When most people buy a tree, what they want to know is how much work will it be to care for, what will it look like when mature and its potential for shade. Ideally, once a tree is past the first two or three years it requires less and less care, nature will take over and all the owner has to do is keep it groomed. Not all trees found in Orange County are native to the area, but they do well anyway because the climate they come from matches that of Southern California.
This blog would have to be pages long to discuss every tree that does well in an area where water conservation can be important. Unless you have acres of bare ground to fill, deciding which tree from a long list could be difficult. Here are a few of the more popular varieties, chosen most often frankly because they are beautiful, very generous with their shade, and some of them bear some very tasty fruit.
Catalina Cherry Tree – A medium sized tree, the Catalina Cherry is often compared to a large shrub that is mature at 15 feet (shrub size) but can reach as high as 40 (tree size) with very dense leaves for plenty of shade. It grows quickly and produces white flowers in the spring which turn to delicious cherries by fall. A Southern California native, it doesn’t need a lot of water to thrive and is therefore perfect for the Orange County area.
Fern Pine – A native of Africa, it was introduced to Southern California about 50 years ago. Mature trees provide a wide area of dense shade, and can reach heights of 50-70 feet, with widths of 20-30. Resistant to pests and disease, and with no leaves to rake, many consider this is as close as it gets to the perfect tree.
Fig – Mature Fig trees reach an impressive size with a wide trunk and branches that weave in amongst themselves. They provide very generous shade and when properly pruned one tree will produce more fruit than the average family can eat.
Jacaranda – Native to Brazil, this tree can be found in warmer climates all over the planet, including Southern California. It tolerates most soil types which is why they are often used as street trees, or for shade in public parks. Mature at 25-40 feet with a spread of 15-30, these beautiful trees are covered with lavender blue blooms twice a year.
Lemon – Lemon trees provide more than a tasty drink or ornamental look to the yard. When mature they have the kind of densely packed leaves that provide a nice shady area, and blooms have an aroma that make you want to open your windows to let it in.
Fruitless Mulberry – Perfect for the average home, mature trees are 20-60 feet tall with a thick canopy up to 45 feet wide. There is no lack of shade with a Mulberry in the yard, and its beautiful, dark green leaves are very easy on the eye.
California Box Elder – Matures quickly to 50 feet in areas where other trees may be hard to grow. Tolerant of wind and heat, there are male and female Box Elders. Females produce greenish yellow flowers in pendant clusters and seed pods that rustle like wind chimes in a breeze. Although the flowers and seed pods are beautiful they do make a mess and for that reason many people would rather have a male Box Elder in their yard.
These seven trees barely cover the many different species that thrive in Orange County. Before investing years waiting for a tree to mature only to find out it isn’t appropriate for the area check with a qualified nursery and get specifics on your choice before you plant. In an area with a lot of power lines you may not want one that spreads too much, or end up with a tree much too big for the yard it’s planted in. One thing is certain, with the variety available, all you need is research to find the perfect tree.