M

Macadamia hybrid seedlings  chain of flowers   2014, Ed Noffziger's house, Santa Cruz Mtns., age unknown    2016, Randy Morgan's old house, downtown Soquel, ~30 years old   2013, Randy Morgan's mom's house, downtown Soquel, ~15 years old   tough! nice top  .  .        .  .  but voles ate the roots off making their nest!    UCSC Arboretum entrance 2006, ~35 years old, M. integrifolia    long chain-like clusters of pink flowers produce clusters of round, hard seeds containing sweet, high-oil content seeds within. They fall from the tree or can be knocked off with poles. They are spectacularly good fresh, but are almost never seen sold except as a roasted, salted product, which is also fabulous, and addicting. These seedling trees, from hybrids between M. integrifolia and M. tetraphylla, are from the orchard of one large and very successful Central Coast grower  Based on his deep experience he feels strongly that most seedlings will produce nuts of a quality as good or better than available grafted varieties and come into bearing just as quickly. The latter factor seems to depend mostly on getting trees established and building adequate foliage mass. Macadamias are well adapted to many areas of California from the Bay Area south to San Diego, including the thermal belts of the Central Valley. In fact the oldest trees outside Australia can still be seen on the UC Berkeley campus, both over 130 years old. Generally to about 20' tall by 10-15' wide in 20-30 years in Northern and Central California without pruning, it can reach an impressive 40' tall by 20' wide or larger in warmer, more humid climates. Mature trees are hardy to ~24F, flowers start to freeze ~28F. Most large Northern California specimens survived the 1990 freeze, with temps to ~20F or lower in most areas. Best production occurs with about the same irrigation level as avocados in SoCal but if there is available groundwater expect them to survive or even thrive with little or no supplemental watering, especially in cooler Northern California sites. Sun to part shade, will tolerate poor soil but yields increase with moderate fertilizing. Native to moist forest sites in Eastern Australia. Proteaceae. rev 3/2020

Macrozamia miquelii   BURRAWANG   Andy King's great Wikimedia image    our 12 year old plants   a low, stemless cycad with very fine, graceful, relatively soft, ferny, dark green leaves forming an open circle of foliage 5-6' tall by 6-8' across at full maturity. Reaching 3-5' long they are also highly glossy and arise from a usually subterranean stem. Very slow from seed for the first 1-5 years it becomes quite vigorous when established, producing 30-75 or so leaves in robust annual flushes from the crown. Male cones are 6-12" long, female cones range 12-24" and produce large orange brown seeds about the size of a date enclosed in a showy bright red wrapper. They are poisonous of course, like all cycads, unless they are cooked, mashed or broken up then left to percolate in cool running stream water for three weeks or so. Those plus a nice chardonnay, some bread and mild cheese and  .  .  .  enjoy! This is an adaptable species, growing well for us in full sun here with our very cool summers. It is at its best in warmer areas with at least some shade and of course can be used as a houseplant in bright conditions. It makes and excellent medium sized container plant for indoor/outdoor or porch/patio as well. This is certainly something most of your plant collector friends haven't seen. Plus it's easy, about as demanding as Cycas revoluta except it only takes cold to ~25-20°F. It can grow in very wet areas or dry upland situations. Intermittent summer watering is best, it will take considerably drier conditions along the cool coast and can be watered frequently if you have the time and the water. USDA zone 9. Eastern and Northeastern Australia. Zamiaceae. rev 9/2020

Machareina sinclairii   TWIGRUSH, KNIFE RUSH, PEPEPE    Strybing Arboretum    grow this grass-like plant for its clean, wonderfully rich green, wide, glossy leaves and graceful, tassle-like summer seed heads. Rhizomatous, clumping habit, foliage reaches about 2' tall by 3' wide (broader with age), flower spikes can reach 3' tall. Quite dramatic sited on slopes or above walls, where the leaves and tassles can hang down. Cut it down every year or two, or groom out old culms and stalks. Makes a good container plant for a year or two, but will soon outgrow its pot. Nice specimens can be seen at Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. Sun to full shade, almost any soils, intermittent or infrequent watering to very wet sites. Native to New Zealand, Malaysia. This genus is comprised of perennial, rhizomatous sedges, all distinguished by their wide leaves. Distributed from Australasia westward through the Pacific to American tropics and the Caribbean. The ubiquitous sawgrass of the Everglades is a close relative, M. jamaicense. Cyperacea. rev 9/2020

