Mystery Small Tree

Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by hortiphoto, Nov 26, 2019.

  1. hortiphoto

    hortiphoto Active Member 10 Years

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    I’d appreciate some help with this one. I asked about a couple of years ago and couldn’t get an answer, but I now have some closer shots of the flowers.

    It’s a 5 to 6 metre high and wide, gnarled, evergreen shrub or small tree that blooms in early summer. As far as I can tell from the images, the flowers have 5 petals, 10 stamens, 1 carpel and possibly 5 small sepals. The flowers are faintly scented and very attractive to bees, but I’ve never seen fruit on it, so presumably it isn’t self-fertile.

    I know it’s not very scientific, but it has the feel of something Mediterranean or African.
     

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  2. Silver surfer

    Silver surfer Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Please can we have more info /help.
    Leaves...can you add pics of a single leaf..back and front against a white/pale background...... with a ruler to give scale.
    Flowers are they day or night scented?
    Bark...what does that look like?
    I know it’s not very scientific, but to me it has the feel of something from Australia!
     
  3. hortiphoto

    hortiphoto Active Member 10 Years

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    Regrettably, it's a few hundred kilometres away in Timaru, NZ. However, the image below, cropped from a larger photo, gives a pretty good idea of the foliage. The leaves are around 40-50mm long, simple, alternate, blunt-tipped and have a prominent midrib. They are only a slightly lighter green on the underside, with no noticeable indumentum, scaling or glands. They are quite dry, with a slightly papery texture. Somewhat reminiscent of Dodonaea viscosa foliage, but a bit smaller and thicker.

    The flowers are only faintly scented and it may just be the aroma of the nectar.

    I didn't get a picture of the bark, but it's grey-brown, thick and deeply furrowed. While not actually thorny, the stem tips tend to be leafless and pungent.
     

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  4. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    What about bay - Laurus nobilis? I have not checked details closely before suggesting this, and I don't have time to do check to see if there is some reason this isn't right.
     
  5. hortiphoto

    hortiphoto Active Member 10 Years

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    No, not a bay. Smaller flowers and leaves, and not especially aromatic. I think I would have recognised that one pretty much straight away, but I'm down that way again this weekend and will crush a few leaves just to make sure.
     
  6. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    OK, here is another it reminds me of - Harpullia. Oops - edited, ignore this. Harpullia have compound leaves. Sorry.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
  7. Puddleton

    Puddleton Active Member 10 Years

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    My initial thought is that it's in family Oleaceae . As it has 5 petals, I'm clearly wrong.
    It'll be easier once you work out what family it is in.
     
  8. hortiphoto

    hortiphoto Active Member 10 Years

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    Yes, my thoughts exactly, though even that is not immediately obvious.
     
  9. Silver surfer

    Silver surfer Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Been looking ...might it be Backhousia citriodora (common names lemon myrtle, lemon scented myrtle, lemon scented ironwood) is a flowering plant in the family Myrtaceae,


    This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds. Flowers are fragrant.

    "The very attractive white flowers are numerous and produced in long-stalked clusters. The outer part of an individual flower consists of a bell-shaped hairy receptacle with 5 persistent spreading calyx lobes. These are surmounted by 5 small petals about 5 mm long and numerous fluffy stamens which are twice as long as the petals."

    Stamen seem to fall off quite quickly.

    APII database extract: photo_class = 'dig' and photo_no = '14284'

    Backhousia citriodora - Bing images

    Backhousia citriodora 7

    Backhousia citriodora - Growing Native Plants

    PlantFiles: Lemon-scented Myrtle, Sweet Verbena Tree, Lemon Ironwood

    Backhousia citriodora - Wikipedia
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
  10. hortiphoto

    hortiphoto Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks for the suggestion. Regrettably, that's not it, though. I'm familiar with Backhousia and it's really quite different.
     
  11. Silver surfer

    Silver surfer Generous Contributor 10 Years

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  12. hortiphoto

    hortiphoto Active Member 10 Years

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    I'm actually in front of the tree right now and I'm wondering if it might be a Maytenus. It's not boaria but might be another species.
     
  13. Puddleton

    Puddleton Active Member 10 Years

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    Sadly it’s neither Xanthostemon or Backhousia
     
  14. hortiphoto

    hortiphoto Active Member 10 Years

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    No, I'm familiar with both of those, and my thought that might be a Maytenus seems increasingly unlikely. Still, I like a good mystery.
     
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  15. Silver surfer

    Silver surfer Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Not getting anywhere fast with this.
    May I ask you to watch for seed pods/fruits after flowers.
    Maybe that will help someone here.
     
  16. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Could you say what is making it not seem to fit Maytenus? It does seem in your photo that there are separate male and female flowers; that was not the case in the one good flower photo I found, which had perfect flowers, none with 10 stamens. I was so sure it was going to be in the Lauraceae family, but I see that generally those flowers have 6 perianth segments, except that Laurus seem to have four. 5 petals/10 stamens does not seem to be a Lauraceae characteristic.
     
  17. teague

    teague Active Member 10 Years

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    Looks like a Sapindus.

    Also vaguely reminds me of Schinus terebinthifolius and other plants in the Anacardiaceae.
     
  18. teague

    teague Active Member 10 Years

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    Schinus longifolia?
     
  19. hortiphoto

    hortiphoto Active Member 10 Years

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    I've been away for a few days and haven't seen these latest posts. Schinus longifolia looks to be a pretty good fit. I haven't seen it fruit, though, which is a bit unusual as both Schinus molle and Schinus terebinthifolius fruit well here. But then maybe it's not self-fertile and maybe I've just missed it. Anyhow, I'm happy to go with Schinus longifolia. Thank you to all.
     

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