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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Tuesday - July 06, 2010

From: Laguna Niguel, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Evergreen tree for Southern California coast
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I need a tree that is evergreen, non invasive roots that is not messy that can be kept at around 20 feet. We are at the edge of the thermal layer from the ocean. Thanks.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is puzzling over your remark that you are "at the edge of the thermal layer from the ocean" and finds it somewhat cryptic, but assumes it means you are near the coast and receive coastal breezes?  At any rate, here are some evergreen trees native to Orange County, or counties adjacent to Orange County, for you to consider.  You can read about them and decide which might be the least messy ones.  The maximum height given for all of them is less than or only slightly more than 20 feet.  

Malosma laurina (laurel sumac) and here are photos and more information.

Morella californica (California wax myrtle) and here are photos and more information.

Comarostaphylis diversifolia (summer holly) and here is more information.

Ceanothus arboreus (feltleaf ceanothus) and here are photos and more information.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (blueblossom) and here are more photos and information.

Quercus dumosa (coastal sage scrub oak) and here are more photos and information.

Quercus berberidifolia (California scrub oak) and you can see that there is some confusion about the difference between these two scrub oaks, but either one should work well.

You can search for nurseries that specialize in native plants near you in our National Suppliers Directory and you can discuss with the nursery you visit the possible invasiveness of the roots of the particular tree that you choose.


 

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