Mahonia aquifolium    OREGON GRAPE    flowers    winter color    closeup of maroon winter color    characteristic orange older leaves    evergreen shrub to 5-6’ tall valued for glossy, divided, toothed leaves and short, narrow spikes of small yellow flowers massed at tops of stems in spring. Clusters of dark blue black berries follow. A bonus with all Mahonias is that a substantial fraction of the leaves turn hot orange, crimson, or red in fall. Great for part or full shade with little or no summer watering, frost hardy. An excellent accent plant in dry shade gardens. Pacific Coast. Berberidaceae. rev 9/2020

‘Compacta’    foliage    like the standard form, but to only 2-3’, with a tighter, denser habit and larger, very dark green, leathery leaves. Spreads very slowly by stolons. Flowers and berries are not as showy. The leaves tend to have a dull finish and are somewhat narrow. This variety will eventually fill in to form dense banks of foliage. It is very good as a drought tolerant shade to half sun groundcover but it looks best with at least some summer water and it is a slow grower. rev 1/2010

'Arthur Menzies' seedlings    parent plant   seedlings   this is a popular plant in the Pacific Northwest, considered a faster, larger form of M. lomariifolia. For us the seedlings, which we sell in lieu of the parent, have been bluer and actually much more compact. All produce stunning flowers, some tinting towards orange, followed by heavy crops of very attractive dark blue berries, and grow with somewhat variable leaves and habits but are essentially all mostly shorter and stouter copies of the parent. This was a cross of M. beali and lomariifolia done by Arthur Menzies of Strybing Arboretum in 1961. Part sun to mostly shade, quite drought tolerant when established. Sunset zones 5-9, 14-24/USDA zone 8. rev 10/2017

bealei    CHINESE MAHONIA. LEATHERLEAF MAHONIA    at Quail Botanic Gardens    fall color on the leaves    a vastly underappreciated and underused foliage plant for California. Here it is mostly supplanted nowadays by M. lomariifolia, which offers a somewhat better flower show and still-wonderful but much denser, bluer and more prickly foliage. The leaves on this species are much larger (to 18") with broader, darker green leaflets that have fewer, slightly softer spines. In cold or stressed conditions the leaves can become suffused with warm gold, orange, and red tones, even deep burgundy, and hold the color until rosettes of new foliage push out over them. The showy, condensed, central vertical flower spikes are more relaxed than in M. lomariifolia, enhancing the more casual, interesting foliage applications of this species. The sweetly fragrant, bright yellow flowers set a similar heavy crop of large, quite ornamental blue-black berries - birds love them. This top notch plant that makes a great foliage or focal point subject here, and seems to show none of the problems it displays in East Coast gardens, namely suckering and spreadingly invasively by seed. This is one of the treasured few plants which can take either extremely dark, deeply shaded situations or almost full sun. It is quite tough enough to endure high impact commercial landscape situations such as shopping centers, and the spines can be advantageous in discouraging trespassing etc. Average drainage requirements, very drought tolerant when established, especially in shade. China. rev 2/2018

eurybractea  
a compact evergreen species that bears large, very delicate, finely-cut dark blue green leaves. Also known as M. confusa. China. rev 8/2019
'Beijing Beauty' PP29095P3   first crop   bronzy new foliage   narrow, slightly prickly, glossy dark blue green leaves in horizontal whorls along the stem. Small light yellow flowers are held in short, dense, terminal upright spikes in the middle of the upper leaf rosettes in winter. Dark blue berries with a whitish coating add interest and draw birds. To 4-5' tall and wide, probably larger in areas with warm, humid summers. Habit is dense, compact, formal-looking. Great for short hedges, as a texture plant or even massed groundcover. USDA zone 7. rev 2/2019

