The Davis Cemetery District and Arboretum has received Level II arboretum accreditation by the prestigious Morton Register of Arboreta located in Illinois! You can find out more about the Morton Register at www.arbnet.org.
In 2012, the Davis Cemetery District became a level II accredited arboretum with the Morton Register of Arboreta. The Morton Register provides guidelines and standards for becoming an arboretum. Level II accreditation means the Davis Cemetery District and Arboretum contains over 100 tree and woody plant species, has a specific employee to manage the arboretum, and has a program for public education about the arboretum. The cemetery also has the last natural hill and swale in the city. A swale is a low area of land where water from rain and irrigation collects and seeps through the soil to recharge the groundwater. In 2007-2009, community volunteers helped complete a re-vegetation project to plant 42,000 grass and sedge plugs in the swale. These grasses and sedges are native species which help filter pollutants out of the water. Additionally, there are several gardens in the cemetery for visitors to enjoy. The Scent Garden contains lots of fragrant plants and the bulb garden has many kinds of flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year. Aside from viewing plants, you can also use one of the two labyrinths for a quiet, meditative walk or listen to the soothing Veteran Memorial Fountain.
Flowering Maple (Abultilon) Abutilon is a genus that includes 150 species. Some common names include Chinese Bell Flower, Chinese Lantern, Indian Mallow, and Flowering Maple. It is not related to maple, but is called Flowering Maple because its leaves are shaped like a maple’s. The flowers hang down and are bell shaped. They can be white, yellow, pink, red, or orange and they can bloom continuously if the weather is warm enough.
Shoestring Acacia (Acacia stenophylla) The Shoestring Acacia gets its name from its long, thin leaves, which resemble shoestrings. It has yellow flowers that bloom throughout the spring. Native to Australia, the Shoestring Acacia does well in desert environments. It tolerates saline and alkaline soils very well and can survive flooding. In Australia, the Shoestring Acacia is sometimes used for lumber and as a food source for some aboriginals. There are many common names for this tree in Australia, including Eumong, River Cooba, Belalie, and Gurley.
Autumn Blaze (Acer freemanii) Also known as Freeman Maple, Autumn Blaze is the Jeffersred cultivar of a hybrid between Red Maple (Acer rubrum) and Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum). It has the best characteristics of each of its parent species. It has the Red Maple’s balanced, wide branches, and bright fall coloring and the Silver Maple’s drought and poor soil tolerance. The Autumn Blaze can reach a height of 50-60 feet and a branch span of 30-40 feet. In the fall its leaves turn bright red, orange, and yellow. The leaves also stay longer than the leaves of other types of Maple.
Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) The Big Leaf Maple, or Oregon Maple, is native to the west coast of North America. It has been known to reach 150 feet tall, but usually grows to 50-60 feet. The leaves, which are ½-1 foot across, are the largest of any maple species. These leaves become very colorful in the fall. Big Leaf Maple wood is often used for furniture and musical instruments, especially piano frames. Its sap can also be used to make maple syrup. It has a slightly different taste than Sugar Maple syrup, which is more common.
Red Maple (Acer rubrum) The Red Maple, or Soft Maple, is one of the most common trees on the east coast of North America and it is the state tree of Rhode Island. It gets its name from the red flowers, seeds, twigs, and its bright red leaves in autumn. It is also known as the Swamp Maple or Water Maple because it is extremely tolerant of wet conditions and easily survives through floods. The leaves of the Red Maple are very toxic to horses, especially wilted or dead leaves. Not much is known about the toxin except that it damages red blood cells, making it harder to transport oxygen.
Bowhall Red Maple (Acer rubrum bowhall) The Bowhall Red Maple is a cultivar of Red Maple. It grows to a height of 50 feet, but the branches only grow to a span of about 25 feet. Because of the narrower branches, this species is more convenient to plant in parking lots or along streets than other types of Maple trees. The seeds of this tree often attract squirrels and birds.
October Glory (Acer rubrum October glory) October Glory is a cultivar of Red Maple. It grows very quickly and has strong wood. It grows very well in wet conditions and has bright orange and red foliage in autumn.
Red Sunset (Acer rumbrum red sunset) Red Sunset, also called Scarlet Maple, is another cultivar of Red Maple. It grows fast and has strong wood. The roots are not very aggressive, so it does not raise sidewalks and cause other problems like other types of maple sometimes do. Red Sunset is one of the first trees to start changing colors in the fall and has bright red and orange foliage.
Yarrow (Achillea) Achillea is a genus that includes 85 species. Yarrow is the common name that most often applies to Achillea millefolium, but is also used for other species. These plants produce clusters of flowers at the tip of the stem. The flowers can be white, yellow, orange, red, or pink. Achillea was named for the mythological Greek hero Achilles. According to the Iliad, Achilles’ soldiers treated wounds with Yarrow. Because of this, Yarrow has also been called Allheal and Bloodwort.
