Bees and Avocado Trees: The Power of Pollinators 

Thanks to their delicious taste, creamy texture and the array of health benefits they provide, avocados have exploded in popularity over the last few decades. Formerly considered a delicacy for only the wealthiest among us, avocados are now a staple component in the diets of many. 

But unfortunately, avocado farmers are currently facing a number of challenges. One of the most significant is achieving sufficient fruit production from each tree. However, growers have potentially found a way to improve their yield. They just need help from a very special animal: the humble honeybee.

Read on to learn about the reasons that honeybees are providing a helping hand, and why your morning avocado toast may not be possible without the help of these six-legged saviors. 

Avocado Trees at a Glance

The avocado tree (Persea americana) is originally native to Central America, but it is now grown in dozens of locations around the world. However, Mexico continues to be the epicenter of avocado production, as the country’s farmers produce about one-third of the global annual harvest. 

Avocado trees grow best in warm climates, including tropical regions with ample yearly rainfall and places – like Southern California – with a Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and relatively mild, wet winters. Commercial avocado production obviously takes place outdoors, but individual consumers occasionally grow these plants indoors. 

Avocado trees may reach 60 feet or more in height, although most remain smaller than this. They are clad in attractive, deep green leaves, and they are available in a number of different cultivars. 

Avocado Flowers: Peculiar Pollination

Avocado trees produce an incredible number of very tiny flowers, measuring about 1 centimeter (roughly one-half inch) in diameter. Indeed, large individuals often bear one million flowers or more. However, only a very small subset of these flowers will set fruit – typically on the order of 100 to 200, although occasional trees may produce as many as 500. 

The reasons avocado trees only produce a relatively small number of fruits aren’t entirely understood. However, it likely has to do with the strange flowers these trees bear and their unusual pollination mechanism. 

Avocado flowers have male and female reproductive structures. However, they aren’t simultaneously functional – they function as males or females for a short time before closing up and reopening later, when they function as the opposite sex. After the second opening sequence has completed, they close permanently.

Different avocado cultivars exhibit different pollination patterns. Some – known as Group A – function as female flowers in the morning, before reopening and functioning like male flowers in the afternoon. Cultivars in Group B exhibit the opposite trend. They function as male flowers and release pollen in the morning, before becoming receptive to pollen later in the afternoon. 

This mechanism is often thought to have evolved as a way to prevent self-fertilization. Because the flowers on a given tree are typically functioning as one sex or the other at a given time, it is unlikely that a tree will fertilize itself. Instead, the pollen from one needs to reach the female flowers of another avocado tree.  This tends to make avocado tree pollination relatively inefficient. So, avocado farmers are increasingly seeking help from pollinating insects – specifically honeybees. 

Honeybees Lend a Helping Hand

While honeybees don’t seem to have a particular affinity for avocado flower nectar, they can and do visit the flowers routinely. In doing so, they often transfer pollen from the male flowers of one tree to the female flowers of another, thereby achieving pollination and – in some cases – fruit set. 

Honeybees aren’t the only insects that participate in avocado tree pollination, but they are among the most helpful. Additionally, given the fact that honeybees are widely available from apiculturists (beekeepers), they are easy to introduce to groves. 

Historically, avocado farmers would install one or two honeybee hives per acre of avocado trees. But in recent years, farmers – and the university researchers who study the interrelationship between avocados and bees – have begun using more hives per acre. Currently, many farmers are using twice as many hives per acre, and some growers are using even more bees to achieve good fruit set. 

Some farmers have also begun tweaking their planting and maintenance practices to help the honeybees accomplish their work more efficiently. For example, some have begun altering their pruning practices. This is done in the hopes of keeping the grove more open, which provides better flight paths for the bees to move between trees. 

Interestingly, honeybees appear to be more helpful in avocado tree farming in some places than others. For example, they’re often quite beneficial for growers in southern California, but they prove less helpful in places like New Zealand, where hand-pollination seems to be more effective.  