'Soft Caress' PP20183 soft, delicate leaves    this Sunset Collection variety is a very fine-textured selection, with long, ultra-narrow, spineless (!!) leaflets well-separated along the 12" long, very dark blue green mature leaves. The foliage sprays occur in flat whorls discretely spaced on the stems, looking much like bamboo or its close relative Nandina. In indirect light the mature foliage often shows a nice silvery or greyish sheen. Short, upright, narrow spikes densely packed with deep golden yellow flowers appear in winter on mature plants, possibly throughout the year following cool periods as well here in our nursery climate, if they're like very other Mahonia we grow. (We haven't seen them yet, our first crops are still too young.) New growth is briefly bronzy, juvenile leaves are shorter, smaller-textured and have shorter, denser leaflets. The growth habit is compact, with plants reportedly reach 3-4' tall by ~3' wide within a few years. Use this against any backdrop which will highlight its leaf and stem structure, as a focal point plant, in containers or massed as a low-medium hedge. Best in part sun to shade, average soil requirements, average to moderate watering. Frost hardy to ~0F, USDA zone 7/Sunset 4-9, 14-24. rev 2/2019
gracilipes   CHINESE MAHONIA   flowering   new growth    sun + cold    sun + cold II    this one's a goodie; big, almost smooth dark blue green to grey green leaves with whitish reverses make a great backdrop for the nice display of thin, upright, terminal flower spikes loaded with coral buds and small melon-orange flowers. Resulting long chains of dark purple blue fruits are dramatically displayed against intense coral red stems, attracting  many types of songbirds. Plants will flower/fruit on seasonally mature new growth which experiences a modest amount of chill, meaning at least twice and sometimes three times a year for us here. New growth pushes out shiny dark bronze-red, cold temps plus direct sunlight bring hot pink, orange and even lilac purple to any senescent leaves or young foliage still in the process of hardening off. In many seedlings mature foliage at its peak has an ethereal frosty, glaucous coating on the upper surfaces. Happiest in partial to full shade, most soils, average drainage or better, average to infrequent watering when established. We sell cutting-grown and/or seedling plants, depending on the crop. Frost hardy to USDA zone 7a. rev 2/2019

Mammillaria  smaller growing, clumping, mounding to columnar cactus, most very easy to grow, with crowns of flowers usually in spring or summer. Cactaceae. North and Central America. rev 3/2013

backebergiana  young plant  cylindrical stems in a clump grow to a foot or more and lean over to grow along the ground. Rings of red violet flowers come every summer and turn to green fruit. Will take some shade. Likes well drained soil and some water in summer but will deal with the cold better in winter if left dry. Try it in containers or even hanging baskets. Sunset zones 17-24/USDA 10. rev 3/2013-Suzy Brooks

gracilis fragilis   THIMBLE CACTUS   kindly spines    mature madness    a tidy, clumping species with form-fitting white spines that are easy to touch. The nodular branch tips break off and root easily, and as plants mature they usually look like an amazing mound of tiny white knobs.  Pale creamy yellow flowers bloom in late winter and spring. Easy to grow, becoming an ever-wider each  year and reliably forming a nice specimen with age. Sun or part shade, water when dry from spring through fall. USDA zone 9. Central Mexico. rev 9/2020

geminispina   very nice cluster    now that's nice!  a white-spined clumper that has red fruit ringing the top after magenta flowers have done their job. Sun, good drainage, and a winter rest from water and you can add this beauty to your collection. Sunset zones 21-24/USDA 10. rev 6/2012-Suzy Brooks

melanocentra   4" plant    meaning 'black central spine,' this is a solitary cactus, a blue green, squat grower with characteristic tufts of white furr between the tubercles, eventually reaching 5" tall by 8" wide on old speimens. Gets a ring of bright, deep pink flowers around the top third in the summer, that turn to pink or scarlet fruit. Likes water in the summer, in well drained soil, sun to part shade. From Mexico. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 9. rev 8/2012-Suzy Brooks 

Mandevilla  (not currently in production)  vines to scandent shrubs, related to Star Jasmine. All make great container plants. Great choices for a containers with some support. Take sun or part shade, like regular  watering. Protect from cold outside Sunset zones 21-24/USDA 10. Apocynaceae. rev 6/2011

'Fire and Ice' PP23293  (not currently in production)   flowers and leaves     intense true red flowers are not the only good thing about this shrubby vine; the green, cream, and pink leaves are just as showy. Great choice for placing against that overpriced obelisk you bought online! Or let it spill over a wall, or twine up a mailbox. rev 10/2013

'Red Fury' PP19698 (not currently in production)  trumpets   fiery red flowers on glossy leaves that bloom spring through fall. A vining shrub, it can be trained on a trellis, growing to 6' or more, or pruned for shrubbery or in a hanging basket. Regular watering. Find a warm location in coastal areas and protect from cold outside Sunset zones 21-24/USDA 10. rev 7/2012-Suzy Brooks 

