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Plant Identification: SOLVED: water-loving trash tree of S. California

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Fruticosa
Midway City, CA

August 3, 2009
2:05 AM

Post #6899835

Here's a "trash tree" I photographed in July of this year, along a flowing stream in the Mission Valley area of San Diego, California. These trees were numerous, and most of them had a cottony cluster of presumably opened seed tufts around their hanging, brown, seed pods. The trees crowded around the stream, though I didn't see any of them growing in the water itself. The trees were about 20-25 feet tall, I believe. Also in the area were sycamores, pan palms, various rushes, cattails, and other water-loving native plants.

This message was edited Aug 2, 2009 7:14 PM

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Fruticosa
Midway City, CA

August 3, 2009
2:07 AM

Post #6899841

Here's a more distant view of the trees, framed in the foreground by the same species.

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Fruticosa
Midway City, CA

August 3, 2009
2:09 AM

Post #6899858

Here's a trunk, which is several inches in diameter, impressively thick for such a wild tree in Southern California. I think some of the trunks were up to a foot in diameter.

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Fruticosa
Midway City, CA

August 3, 2009
2:11 AM

Post #6899863

Here's that white, cottony fluff that surrounded all the pendant seed pods I saw.

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JasperDale
Long Beach, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 3, 2009
2:14 AM

Post #6899876

Looks like some sort of Willow (Salix) ...don't know which one.
Fruticosa
Midway City, CA

August 3, 2009
2:20 AM

Post #6899897

Aha. I think you're right, JasperDale. That narrows it down quite a bit, thanks. Maybe Salix lucida, but I'm checking for closer matches that grow in Southern California.
nifty413
Garland, TX
(Zone 8a)

August 3, 2009
2:34 AM

Post #6899948

Yes. Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra.

Edit: It apparently cannot be the aforementioned. Sorry.

This message was edited Aug 2, 2009 9:52 PM
Fruticosa
Midway City, CA

August 3, 2009
2:36 AM

Post #6899953

The following site...
http://tchester.org/plants/analysis/salix/key.html
...lists 5 willows of low-elevation Southern California and their relative abundance...

42% Salix lasiolepis
24% Salix laevigata
22% Salix exigua
9% Salix gooddingii
2% Salix lucida

...and the following photo shows Salix laevigata (Red Willow = Polished Willow) as having those cottony tufts...
http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/imgs/misc/eric/m3-21.jpg
...whereas the leaves of most of the others in that list didn't match well, and none of the others showed those tufts, so my bet is currently on Salix laevigata. Thanks, JasperDale. I'm still looking, though.

This message was edited Aug 2, 2009 7:44 PM

Resin

Resin
Northumberland
United Kingdom
(Zone 9a)

August 3, 2009
3:29 PM

Post #6901652

Best match looks to me to be Salix lasiolepis. It has pubescent greenish-grey shoots, unlike the orange-red shoots of Salix laevigata (that one is not called Red Willow for nothing!).

I'd also not call it a "trash tree"! True it doesn't make a good garden specimen, but in a wild place like this, it is an outstanding species for wildlife.

Resin

trackinsand

trackinsand
mid central, FL
(Zone 9a)

August 3, 2009
5:54 PM

Post #6902238

yes, i wondered why you called it trash tree. didn't you say in your first post it was a native?
Fruticosa
Midway City, CA

August 3, 2009
10:13 PM

Post #6903275

It's growing wild, but I can't tell if it's native vs. naturalized. The other plants around it are native, though. I'm not sure what term is less derogatory than "trash tree". I'm just used to the tiny, easily broken, wild trees that grow along creeks in San Diego being useless for climbing, landscaping, timber, or anything else practical, so I lumped these together with the others as "trash" when actually they're fairly impressive.

Salix laevigata has orange-red shoots?! Then I'll bet that's it, because in the creek itself, underwater, near those trees, were weird orangish roots that I thought was some type of aquatic plant, but according to your logic those were probably just parts of the willows. Here are the two photos I took of those orange growths I saw nearby, underwater...

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Fruticosa
Midway City, CA

August 3, 2009
10:14 PM

Post #6903277

Closer up pic of the same root system growing in the water...

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Resin

Resin
Northumberland
United Kingdom
(Zone 9a)

August 3, 2009
11:28 PM

Post #6903581

Quoting:Salix laevigata has orange-red shoots?! Then I'll bet that's it, because in the creek itself, underwater, near those trees, were weird orangish roots that I thought was some type of aquatic plant, but according to your logic those were probably just parts of the willows.


They are willow water roots, but all willows produce them; Salix laevigata also has orange-red twigs/branches, which yours doesn't. Compare this pic: http://www.basinandrangewatch.org/Surprise Cyn/Su-2008/Su-08-arroyo-wil-gorge.jpg

Resin
Malus2006
Coon Rapids, MN
(Zone 4a)

August 3, 2009
11:32 PM

Post #6903592

It's also running water(either from snowmelt or a spring) - more oxygen in them so this willow is able to spread its roots exposed almost in the air and doesn't have algae or silt covering them.
altagardener
Calgary, AB
(Zone 3b)

August 3, 2009
11:50 PM

Post #6903635

Willows grow the same way - with fine roots exposed - in standing water.
Malus2006
Coon Rapids, MN
(Zone 4a)

August 4, 2009
1:38 AM

Post #6904088

I was just trying to explain why the roots look so clear and crisp - cover them with algae, clay, silt and they look more like drown branches.
Fruticosa
Midway City, CA

August 4, 2009
9:48 PM

Post #6907325

OK, it looks like Resin wins, as usual. Thanks for your good work, Resin. I'll agree to Salix lasiolepis due to the green twigs and also I found an online photo of Salix lasiolepis with those fluffy white seed clusters...
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Salixlasiolepis.jpg
Here's a parting pic, another photo I took of the leaves that day...

Thumbnail by Fruticosa
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