Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Arizona Rosewood

"I want an evergreen with some flowers, that takes little water, and that will get large enough to hide my neighbor's yard. And it cannot get any disease, and doesn't attract any insects, especially bees."

Except for the last sentence, never say never - Arizona Rosewood / Vauquelinia californica fits the bill:

This plant is found in small groupings along the path on Southern Blvd in SE Albuquerque, between Juan Tabo and Eubank. This is well within the east canyon winds zone, yet it kept ticking even last winter.

It is a foothills native, from SE Arizona (hence the common name), Baja California (hence the species name), and then into the mountains of far west Texas (where there are 1 or 2 other native Vauquelinia species).

It has proven to be quite reliable into USDA cold zone 7 and Sunset climate zone 10. Arizona Rosewood is not a small plant, and too much pruning will destroy it, so let it have at least 6' in width but 8-10' width is more ideal; it grows to over 12' to become a screening shrub or hedge. It can also be thoughtfully pruned into a nice patio tree, perfect for all the shrinking garden spaces in SW developments.

Some say it is a great Oleander substitute, though that is more for the foliage, not the flowering. Low to moderate irrigation is ideal; irrigated lawn conditions are too wet and will kill it, unless the driest warm season grasses are used, like Zoysia, Bermuda or Buffalo / Grama.

Arizona Rosewood has short-term flowering, but long-term visual effect in the landscape, with its lush, serrated leaves.

It nicely compliments the clumps of Desert Willow on the left, creating a floriferous display in late spring:

15 comments:

  1. I've had my eye on this plant for a while - it ought to do great up this way I would think!

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  2. Ian - I think its preference for some winter moisture, and summers alternative from hot and dry to warm and moister might be a good choice. Its foothills location means it is does not need desert conditions. You should give it a try, not to mention Chisos Rosewood.

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  3. Mountain States had one called "Nuevo Leon". I saw one in Coahuila,Mx just north of Saltillo. It was growing with the Silver Sophora, Arbutus xalapensis, Juniperus flaccida, Q. gravesii & Q. invaginata in a place called Delores Canyon. Vauquelinia are great!

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  4. Fabulous post--hard to find evergreens and I'm attracted to plants that survive your climate which is as hot and dry as the Texas Hill Country and colder too. Although we seem to alternate years of rain...

    Do you know if it's deer-resistant?

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  5. DR - I saw that Nuevo Leon selection once. That must have been a nice trip to see their variety of native plants, all growing together!

    KS - thanks! The nice thing about Vauquelinia is it can handle wetter periods with drainage...and it likes rocky soil, once established...perhaps try it from a 1 gallon instead of a 5?

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  6. It was choosing plants for my garden that I realized I should be as careful choosing my friends.

    Your 1st paragraph reminded me of that.

    And the tree mustn't topple onto a house in storms or fall onto cars. Several people have died in their cars thru the years in Atlanta. Always a shocker.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

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  7. TD - and choosing clients! The beauty of smaller trees, scaled for the smaller site, is no toppling in severe winds. And in desert, we have to plant trees anyway, so may as well choose right trees for the right place, and be a trend-setter.

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  8. KS - I realized I forgot to answer your question. Related species, Chisos Rosewood, is assumed to be "deer-resistant", but in drought years, rabbits eat anything (except maybe rosemary and ocotillo), and I would advise temporary chicken wire fencing until the plant is established, has tougher branches and foliage.

    source - http://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=2456

    Also, deer being browsers but getting more like voracious vegetative vacuums when hungry, do not eat much of Rosewood's other evergreen relative here in the foothills...Mountain Mahogany.

    I say go for it w/ my above precautions!

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  9. I am very interested in plants that bees are not attracted to. Is this statement true that bees aren't attracted to this tree?

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    1. Bees like anything w/ blooms, though AZ Rosewood has a shorter flowering period. Even without the shortage of bees in so many areas, I appreciate all pollinators, so I choose to live with a few bees...

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  11. Help. Will birds nest in AZ Rosewood? We have a big mockingbird problem where they attack everyone. I had to remove a Sissoo tree becuz of it. I'm hoping that becuz AZ rosewoods do not grow very tall that the mockingbirds will not nest. The birds are already back this year looking for the sissoo.

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    1. Birds might, as many living in the desert find an 8' cholla or yucca a safe place from predators...they can be dense enough, but I'm not sure. Also consider Chisos Rosewood (finer leaves) and Nuevo Leon Rosewood (larger leaves, more lush like a sissoo but still a dwarf tree).

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    2. Thanks for the suggestion. Here's my planting location. Triangular section between 3 sidewalks at an apartment complex. Triangle's sides are all about 12 to 14 ft long, height is about 9 ft so area is about 54 sq ft. That's why I am considering the AZ Rosewood. Doesn't get too tall, doesn't fan out too wide, no thorns, and minimal litter. Oh, the mockingbirds in central Phoenix look for places to nest and they do attack people. So any other plant / shrub suggestions are appreciated?

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    3. Have you tried a local wildlife biologist, animal control, or fish-game person? I design landscapes, not provide bullet-proof solutions to all possible situations in every manner. But no matter what you do for your specific site, even selecting optimal plants like that or others I suggested, it will not matter if they nest in trees within the larger neighborhood...and no one wants a shadeless wasteland in the desert.

      If you have to contact me further on something more attainable, please use e-mail, as this has become off-topic.

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