SunParasol 'Crimson' PP 15539  (not currently in production)   flowers    a more vining Dipladenia type, with deep, true red flowers. Easily the best red yet. Leaves are smooth and very glossy. Still tender, but fast and with protection this should do well around the Bay Area and warmer climates. 
SunParasol 'Giant Crimson' PPAF  (not currently in production)  flowers   an improved red, larger than 'Crimson' but otherwise just as excellent. rev 7/2008 
SunParasol 'Pretty Crimson'
(not currently in production)   blooming    can you get any redder? A form with the same striking, intense red flowers but smaller, and with shorter internodes. This makes a superior container plant and doesn't need be grown with support if you trim off the young stems that reach up. If you want vine form, tie those runners up. rev 4/2010
SunParasol 'Stars & Stripes'   (not currently in production)  striped flowers    red flowers with white stripes. An evergreen, vining shrub, growing 6-8' tall, and blooming until cold weather arrives. rev 7/2011

Manfreda maculosa  TEXAS TUBEROSE, RATTLESNAKE AGAVE    nice, spotted lawn    soft, brittle leaves of olive green with faded purple spots in a low growing rosette. White, fragrant flowers appear in summer, then fade to dusky pink. Likes light shade, good drainage, and little watering once established. Good choice for mass plantings, groundcover. No worries about spines, there are none! Texas. This is really just a winter-deciduous Agave. Asparagaceae/Agavaceae. rev 3/2015-Suzy Brooks 

Mangave    a hybrid genus, refering to crosses both natural and by humans between any Agave and any Manfreda. Does not rhyme with Man-Cave, but maybe it should. One of the hot new intergeneric hybrids, in this case it's all about those darned spots. And the reddish color. rev 6/2016

'Bloodspot'     hybrid spot vigor    broad, soft, blue grey leaves are soft, with a single terminal spine. The "blood spots" develop the most contrast under full or mostly full sun exposure. Stays small and compact, rarely offsetting, and to about 12" tall and wide. Very narrow flower spikes reach 6' or more, bearing dark maroon flowers with very long, extruded, spidery stamens and stigmas. Does well in containers, or in your well-drained dry garden. Sunset zones 8, 9, 12-24/USDA 8. rev 2/2016

'Macho Mocha'    a real good look at those spots   this is almost certainly a chance natural hybrid which occurred in a Manfreda maculosa seed pod collected in northern Mexico by Carl Schoenfeld of Yucca Do Nursery. Growing adjacent to the mother plant were Agave celsii (mitis). Its varietal name makes no apparent sense, and my current, partially researched theory is that it is a typo-typo, or typo-squared. 'Mancha Mocha' would make sense though, as "mancha" means spots in Spanish. So an incorrect or mis-transcribed attempt at a Spanish version of "mocha spots" followed by a second typo, or perhaps misguided "correction"  .  .  .  hmmm  .  .  .just a theory. In favored climates (warm to hot summers) and favored sites (no snails) it supposedly can reach 6' across, but we've only seen it to about 4'. The soft, greyish green leaves are tantalizingly spotted with purple brown, often heavily enough to suggest it's "chocolate" name. Flower stalks are very thin but strong, reach over 6' tall, and bear short-tube flowers that extrude long, spidery stamens and stigmas. We have never seen it bloom here, either outdoors or in a greenhouse. Sun to part shade, average to good drainage and don't forget about those snails, should be hardy to around 10F at least. Mexico. rev 2/2020

MBN utahensis hybrids   blue green seedling   another blue green seedling   a lavender seedling   an exciting new series, these are hybrids with Agave utahensis ssp. nevadensis as one parent and represent an entirely new direction in breeding. I don't think any other entity has released varieties with this parentage, which we undertook just because Agave utahensis is my favorite Agave species. Besides being a California native it is highly variable, one of the smallest species of all and a very compact grower. The subspecies nevadensis clusters quickly, tends to flower when quite young and in many populations like our parent material features has extra-long needle-like terminal spines, intergrading with a sometimes-split off/sometimes lumped ssp eborispina. In nature A. utahensis ssp. nevadensis is grey green to (mostly) silvery blue. We have a plethora of both silvery-blue green and smoky lavender-violet hybrid seedlings to release as we reduce our stock plant population. Expect all to color dramatically when bloom time comes (quickly!), and hopefully they will throw skinny, enormously tall flower spikes just like their Agave parent, 10-15' from a plant less than a foot tall. Sun/part shade, average-good drainage, modest to little summer watering. This form should be more water-tolerant than its often-difficult wild Agave parent, and will probably be cold hardy to USDA zone 7 or so. rev 10/2020-Luen Miller