California Buckeye (Aesculus californica) The California Buckeye is native to California and Oregon. Its bark, leaves, and nuts are toxic, but some Native American tribes were able to use the nuts as a food source by boiling them until the toxins were completely removed. The nectar of the California Buckeye also toxic to honeybees, but is often eaten by butterflies.
African Lily (Agapanthus) African Lily is native to South Africa. Its stems grow two to six feet tall and have clusters of white, blue, or purple flowers that bloom in the summer.
Peppermint Willow Myrtle (Agonis flexuosa) The Western Australian Peppermint Tree, Swan River Peppermint Tree, or Peppermint Willow Myrtle is native to western Australia. It is very tolerant of heat and can grow in any kind of soil. The leaves, which smell like peppermint, can be dark purple to bright green, depending on the variety.
African Mallow (Anisodontia julii) Also known as Mountain Mallow and Bergroos, African Mallow is native to South Africa. In January and February, it produces purple flowers that look similar to hibiscus. They attract butterflies and bees. Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) The name Manzanita comes from Spanish for ‘little apple.’ These shrubs are often planted for their beautiful flowers and berries and their smooth, red bark. Native Americans used the berries to make tea, cider, and jelly. They also used berries to make topical treatments for poison oak rashes, sores, and rheumatism.
Artemisia (Artemisia) is a genus of 200-400 species and is part of the daisy family. The name is derived from the Greek goddess Artemis. Common names of some species include Wormwood, Mugwort, and Sagebrush. The name Wormwood comes from the plant being used to treat worms. Other medicinal uses include treating poor circulation, fevers, colds, and digestive problems. Artemisinin is an extract from the species A. annua that is used in anti-malarial drugs. Some species of Artemisia are used in cooking, especially A. dracunculus, or Tarragon. Wormwood is mentioned several times in the Bible and in some Shakespeare plays. Because of its bitterness, Russian culture considers Wormwood a symbol of a bitter truth someone must accept.
Coyote Bush (Baccharis pilularis) Coyote Bush is native to the southwest of North America. It is drought tolerant and has an extensive root system that allows it to take advantage of any available water in its very dry environment. It has also adapted to survive wildfires by re-growing from the roots after a fire has taken out the parts of the plant that are above ground. Coyote Bush is related to sunflowers, though they look nothing alike. Native tribes used the leaves of the Coyote Bush to reduce swelling and the branches to make arrows.
Kurrajong Tree (Brachychiton populus) The Kurrajong is native to eastern Australia. It is a bottle tree, meaning that it has a swollen trunk which serves to store water in case of drought. Aboriginal people roasted and ate Kurrajong seeds and used the wood to make shields.
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) The genus Buddleia was named for amateur botanist Reverend Adam Buddle in 1774 and contains over 100 species. They produces red, white, pink, purple, orange, or yellow flowers that are very fragrant and have lots of nectar, which attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
Bottlebrush Tree (Callistemon) The Bottlebrush Tree is native to Australia. It gets its name from the long flowers that have red, yellow, or white spikes that make it look like a bottlebrush. It produces woody fruits that can be stimulated to open with fire.
California Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) The California Incense Cedar is native to western North America. Most wooden pencils are made with the wood of this tree because it is soft and can be sharpened without a lot of splintering. It has thick bark that protects it from wildfires. After a fire, wood wasps often lay eggs in the wood while it is still very hot.
Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara) Also known as Himalayan Cedar, the Deodar Cedar is native to the western Himalayas. It is the national tree of Pakistan. The name Deodar comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “wood of the gods.” The tree has been worshipped by Hindus and is often used to build temples. It is durable and resistant to rot, which makes it a good building material. The inner wood can be distilled to get essential oils. This oil is often used on the feet of horses, cattle, and camels to repel insects. It is also anti-fungal, so it can be used to preserve spices.
California Lilac (Ceonothus) There are many species of Ceonothus, which are native to California. They are very fragrant and have clusters of flowers that can be pink, white, purple, or blue. Deer like to eat Ceonothus because they have a lot of protein and calcium. Native Americans used to dry the leaves to make herbal tea and used the branches to make baskets.
Palo Verde (Cercidium) Palo Verde is native to the southwestern United States and Mexico and is the state tree of Arizona. It thrives in a desert environment and is extremely drought tolerant. The name Palo Verde, meaning ‘green stick’ in Spanish, comes from the tree’s green branches, limbs, and trunk. It has a very short flowering season in April and produces lots of yellow flowers, which attract pollinators like beetles, flies, and bees. Hummingbirds, doves, and other birds like to nest in the branches of this tree.
Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis) Also known as California Redbud, Western Redbud is native to California, Arizona, and Utah. It blooms from February to April, after a winter chill to stimulate the growth of its fragrant magenta flowers. Native Americans used the stems to weave baskets, the leaves to make incense, and the flowers, pods, and seeds as a food source.
Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) The Desert Willow is native to the southwestern United States and Mexico. It gets its name from the long, narrow, willow-like leaves. It has fragrant orchid-like flowers that can be pink, lavender, and sometimes white. Bees pollinate the flowers and birds eat the seeds. Hummingbirds often live on the Desert Willow. Unlike true willows, the Desert Willow has very strong wood, which made it perfect for Native Americans to use to make hunting bows.
Chinese Fringe Tree (Chionanthus retusus) The Chinese Fringe Tree is native to eastern Asia. It blooms in early spring with lost of fragrant white flowers. Female trees produce bluish fruits that are a food source for many birds.
Cape Rush (Chondropetalum tectorum) Cape Rush is native to South Africa. It grows in clumps and the stems can get up to three feet tall. In South Africa, Cape Rush is sometimes used for roof thatching.
Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora) The Camphor Tree is an evergreen tree with waxy leaves, small white flowers, and small fruits that look like blackberries. It is native to China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. In the past, Camphor has been used for medicinal purposes such as sprains, minor heart issues, and mania, but it is no longer used in these ways. Because it can be easily absorbed through the skin and produces a cooling sensation, it is now used to sooth itching and is an active ingredient in products like [Vick’s VapoRub]. Camphor is also used to make incense and spices. However, it can be toxic to people if large amounts are ingested.
Gum Rockrose (Cistus ladanifer) Also known as Laudanum, Common Gum Cistus, and Crimson-Spot Rockrose, the Gum Rockrose is native to the Mediterranean. It is tolerant of both drought and cold. The flowers it produces are white with a red or brown spot at the base, which is why it is sometimes called Crimson-Spot Rockrose. The whole plant is covered with a fragrant, sticky resin, which can be harvested for use in perfumes and other products.
Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa) Kousa Dogwood is native to eastern Asia. It blossoms in late spring and the flowers attract lots of bees and butterflies. It also produces pink or red berries that are edible and are sometimes fermented to make wine. The fruit attracts lots of birds and squirrels. In autumn the leaves turn bright red.
Turkish Hazel (Corylus colurna) Turkish Hazel is native to Europe and Asia. It is the largest Hazel species. Because it is very tolerant of difficult growing conditions, this species is often planted in cities. Turkish Hazel produces edible nuts, but they are much smaller than common hazelnuts and have very tough shells that make them difficult to eat.
Green-leaved Tamarind (Cupaniopsis anacardiodes) Also known as Tuckeroo, Carrotwood, and Beach Tamarind, the Green-leaved Tamarind is native to Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. It produces fruits which attract a lot of birds and small mammals. It grows very well in coastal environments and has become an invasive species in some areas of the United States, including Florida and Hawaii.
Italian Cyprus (Cupressus sempervirens) Italian Cyprus is also known as Mediterranean, Tuscan, or Graveyard Cyprus. It is native to Crete, Rhodes, Turkey, and Iran. Though it is mostly grown ornamentally, its essential oils have been used in perfume and soap produces and its fragrant, durable wood is sometimes used for building. The door of Saint Peter’s Basilica was made of Italian Cyprus. Cupressus sempervirens can live for a very long time, possible over 1000 years. The Italian Cyprus used to be considered a symbol of mourning and is still commonly planted in Muslim and European graveyards. It is associated with death because if you cut it back too much, it won’t grow back.
(Echium) Echium is a genus of 60 species native to the Mediterranean. It has tall spikes of small purple flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Oil from Echium plants is used in cosmetics.
California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum) California Fuchsia is native to California. It is a drought-tolerant plant that and blooms during late summer, the hottest part of the year. The flowers are usually red or orange, but can also be pink or white. California Fuchsia attracts a lot of hummingbirds as well as some butterflies and bees.
Wallflower ‘Bowles Mauve’ (Erysimum Bowles Mauve) Wallflower Bowles Mauve is named after English botanist Edward Bowles. It blooms almost all year long with fragrant purple flowers that attract butterflies.
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) The California Poppy is also known as the Golden Poppy, California Sunlight, and Cup of Gold. It is native to the western United States and Mexico. In 1903, the California Poppy became the state flower of California and April 6 is California Poppy Day. Picking or destroying California Poppies on public land is illegal, but it is allowed on private property with the owner’s permission. Extracts from the California Poppy have a sedative effect and can be used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions.
Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana) Pineapple Guava is also known as Feijoa and Guavasteen. It is native to South America and is named after João da Silva Feijó, a Portuguese botanist born in the colony of Brazil in 1760. Pineapple Guava produces an egg-sized green fruit that is very sweet. It is commonly used in cooking all kinds of dishes as well as making products like yogurt, juice, and wine. Because it ripens very quickly after coming off the tree, the fruit has a very short shelf life, so it is usually sold locally and not exported.
