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Please identify this volunteer tree/shrub. It's beautiful

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  • Please identify this volunteer tree/shrub. It's beautiful

    I hope someone can identify this tree-shrub. This volunteer sprouted up next to my southern magnolia tree recently. I've consulted my books but can not identify it. I love its fern-like leaves and red bark. I will soon need a replacement for the magnolia next to it. It has been thinning severely for 4 years since I had to cut some sturctural roots to repair the brick planter it resides in. The magnolia has been the specimen tree in the front of my house for 50 years, but a real mess as well. I would love a deciduous specimine tree to replace it with. It's too much to hope for that this pretty little volunteer is an apropriate candidate,,, isn't it? I live in San Lorenzo, California, in the San Francisco east bay area (near Oakland). Zone 17 in Sunset Western Garden Book.

  • #2
    Hi Keith,

    It looks like a Ailanthus altissima aka Tree-of-heaven.* These weed trees are known to sprout everywhere they can get a stronghold.*

    Another possibility could be Albizia.* There are many varieties.* It would not be a good replacement as it leaves behind alot of litter and the roots will lift the sidewalk. It's also considered an invasive in many areas.

    Another tree that comes to mind would be Royal poinciana aka Delonix regia.



    • #3
      Boy Newt, you are incredible. I think you nailed it with Albizia. I think I'll prune it for strength and watch it for a while. It is so graceful. I truly appreciate your reply and the links you attached. They are so helpful.

      *Do you have a favorite specimen tree (deciduous) to replace my dying magnolia in the front of my house? The ash tree on the left in the picture is gone due to oak root fungus. The picture is 3 years old and the magnolia is doing much worse.


      • #4
        Keith, thank you for the compliment.* It took a bit of searching a I'm not all that familiar with the plants that grow where you live.* I have been to South America and have seen many trees and shrubs there, so that helped a bit.

        Now you're not going to like my answer, but I don't think you should plant a tree there unless it's a dwarf, and I mean dwarf.* Look at the picture again.* It looks like the tree cuts your house in half.* I would suggest something narrow and columnar or a small shrub.* Large trees should frame a house, so they are better placed to the outer edge of the house.

        I get your hardiness zone as 9.* You can check it here.

        By the way, the 'planter' you have your tree in is called a tree coffin by arborists.* That is why your magnolia is struggling.*

        I don't know if this tree can stand the heat where you are as I haven't found the limit for it's warmer zones, but the size and form are what I'm referring to. It's not evergreen either.* I would also need to check into the root situation with this tree.* Many maples are notorius for large root systems.
        Acer saccharum 'Barrett Cole'* aka Apollo maple.

        Let me know what you think and I'll research some trees for you.*

        Oh, I forgot to ask,* What are the sun conditions there?* How many hours of sun?* Which way does the house face?