One possible solution for these farmers may come from some of the relatives of honeybees. Some have begun experimenting with bumblebees, who’ve reportedly increased avocado yield in some locations, while others – including growers in San Diego County – have turned to New World Carniolan bees. 

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If you’re one of the many southern California residents trying to produce your own avocado crop, you are surely already familiar with the challenges these trees present. But we’re here to help! If you need assistance keeping your trees healthy or improving your crop yield, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. One of our ISA-certified arborists will visit your property, inspect your trees and provide a recommended course of action.  

Summer Tree Care: Four Tips for Protecting Your Trees

Tree-care is a year-round responsibility, but it is important to note that your trees need different things during different times of the year. And while one could argue that trees growing in southern California experience summer-like conditions on a more-or-less constant basis, there are a few special things you’ll want to do to prepare for the summer’s peak.

Every tree and growing location is different, so it is always important to be flexible and tailor your approach to suit your specific trees. However, you’ll likely find that the following four tips help keep your trees healthier and looking their best all summer long.

1. Apply a fresh layer of mulch over the roots.

Mulch helps to keep your trees – especially their roots – healthy in a variety of ways. However, mulch’s ability to shield the roots from high temperatures and to retain soil moisture are the two most important ways it can help in the summertime.

There are a variety of different mulches you can use, but organic, bark- or wood-based mulches are generally the best choices. Just make sure that you spread a 2- to 4-inch-thick layer around as much of the root zone as possible, and avoid piling mulch up against the tree trunk, as this can encourage fungal and bacterial growth.

2. Develop an irrigation plan.

Southern California’s summers are notoriously dry, and rain only falls sporadically. Some trees are capable of withstanding drought-like conditions without any supplemental irrigation, but others will need a helping hand if they’re to survive the summer.

Research the water needs of your trees if you aren’t already familiar with them and devise a plan to suit their needs. If your trees are likely to need some extra water, figure out how you will provide it – even if water restrictions are enacted. There are a number of highly efficient ways to water trees, including, most notably, drip irrigation systems, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your friendly neighborhood arborist if you need some help.

3. Ensure that your tree’s roots and trunk are protected.

When the kids are out of school and the tourist season is in full swing, your trees may become exposed to a lot more foot traffic. They may even fall victim to vandalism or deliberate damage. And while you can’t completely protect your trees from these threats, you’ll want to do everything you can to shield them from harm.

Mulch will help protect a tree’s roots from minor foot traffic, but you may want to install fences or other types of barriers if your tree lies along a well-trodden path. You may even be able to install other plants to help keep people away from the trunks and roots of your trees – a couple of prickly holly shrubs can convince most casual passersby from getting too close.

4. Inspect the tree’s health while the canopy is full.

Crown dieback – characterized by dead or dying branches in the canopy — is one of the most common signs of failing health or stress, and it is important to regularly inspect your trees for it. However, it can be difficult to do so for deciduous trees, which shed their leaves in the winter.

However, the summer provides the perfect time to take a look at the canopies of your trees, as the tree should be exhibiting the greatest leaf density at this time. If you note any dead branches, be sure to have an arborist inspect the tree at once.

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If you are concerned that your trees won’t take this summer in stride, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll send one of our arborists out to inspect your trees and recommend the best strategies for keeping them healthy throughout the hot and dry weather to come. We may even notice subtle signs that indicate imminent problems, thereby allowing you to treat them proactively and avoid headaches down the line.

Should Climbing Vines Be Removed from Trees?

Although trees are individual organisms, they often harbor entire ecosystems under their canopies. Dozens of insects, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians commonly inhabit trees, and several plant species even grow on living trees.

Climbing vines are some of the most common plants to colonize trees, and they can often be seen growing from the soil all the way up into the canopy. Some people find these vines attractive, while others wish their trees would remain free of vines and other plants entirely.

