Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/797

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

berry, and quite distinct from all other Ribes. As the branches hang loaded with the clusters of drooping flowers, like beautiful ear-pendants of rich hues, this is one of the most striking sights among the dust-laden vegetation. No one is, however, much inclined to gather quantities of the canes for home decoration, because they are generously provided with prickles, which stand guard upon all sides, and effectively keep away whatever would bring harm. Sambucus glauca, Nutt., is the elderberry of California. It grows less like a shrub and more like a tree than our old S. Canadensis, L., and the leaves are of a firmer texture. The greenish-white flowers are in large, flat-topped cymes.

The California lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflora, Esch.) is a showy winter-bloomer, and well merits the attention it receives as an ornamental shrub. The plant attains a height of ten to fifteen feet, and the large lead-or lilac-colored flower-clusters appear before the leaves. These are frequently gathered in abundance by tourists for showy bouquets. Rhamnus Californica, Esch., of the same order, was loaded with its inconspicuous flowers. A wild prunus-was in full bloom, and reminded the writer of spring days in the Atlantic States. The leaves and fruit were not at hand, and the species was not therefore determinable. The mountain-laurel, or "spice-tree" (Umbellularia Californica, Nutt.), is the only representative of the olive family in the section visited. This is symmetrical in form, with thick, shining leaves. The flowers are borne in clusters, apparently at the ends of the straight branches. All parts of the tree are pervaded with a disagreeable odor, which becomes quite intense when the fresh foliage is broken, and it may excite sneezing in extreme cases.

Among forest trees, we saw the young bolls hanging from the recently clothed branches of the Platanus racemosa, Nutt., or sycamore. This tree, along with the live-oak (Quercus agrifolia, Nees), is common in the caƱons, reaches a large size, and assumes picturesque forms and positions. The small male catkins were hanging from the short ultimate branches of the live-oak. Alnus rhombifolia, Nutt., was opening its gummy inflorescence, while the willows were arrayed in their delicate "pussies."

When we come to the introduced ligneous plants of the city roadside or plaza, where no water is supplied by irrigation, we find the blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus), from Australia, the most showy of the trees. These began to flower in Los Angeles by the 20th of January, and a month later those in Santa Barbara were so loaded with the large, top-shaped disks and their whorls of long, white, feathery stamens as to change the somber complexion of the tall, sparsely branched trees. The bees were sometimes so numerous in these trees as to remind one of an eastern basswood during honey-harvest. The pepper-tree, with its drooping, graceful, fern-like tops, seems to be always in flower. On the same plant may be seen all stages, from the