Walks on the Wild Side, Fall-Winter, 2008-9

December 3, 2008
Hacienda Hills, Coyote Trail
2. Associated Shrubbery

Shrub vs. Scrub ...
Shrub is a life form like tree or herb. A shrub is a low woody plant with multiple stems from the base.

Scrub is about size. According to Ornduff in Introduction to California Plant Life (1974) scrub "refers to the fact that major plant species found in the plant community are shrubby species one to six feet tall, although a few component species are considerably larger than this and might be considered small trees."

Both words have the same etymology: Danish skrub "brushwood," Norwegian skrubba "dwarf tree". Confused yet?

Laurel sumac, Malosma laurina, showing red stems, taco-folded leaves and persistent flower stalks. Photo by Graham.

What you cannot see in the picture is the odor which permeates the air on hot days on the foothill trails.

The leaves turn orange after a heavy frost. Naturally occurring plants have been used as "sentinel plants" by avocado and citrus growers to indicate areas that are free of frost and suitable for their orchards.

The little dry flower stalks are painted green and used by model train enthusiasts for small trees to be placed along side the tracks.

Lemonadeberry, Rhus integrifolia, showing flower stalk and red coloration similar to laurel sumac above, but with different rounded, not pointed, leaf tip and flattened, not folded leaf. Photo by Graham.

The berries can be used to make lemonade flavored drinks, hence its common name.

Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia, has fruits like small, red apples maturing in the fall and persisting well into the winter. Birds love them. Photo by Graham.

It is also known as Christmas berry and California holly. Some believe that Hollywood, California derives its name from the numerous "California Holly" bushes which cover the Hollywood Hills, but the origin of Hollywood's name cannot be confirmed.

Elderberry, Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea, is known as the Tree of Music to the Indians because its hollowed out stems are used for flutes, whistles, rattles and clappersticks, an instrument used to provide rhythm. Photo by Graham.

Much mythology is attached to this shrub in European culture. American peoples have found many uses for it. To me, it is as an object of great beauty in the springtime.

What we saw:

Section 1. The Setting

Section 2. Associated Shrubbery

Section 3. Results of Recent Rains

Section 4. Inhabitants and Visitors


original pages created December 6, 2008
text on this page is Copyright © 2008-2021 Jane Strong
images on this page Copyright © 2008-2021 Graham Bothwell

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