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Unique and drought tolerant trees to consider for the future

What would the earth be without trees?

Roger Boddaert

Special to Village News

It has been estimated that the over 2 trillion trees growing on the various continents, from the tropical jungles of the Amazon River Delta, to the high peaks of the Himalayas, to the Australian outback, to the tip of South Africa and the spectacular California redwoods, are enduring constant climatic pressures.

The earth’s climate is changing, causing never before seen flooding, drought, fires, melting ice caps and rising sea levels.

To preserve the benefits trees give us, we must alter how we plan and use trees so they are adaptable to face the various future challenges with water as the vital component for their survival.

The following list of drought tolerant trees are suitable choices for future landscapes.

• Arbutus Marina. An evergreen with pink cascading flowers with small strawberry-like fruits and beautiful mahogany trunks.

• Agonis flexuosa. “Peppermint tree.” From Australia, it has pendulous foliage and handsome trunks (when pruned properly), and the foliage has a peppermint-like aroma when crushed.

• Acacia stenophylla. “Shoestring Acacia.” This medium-sized tree has wispy foliage.

• Acacia pendula. Weeping gray leaves make it a star in any landscape setting.

• Brachychiton species. Bottle trees from Australia. In time, the trunks grow to a bottle-like shape. Brachychiton rupestris is my favorite, a rather rare find.

• Calodendron capense. “Cape Chestnut.” The magnificent specimen on N. Main Street in Fallbrook is a joy to see flower in late spring to early summer. Slow to start, but worth the wait, it is a medium-sized tree so give it room to mature.

• Callistemon viminalis. A weeping medium-sized tree with vermilion colored bottlebrush like flowers. It is a good pollinator for bees and butterflies.

• Cassia leptophylla. The “Gold Medallion” is a great flowering summer tree to cheer up any setting, followed by long green seed pods which adds another enjoyable feature of this drought tolerant tree.

• Cercis species. One of my favorite cultivars to use in my garden designs. Look for C. Forest Pansy, C. Pendula, C. Avondale and C. Alba. Cercis Occidentalis is native to our Southern California foothill mountains.

• Lyonothamnus floribundus. “Catalina Ironwood” is a coastal native on our channel islands. A slender evergreen tree that grows to 25 feet with fern-like foliage and white flowers on the tips of the branches. The reddish bark is another feature of this tree. Enjoys good soil drainage and no water in the summertime.

• Heteromeles abutifolia. “California Holly” (not related to true hollies) has clusters of red berries around Christmas time. It is found growing in our foothills and is famous as the holly that gave Hollywood its name. A great habitat tree for birds and bees.

• Melaleuca nesophila. “Pink Melaleuca” has gnarly twisted trunks with paper like bark and pink flowers on the tip of the stems. In time, it will take on a windswept form and look like it was created by coastal winds.

• Melaleuca armillaris. This tree from Australia is a small evergreen 15-25 feet, likes full sun, fits into small areas and is very drought tolerant.

• Metrosideos excelsa. “New Zealand Christmas Tree.” Blooms in New Zealand in December, but blooms in Southern California in June and July with bright red bottlebrush like flowers. I planted a variegated cultivar called “Goldfinger” in front of my home years ago.

• Olea europea. An olive tree from the Mediterranean region and was the first commercial agricultural tree crop planted in Fallbrook pre-avocados. Old trees still exist in Fallbrook from those original groves. Olive tree plantings are returning to the San Diego area due to low water needs.

• Pistacia chinensis. “Chinese Pistache.” This medium-sized tree is deciduous and in fall, it will give a radiant splash of autumn color.

• Psidium cattleianum. “Strawberry Guava.” Not thought of as a tree, but with patience and training this fruiting delight can be turned into a small 12-foot character tree and made into a focal point in the right setting.

• Quercus suber. “Cork Oak.” A native to Spain, Portugal, Italy and N. Africa. This evergreen can grow to 40 feet in time and is harvested for its outer bark, which is processed into wine corks. Woodpeckers like to store oak acorns in its textural outer bark.

• Rhus lancea. “African Sumac.” Its evergreen foliage is attractive throughout the year and used as street trees in many communities. The sumac is tolerant of heat, dryness, wind and poor soil. It grows to about 20 feet tall even in adverse conditions.

• Schotia brachypetala. “Tree Fuchsia” likes full sun and loves heat with waxy foliage and with bright fragrant crimson flowers attached to the branches. A unique specimen in the tree world, which I have grown successfully in my Fallbrook garden for years.

• Spathodea campanulata. “African Tulip Tree.” This tree likes it warm and comes with tulip-like flowers in orange and a rare yellow called “Aurea.” It grows to approximately 30 feet in time in a frost free zone. It is semi dormant in winter and considered one of the world’s most beautiful trees

• Stenocarpus sinuatus. “Fire Wheel Tree.” An evergreen tree with the most unique yellow/orange flowers arranged like spokes on a wheel. This image was adopted by the Rotary Clubs around the world as part of their logo.

• Tabebuia chrysotricha. “Golden Trumpet Tree” from Brazil is in the Begonia family. It is small in stature with an open canopy, and a colorful small tree. It was introduced by the Los Angeles Arboretum in the early 60s as part of their breeding program of flowering trees for Southern California. I cherish one in a pink color growing in my own garden.

This listing of unique trees you will not find at a giant box store. But the adventure of the hunt is part of the joy and creative process I guarantee you will find satisfying.

As a certified arborist and landscape designer, trees are a major part of my lifestyle and profession. My motto is “Plant the right tree in the right place.”

Roger Boddaert, The Tree Man of Fallbrook, can be reached at 760-728-4297.


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