Mystery Tree

“To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.”                  -Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

PIA21270 Martian Dust Devil via JPL

Martian Dust Devil Action Gale Crater, Sol 1597

Isn’t that a great Gif from NASA? There is wind on Mars. It is wonderful that we have the technology to capture images from another planet.

Speaking of technology, my new App has been working pretty well up until now. I take a photo of the plant/bush/tree that I want to identify and the App sends me several images of different plants/bushes/trees to see if there is a match. If I do not see a match, I can ask The Horticulturist. I then submit 3 photos of the mystery plant and The Horticulturist will get back to me within 24 hours with an answer. This was all going swimmingly until the App couldn’t identify one of my bush/trees.

Mystery Tree

Mystery Tree

I need to trim some of the branches off the bottom of this tree.  I do remember being told in the past it is a Manzanita. I have been researching, and it matches better with a Toyon or Christmas Berry or California Holly. This would make it a native of California, drought tolerant, and good for bees and birds. It gets red berries in winter. The birds and squirrels like to eat the berries. It is quite comical to see the squirrels hanging upside down off the branches munching on the berries.  After researching a lot some more, I think I have found it, Eureka!  It is not a Manzanita, it is not a Toyon or Christmas Berry, it is a Firethorn or Pyracantha.  The App probably had a hard time identifying it because it has not flowered yet, although it has some little buds, and no berries yet. I was so focused on the leaves and buds that I did not notice it does have some thorns on the branches. Some of thorns are hidden behind the leaves and they are very sharp. It was hard to capture a clear image of the thorns but I included a few below. I noticed that it is getting a couple of pretty white flowers up on a higher branch, and there is this cotton-y stuff scattered around some of the branches. It is not a native of California but it is hardy and drought tolerant.

I found out about the cotton-y stuff on a few branches, and it is good it is few and far between because it is a sign of the woolly apple aphid. The aphids usually do not become a major problem thanks to natural predators like some wasps, lady bugs, syrphid flies or hover flies, earwigs, and lace wings. I saw some flying wasp-y looking insects around the tree this morning and hope they are after the aphids. And I have noticed lots of earwigs in our yard. I have to keep watch for aphid mummies, which is what happens when the wasps attack the aphids. Between those spiky thorns and the aphid mummies this is getting a little scary.  But I am liking earwigs more.


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13 thoughts on “Mystery Tree

      1. JoAnna

        Guess what! Just a little while after I read this, I found and earwig in my bathroom. I picked it up and took it outside near my hydrangea bush where it can go to work!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I usually am cognizant of every living thing having a purpose, but I forgot about the earwigs too. I love NASA photos and reading about their missions. I am glad I found them again. There are so many things that pull our attention away from worthwhile stuff, like reading about science and space. I agree about the budget. 🙂 Thanks, Dan.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Glad you are learning useful garden information 🙂 We have a lot of earwigs around here and now I realize they must be living off all these other bugs and keeping those bugs from eating our plants and flowers. Thanks, Cynthia 🙂

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  1. joey

    I love to watch the insect population spikes through the garden in the summer. Too many aphids? Boom! Too many lady bugs! Love that stuff! Earwigs get busy here around mid-July.
    I don’t know anything about California’s flora, but I do agree — your mystery bush reminds me of holly as well.
    Manzanitas have orange and red branches, yeah? Or only some types? Yeah, I don’t know much about your side of the country 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I am learning more about insects as I read more about the plants and trees. I hope we get an influx of lady bugs or other aphid predators. I did narrow it down to pyracantha. Yes, I think Manzanitas have darker branches but I have been reading so much about the different bushes/trees that I forget. But my tree did not fit the description of Manzanita when I researched it. The pyracantha can be grown in different parts of the country. It is not native to California. Thanks, Joey. 🙂

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