Identification: Tall narrow shrub with tough strappy leaves

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by wcutler, Jun 7, 2020.

  1. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    This is part of the landscaping at the Parks Board office at the end of Beach Avenue. It's about my height, leaves are tough, to about 18cm long, with a prominent midvein that is yellow or reddish on top and purple on the leaf underside. The secondary veins are whitish on top, purple underneath. Leaf margins are have shallow serrations (are they serrations?) about 1 cm apart, with little bristles at the tips, from the look of it in the photo. Stems are purplish brown. There are no fruits or flowers right now.
    TallNarrowShrub_BeachAve-at-ParksBoard_Cutler_20200605_150123.jpg TallNarrowShrub_BeachAve-at-ParksBoard_Cutler_20200605_150203.jpg TallNarrowShrub_BeachAve-at-ParksBoard_Cutler_20200605_150238.jpg TallNarrowShrub_BeachAve-at-ParksBoard_Cutler_20200605_150326.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
  2. Sulev

    Sulev Active Member

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    Wild guess: Quercus myrsinifolia or Banksia robur
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
  3. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Well-Known Member

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    Something in Erica family?

    Am I correct saying « family? »
     
  4. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Thanks, @Sulev. You're getting the leaf margin details. These shrubs are being cared for, have been cut back. I have a hard time believing that the Parks Board would have planted three Quercus that grow to 20 meters, less than a meter apart, in this ornamental bed. And the pointed leaf tips, not to mention our climate, don't work for the Banksia.
    Geogia, yes, it's correct enough to talk about the Erica family, Ericaceae. That is not getting me closer to an ID, though.

    Here are a few more photos. The leaves are not quite as stiff as I remembered, but they are not at all soft. The serration tips have little bristles.
    TallNarrowShrub_BeachAve-at-ParksBoard_Cutler_20200608_143500.jpg TallNarrowShrub_BeachAve-at-ParksBoard_Cutler_20200608_143540.jpg TallNarrowShrub_BeachAve-at-ParksBoard_Cutler_20200608_144022.jpg
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Look for it at some independent garden centers.
     
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  6. Margot

    Margot Contributor

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    Why not contact the Parks Board and ask them to identify the shrubs?
     
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  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Definitely not a Quercus.

    What it reminds me of most is a rather slender-leaved Bay Laurel Laurus nobilis. While not that, it may be related, in Lauraceae; the branching structure is very similar. It's a long time since I've seen any Umbellularia californica, so can't say yes or no to that, but worth a check.
     
  8. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I am to get the exact name tomorrow! It might be Nerium oleander. Margot told me to contact the Parks Board, and since I don't do phone calls (or much driving now), and in spite of the sign saying they're not open to the public, I rang the bell and was allowed in. While the receptionist was giving me a card, the acting superintendent of arboriculture walked by, so we went to look. He showed me an oleander photo, said he would contact the head gardener to see if it's a cultivar. Now I'm a little suspicious, as oleander are supposed to have leaves in pairs or whorls of 3, not the case here, but these are very young; but also, oleander leaves are supposed to have entire margins, not the case here.

    Anyway, the gardener is also to get me the species name of a Schefflera planted nearby too. I'm thrilled.
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Nerium produces entire leaves.
     
  10. Margot

    Margot Contributor

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    I'm on tenterhooks.
     
  11. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Well-Known Member

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  12. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    And the answer is: Pseudopanax lessonii 'Sabre'. I have finally found a photo of the cultivar, from a nursery in Oregon: https://www.youngbloodnursery.com/product-page/pseudopanax-lessonii-sabre

    Other names for the species: Houmapara, Houmspara, Houpara, Gold splash tree, Coastal five finger
    PlantFiles: Pseudopanax, Coastal Five Finger, Houpara has the only photos that come up from the name exactly the way I was given it, and with the name as I was given it. I wonder if the plant came from Mike Davy, who posted the photos there.
    Actually, I think the "five finger" bit must apply to other Pseudopanax of this genus or even species. "Gold splash tree" must apply just to the 'Gold Splash' cultivar, which is a 5-leaflet plant, as are most of this species, if internet photos are to be believed(!) - for instance, see https://greenleafnurseries.co.nz/?s=pseudopanax+lessonii&post_type=product&product_cat=0.

    I found a photo of the species: Pseudopanax lessonii (Houpapa) - Friends of Te Henui - Kete New Plymouth, from New Plymouth, New Zealand, says it's native there.
    Here is another species photo from New Zealand, giving a common name of Moa's Toes. Pseudopanax Lessonii Moa's Toes

    I was so surprised to learn the name, because I had a Pseudopanax laetus, with compound leaves, 5 (much softer) leaflets, looking more like Schefflera, which I liked because of the purple stems. It died when I had to bring all my balcony plants inside for a year during our building envelop project. The Parks Board had one too, in nearby Morton Park, but it has disappeared, so maybe mine died from something they came with and not because I brought it inside in April 2019 after it seemed to have survived the winter outside well enough.

    Thanks for your interest, everyone.
     
  13. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Darn it, I was going to suggest Araliaceae on growth habit alone.
     
  14. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    If you had, I still would never have found it on my own.
     
  15. Margot

    Margot Contributor

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    Great detective work! I read that it is hardy in Zone 8 or 9 and requires mild, moist conditions, without extremes of temperature in winter and summer. Hopefully the Parks people have it in a perfect spot. Let us know please, Wendy, if it is still looking good in a year or two.
     
  16. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Margot, aren't we zone 7 here? They change the plantings there so often, it's probably not an issue that it won't survive a cold winter. I've set a reminder to check on it next spring!
     
  17. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    There's a Canadian hardiness zoning system and the more widely familiar USDA system, and they do not line up with one another exactly. So when Canadian locations are being discussed it needs to be stated at the outset which system is being referred to, if everyone is to be sure of being on the same page.
     
  18. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    The Pseudopanax lessonii 'Sabre' hasn't died yet; it doesn't seem to have done much of anything yet. I've read that it's only the juvenile leaves that are as large as these. What is interesting right now is that the newer growth is covered in what looks like varnish or lacquer or resin. Actually, it looks wet or sticky, but it's neither, just shiny and smooth. I haven't found anything that mentions this, but there is good page on the plant by the International Dendrology Society, at Pseudopanax lessonii - Trees and Shrubs Online. They mention that the cultivar Sabre’ has lanceolate leaves (the species has compound leaves with three to five leaflets). Hmm, I just wondered if the shiny stuff is external to the plant, something sprayed to prevent bug damage?
    Pseudopanax-lessoniiSabre_ParksBoardBeachAve_Cutler_20200911_153109.jpg Pseudopanax-lessoniiSabre_ParksBoardBeachAve_Cutler_20200911_152953.jpg Pseudopanax-lessoniiSabre_ParksBoardBeachAve_Cutler_20200911_153007.jpg Pseudopanax-lessoniiSabre_ParksBoardBeachAve_Cutler_20200911_153017.jpg Pseudopanax-lessoniiSabre_ParksBoardBeachAve_Cutler_20200911_153020.jpg
     
  19. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Here's another photo of the shiny stuff - it looks like it belongs to the plant.
    Pseudopanax-lessoniiSabre_parksboardbeachave_cutler_20201010_152224-001.jpg
     

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