January 8, 2013
Rare oaks and other species of Mexican trees excel at the Arboretum.
Several species of rare and/or unusual, evergreen oaks and other trees from Mexico that Donald R. Hodel, Environmental Horticulture Advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles, had donated and planted at the Arboretum have grown exceptionally well, clearly demonstrating their adaptability to the climate in Southern California. Donald had collected seeds of most of the trees on an expedition to northeastern Mexico in 2001. (Quercus rhysophylla, right)
He germinated the seeds and grew the seedlings in containers prior to planting them out in an area informally known as the “Mexican Garden” west of the Plumeria collection on Tallac Knoll. Most were just a few feet tall and planted out from one- or two-gallon containers in 2005 and 2006, and they grew strongly and quickly, developing excellent habit and branch structure with little or no defects.(Quercus sartori, left)
Most of the oaks (Quercus) have attained 30 to 40 feet in height, have trunks five to eight inches in diameter, and are flowering and fruiting in five to seven years.
Perhaps the most amazing tree, though, is a Mexican sycamore (Platanus mexicana), left, that after only six years in the ground is 54 feet tall and has a strong, straight bole and a trunk 13 inches in diameter! Typically fast-growing trees develop poor form and are plagued with branch defects but these Mexican oaks and sycamore have no such problems. These trees truly show outstanding horticultural and ornamental merit. Several other Mexican plants, including “woody” lilies like Agave, Dasylirion, and Furcraea, palms such as Brahea and Chamaedorea, and additional trees like Magnolia and Oreopanax, among others, round out the collection and help to make it an authentic Mexican forest.