Matteucia orientalis  (not currently in production)  ASIAN OSTRICH FERN  at UC Berkeley Botanic Garden  reverse view   I spotted this wonderful fern growing in a naturalistic setting while I was wandering through the Asian section at UC Berkeley Botanic Garden. It mistook it for a native fern. It is quite attractive, being dark green, of moderate size (24-30" tall by 4-5' across),  with a neat, attractive, clean apearance, and broad, generous fronds. I finally found a source and I am glad to be able to offer a crop. This would make a good addition for any garden where you want to evoke a formal or woodland feeling. It is outstanding under trees or along streams, ponds, etc. as well as in containers. Under long day conditions it produces fertile fronds, blackish, narrow, spike-like things clustered in the center of the rosette, that are quite attractive and ornamental. This is a very frost hardy plant, deciduous for a couple of months in winter, emerging about mid March. It clusters but doesn't really run in our climates, gets larger and more imposing with age, and is just generally a very satisfying fern. This is a hot plant, and a collector's item. I am guessing Sunset zones 4 (or lower)-9, 14-17, 21-24/USDA zone 7 or lower. Polypodiaceae.China, Japan. rev 9/2009

Maytenus boaria ‘Green Showers’    MAYTENS TREE    shopping center landscape    Pacific Grove    neat weeping evergreen tree to 30’ tall and wide. A clonal variety introduced by Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation, it offers dense, bright green foliage. Unlike seedling crops, plantings of this uniform, cutting grown, clonal variety have a lush, uniform look in the landscape. Offered as single stem or multistem. Chile. Celastraceae. rev 9/2020

Mazus radicans   (not currently in production)  up close and personal      little, olive green leaves with darker markings spread along the ground in rich, moist soil and host white and  blue flowers in summer. Takes some foot traffic, especially if planted between stepping stones. Nice groundcover for large containers or any well-drained spot with sun or part shade. Less than 6" tall. Sunset zones 1-9, 14-24/USDA 5. rev 7/2014

Melaleuca   woody shrubs and trees native mostly to Australia, with a few other species scattered between New Caledonia and Malesia (Philippines, Malaysia, all of Indonesia, sometimes defined as excluding New Guinea). Closely related to Callistemon but with stamens bundled instead of being free. Also similar to and closely related to Beaufortia, Regelia, Kunzea and Calothamnus, among many others, all contained within the vast Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family). rev 9/2020

diosmifolia   GREEN BOTTLEBRUSH   unpruned specimen, UCSC   an open shrub grown mostly for its amazing foliage but also for its interesting branch-form and bright green flowers. Our own seedling selection, it usually ranges from 4-6' in height by 4-6' across and is usually rather open unless pruned back for density. It is now widely used in the cut flower trade for its amazing, pliable, tight, orderly-foliage stems. It also displays very nice, intensely green flowers in short, neat cylinders near the branch tips in late spring as well but it's not a heavy bloomer. The color is so close to that of the foliage that you may not notice it when it does bloom. The seed pods are wonderful, inflated, knobby little sausages held for several years along the stems, slowly shedding with age. This species is rated as a good windbreak plant by Australians, tolerating strong winds without breaking and letting just enough through to help suppress backside turbulence. While usually listed as "not frost hardy" by Australians this particular selection was planted in our reservoir landscape and survived 19F in the 1990 freeze. In fairness it barely survived, and took more than a year to grow big enough to be noticed but it was also a just a newly planted 1 gallon-size plant at the time. Also in fairness it was completely in the open plus exposed to full, direct, early morning sunlight, which is hugely important. It has survived our subsequent 25F freezes with minimal damage although it and a later-planted companion are now both shaded from morning sunlight. Sun to mostly shade, average to almost no summer watering, more irrigation for cut production of course. Pretty good in containers if cut back once in a while to flush new growth. Like many Myrtaceous plants flowering is probably suppressed by high-nitrogen levels. USDA zone 9. Native to south-facing coastal areas along the very southwestern corner of Australia. Our plants were originally grown from a small packet of seed I found in a desk drawer immediately after Manuel and I purchased the nursery from Joe Solomone. He had purchased it from Nindethana perhaps 15 years previously. Along with a wide selection of Callistemons I sowed the seed, barely covered all with very fine peat moss and kept them moist. They came up like a solid cover of tiny green grass. Ditto for the Callistemons. Always try a small test-sow before you throw old seed away! rev 10/2020