But while personal tastes vary, those on both sides of the climbing vine divide often have a similar concern: Do the vines harm the trees? We’ll dig into this question and explore the potential ways in which these vines may cause trouble below.

Problems Caused by Climbing Vines

Climbing vines can damage trees, but that doesn’t mean they always do or must always be removed. In actuality, a number of factors will determine whether or not a tree is harmed by a climbing vine.

Some of the ways in which climbing vines can cause harm include:

  • Climbing vines can become quite heavy over time. This additional weight can cause branches to break, or, in extreme cases, exceed the carrying capacity of the trunk and lead to complete failure.
  • Climbing vines often cling tenaciously to the bark. If the vines are later pulled away from the tree, large swaths of bark can be pulled off in the process. This leaves the tree’s delicate cambium and phloem vulnerable to desiccation, disease and
  • Climbing vines trap moisture near the trunk and branches. Fungi typically prefer to grow in damp conditions, and by trapping moisture near the bark, ivy can encourage fungal colonization and eventual decay.
  • Climbing vines can wrap tightly around the trunk or branches and constrict a tree’s phloem. Phloem is a narrow band of living tissue just underneath the bark, which is primarily responsible for transporting the sugars produced in the leaves to the roots. By cutting off this movement of resources, climbing vines effectively “strangle” trees.
  • Climbing vines can shield parts of the tree from the sun. When parts of a tree are denied sunlight, they are often sealed off by the rest of the tree and discarded (shed). These lost tissues reduce the availability of resources and weaken the tree significantly.

Should Climbing Vines Be Removed?

Because they can cause damage to their host trees, many climbing vines should be removed. However, there are a number of cases in which they can be allowed to persist if you like the way they look or would just rather avoid the effort and expense necessary to remove them.

For example, large trees may not be seriously affected by a limited amount of ivy growing on the lower trunk – particularly if the ivy doesn’t reach into the canopy. A reasonable maintenance plan could be put in place to keep them from climbing too high, and regular inspections could increase the likelihood of spotting subtle symptoms that indicate the vine is stressing the tree. If so, the vines could then be removed.

It is also important to note that different species of climbing vines represent different degrees of danger. Some are almost always harmful to trees, while others rarely cause problems and can usually be left in place. Additionally, you’ll want to consider the wildlife value of the vines in question and any potential danger represented by the vines (poison ivy, for example, can take the form of a climbing vine) when making your decision.

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If vines are starting to take over some of your trees, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll examine the trees in question, determine whether the vines are weakening or stressing the tree and recommend a prudent management strategy. As with most other tree concerns, prompt action and regular inspections are the best way to keep your trees healthy and looking their best.

How Long Do Trees Live?

About 270 miles north of Los Angeles, a remarkable tree juts out of a rocky landscape. The tree isn’t terribly attractive, nor large, nor some member of a critically endangered species.

This tree is remarkable because it is about 5,000 years old – give or take a few decades.

The tree in question is a bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva). A hardy species that thrives amid harsh landscapes, there are many ancient specimens growing throughout the eastern portions of our state and parts of Utah and Nevada.

For some time, researchers believed they had identified the oldest living individual – 4849-year-old specimen named Methuselah. However, researchers recently documented an unnamed individual which appears to be about 150 years older than the previous record holder.

We know that this tree grows in the Ancient Bristlecone Forest (part of the Inyo National Forest), but to protect the trees from vandals, its precise location has not been divulged to the public.

Which Tree Species Live the Longest?

Bristlecone pines aren’t the only trees that have lifespans reaching into four-digit territory. Cypress trees (Cupressus sempervirens) often live for extraordinarily long times; a 4,500-year-old specimen called Cypress of Abarkuh is currently growing in Iran.

A few European yews (Taxus baccata) are also very old; estimates of their exact age vary between 2,000 and 5,000 years. At least one olive tree (Olea europaea) growing in Greece is known to be at least 2,000 years old, and many contend that it may be more than twice this age.