Modesto Ash (Fraxinus velutina) Modesto Ash, also known as Velvet Ash or Arizona Ash, is native to southwestern North America. It blooms in the spring and produces male and female flowers on separate trees. Young leaves and twigs are covered in gray fuzz that feels velvety, giving it the name Velvet Ash.
White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) Gaura lindheimeri goes by many common names, including Whirling Butterflies, Lindheimer’s Beeblossom, Indian Feather, Wand Flower, and White Gaura. It is native to Louisiana and Texas and is drought tolerant. The leaves are tiny and hairy and the flowers can be pink or white with long, hair-like stamen. The flowers bloom a few at a time and then drop off after blooming.
Gazania (Gazania) Gazania is a genus that is native to southern Africa. It is a member of the daisy family and the flowers look very similar to daisies. They are usually bright orange or yellow with a darker stripe down the middle. Some varieties are white with a pink stripe. The flowers bloom during the summer and attract butterflies and bees.
Australian Willow (Geijera parviflora) The Australian Willow, which is also known as Wilga or Native Willow, is native to Australia. It has small, white flowers that bloom in the spring and fall and long, narrow leaves that droop like a Weeping Willow.
Lydia Woadwaxen (Genista lydia) Lydia Woadwaxen is native to Europe and western Asia. It produces lots of yellow flowers in early summer. Lydia Woadwaxen is drought and heat tolerant and can survive poor soil conditions.
Ginkgo Tree (Ginkgo biloba) The Ginkgo Tree is the oldest tree species in the world and is considered a living fossil because it is not closely related to any other living species. The only other species like it are known only through fossils. Ginkgo trees were once very common throughout the world, but most died out during the Ice Age. They were thought to be extinct until some were found in the 1700s in parts of China where they had been cultivated and kept alive by monks. Ginkgo trees can live to be over 1000 years old. The oldest one known is a 3500 year old tree in China. The leaves of the Ginkgo Tree are fan shaped and are split into two lobes. They resemble the leaves of the Maidenhair Fern, which has given rise to the nickname Maidenhair Tree. Ginkgo biloba has separate male and female trees. The female ones produce nuts which are eaten in some areas of Asia. They have also been used in Chinese medicine to treat respiratory issues and digestive problems. Extract from Ginkgo biloba is used as an herbal supplement to improve blood circulation and memory. It may also help improve problems like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and tinnitus.
Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) Honey Locust is native to central North America and can live for about 120 years. It blooms in late spring with very fragrant flowers. The name Honey Locust comes from the fruit it produces, which is a legume pod that has very sweet pulp. Native Americans used these pods as a food source as well as medicine. They can help treat rheumatoid arthritis and indigestion and they may have some anticancer properties.
Swamp Sunflower (Heliacanthus angustifolius) Swamp Sunflowers are related to Sunflowers. Swamp Sunflowers are bright yellow with brown in the middle and they can grow six to ten feet tall, but the flowers are smaller than Sunflowers. They bloom in the fall and attract lots of bees, butterflies, and birds.
Toyon (Hetermeles arbutifolia) Toyon, also known as Christmas Berry and California Holly, is native to California. It has small white flowers that attract bees and butterflies and it produces bright red berries that attract birds and some mammals like coyotes and bears. The berries were used as a food source by Native Americans. Settlers who came to California also began using the berries to make preserves, wine, and custard. In the 1920s people like to collect Toyon branches to use as Christmas decorations. This practice became so popular in Los Angeles that the state of California had to pass a law to prevent anyone from collecting branches on public land or private property unless they had the landowner’s written permission.
Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica) Also known as Cogon Grass and Kunai Grass, Japanese Blood Grass is native to Asia and Africa. It gets its name because the green blades turn red in Autumn. The blades are two centimeters wide at the base and narrow to a point, so this grass is also sometimes known as Sword Grass. Uses for this grass include roof thatching in south-east Asia and use in traditional Chinese medicine. It was also used as packing material in the early 1900s, which is how it first came to the United States.
English Walnut (Juglans regia) The English Walnut is native to Asia. It is commonly used for commercial walnut production. Dyes can also be made from different parts of the tree. English Walnut has been used in folk medicine to cure all kinds of things, including digestive and respiratory problems, skin rashes and blemishes, and even cancer.
Juniper (Juniperus) Juniper berries are commonly used as a culinary spice and as a flavoring for gin. The word ‘gin’ comes from a shortening of the word ‘genever,’ which is the Dutch word for Juniper. Native Americans traditionally used Juniper to treat diabetes and as a female contraceptive.
Torch Lily (Kniphofia Nancy’s Red) The Torch Lily, or Nancy’s Red Hot Poker, blooms in early summer. The flowers are spiky, cylindrical, red flowers that grow at the tip of a two foot long stem. These flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other songbirds.
Chinese Flametree (Koelreutaria bipinnata) The Chinese Flametree is native to China. Like the Chinese Raintree, it produces yellow flowers that bloom in the summer and seed pods that attract soapberry beetles. The seeds are used to make beads while the flowers can be used to make yellow dye and treat conjunctivitis and epiphora.
