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Trees That Are Suited to Climate

March 21, 1991|DIANE CALKINS

Most of these native trees and shrubs can be propagated from seeds or cuttings although some may require special handling.


California Buckeye

(Also known as horse chestnut or California pear)

Where: Occurs naturally on dry slopes and canyons.

Size: 15 to 40 feet, rapid growing, short-lived.

Color: Deciduous, lush green foliage in spring, small cream colored flowers on spikes.

Growth: Large pear-shaped fruit, tolerates dryness which slows growth, causes foliage to drop earlier.

Catalina Ironwood

Where: Found on dry slopes, in chaparral.

Size: 16 to 50 feet

Color: Slender evergreen valued as specimen. Dark green, fern-like leaves. Large clusters of white flowers.

Growth: Flat brown oblong fruit, seeds germinate without special treatment, can be grown from cuttings also. Prefers well drained soil, coastal conditions.

Cuyamaca Cypress

Where: Occurs in chaparral.

Size: 25 to 50 feet, erect or spreading.

Color: Evergreen, blue-gray or gray-green long foliage, smooth reddish bark.

Growth: Moderate growth rate. Likes well-drained soil and can withstand cold.

Tecate Cypress

Where: Occurs in isolated areas naturally, but valued in garden.

Size: 15 to 30 feet, often irregular form.

Color: Evergreen, rich to dull green tiny leaves shaped like scales that overlap. Brown or cherry-red bark.

Growth: Dark brown seed, germinates sporadically, more so during dryness of summer. Once established, does well in hot, dry weather. Somewhat susceptible to cypress canker disease.

Mexican Elderberry

Where: Found in open valleys, canyon and flatland below 4500 feet elevation.

Size: 6 to 20 feet

Color: Deciduous, with thick leathery leaves. Clusters of pale yellow, fragrant flowers. Bluish black, sphere-shaped fruit.

Growth: Fast growing and wild looking, although it can be pruned and shaped.


Where: Grows in wide range of conditions, from sea to mountains

Size: 16 to 140 feet, widely branched evergreen. Suitable for large estates or parks. Indians called some of the old specimens council trees and met under their spreading branches. Color: Evergreen with dark green, leathery foliage. Red bark. Orange or red berry that attracts waxwings and robins.

Growth: Can be grown from seed if stratified for at least one month. Urn-shaped flowers with sweetish scent. Tolerates heat, cold and drought.

Coast Live Oak

Where: Found in valleys and foothills of coast range from Sonoma to San Diego County.

Size: 30 to 75 feet with stout spreading branches. Suitable for large gardens and parks.

Color: Evergreen with stiff, leathery, dark green foliage.

Growth: Slow growing, can be grown from acorn or cutting. Best near coast; tolerates heat but not prolonged freezing.

Engelmann Oak

Where: Occurs naturally in dry foothills of Los Angeles and San Diego Counties.

Size: 16 to 60 feet.

Color: Evergreen with thick, blue-green leaves. Bark with gray scales.

Growth: Can be planted as acorn in ground. Provides erosion control.

Bishop Pine

Where: Found on coast intermittently

Size: 50 to 85 feet.

Color: Evergreen with clusters of dark yellow-green foliage

Growth: Grows rapidly. Tolerates salt air and sea breezes, poor soil and low water.

Coulter Pine

(Also known as Big Cone Pine)

Where: Found on dry rocky slopes in the foothills.

Size: 40 to 80 feet. Suitable in large gardens. Largest pine cones weigh as much as 8 pounds.

Color: Evergreen with rigid, dark blue-green foliage in bundles.

Growth: Moderate growth rate. Highly adaptable to heat, dry and gravelly soils, and wind but not cold.

Digger Pine

Where: Grows naturally in dry, lower foothills.

Size: 50 to 75 feet. "Has a most engaging and picturesque way of growing at right angles to the slope, so that it leans out from the hillside in partial defiance of gravity," writes Donald Peattie in "A Natural History of Western Trees."

Color: Evergreen with long, drooping gray-green needles and thick, irregular bark.

Growth: Grows rapidly, especially in rich soil. Needs little water.

Torrey Pine

(Also known as Soledad pine)

Where: Endemic to small area in North County and on Santa Rosa Island.

Size: 35 to 50 feet. Away from coast becomes more upright and taller.

Color: Evergreen with dark grayish green leaves in clusters of five.

Growth: Best in well drained soil. Can be propagated from seeds or cuttings and has moderate rate of growth.


California Coffeeberry

Where: Found in chaparral

Size: 3 to 14 feet.

Color: Evergreen with rapid growth. Greenish clusters of flowers. Black, berry-like fruit.

Growth: Can be grown from seeds or cuttings. Very adaptable and tolerates sun, dryness, rocky or heavy soil.

Catalina Cherry

Where: Chaparral and canyons of offshore islands

Size: 15 to 50 feet

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