|Tree in backyard (prior to January haircut)|
How did I mistake the two? I can't really explain it, except to say that Schinus molle is far more common in the general area in which I live. Many of the pictures posted on-line as S. molle also look similar, at least from a distance, to those growing in my garden. (See the images of S. molle posted here and here.) Moreover, the only Australian willow I knew of, Agonis flexuosa, looks nothing like my trees. There are some similarities between S. molle and G. parviflora. Both have limited water needs, have pendulous branchlets, and produce cream-colored flowers in spring. However, their bark and trunks are very different and, after seeing a mature California pepper at a botanic garden, I realized I was probably off-base in identifying my trees as S. molle. After seeing drawings of the leaves of both trees in a recently acquired book, I was certain of my error.
|Close-up of the tree's leaves and flowers|
I've yet to see G. parviflora in either a nursery or a botanic garden so I'm hesitant to be definitive about my trees' identity, although I can say with a degree of certainty that they aren't S. molle. For one thing, the scattering of red berries characteristic of the California pepper tree during the summer months aren't evident on any of my trees.
The good news in the discovery of the classification error is that, of the two, G. parviflora is the more well-behaved tree. The Sunset Western Garden Book says that it "combines the grace of a willow with the toughness of a eucalyptus." Unlike the California pepper tree, its roots aren't invasive and it produces minimal litter (discounting that created by the local crows when they pull pieces of the tree out for use as nesting material). It also isn't known to be susceptible to scale infestations and root rot like the pepper. So, while I'm embarrassed by my mistake in identifying the trees, I'm gratified that the trees I have are unlikely to present significant difficulties for me. I trust that they'll take no notice of my temporary failure to recognize their true nature.
|Current photo of one of the trees at the front of the property|
Happy first day of summer to all of you in the northern hemisphere! I hope the new season brings only pleasant surprises.
UPDATE: Based on comments provided by Max below and examination of additional on-line photos, it appears that these trees are Agonis flexuosa after all.