Although relative youngsters, sacred figs (Ficus religiosa) also reach advanced ages, although most of the oldest documented specimens are in the 2,500-year-old range. Several Japanese cedars (Cryptomeria japonica) have also reached ages in excess of 2,000 years.

A number of other species routinely reach 1,000 to 2,000 years of age, but the vast majority of tree species have much shorter average lifespans. Many, including a number of fruit trees, only live for a few decades at best. And while this seems like a negative attribute when discussing trees that have been around since the construction of the pyramids, short-lived species can be quite useful in some applications.

An Important Caveat: Clones Cause Confusion

While the unnamed bristlecone pine referenced above is considered the oldest living tree, an 80,000-year-old aspen grove is growing in Utah at this very moment. Unlike run-of-the-mill tree clumps, this grove is primarily represented by a single organism – an organism that has lived for this entire time.

While the bristlecone pine (and other long-lived species mentioned above) is a single stemmed tree, aspens grow as huge colonial organisms connected by a single, interconnected root system. While the individual stems (which you’d normally think of as individual trees) live relatively brief lives, the root system persists and produces new stems to replace those that die.

A similar example of a colonial species with a long lifespan is a Norway spruce growing in Sweden. Although the trunk that stands today isn’t the same one that initially erupted from the ground, the tree’s root system is about 10,000 years old.

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Of course, even long-lived species don’t always enjoy lengthy lives – a variety of factors can shorten the lifespan of an individual tree. But if you take good care of your trees and have them inspected regularly by an experienced arborist consultant, you can give them a great shot at a long, healthy life. If you’d like to give your trees the best chance of living a long and healthy life, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. One of our arborists will inspect your trees and provide tips for supporting them in the most beneficial way possible.

Who knows? Maybe one of your cypresses or pines will still be standing thousands of years from now.

Are Treehouses Safe for Trees?

Building your child a treehouse not only provides them with a fun place to play, it can foster an appreciation for trees and the natural world. But some homeowners worry that a treehouse will harm their trees.

And while some treehouses do damage their host trees, it is possible to design, construct and install one in ways that will not cause much harm to the tree. Below, we’ll discuss some of the ways treehouses can cause damage and some of the best ways to avoid stressing your trees when building a treehouse.

Potential Ways Treehouses Can Harm Trees

There’s nothing especially harmful about putting a few pieces of plywood in the branches of a stout tree. Big trees can usually handle the additional weight, and lumber doesn’t present any special risks to the tree. But the way in which you design and install the house can lead to damage or decay.

Some of the ways that treehouses can cause harm include:

Creating Wounds

Most treehouses are secured to the tree via screws or nails. The holes created by these fasteners can damage the tree’s phloem and cambium, and provide a route by which pests, pathogens and fungi can access the tree’s vulnerable tissues.

Trapping Moisture

Rainwater will run down the sides of the treehouse and work its way into the sheltered nooks and crannies near the junction of the structure and the tree. If allowed to stay damp, these places will provide the perfect conditions for fungal and bacterial growth.

Limiting Normal Growth

Trees not only grow vertically as branches and trunks lengthen, their branches and trunks also increase in girth. But treehouses can limit this growth and prevent branches from increasing their diameter. Anything that constricts a tree’s ability to grow can reduce the tree’s vigor and may lead to weak spots.

Altering the Tree’s Balance

While most large trees can support a couple of hundred extra pounds without difficulty, it is important that this weight is properly distributed across the tree’s branches. If placed away from the tree’s center of gravity, it can alter the balance of the tree and increase the likelihood that it will topple.

Catching Wind

Treehouses can function as “sails” when installed in the branches of the trees, which will cause them to get blown around quite a bit. This can stress the branches of a tree significantly and lead to breakage.