Golden Raintree (Koelreutaria paniculata) The Golden Raintree is native to eastern Asia. It blooms with yellow flowers in the summer and produces seed pods.
Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia) Crepe Myrtles are native to India, Southeast Asia, and Northern Australia. The genus name Lagerstroemia comes from the Swedish merchant Magnus von Lagerstrӧm, who often brought plants back from his travels to give to Carl Linnaeus. Crepe Myrtles are popular because of their colorful flowers that last a long time. Flowers can be purple, red, pink, and white.
Goodwin Creek Grey Lavender (Lavendula Goodwin creek) Goodwin Creek Grey Lavender has grayish green leaves and dark purple flowers. It attracts lots of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The genus name Lavendula comes from a Latin word meaning ‘to wash’ because Lavender was used in Roman baths.
Lion’s Tail (Leonitis leonurus) Also known as Wild Dagga, Lion’s Tail is a member of the mint family native to southern Africa. It has been used in traditional medicine in Africa to treat fever, dysentery, epilepsy, spider bites, snake bites, skin rashes, and many other conditions. People sometimes smoke the dried leaves and flowers because it has an effect similar to marijuana.
Sea Lavender (Limonium) Also known as Statice or Marsh Rosemary, Sea Lavender is native to the Mediterranean. Despite the common names, it is not related to Lavender or Rosemary. It grows very well in poor, sandy soil and is often found in coastal areas. Sea Lavender produces clusters of small white, yellow, purple, or pink flowers that are very dry and papery. They are very good to use in dry flower arrangements because they retain their color well and can last for years.
Little Gem Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora little gem) The Little Gem Magnolia is a cultivar of Magnolia grandiflora that was developed in North Carolina in 1952. It is a dwarf cultivar that is more shrub-like than other cultivars. The Little Gem Magnolia produces very fragrant flowers that can be up to 8 inches wide. The flowers last for 6 months from May to October.
Saint Mary Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora saint mary) The Saint Mary Southern Magnolia is native to North America and is the state tree of Mississippi. It can grow up to 80 feet tall and has large, fragrant, white flowers.
Samuel Sommer Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora samuel sommer) The Samuel Sommer Magnolia is a fast growing cultivar that can sometimes take up to 15 years to bloom. It has large, fragrant flowers that can be 10-14 inches wide. The leaves are dark green with a brownish-red fuzz on the underside.
Crab Apple Trees (Malus) Crab Apple Trees are often used as ornamental trees because they have pretty, fragrant flowers and colorful fruit. The fruit is not usually eaten raw because it is very sour and sometimes woody. However, some Asian cultures use it as a sour condiment. It can also be used to make preserves and is sometimes used in cider.
Mayten Tree (Maytenus boaria) The Mayten Tree is an evergreen tree native to South America. Oil from the seeds is used in varnish and the wood is used to make tool handles. Cattle like to graze on the leaves. In fact, the species name boaria means ‘of cattle’ because cows like it so much.
Chinese Silver Grass (Miscanthus sinensis) Miscanthus sinensis has many common names, including Eulalia Grass, Maiden Grass, Porcupine Grass, and Chinese Silver Grass. It is a flowering plant in the grass family and is native to eastern Asia. The species name ‘sinensis’ means ‘from China.’ This plant produces wispy purple flowers that grow taller than the clumps of green grass.
Pink Muhley Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) Pink Muhley Grass, also known as Hairawn Muhley and Pink Hair Grass, is native to eastern North America. The grass grows in large tufts two feet wide and three feet tall. Wispy pink flowers grow slightly taller than the grass blades. Because they are light and feathery, the have been described as looking like cotton candy or pink clouds.
Pacific Wax Myrtle (Myrica californica) Also known as the California Bayberry or California Wax Myrtle, the Pacific Wax Myrtle is native to the Pacific coast of North America. The name comes from the waxy coating on the wrinkled, purple berries the tree produces. The wax is occasionally collected and used in making soap or candles. The bark and leaves were once used to help soothe gastrointestinal problems.
Nandina (Nandina domestica) Also known as Heavenly Bamboo or Sacred Bamboo, Nandina is native to eastern Asia. Despite the common names, it is not actually bamboo, it is an evergreen shrub. The plant contains a poison called hydrocyanic acid. The berries are toxic to cats and grazers. Many birds can eat it without negative effects, but some birds, such as Cedar Waxwings, can die if they eat too much.
Purple Needlegrass (Nassella pulchra) Purple Needlegrass is native to California. It has an extensive root system that allows it to tolerate periods of drought. Because it is the most widespread native grass in California, Purple Needlegrass became the state grass of California in 2004. Native Americans used the seeds as a food source.
Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) Mexican Feather Grass is native to the United States and Mexico. It grows one or two feet tall and produces light brown, feathery flowers.
