant something our toddler "could graze on." I was of course not asking him what the trees were because we wanted to eat the berries (which do NOT look edible) but rather because I wanted to know what was growing in the yard and if I should be concerned about children/pets etc.

The second plant I mentioned could be a type of shrub. I called it a tree because it is quite large and I was still thinking about the other one which is definitely a tree, but actually this second one is much more likely a large shrub and not a small tree.

I guess this part of California and Texas have similar climates and soils! How is Texan wine? ;)

mkc
12-05-2008, 04:48 PM
I guess this part of California and Texas have similar climates and soils! How is Texan wine? ;)

Ugh - for the most part, don't ask! It's too hot for most reds here.

(But then, we're on mailing lists from places like Turley, Outpost, Crocker and Starr, Gemstone, Pahlmeyer, etc.)

Michelle

honeygirl1971
12-06-2008, 08:11 AM
Was it CL that recently did an article on Texas wine country? I know I saw one recently...

I asked the landlord again about the bushes, and he said he had no idea. I couldn't find where DH put the camera, but I took a few pics with my phone. I tried to get one of the bush more or less in its entirety, one closeup of the leaves and berries, and one of the flowers. Does this help any of you experts?

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y256/honeygirl1971/bush3.jpg

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y256/honeygirl1971/bush2.jpg

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y256/honeygirl1971/bush1.jpg


ETA Sorry they are so big. I thought I had resized, but it isn't working as I expected it to.

Robyncz
12-06-2008, 08:13 AM
Based on the picture, I revoke my nandina guess.

I have no idea what that is!

Gumbeaux
12-06-2008, 08:22 AM
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y256/honeygirl1971/bush3.jpg.

That looks like a Pyracantha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyracantha) to me.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/Brosen_pyracantha_coccinea1.jpg

Robyncz
12-06-2008, 08:27 AM
I thought pyrocantha, too, except I've never seen one bloom like that and I think ours have thorns--and she didn't mention thorns.

Gumbeaux
12-06-2008, 08:47 AM
I thought pyrocantha, too, except I've never seen one bloom like that and I think ours have thorns--and she didn't mention thorns.

There are thorn-less varieties of pyracantha. Also, there is a lot of variation of flowers among the different varieties.

I'm not sure but I suspect that the flower shown may be from another plant growing inside the pyracantha. I say this because the fruit from the plant comes after the flower blooms and that plant has fully-formed, mature fruit.

whocares
12-06-2008, 08:47 AM
If you have a garden center nearby, you can take a clipping of the leaves and berries along with the photo and they might be able to identify the plants.

The photo of the berries does look like pyrocantha, but the one in my old yard was very thorny, as Robyn mentioned. The pyrocantha was a magnet for birds when it was laden with berries and looked lovely in the spring when it was flowering with masses of white blooms.

Gumbeaux
12-06-2008, 09:00 AM
As mentioned in my previous post, I think the flower is from another plant. The flower in the picture that you took looks almost exactly like the jasmine bloom (http://www.flickr.com/photos/22243937@N00/2711232071/) in the second photo which is a Solanum jasminoides (http://www.californiagardens.com/Plant_Pages/solanum_jasminoides.htm).

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y256/honeygirl1971/bush2.jpg


http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y7/bayoutitan/Jasmine.jpg

honeygirl1971
12-06-2008, 10:06 AM
Wow, you guys are such a wealth of information, you never cease to amaze me! Thanks for all the info. I think you are right about the pyracantha! It is entirely possible that Gumbeaux is right and that the flowers are part of another plant. I am going to try to take a close look today and see if I can tell better what is what. The yard is a total mess, and the landlord has really let it run wild, so it's not easy to tell what exactly is going on out there. There are very few flowers left, so maybe they are indeed part of the berry-producing bush, but then again Gumbeaux's photo of the solanum jasminoides does look exactly like the flowers I see out there, so ?? If they are different plants that would help explain why I am having such difficulty figuring out what this berry-producing white-flowered bush is!

I am going to try to get a picture of the other tree later today. I think you guys were right about the chinese pistache, even though the landlord said, "I think it might be some sort of sumac." I looked at lots of sumac photos on the internet in the past few days and although some of the features do seem to fit, others do not.

Can anyone recommend any good books to help me learn more about identifying plants and trees? I am woefully ignorant in this area and would love to learn a lot more about it!

Thanks again, everyone, for all your help! I really appreciate it. :)

Gumbeaux
12-06-2008, 10:33 AM
Can anyone recommend any good books to help me learn more about identifying plants and trees? I am woefully ignorant in this area and would love to learn a lot more about it!

I love National Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees (http://www.amazon.com/National-Audubon-Society-American-Trees-W/dp/0394507614/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228583992&sr=8-1). Mine has a plastic cover to protect it when you use it outside. There are good pictures, descriptions of trees, and distribution maps showing where they grow. It is very well designed in that you can find what you're looking for in a hurry. You can get a book for the region where you live.

This is what the book looks like on the inside. Note how there are closeup pictures of both the trunk and the leaves or needles. Not shown are pages of text that are very informative.

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y7/bayoutitan/Trees.jpg

whocares
12-06-2008, 11:53 AM
The Sunset Western Garden Book is a great source of information about plants of all sorts. Since you are in California, you could probably find a copy to glance through at your local library.

honeygirl1971
12-07-2008, 10:30 PM
Gumbeaux, that sounds (and looks) perfect! I think I'll add it to my Xmas list! And whocares, that is a good suggestion about the Sunset book and the library, too, and definitely worth a look. Thanks! :)