Large tree in LA with ridged bark and fig-like leaves

Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by gfixler, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. gfixler

    gfixler Active Member

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    Most of these images are from March 2nd, though the last 2 are from this past week and show blooms all over. There hasn't been much for me to work with here for an ID. I don't know really what to search for, and can't get good pics of the foliage as it is all up very high. The latest images of the blooms that have appeared make me think of Eucalyptus, but endless searching shows me nothing resembling the bark or leaves.
     

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    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
  2. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Can you describe what the blossoms looked like?

    This is why I enjoy having at least one camera with 10x to 20x zoom. When what you want a photo of, is out of reach.

    Shape-wise, it sort of reminded me of a live oak

    Hard to tell if you photos are showing flowers or not. Everything looks green like foliage color.
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Could be Cinnamomum camphora, but needs closer pics for confirmation. Set your camera to maximum image resolution, zoom in as close as the lens permits, crop the resulting pic to show the leaves and flowers as large as you can, and post that. Or even better, if you have a telescope or binoculars, take a pic through them.
     
  4. Imperfect Ending

    Imperfect Ending Active Member

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    These trees are everywhere in Los Angeles but I don't know the name either...
    I know it smells pleasantly spicy though :D and they like to drop long yellow, soft branches and twigs
     
  5. gfixler

    gfixler Active Member

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    M.D. Vaden - I just have a little point-and-shoot Elph. Can't add lenses or anything, but perhaps someday I'll get one of those fancy SLRs!

    I took a walk by the tree again today and took more pics. I've uploaded 6 more. The last two are pretty close. Hopefully this helps! Thanks again.
     
  6. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    That's camphorwood (Cinnamomum camphora) alright - Michael is right on. The last photo got close enough to the leaves to see the venation, and it's a dead giveaway for trees of that genus.
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Thanks! Yep, Cinnamomum camphora.
     
  8. gfixler

    gfixler Active Member

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    Excellent. Thanks, Michael F and lorax. Now I'll have a bit of work determining that the roughly 10 or so trees I've seen so far in the area that seem like they are also C. camphora are in fact so. I think light variation in young vs. old bark has been tripping me up a little.
     
  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Look at the leaves - they'll have five veins if they're camphorwood or a relative.
     
  10. gfixler

    gfixler Active Member

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    Thanks, lorax. I found a species list on wikipedia, and it has quite a number of species - a couple hundred it looks like. Most of them are dead links. I wish I could wave a magic wand and have a nice set of images of every species of each new genus I explore. It's usually less about identifying a particular species than it is simply ruling out all of the others to make sure I haven't simply found a nearly identical one to what I've determined something to be. There were a few Cinnamomum species I did track down that looked remarkably similar to each other to my untrained eye.

    I've had similar issues with oaks in S. Jersey. I believe some hybridize, and while I feel I tracked down a few, there are others that weren't in my book, and some that may have actually been hybrids, as they looked somewhere between species.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
  11. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The difference with most of those Cinnamomum species is that to see them, you'd need to travel to the places in southern Asia where they are native. Only a few of the species have been introduced into cultivation, and of those only one or two have been planted anywhere other than major botanical garden collections. When you've got a tree in an anonymous suburban street, you're basically left with just one choice, C. camphora.

    I'd guess if you visit the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, you'd be able to see a few of the other species in the genus.
     
  12. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    And if you come down to Ecuador, I can show you C. verum, which was tried here as an export crop, and Ocotea quixos, the similar native tree that replaced it.
     
  13. gfixler

    gfixler Active Member

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    I would love to be able to travel the world and meet all of the trees it has to offer. What an epic and monumentally expensive adventure it would be.

    I have found several more C. camphora in the area now that I recognize them more easily. I like their shape and coloring. They make a very bright, clean tree. Thanks again!
     
  14. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Due to its comparatively long history of settlement (for the western US) California has a fairly high number of majestic planted trees - in addition, of course to the famous giant native ones. If you can travel within your state you can see collections of big examples at places like universities and botanical gardens. The capitol campus in Sacramento was planted as a sort of arboretum, the trees there are even identified with signs. One tree in a spectacular row of similarly sized Himalayan cedars there, planted in 1871 measured 101' tall with a trunk 17'9" around in 1989.

    Closer to home, in addition to the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum there is also the Huntington Botanical Garden. Both are large facilities with numerous big, labeled, planted trees.
     
  15. gfixler

    gfixler Active Member

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    Thanks for the information, Ron. I'd like to visit each of the places you've mentioned. The closest I've gotten to some old, large trees was actually at a friend and coworker's place. He lives in a community called The Village Green on the southwest edge of LA that's been around for a long time, and sits on 64 acres. It's full of old trees, and showed me how very small things like the sycamores and jacarandas I know in my area are as compared to how big they can be. If you're interested, I have a set with 100 photos here.
     
  16. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    A few big trunks there. Unfortunately the conks coming out of the one mean it is being decomposed by a fungus. But maybe you can get some of the remaining intact wood - they should do something about it before it splits apart on its own.
     
  17. gfixler

    gfixler Active Member

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    You know, I was really impressed by the size of that one with the conks when I was there, but hadn't yet read up on logwood (Haematoxylum campechianum), which looking back just now, I think it might be. The leaves are opposite compound runs of about 8-10, and obovate, and the signature of the logwood is looking like it's made of a large cluster of thin trunks, just like this one. Too, logwood quickly turns water red, and that would finally explain the strong red pigmentation in the cross section of the cut limb.

    That was one of the more fascinating trees I learned about in my studies. Hematin and hematoxylin are both derived from logwood and both are used in slide staining to this day. The country of Belize started as an English colony, and grew into a nation specifically because of the logwood trade there. Logwood extracts were used as a brilliant, light-fast red pigment, and I believe they figured out how to get a blue (and thus a purple by mixing) out of it as well. It was a highly valued trade item in the late 1500s, before the market became saturated, and then the cheaper aniline dyes made from coal tar took over in the 1800s.

    If you look at the flag of Belize, every image on it is related to the logwood trade, and the motto "Sub Umbra Floreo" ("Under the shade I flourish") has to do with the felling and debarking of logs before loading them onto the ships, all under the shade of the logwood trees. So much was debarked there that large swaths of land were raised above the waist-deep swamplands, and these spots later became prized real estate. This is a major reason I take a lot of photos of the trees I meet these days. I always know a lot more when I look back through them. I had been wondering when I'd someday finally see a logwood tree up close. Now it looks I may have already touched one, and a rather large specimen at that!
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2010

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