Faassen’s catnip (Nepeta faassenii) Nepeta x faassenii is a hybrid of Nepeta racemosa and Nepeta nepetella. It produces purple flowers that attract lots of bees and butterflies. Cats are also very attracted to Faassen’s catnip. They eat it or rub against it and it has a drug-like effect, making them very playful and excited. Some cats are affected much more than others.
Oleander (Nerium oleander) Oleander is a commonly grown ornamental plant. It is so widely cultivated that its origin is unknown. The name Oleander comes from the plant’s resemblance to the olive plant Olea, but they are not related. Oleander was the first plant to bloom after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, so it became the city’s official flower. Oleander is one of the most poisonous plants that is commonly grown. Every part of the plant is poisonous. The toxins can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, fast or irregular heartbeat, and nerve symptoms like tremors and seizures. If enough is ingested, it can lead to death.
African Daisy (Osteospermum) Osteospermum is native to South Africa and is commonly know as African Daisy, Blue-Eyed Daisy, and Cape Daisy. The genus name Osteospermum comes from the Greek ‘osteo,’ meaning ‘bone,’ and the Latin ‘spermum,’ meaning ‘seed.’ The name refers to the hard seed. The flowers can be white, purple, pink, or yellow.
Cape Fuchsia (Phygelius x rectus ‘Moonraker’) Cape Fuchsia is a hybrid of two species that are native to South Africa. It has dark green leaves and pale yellow flowers. The flowers are long, narrow, and tube-like and they hang down from the stem. Hummingbirds are very attracted to Cape Fuchsia.
Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis) The Canary Island Pine is native to the Canary Islands. It can not tolerate cold, but it warm temperatures it tolerates drought very well. This species is very important to the water cycle of the Canary Islands. The long needles help capture water coming off the ocean, which helps replenish the underground aquifers.
Italian Stone Pine (Pinus pinea) Italian Stone Pine, also known as Stone Pine, Umbrella Pine, and Parasol Pine, is native to the Mediterranean region. The tall trunk and broad branches at the top of the tree give it an umbrella shape. Italian Stone Pine has been cultivated for over 6000 years for the pine nuts. These were often used for trading and were considered a delicacy by Roman soldiers.
Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) Commonly known as Ponderosa Pine, Bull Pine, or Blackjack Pine, Pinus ponderosa is Native to western North America. It was first recorded in 1826 in Washington and is now the state tree of Montana. Like many pine species, the Ponderosa Pine has adapted to wildfires by developing very thick bark. These trees are used as a major source for lumber. California Foothill Pine (Pinus sabiniana) California Foothill Pine is native to California. It has many common names including Gray Pine, Ghost Pine, and Bull Pine. Names like Gray or Ghost Pine refer to the grayish-green foliage. The tree produces edible pine nuts that were used as a food source by some Native Americans. The needles are the sole food source for Gelechiid moth caterpillars.
Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) Native to China, the Chinese Pistachio is a very durable tree that can survive very bad conditions and poor soil. It is a popular ornamental tree because the leaves turn bright orange and red in the autumn. In China, the seed oil is used to make biodiesel. The wood is often used to make furniture and yellow dye.
Pittosporum (Pittosporum) Pittosporum is a genus of over 200 species. Commonly known as Cheesewood or Pittosporum, this genus is native to Australia, Africa, and Asia. It produces a woody fruit with lots of sticky seeds insides. The flowers have five petals and smell very sweet.
London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolia) Thought to be a hybrid of the Oriental Plane Tree and American Sycamore, the London Plane Tree was first developed in the 17th century in Spain. It is very tolerant of pollution and cramped root space, which makes it ideal for planting along urban roadsides. London Plane Trees make up 10% of the trees planted along streets in New York City.
Cottonwood (Populus sect Aigeiros) Cottonwoods are in the Aigeiros section of the Populus genus. They are native to North America, the Aigeiros region of Greece, and Western Asia. They have cotton-like structures which carry their seeds through the air. This allows them to travel very far before settling on the ground. Cottonwood is sometimes used as cheap lumber. Because these trees are very tolerant of flooding, they are sometimes grown along river banks, where they can grow very quickly.
Purple Leaf Plum (Prunus cerisifera ‘Krauter Vesuvius’) The Purple Leaf Plum is native to western Asia. It is often used as an ornamental tree because of its purple leaves and its pink flowers that bloom in early spring. The tree rarely produces plum-like fruits, but they should not be eaten because they are poisonous.
Flowering Plum (Prunus blireiana) Prunus blireiana is a hybrid species developed in Blere, France. It blooms in early spring with fragrant pink flowers and then produces edible plums. Since it blooms so early in the spring, sometimes there are not enough pollinators and it does not produce fruit.
Almond Tree (Prunus dulcis) The Almond Tree is native to the Middle East and southern Asia. It is the closest relative of the peach. Almonds are thought to be one of the first tree nuts to be domesticated. They are important in many cultures and are mentioned several times in the Bible. Almond Trees bloom in early spring, which is regarded in the Old Testament as a reminder that God is watching.