incana   GREY HONEY MRYTLE   early spring flowers   soft, fuzzy needle-like leaves   a re-intro from our early years. This very soft-looking, soft-feeling, fine-textured evergreen shrub or small tree reaches an open, flat-topped to somewhat pendant  6-10' tall and wide. It bears short tubular clusters of lemony to light golden yellow flowers in late winter, close to the branch-tips, with purplish new growth as an additional feature afterwards. Last grown here in the early '90's, we think it's appeal has grown lately. Sun or light shade, very little summer water when established. Cut back by an hard freezes below 25F, recovers quickly by pushing looooong plumes of superior-quality, especially nice juvenile foliage, commercially grown harvested for in cut arrangements. Focal point plantings, screens, hedges. USDA zone 9/Sunset zones 9, 15-17, 21-24. Australia. rev 3/2019

ringens 'Brian Walters'   loading dock, 5g cans    leaves   a very compact form from Jo O'Connell's Australian Native Plants Nursery in Ojai. This is a shy-blooming form grown for its dense, neat, deep green foliage and ultra-tight, weed-smothering habit. Moderately slow growing, forming a dome 2-3' tall by 3-4' across in a reasonable amount of time. Flowers are typical intense green but are rarely seen - mature plants will flower much better small plants. rev 9/2020

Melianthus major  (not currently in production)   HONEYBUSH   foliage plant!   a stunning foliage plant, with bold, glaucous, grey green serrated leaves, and tall, rich reddish brown flower spikes appearing in late winter and spring. Sun to part shade, grows quickly to 6-12" tall, 8-10' wide, upright to sprawling. USDA zone 7 (deciduous)/Sunset 8-9, 12-24. South Africa. Melianthaceae. rev 7/2015

Metrosideros excelsa 'Gala' VARIEGATED NEW ZEALAND CHRISTMAS TREE  adult foliage   juvenile foliage   a compact variegated shrub, very eventually a small tree. This form is the reverse of the more common edge-variegated form, with mature leaves showing light golden yellow centers surrounded by deep green, both with a greyish tomentose cast. Juvenile-phase foliage is highly glossy, bright chartreuse yellow against spring green, and held on showy coral red stems. Mature plants probably will flower at some point since the other variegated form does, but rarely, probably just due to having less chlorophyll. Old leaves turn bright orange red before they drop, and are probably showier anyway. Full sun to part shade, protect from hard freezes. New Zealand. Myrtaceae. rev 3/2019

Michelia   evergreen trees and shrubs, classified by most modern authorities as Magnolia, subgenus Michelia. (I'll get there too, it just means changing lots and lots of image and document titles, labels, documents etc.) Magnoliaceae. rev 10/2020

crassipes    flowers and foliage    closeup    somewhat like M. figo, and usually listed as a variety of that species in modern treatments. Relatively large leaves are heavy textured, very dark green and finely quilted with veins. Open creamy white flowers reach 3" across and are very showy, with a very faint lemony-musk fragrance somewhat like that of Magnolia grandiflora. This is an open to eventually moderately dense spreading evergreen shrub to about 10-15' tall, blooming in our nursery climate always twice a year, spring and fall, by initiating via chill on new, mature, seasonally ripened branches. Sun to part shade, rich, moist soil, average to very infrequent summer watering. USDA zone 8/Sunset zones 5, 8-9, 14-24. China. rev 10/2020

doltsopa    closeup    grafted tree habit, full sun    indumentum    blooming seedling, typical growth habit    evergreen tree to 30’ or more. Habit is narrow and conical when grown from cuttings or seed or grafted onto its own root, but is often much more compact and rounded when grafted on  Magnolia grandiflora. It tends to grow as a cluster of vertical trunks rather than as a single-trunked specimen. Dark green leaves grow to 8" long, 4" wide. They are usually covered with a beautiful dense, shiny dark brown indumentum when mature, as are the young branches, leaf sheaths, and flower buds. Globe shaped flowers appear beginning from December through March, depending on the strain, climate, and season, and bloom can last for up to three months. The blossoms are creamy white, to 4" across, and exude a powerful, complex fragrance, lemony with elements of peppermint and musk, similar to  M. grandiflora. Prefers part to full sun (cool areas), shaded, moist roots, and frost not much below 25°F, although it survived 20°F without damage to stems or leaves. Himalayas. USDA 9/ Sunset zones 14-24. rev 10/2014. rev 10/2014