Limiting the Damage Caused: Low-Impact Treehouses

Now that you understand the ways in which treehouses can harm trees, you can embrace a few strategies and techniques to limit the potential for damage. Minimally, this means adopting the following practices:

Use Tree-Friendly Connectors and Hardware

As much as is possible, avoid driving nails or screws directly into the trunk or branches. Instead, use adjustable straps or U-bolts to connect the structure to the tree. Additionally, be sure to inspect these connectors regularly and adjust them to allow the tree to grow properly.

Avoid Creating Moisture Pockets

Provide places that allow water to drain and air to flow between the structure and the tree’s bark. If you must create a potential moisture pocket, try to position it so that it receives plenty of sun exposure, which will help it dry out more effectively.

Keep the Treehouse Near the Trunk

Always place the treehouse near the trunk, rather than far out on the tree’s branches. This will help you avoid altering the tree’s balance and reduce the chances that the structure will function as a sail.

Build a Ladder; Don’t Nail Steps to the Trunk

As much as is possible, you want to limit your kids’ contact with the tree – they should primarily be standing on the structure, rather than the tree itself. Accordingly, you’ll want to create a standalone ladder or set of stairs to provide access to the treehouse, rather than by attaching steps directly on the trunk.

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If you are considering adding a treehouse to your property, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll have one of our experienced arborists inspect the tree you intend to use and verify that it is suitably stable and strong to support the structure. No one can guarantee that a treehouse will not cause damage to a tree, but by doing your homework and working closely with a tree-care professional, you can certainly reduce the chances of stressing your beloved trees.

Why Do Tree Leaves Change Colors in the Fall?

Thanks to the incredible colors that appear, Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year in many places. Instead of the pretty, yet monotonous green tones that have painted the landscape for the last 6 months, the trees become clad in gold, red, orange and purple hues.

Because the green color of leaves is a crucial factor in the biology of trees, many people are curious why tree leaves change color at this time of year. But, rather than having a reason for doing so, this phenomenon actually represents a beautiful byproduct of the dying process.

Why Are Tree Leaves Green in the First Place?

Like all other advanced plants, trees make their own food through the process of photosynthesis. This process works by converting the water and carbon dioxide the trees collect into sugars, which serve as the plant’s food. Green plants rely on a substance called chlorophyll to capture the energy in sunlight and use it to drive the chemistry behind photosynthesis.

Chlorophyll – which is found throughout leaves and a few other plant tissues – is green. This, in turn, means that the leaves of plants and trees are usually green.

Why Do Tree Leaves Change Colors in the Fall?

As the nights grow longer and the days shorter, some trees begin preparing for the coming Winter. Because leaves help the tree draw water from the ground and then release it from small holes on the leaf surface, many trees shed their leaves during this cold, and often dry, portion of the year. This helps them to avoid becoming stressed by a lack of water.

As part of this process, the chlorophyll in the leaf begins to break down. When this happens, other pigments that are already present in the leaf become visible. Two such pigments are especially important in this context: carotenoids, which produce yellow and orange colors, and anthocyanins, which produce red tones.

Because different species and individuals have different amounts of these pigments inside their leaves, their leaf color can vary. This is why one sugar maple on your street may turn bright red, while another turns a rich gold color.

What Types of Factors Influence Fall Color in a Given Year?

You may have noticed that not all Falls are created equally, and the leaf color in some years is much more vibrant than in others. There are a few reasons for this year-to-year variation, but most relate to the weather during the previous spring and summer.

Typically, the best fall color follows years with ample growing-season rain and dry, warm and sunny weather during the late summer and early fall. The first factor ensures that the tree will produce lots of healthy foliage, which will remain intact and healthy late in the season, thanks to the lack of rain.

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Fall color is a little tamer in California than it is in many east-coast cities, but there are a handful of high-color trees that thrive in our region’s Mediterranean climate. If you’d like to add a little red, yellow and maroon to your yard next Autumn, call your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants. One of our trained arborists will visit your property and recommend a few species that are likely to thrive there. We can even help with the installation process if you’d like.

What Are Some of the Best Drought-Tolerant Trees for California?

