Washington: Chilean firebush

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by MKR, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. MKR

    MKR Member

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    I live in Seattle, near Lake Washington and am wondering how reliably evergreen the Chilean firebush, Embothrym coccinium is in the Pacific Northwest.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The hardy persistent forms are fully deciduous, their leaves turning orange and yellow at this time and dropping completely. Evergreen 'Inca Flame' has been seen to be tender although mine is still with me at this point, and I know of another with some years behind it in Bellevue.

    The best one is 'Norquinco Valley', rare in commerce here but it was recently listed for a time by forestfarm so there is some material on the North American market. The stunning specimen at 3240 NE 96th St is thought to belong to this cultivar. At flowering time it covers itself, unlike most others here.

    For 13 other locations see Jacobson, Trees of Seattle - Second Edition.
     
  3. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Basically just repeating what Ron has said, having grown lots of these the past few years. I've never seen the deciduous forms here, but the various evergreen types (both lanceolate and broader leaved selections) all keep most of their leaves over the winter unless they have been frozen to death.

    So, the evergreen forms are reliably evergreen, but not very reliably hardy...a prolonged arctic outflow will kill at least the top growth, unless under snow cover...(as the nice sized trees at UBC have recently experienced).
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    There used to be an Embothrium east of the highway as you approached the border crossing in Blaine, against the saltwater-facing side of and as tall as a 3-storey white house. When in bloom it could not be missed. After a hard winter it was gone, even right there near the beach. It was probably taken out by the 1985 winter, that's when some others were lost - the problem apparently being the fact that the cold came early, in November. Even the deciduous form that has long been the main one here is just now, in November turning color and defoliating for the year. That same year (1985) two I had here cracked open at the base but lived. I still have one of them, it came through the coldest-in-30-years 1990 winter. It might have the other one too if I hadn't removed it.
     
  5. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The really large Embothria in the British Isles (14-18m tall and with trunks up to 60cm diameter) are all in Ireland and western Scotland where winters are least likely to be severe. So cold winters can be a problem even here.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    In Puget Sound, east of the Olympics the long-persisting ones are in neighborhoods with salt water views, even going to the east side of the same city (Seattle) results in less longevity. One of the most striking specimens I have seen here is right off the beach, on a sheltered cove or inlet in the general vicinity of Tacoma.
     
  7. MKR

    MKR Member

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    I would love to know the site of the Embothrium in the Tacoma area, if you could give me an idea of where it might be seen. Thanks for the information.
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    You would have to be in a boat. Look instead for a long-established deciduous one at 902 S Aurora Ave. View it from the next street or alley down (west) of the property, rather than from Aurora. If it has not been topped or removed it is probably the largest example within the city.
     
  9. vickieg

    vickieg Active Member

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    IMG_5534.JPG

    IMG_5536.JPG
    This picture was taken today of the embothrium on NE 96th in Seattle. It seems to have come through this last winter unscathed.
     

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