Holly-Leaf Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia) Also known as Evergreen Cherry, the Holly-Leaf Cherry is native to southern California. It blooms in early spring with small white flowers that attract bees. It produces small, sweet cherries, which Native Americans used to ferment to create an intoxicating drink. For hundreds of years, the Holly-Leaf Cherry was cultivated as a food source.
Catalina Cherry (Prunus ilicifolia spp. lyonii) The Catalina Cherry Tree is native to southern California. It produces dark, edible cherries that attract lots of birds. The cherries used to make up an important part of the diet of some Native Americans.
Peach Tree (Prunus persica) Peach Trees are native to China and southern Asia. They were widely cultivated in Persia, which is how they got the species name persica. In Korea, peaches are the fruit of happiness, riches, and longevity. In ancient China, people put peach branches over their doors to protect them from evil spirits.
Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) The Coast Live Oak is native to California and is the only oak native to California that does well in coastal environments. Because of the occasional wildfires in California, Coast Live Oaks have developed thick bark to protect them from fire. California Oak Moth caterpillars use the Coast Live Oak as their sole food source. Every 8-10 years, lots of caterpillars come and eat all the leaves. Coast Oak acorns were a very important food source to many Native American tribes. They ground the acorns into powder and then washed them in streams to get rid of the bitter tannins.
Holly Oak (Quercus ilex) The Holly Oak is native to the Mediterranean region. The wood has been used in construction since ancient times for things like tools, wagons, and wine casks. It is also one of the best trees to search under for truffles. Ancient Greeks used the leaves of Holly Oak to tell the future. They also believed that the acorns were a sign of fertility and wore acorn jewelry to improve their chances of being fertile.
Valley Oak (Quercus lobata) Valley Oak, which is native to California, is the largest North American oak. It can live up to 600 years, reach a height of 100 feet, and grow up to 10 feet in diameter. The trees provide a habitat for many birds and the acorns provide food for birds and squirrels. Gall wasps often lay eggs at the base of buds on the branches. This causes growths called oak apples, which provide protection for the larvae.
Interior Live Oak (Quercus wislizenii) The Interior Live Oak is native to California. It produces acorns every 5 to 7 years, which provides a food source for many animals. These trees are not as fire resistant as many other California natives. The bark is not particularly, thick, so the trunk is relatively easily killed by a fire. Instead, these trees survive by sprouting new growth from the roots. Because of this, the root systems of Interior Live Oaks can be much older than the trunk.
Soapbark Tree (Quillaja saponaria) The Soapbark tree is native to Chile. When the inner bark is ground up into powder, it lathers up with water and can be used in place of soap. Though it can be poisonous if too much is ingested, people in the Andes have a long used the tree to treat chest problems. An extract called quillaia is used as a food additive and in products like pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and fire-fighting foam.
Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica) Also known as California Buckthorn, Coffeeberry gets its name from its small seeds that resemble coffee beans. Coffeeberry is an evergreen shrub with small white flowers and small, edible fruits. It is native to California and Oregon and Native Americans in these areas used to pick the fruit for use as food and medicine. Native Americans used the berries to induce vomiting, as a laxative, or as a topical treatment to stop bleeding and heal wounds or burns. Coffeeberry can also be used to soothe rheumatism.
Rose (Rosa) Rosa is a genus that includes over 100 species. Roses are shrubs with sharp thorns that are often grown ornamentally for their beautiful flowers and nice scent. Rose oil is used to make perfumes and Roses are also used to make teas or flavor foods. In the Victorian language of flowers different colors of Roses have meanings. For example, a red Rose means love, a pink Rose means grace, and an orange Rose means passion.
Rosemary (Rosemarius officianalis) Rosemary is a fragrant shrub in the mint family. The leaves are used as a spice and the oil is used to add fragrance to perfumes, shampoos, iTncense, and other products. Rosemary has long been thought to improve memory, so in the Middle Ages it became associated with fidelity and was sometimes worn by the bride, groom, and guests during weddings. Sometimes a newlywed couple would plant Rosemary. If it flourished, it was a good omen for their marriage. Rosemary was also a symbol of remembrance, so it was often placed in graves during funerals. People also sometimes planted Rosemary outside their homes to ward off witches.
Hot Lips Salvia (Saliva ‘Hot Lips’) Hot Lips Salvia was discovered in Mexico. It produces white flowers with red at the tips. When the weather gets hot, the flowers turn all red or sometimes all white, but then go back to being two colors in the fall. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Pozo Blue Sage (Salvia ‘Pozo Blue’) Pozo Blue Sage is a hybrid of two species native to California. It is drought tolerant and has grayish green leaves that smell like citrus. Pozo Blue Sage produces purplish blue flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Mexican Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) Mexican Elderberry blossoms in late spring. The tiny white flowers attract lots of bees and birds. In early summer, it produces clusters of purple berries. These edible berries are used to make pies, wine, and jam as well as blue dye. Native Americans used the flowers to make tea to soothe fevers and a topical treatment to soothe itching and pain. The branches of the Mexican Elderberry were used to make bows and flutes. The name Sambucus comes from an instrument called sambuke.
