Friday, February 21, 2014

Into desert trees

I was looking up the jujube tree today to see how it fares in the desert and found this lovely etching attached to this book, The Desert World, from 1869.

The three trees are, from left clockwise, jujube, tamarisk, and pistachio. (Embiggen.)

Yesterday I received a small soapberry tree (Sapindus drummondii) that I'd ordered from Forest Farm Plant Nursery. We bought the last one in stock.

Additional information on site:
Plant Uses: Basket-Making; Western Native; Butterfly Plants; Xeriscape Plants;
Plant Hardiness: Zone 6 (-10 to 0 F)A little more about Sapindus drummondii - Soaptree
"Soapberry makes a desirable shade tree [to a 50' rounded crown] & could be more extensively planted for ornament" (Vines); its fruits have been used for soap, jewelry, buttons, & medicine & its twigs for baskets. Sun/Med/GdDrain
 We have two soap NUT trees (sapindus mukorossi ) that we bought from Winnetka Farms, but these won't survive the desert frosts and will have to remain in Los Angeles.

What I love in particular about the soapberry tree, apart from the drought tolerance, is the gorgeous and translucent bright orange soap berries.

It's not that I believe switching to soap berries will save the world, but that this is a native tree that will add diversity to the life and beauty to our property. It will attract birds and birds bring seeds and seeds bring plants. My hope is that the desert can support our scrubby trees long after we're gone. It's so sad driving by the properties where the owners, in giddy optimism, planted Washington palms, fruit trees and other trees that could not and did not survive without regular watering.

If you want to see the direction in which my optimism wends, check this video.