Madrone or Toyon - You'd think that would be easy!

Mature madrone - smooth margins on the leaves.

Baby madrones have serrated leaf edges

That's why I confused them with toyon!
I recently shared some plants I propagated thinking they were toyon, and one of the people who received the plants must be working with Jeffrey Caldwell - she emailed me saying that Jeffrey had told here they are madrone.

At first I disagreed but when I actually looked with my eyes and not with my head, I realized he is right. The leaves are quite different. I kept making up reasons why the leaves were so large and lush - all the water and food they get in their potted state, I thought.

So I compared the potted babies with young and mature toyon and madrone, and -- of course they are madrone - how could I have been so wrong!

I've already put the photos into a flickr album and annotated it - so, in the interests of getting out to do the last planting of the season --- I'll just refer you to that set for more pictures and words.


ryan said…
I've had something similar happen. I once transplanted a volunteer shrub I thought was a toyon, but it turned out to be a photinia. I also once took a plant ID test that was just cuttings of the plants, and I got a passing score but I missed some plants that I knew really well, for instance an acacia species that I had pruned a couple of days earlier and a hydrangea seedhead that I never would have guessed came from a shrub.
Country Mouse said…
Hey Ryan - now I don't feel so bad - I'm not alone in this boat it seems!
Town Mouse said…
My father always said one should never try to identify a plant without having some flowers or seedheads, in addition to the leaves. I'm starting to see how wise he was...

Sure wish I had room for another madrone! - Actually, maybe I can take some down to Tassajara in the spring, so do keep them alive.
Country Mouse said…
Oh, well that's good to know, TM. I think they look very happy - and would prob do fine until spring. Please can you check? because otherwise I'll just advertise them for sharing and they might get in the ground sooner. Nobody around my neighborhood wants trees or shrubs - for my "local-local market" I'm going to focus on clarkias and heucheras initially, and iris fernaldii, and lupine - pretty perennials.

I thought of a great label for such pretties - Trojan Horse Natives - the idea being you sell them with a label whose text - briefly - establishes a different gardening mindset from the purely ornamental. And maybe that seed of an idea will take in people's minds. Good job I'm not evengelical, eh?