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Friday - August 06, 2010

From: Aguanga, CA
Region: California
Topic: Privacy Screening
Title: Evergreen shrub/small tree for screen in southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Dear Mr. Smarty Plants - I would like to find an evergreen hedge, ~15-20' (or so) to screen a busy road (noise and visual). I'm zone 8b - 92539 (close to) - light snow in winter (to -25) and can get to 100 in summer - plant s/b drought tolerant (it's high desert - 3500'), lots of full sun, fast growing and not poisonous to animals or children, please. I need to plant a length of about 1000 feet so hopefully not too pricey, either. Thanks! ;)


Here are various evergreen shrubs and small trees that are native to Riverside County or an adjacent county.

Cercocarpus montanus var. minutiflorus [syn. Cercocarpus minutiflorus] (San Diego mountain mahogany) is a fast-growing evergreen shrub and grows to 10 feet.  Here is more information.  The Toxic Plants of Texas database says that mountain mahogany, under certain conditions, may be toxic.

None of the following shrubs/small trees appears on any of the toxic plant databases listed below.

Comarostaphylis diversifolia (summer holly) is evergreen and grows to 20 feet.  It is, however, slow-growing.

Lavatera assurgentiflora (island mallow) is an evergreen, fast-growing shrub that is drought and wind resistant.

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

Ceanothus crassifolius (hoaryleaf ceanothus) is a tough, drought-resistant evergreen.  Here is more information.

There are many more species and/or varieties of native Ceanothus spp.—of various sizes and mostly evergreen—listed in the Las Pilitas Nursery's list of Plants for ChaparralLas Pilitas Nursery is one of the nurseries listed in our National Suppliers Directory as specializing in native plants in southern California.

On the California Native Plant Society Forums page there is a posting from a horse owner saying that University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) has a publication that says that Ceanothus spp. are safe to use around horses and other animals. The publication, 'Toxicity of Ornamental Plants to Domestic Animals and Livestock' by Ralph Phillips, John Karlik and Murray Fowler is listed for sale by UCANR for $1.00.

Cupressus forbesii (tecate cypress) is evergreen and is fast-growing to 12 or 15 feet.  Here are photos and more information.

There are other possibilities for native shrubs or small trees for a hedge that you can find on the California-Southern Recommended page.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option and choose either 'Shrub' or 'Tree' under GENERAL APPEARANCE to see them.  Then you can check any choices against the following poisonous plant databases:

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock

Toxic Plants of Texas 

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System

Here are photos of some of the plants above from our Image Gallery:

Cercocarpus montanus

Comarostaphylis diversifolia

Comarostaphylis diversifolia

Lavatera assurgentiflora









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