Prolonged droughts are commonplace in Southern California, so it is important to select trees that can survive with relatively little water for your next tree installation project. Fortunately for residents of the sunniest part of the Sunshine State, there are a number of native and exotic selections that fit this bill.

The next time you are planning to add new trees to your property, start by considering the following six species:

1. California Sycamore

Big and beautiful natives of the state, California sycamores (Platanus racemosa) are surprisingly drought tolerant, given their preference for growing in riparian areas. Reaching up to 100 feet in height, California sycamores – like most of their relatives – possess very attractive, splotchy bark that includes white, grey and brown tones. Although these trees are deciduous and shed their leaves each fall, they make excellent shade trees during the spring and summer.

2. Purple-Leaf Acacia

The purple-leaf acacia (Acacia baileyana ‘Purpurea’) is an attractive tree with smooth bark and green to purple evergreen foliage. Although fast-growing, purple-leaf acacias have relatively weak wood, so it is best planted away from homes and areas of high foot traffic. A 20- to 30-foot-tall tree, the purple-leaf acacia is relatively short-lived, and rarely reaches 50 years of age.

3. California Buckeye

A California native, the buckeye (Aesculus californica) is a drought-tolerant species, but without supplemental irrigation, it will usually shed its leaves in the late summer. Rarely exceeding 25 feet in height, the California buckeye is typically used as an accent tree, but it provides great shade while in leaf and can be used to keep air conditioning units cooler (which will help reduce your home-cooling costs) in the summer.

4. Flame Tree

The flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) is named for its gorgeous orange or red flowers, which grace the tree in the late spring or summer. Reaching about 60 feet in height, these trees are not suitable for use under utility lines, but their modest spread – generally less than 35 feet – makes it a great choice for narrow planting locations. The flame tree is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions and sun exposure levels, making it an acceptable choice for most properties.

5. Western Redbud

The western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) is a small species that bears pretty purple flowers in the early spring.  Because of their small size (few specimens exceed 20 feet in height), they don’t work well as shade trees, but they are an excellent accent or ornamental trees that also provide significant wildlife value. They can also work well for screening projects in some cases.

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If you need help selecting the best drought-tolerant trees for your property, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. Not only will one of our experienced arborists help you determine the perfect trees for your space, he or she will provide you with tips for helping to prepare your tree for the inevitable droughts that will occur over the next several decades.

What Are Some Fast-Growing Trees for California Properties?

Humans tend to be an impatient bunch, so it isn’t surprising that many people are interested in selecting fast-growing trees for their next installation project. However, there are also a variety of real-world reasons to seek trees that grow and mature quickly.

For example, trees can help to prevent erosion, provide energy-saving shade and screen properties from noise, wind and prying eyes. In these and other cases, fast-growing trees are significantly more valuable than those that take decades to reach respectable sizes.

Fortunately, there are a number of fast-growing tree species, which can be very useful for homeowners and property managers. And while you must be sure to select those trees appropriate for your area and local conditions, there are plenty of great choices for Southern California properties, including the five listed below:

1. White Mulberry

The white mulberry (Morus alba) is a medium-sized tree that grows quite quickly when provided with fertile soil and plenty of sunshine. The fruits of mulberries are very attractive to birds, who will often visit the trees en masse to fill their bellies. The fruit can stain sidewalks and driveways, so opt for a fruitless cultivar – such as ‘Stribling’ or ‘Kingan’ — when planting mulberries near hardscapes.

2. Australian Willow

Australian willows (Geijera parviflora) are relatively small, evergreen trees that reach heights of about 30 feet (though the occasional specimen may approach 50 feet in height). These attractive trees store water in their leaves, which makes them relatively fire-resistant and well-suited for high-risk locations. Drought-resistant and adaptable to a variety of soil conditions, these trees grow best in full sun, although they will tolerate light shade.

