whats a good small shade tree for southern California?

DesertRain(9)February 7, 2012

i am planting in western riverside county, california. winters get down to 28F and summers to 115F. i want a tree that creates shade/cover, but doesn't hang down, something the grows fast, but not larger than 30 ft tall and 20 ft around. not a fruit tree. maybe something desert looking like a Chitalpa. please give me some ideas, thanks

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Most small trees grow somewhat slow, so your request for fast but no more than 30' is somewhat at odds with each other. Velvet Ash might meet your requirements but it is not normally considered a quality tree. Digger Pine is native to southern Cal. Huisache and Mesquite have a desert-look.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 11:01AM
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How about a Tecate Cypress Cupressus forbesii or a Cuyamaca Cypress C. stephensonii? Both are endangered local natives for you, planting them will assist conservation (and they also look nice).


    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 2:16PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If site has right soil conditions and other factors for them and poster does not mind the limitations of evergreen conifers, including constant shade, resin production and persistent litter.

Evergreen conifers are not usually what people have in mind as shade trees.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 2:36PM
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So far I like the Mesquite & Chitalpa trees, they are pretty fast growing, and don't get too large, and will go with my desert landscape in my back yard. I really have to stay within the size bracket i listed above, as the space is small. i forgot to mention i'm in Southern California.

would like to hear more ideas!
thanks for you responses

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 11:41PM
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Twisted Acacia (Acacia tortuosa), Wright Acacia ( Acacia wrightii), Texas Madrone (should be a Cal. version available), Tx. Redbud (Cal. version may be available), Retema (Parkinsonia aculeata)fast-growing, Prairie Flame-leaf Sumac (Rhus lanceolata)fast-growing, and Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)fast-growing. Madrone and Retema may be a bit finicky, the others are all hardy and grow wild in parts of southern half of Tx.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 9:55AM
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Mesquite and chitalpa are not going to provide much shade, try standing under one if you are ever able. Pistacia chinensis can be your friend (male cultivar is non-invasive), a true shade tree that will grow well in a desert. It has strong wood and needs to be pruned early on, to retain a central leader.

It's not likely to get much larger than thirty feet where you live. I really like mine, it gets lots of compliments, and is considered a very "earth-friendly" tree by Texas A&M- "doesn't require pesticides or lots of water". The root flare should be exposed on all trees when planting and plant in a wide, shallow hole. Mine gets lots of compliments. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 10:19AM
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