'Silver Cloud'   February flowers   buds with indumentum    Strybing, above Dwarf Conifer Garden     another venerable Strybing tree    young grafted tree     Huntington patriarch   the same tree you've swooned over at Strybing for years. This grafted selection grows as a small, compact evergreen tree with handsome, large, very dark green leaves, shows a light but distinctive indumentum beneath, then produces large, showy, classy buds heavily coated with coppery indumentum in fall and winter. Large rounded to open, creamy white flowers make a very heavy show for about a month, usually starting January or early February. They are heavily scented, to the point of being detectable well away from the plant, with an intense, lemony musky fragrance quite similar to that of Magnolia grandiflora. These grafted plants have already bloomed, and will produce shorter, rounder and more compact trees than seedlings, which put 5-7 years into fast vertical growth before maturing and starting to flower. Supposedly this species perfers cooler summers but those at The Huntington (Pasadena area, east LA) were looking pretty darned good last time I saw them. Estimate 15' x 15' as a finished height within a reasonable time, likes at least average drainage and regular to infrequent summer watering. Makes a surprisingly good, long term large container plant if sun is kept off the roots. USDA 9/ Sunset zones 14-24. rev 10/2014

figo
   BANANA SHRUB    closeup    usual size, at my old house    the biggest plant I know of, Lincoln Street    evergreen shrub or small tree to 15’ tall and wide with bright green camellia-like foliage and small, cream and maroon magnolia flowers with an intense, sharp tutti fruiti  fragrance (isoamyl alcohol) that seems detectable by everyone. Sun to part shade, average to little summer watering. Plants can be fast, reaching 6-8’ in 2 years. Neat, rather formal appearance and strong fragrance make it a natural for use near doorways and entries. Took 20°F with minimal damage. This plant has recently been affected by a strain of downy mildew, at least in cool coastal locations. China. rev 6/2019
'Hagiwara'   flower   same size, leaves slightly darker green and with a wavier margin, flowers look the same but are even more powerfully fragrant, almost overwhelming close up. rev 6/2019

‘Port Wine’ (not currently in production)   a selection with darker maroon flowers, not quite as fragrant to my nose. What has been supplied to us by several sources seems identical with  M. figo v. skinneriana. rev 6/2019

v. skinneriana     flower   foliage   coppery indumentum    a more cold-hardy, larger and more vigorous form, probably to about 10-15' regularly in California, larger by 5-10' in the hot, humid eastern US. Flowers are smaller, with a thin line of deep violet red edging the petals. The powerful fragrance seems virtually identical to the regular species, at least to my sniffer. Foliage is narrower, with wavier edges and a slightly twisted presentation. Blooms most heavily in spring but like the regular species seasonally-mature new growth will initiate flower buds throughout the growing season in our cool-summer climate, indicating it's chill-responsive. It may also respond to short days. Full sun to part shade(in foggy climates mildew will increase with the amount of shade)ncreases dramatically with shade in foggy climates. USDA zone 7. rev 6/2019

Microlepia strigosa    LACE FERN    soft, blue green fronds    nicest patch I know of anywhere, Strybing Arboretum    a fast growing evergreen fern to 3’ tall, spreading slowly by underground runners. Triangular fronds are tripinnate (divided three times) with a soft, fine texture. While reportedly drought tolerant, this fern is best used in shade with average watering and fertilizing. Under those conditions it can form large, dense billows of lush, soft blue green foliage highlighted by chartreuse frond margins and new growth. When well grown it looks so nice you just want to lay down and roll back and forth in it. Probably killed to the ground below 25°F. Part shade to shade, average to modest summer watering. Eastern Asia. Polypodiaceae. rev 1/2020