3. Bracelet Honey-Myrtle

Another tree hailing from Australia, the bracelet honey-myrtle (Melaleuca armillaris) is a fast-growing, but small evergreen tree. It produces subtle, yet pretty white flowers in the spring or summer and retains its dark green leaves all year long. Well-suited for screening projects, these trees are tolerant of many different soil types and often tolerate salt spray relatively well.

4. Reed Avocado

Reed avocado trees (Persea americana ‘Reed’) are some of the largest and fastest-growing varieties of avocados, and they make excellent choices for screening projects. Another evergreen species, the Reed avocado bears a very dense canopy, which makes it a great shade tree too. However, the Reed Avocado – like most other avocado trees – requires relatively moist soil to remain healthy, and those who grow these trees will often find supplemental irrigation necessary.

5. Red Maple

A beautiful tree that reaches 60 feet in height, the red maple (Acer rubrum) is native to the eastern portions of North America. Most celebrated for their fall foliage, red maples are actually quite attractive in all seasons. They prefer moist soils, but they are reasonably drought-tolerant once established. Because they have relatively weak wood, they are best planted in the open, away from areas in which people or pets congregate.

Honorable Mention: Cabbage Palms and Queen Palms

While palms aren’t often used for screening projects or to provide shade, residents and property managers looking for a fast-growing palm will find that either the cabbage palm (Cordyline australis) or the queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) will fit the bill. While the former rarely exceeds 35 feet in height, while the latter may reach 50 feet or more in a relatively brief period of time. Both grow best in well-drained soil with full sun exposure.

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If you’d like help selecting the best fast-growing trees for your property (or if you’d like help installing them), give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. One of our experienced arborists will visit your property, assess the local soil and climate and recommend the best trees for your space.

Five Great Fruit Trees for Southern California Yards

Fruit trees are great additions to almost any yard, as they not only offer the same benefits most other trees do, they also provide you with a bounty of fruit each year. Several fruit trees also exhibit a very attractive growth habit, and a few produce beautiful, showy flowers in the spring or summer.

But to ensure your fruit tree installation is a success, you’ll need to select good species for your property. Fortunately, residents of Southern California have a number of viable options from which they can choose.

1. Persimmon

Persimmon trees (Diospyros spp.) are 20- to 40-foot-tall trees that are native to various portions of North America and Asia. They are handsome trees, with attractive bark that produce huge quantities of fleshy fruits. However, not all persimmons are created equally: Many, such as the American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) contain bitter-tasting tannins. Accordingly, you’ll want to go with the Fuyu persimmon (Diospyros kaki‘Fuyu’), which produces very tasty fruits without many tannins at all.

2. Avocado

Avocados (Persea americana) have become very popular trees in southern California over the last decade or two, and it is easy to see why: They are very attractive, hardy trees with thick canopies, which means they not only provide delicious fruit, but privacy and shade too. You can grow avocados from seed, but you may have to wait a decade or more to get a good crop, so it is usually preferable to start with container-grown saplings. Note that different avocado varieties exhibit two different flowering patterns (termed A and B), and you’ll want some of each to achieve the best possible fruit set.

3.Meyer Lemon

The Meyer lemon tree (Citrus x meyeri) is a wonderful fruit tree for Southern California yards. Part lemon tree and part mandarin orange, Meyer lemons taste like low-acid lemons (which makes them great for deserts), and they can actually be eaten with the peel. Meyer lemons tend to exhibit a pretty bushy growth habit, and they produce sprawling root systems, so be sure that you have enough space to accommodate them before choosing them for your yard.

4. Fig Tree

Many fig trees will grow well in Southern California, but the Brown Turkey variety (Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’) is probably the one most ideally suited for our region. These 15- to 30-foot-tall trees grow best when planted somewhere with full sun exposure and deep, well-drained soil. Figs are deciduous trees, so they won’t provide shade in the summer. However, their growth form is quite attractive, and they still provide visual interest, even in the winter. Just be sure you like figs before planting a few of these trees, as they tend to produce two crops a year – one in late spring, and another in late summer.