Pincushion Flowers (Scabiosa) Pincushion Flowers are native to Europe and Asia. They have many small lavender, blue, or white flowers with long stamens that stick out from the flower like pins. The flowers attract moths, butterflies, and birds.
Dragon’s Blood Sedum (Sedum coccineum) Dragon’s Blood Sedum is a perennial stonecrop that produces bright red flowers in late summer. It can tolerate all kinds of conditions, including heat, cold, humidity, poor soil, and drought.
Angelina Sedum (Sedum rupestre) Angelina Sedum is an evergreen plant with needle-like leaves. It produces bright yellow flowers in summer and is tolerant of heat and drought.
Voodoo Sedum (Sedum spurium ‘Voodoo’) Voodoo Sedum is a perennial stonecrop that produces clusters of small, dark pink flowers. The thick leaves can store water, making this plant very drought tolerant. It attracts lots of pollinators, especially butterflies.
(Senecio) Senecio is a genus of over 1250 species. It includes many Ragworts and Groundsels. They produce clusters of white, yellow, red, or purple flowers at the tip of the stem. These plants also contain toxins that affect humans, livestock, and many other animals.
Coastal Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) Coastal Redwoods are native to California. They grow well in areas with summer fog because it saves them from dehydration. Because these trees don’t produce resin, they are very fire resistant. They are also decay resistant, so they were often used to build railroads in California. Sprouts grow at the base of adult trees and when the parent tree dies, the sprouts grow up into a ring of trees called a ‘fairy ring.’
Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantia) Lamb’s Ear, which is native to Turkey, Armenia, and Iran, is named for the soft, fuzzy leaves that feel like lamb’s ears. It has spikes with small, pink or white flowers that bloom in late spring. Though it is no longer used medicinally, it has antimicrobial properties and was once used to treat wounds.
Giant Feather Grass (Stipa gigantea) Giant Feather Grass is a bunchgrass native to southern Europe. It has narrow, grayish green blades and tall stems that bear the feathery brown flowers. The flowers look similar to oats, which is why this plant is also sometimes called Golden Oats.
Japanese Pagoda (Styphnolobium japonicum) Despite the name, the Japanese Pagoda is native to China and Korea, not Japan. It is a popular decorative tree because it blooms in late summer. The tree has traditionally been used for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-oxidant properties, though these have not been scientifically proven.
Bush Germander (Teucrium fruticans) Bush Germander is native to the Mediterranean and is a member of the mint family. It has silvery green leaves and produces purple flowers. Teucrium may have been named after King Teucer of Troy, who is thought to have used this plant for medicinal purposes.
Society Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) Society Garlic, also known as Pink Agapanthus, is a member of the lily family that is native to South Africa. The leaves smell like garlic and are edible, as are the flowers. The name Society Garlic comes from the belief that eating society garlic doesn’t make your breath smell bad like garlic would. The purple flowers attract bees, butterflies, and moths.
Elm (Ulmus) Elms can grow to be 100 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter. Elm wood is heavy and hard and is used to build furniture and other products.
Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) Vitex, which is native to the Mediterranean region, is also known as the Chaste Tree, Abraham’s Balm, and Monk’s Pepper. The name Chaste Tree comes from the ancient belief that the tree had anti-aphrodesiac properties. ‘Agnus’ and ‘castus’ mean ‘chaste’ in Greek and Latin. Extracts from Vitex berries are currently used to help with issues of the female reproductive system, such as PMS and hormone imbalances.
Washington Palm (Washingtonia robusta) Also known as Mexican Fan Palm and Mexican Washingtonia, the Washington Palm is native to Mexico. It has fan-like leaves and a very tall, narrow trunk that can get up to 100 feet tall. It is very drought and salt tolerant.
(Zelkova) Zelkova is a genus in the Elm family and is native to Asia and southern Europe. The wood is very hard and is used for building and furniture making.
Morning Glory Over 1000 species in the family Convolvulaceae are referred to by the common name Morning Glory. They produce funnel-shaped red, white, yellow, purple, or blue flowers. In most species, the flowers open early in the morning and close back up when it gets too warm. In the 1600s, Morning Glories became very popular in Japan. Many varieties were developed there and the flower came to symbolize summer in Japanese art. In the Victorian language of flowers, Morning Glories mean ‘love in vain.’ In China, Morning Glories were once used medicinally. The seeds of some species contain psychedelic substances that have an effect similar to LSD. This was sometimes used by Aztec priests in Mexico.
Author: Ellen Sweeney