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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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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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Wednesday - May 02, 2012

From: Carlsbad, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Plant Identification, Trees
Title: Identification of tree in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

A medium-size tree with shiny green leaves toward the bottom and garnet red ones toward the top of the tree. The leaves are narrow with saw-toothed edges. There are clustered small white flowers with yellow centers. The trunk is ash grey.

ANSWER:

In our Native Plant Database, you can do a COMBINATION SEARCH choosing "California" from the Select State or Province option, "Tree" from Habit (general appearance) and "White" from Bloom Color.   None of the more than 35 trees that resulted from that search when I did it matched your description.   I suspect that the tree you are describing is a non-native introduced tree and, as such, would not be in our Native Plant Database.

The only tree that comes to mind is the non-native hybrid Photinia x fraseri (Red tip photinia).   Here is another set of photographs that gives a closeup of the leaves and flowers.

If this isn't the tree you have seen, I suggest you visit our Plant Identification page to find links to plant identification forums that will accept photos for identification.

 

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