While walking around my neighborhood the other day, here are two sights worth mentioning. One contains a warning and the other an opportunity to add a distinctive decorative touch to your garden.
Mushroom cones grew on the trunk of a eucalyptus tree. A conk is the fruiting body of a bracket or shelf fungus. Many years ago a large branch snapped off near the base of this tree and the cones had developed in a hollow in the trunk that had been made at the time. A well-healed tree wound will close completely with growth of the surrounding cambium tissue, but here a gaping wound was left.
Microscopic fungal spores are everywhere and it took many years to finally get inside the tree, a sign that the wood inside is starting to rot. The vast majority of fungi or fungi (the fruiting bodies of certain fungi) are known as saprophytes (sapro = rot). [nourished]phyte = plant), as if fungi are plants that feed on decaying organisms, although fungi are not actually plants since they do not produce their own food through photosynthesis, but derive it from decomposing organic matter.
The lesson here is to ensure trees are checked annually for large, crooked branches that could snap off; They should be removed before winter storms. I’ve seen huge eucalyptus trees – sometimes inclined, sometimes straight – fall over in heavy rain as their roots are shallow; If you have a large eucalyptus growing in sandy soil, you’ll need to constantly thin it out to make sure it doesn’t fall during a storm. On several occasions I have seen Italian stone pines (Pinus pinea), those with flat crown domes, topple over even when their crown growth was markedly asymmetrical.
There are 40,000 species of mushrooms in North America; 250 are poisonous. Bracket conks, for example, are non-toxic. Still, extreme caution should be exercised before biting into a mushroom. Toadstools and other lawn fungi are generally non-toxic, but it’s usually not a good idea to let puppies or small children outside before removing mushrooms from your lawn or garden. Mushrooms sprout where compost has been applied, where an old piece of wood has rotted, or where a tree stump or its roots have rotted. Therefore, mushrooms can be a positive sign that indicates high soil fertility. Digging up mushrooms will not cause them to spread, and they should go away without special treatment. You can identify mushrooms that you find in your garden or elsewhere Mushroombesichter.org. After registering for free, you enter the geographic location of your mushroom, upload its photo and shortly after, one of the mushroom connoisseurs visiting the site will reveal its identity.
Aside from the conks, a Chinese doll tree (Radermachera sinica) was the other notable encounter I had on my recent walk around the block. Stored as a hardy houseplant, China Doll needs a good dose of bright light indoors, but outdoors it does best in part-day sun or shade. Years ago, at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, I saw an adult China pupa thriving in partial sun. China Doll is one of the most elegant plants in the world. It has delicate bipinnate leaves that are a deep glossy deep green color. It is also known as the emerald tree, perhaps because of its opulent, sparkling, gem-like appearance. This is not a shade tree but has very ornamental foliage and a radiant appearance that is second to none. China Doll is surprisingly sturdy. Although native to the Philippines and sold everywhere as a houseplant, it thrives in outdoor gardens from California to San Jose.
In tropical environments, the China pupa grows explosively, reaching its mature height of over 30 feet in just a few years. However, in our drier climate, that height may never be reached. Tropical plants that grow in subtropical, temperate, or Mediterranean climates like ours often don’t reach their full genetic potential. Still, tropical plants that can grow outdoors in our area will develop a tolerance to drought, but only as they mature. The Hawaiian pixie (Schefflera arboricola) is the best example of this. This common houseplant becomes an outdoor garden lover’s shrub 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide with umbrella-shaped leaves and orange berries in shade or partial sun. It requires regular water until firmly established, but when fully grown it requires only as much water as most other woody shrubs, including native shrubs. If you have a story about a plant that is commonly grown indoors and has proven itself outdoors, please send it to me so I can share it with readers of this column.
Californian of the week: Incienso or Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) is a vine with silvery leaves and yellow daisy flowers. Incienso means incense in Spanish and refers to its resinous sap used for this purpose in the early Spanish missions to the Southwest. Its foliage is also heavily scented. The Brittlebush nickname refers to its stems, which break easily. Its species name Farinosa is due to the mealy (farina = flour or flour) texture of its leaves, which is due to the presence of matted hairs. Sun-reflecting silver foliage and hairy foliage are both traits of drought-tolerant plants, and this one tops that list. It may be short-lived, but as long as the soil drains well the seeds should self-seed easily and new plants should always follow. As you head north on the 405 Freeway as it exits the San Fernando Valley, look to the right and you will see a towering silver-leaved shrub that has completely covered a slope. Caltrans has hydroseeded brittlebusch throughout Southern California, which is responsible for its spread to areas outside of its habitat.
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https://www.ocregister.com/2022/12/03/gardening-what-a-walk-around-the-block-revealed-about-these-plants/ What a walk around the block revealed about these plants – Orange County Register