5. Grapefruit

Another citrus tree that grows well in Southern California, grapefruit trees are especially well-suited for coastal areas, such as Malibu, Santa Monica and Long Beach. Several different varieties are suitable for our region, but the Marsh seedless (Citrus × paradisi ‘Marsh’) variety is one of the best choices. Grapefruit trees can be a bit tricky to grow, so you’ll need to plant them in an ideal spot to be successful – just be sure the trunk won’t be scorched in the sun, and that the soil is deep and loamy.

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If you’d like to add a few fruit trees to your yard, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll assess your property, provide you with a few species recommendations and even install them for you, if you like. Proper species selection and installation is crucial for fruit tree health, so it always makes sense to solicit the help of professionals when you are starting out.

Bringing Fall Color to California: Enjoy the Changing of the Seasons

Most of the tree species that exhibit bold fall colors are native to the eastern portions of the US, with the best examples occurring in the northeast. In fact, people travel from miles around each year to check out the fall color in places like Vermont and New Hampshire.

Relatively few of the trees native to Southern California have jaw-dropping fall color, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy watching the leaves change in the fall; you just need to plant a few of the right trees.

1. Maidenhair

If you like gold-colored leaves in the fall, there are few trees that can match the beauty of the maidenhair tree (Ginkgobiloba). One of the oldest tree species in the world, maidenhair trees are relicts from a time when dinosaurs walked the earth. Maidenhairs are big trees (some exceed 100 feet in height), so they aren’t appropriate for tiny lots. Be sure to select male cultivars when picking out your maidenhair trees, as the females produce copious quantities of foul-smelling seeds, which will stink up your entire yard.

2. Chinese pistache

The Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) produces some of the best fall color of any tree that will grow well in Southern California. It is a moderately drought-tolerant, hardy species that is resistant to most local insects and diseases. Chinese pistaches reach about 50 feet in height, and they have a similar spread, thanks to their beautiful round canopies. Female pistache trees will produce small, purple to pink berries, which often attract birds and other wildlife. These trees will grow throughout most of our region, but because they tolerate pollution fairly well, they are one of the best choices for those living in the congested portions of Los Angeles and the surrounding area.

3. Sweetgums

If you just want eye-popping color, it is hard to go wrong with sweetgum trees (Liquidambar styraciflua). Sweetgums can produce gold, red and purple colors – sometimes in a single leaf. Sweetgums are big trees with incredibly invasive root systems, so you must be sure to select a planting location large enough to accommodate them. Naturally occurring sweetgum trees produce copious quantities of woody fruit, called gum balls, which can be quite a nuisance. Fortunately, many cultivars, such as the (Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundiloba’), have been developed that do not produce fruit. However, the ‘Palo Alto’ cultivar produces better fall color and is ideally suited for the Southern California climate.

4.Japanese Maple

Maples are rightly celebrated for their impressive fall color, and the tiny Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) is no exception. Suitable for even the smallest properties, Japanese maples are famous for their slow growth rate and attractive branching structure. In our region, Japanese maples should usually be planted in partially shaded areas, so they won’t overheat in the California sunshine. Japanese maples aren’t very salt tolerant, so they are better choices for inland locations, such as Glendale and Pasadena.

5. Japanese Persimmon

The Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki) is a medium-sized tree that offers several different types of visual interest in the fall and winter. First, the green leaves will begin to turn yellow or orange. Shortly after this, they will begin to fall off, revealing the glorious orange fruit and the handsome, plate-like bark. Persimmons require well-drained, loamy soil, and they are moderately drought tolerant once established. In addition to the delicious fruit and attractive fall color they provide, persimmons also have very dense canopies that provide great shade.

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If you’d like some help adding a little fall color to your property, contact your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants. We’ll visit your property and help you figure out the best species to plant, and provide some tips for maximizing their color each year.