Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Coulter Pine

Scientific name: Pinus coulteri

Date collected: April 1st, 2011

Location: Descanso Gardens on the trail between the California Garden and the Camellia Garden

Habitat: Grows in chaparral and lower montane coniferous forests. Seldom seen in in extensive pure stands. Often found on steep southern slopes and ridges between 500' and 7,00' feet.

Nativity: P. couteri is native to Southern California and Northern Baja Mexico. It is also cultivated in Hawaii.

Special notes: Coulter pine is often used as an ornamental plant in large gardens. Because of there enormous size the cones are also used for decoration and craft projects. It has been suggested that Native Americans also ate the seeds from the cone.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bird of Paradise

Scientific name: Strelitzia reginae

Date collected: March 29, 2008

Location collected: in a planter near the California Science Center

Habitat: It is a common garden plant in gardens across Southern California. It grows best in partial shade and organic soils with good drainage.

Nativity: S. reginae is not native to California, it is actually native to South Africa.

Special notes: Even though the Bird of Paradise is not a native to Los Angeles, it is the official flower of the city.


Oregon Grape

Scientific name: Berberis aquifolium

Date collected: April 1st, 2011

Location collected: Descanso Gardens in the California Garden

Habitat: Found on rocky slopes in chaparral and yellow pine forests. At elevations of 3,000' to 6,000'

Nativity: Native to California but also found outside, confined to Western North America.

Special notes: Native Americans used B. aquifolium for many purposes. The bark was used to make a yellow dye, while the berries were often eaten. Several other parts of the plant including the roots, stem, and leaves were used medicinally to treat Stomach aches, hemorrhages, tuberculosis, and yellow fever.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Coast Redwood

Scientific name: Sequoia sempervirens

Date collected: April 1st, 2011

Location collected: Descanso Gardens near the bird observatory station

Habitat: Grows on moist coastal plains, near large streams or river deltas, and on moderate westerly slopes.

Nativity: The natural range of S. sempervirens is a narrow coastal strip from the Southwest corner of Oregon to the Santa Lucia Mountains of Monterey County.

Special Notes: In the late 1930's the native redwood was named California's state tree. Unfortunately there are two species (Sequoia sempervirens, and Sequoiadendron giganteum) with the common name redwood and both are native to California. Legislation was eventually passed to recognize both species as the state tree of California. This ruling makes California one of only two states (the other being Nevada) with two state trees.


Desert Fan Palm

Scientific name: Washingtonia filifera

Date collected: April 1st, 2011

Location collected: Descanso Gardens in the California Garden

Habitat: Found in arid regions growing in groves near streams, seeps, and springs.

Nativity: W. filifera is the only palm native to the Western United States, including California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Special Notes: The Desert Fan Palm provides an important habitat for orioles, woodpeckers and yellow bats. The palm oasis are also important to bighorn sheep and coyotes because they provide a consistent supply of water.


Canyon Dodder

Scientific name: Cuscuta subinclusa

Date collected: May 31st, 2009

Location collected: Deukmejian Wilderness Park along the Le Mesnager trail.

Habitat: Common in the chaparral community, and in forested areas near streams, at evelation to 5,000'.

Nativity: C. subinclusa is native to California and Oregon.

Special Notes: Dodder is a parasitic vine that lacks chlorophyll. The seeds may remain dormant for several years before germinating. Once they have germinated they must attach to host within a few days or they will die. The stem of the seedling will grope for a suitable branch at which point it will coil around the host and form root-like branches that penetrate the host to gain water, nutrients and sugars.