'Mcfaddeniae'  (not currently in production)   MACFADDEN'S LACE FERN  fronds   this form is distinctly different from the regular Lace Fern in that the leaflets are reduced to minute, round blades strung along the petiole. It forms a dense clump with fountains of fronds that arch over and droop. 12-24" tall, evergreen in mild areas, deciduous in zone 7 or less, holding on to leaves till late in fall. Part shade or shade, regular watering. Sunset zones  6-9, 14-24/USDA 6. rev 6/2012-Suzy Brooks

Microsorum  evergreen epiphytic or lithophytic ferns, clumping or running, native to tropical and subtropical regions from Africa through Southeast Asia, Australasia and east to islands in the mid-Pacific. Synonomous with Phymatosorus and Phymatodes, also some species were formerly listed as Polypodium. Polypodiaceae. rev 1/2020

diversifolium (pustulatum)  KANGAROO FERN   mature phase, Munich Zoo    juvenile phase    SFO International Terminal    leaves    roots    traveling roots   a medium sized evergreen fern with large, very dark green, glossy, pinnate leaves to over 12" long. It is a tough and forgiving commercial interiorscape variety.  Depending on the spore source this species can supposedly take temperatures down to about 25F but roots will not tolerate long periods of cold, wet soils. Barbara Jo Hoshizaki states that "it is grown outdoors in the warmer parts of England." She also lists the current best name as being M. pustulatum, but that is just so crude we're sticking with the apt diversifolium: the short, thin juvenile foliage is quite dissimilar from the long, leathery adult phase. Full shade, water well until established and intermittently afterwards. Fully established plants can tolerate light seasonal drought but don't push it too far. Most forms we've received have been devastated as young plants by any temperatures even approaching freezing. Australia, New Zealand. rev 2/2019

scolopendrium  (not currently in production)  EAST INDIA POLYPODY  juvenile foliage   a more tropical species, not cold tolerant enough to survive outdoors almost anywhere in California, at least not while looking good. It has longer, slightly more irregular fronds, and also is faster under warm conditions. That makes it a little better as an indoor plant though, and maybe for your porch or patio, if it's a really, really nice porch or patio. Shade, regular watering etc. Old World tropics. rev 1/2020

Mimulus  see Diplacus.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Yaku Jima’    (not currently in production)    DWARF MAIDEN GRASS   deciduous grass to 3-4’ tall bears short, compact feathery flower spikes followed by curved seed heads. The flower stalks are held above the foliage in a very vertical manner, the seed heads are retained well into winter or the following spring. One of the main reasons this one is used is because of its small scale relative to many other varieties of Maiden Grass. Sun to part shade, average to little summer watering, frost hardy. Eastern Asia. Graminae/Poaceae.rev 9/2020

'Cabaret'    (not currently in production)   foliage detail    bold creamy white vertical stripes. In its purest form it exhibits a broad central white stripe and only a very thin of green midrib, and thin green leaf margins. However this usually drifts to some degree, becoming a series of parallel lines, and eventually it transforms itself into 'Cosmopolitan' if you don't rogue out the reversions. Rather wide leaves to 1 1/2" across, vigorous growth to 6' or more. Leaves are moderately arching in habit. rev 8/2006
‘Cosmopolitan’
   (not currently in production)   garden    full size    leaves    wall    a large scale, large textured variegated form, with leaves to over 11/2" across, 3' long, and growing to over 6' counting flower spikes. This plant can be used as a Phormium analogue in landscapes. The leaves tend to have variegated margins and usually show about 50% or more of their surface as white. rev 4/2005
‘Morning Light’
   (not currently in production)   nice clump    Frontierland    an interesting vertically variegated form, this one recognized by its ultra thin greyish leaves which have white leaf margins plus a central white stripe. The overall effect is of a frosty, light, almost grey green, wispy clump. To 4'. rev 9/2020
'Yaku Jima'    (not currently in production)   clump    very dwarf, to about 24-36", very fine. rev 8/2005
‘Zebrinus’    (not currently in production)   foliage    the best horizontally variegated variety? Slower growing than ‘Strictus,’ but with a much more relaxed look and nicer color contrast. To about 4', with broad green leaves marked with pairs of creamy yellow slashes, somewhat like chevrons. This is a fantastic container plant, especially in burgundy, green or dark blue glazed pots. rev 4/2005

transmorissonensis    (not currently in production)    EVERGREEN MISCANTHUS   backlit, Mills Garden    forelit, Mills Garden    a moderate size, large textured clumping evergreen grass to 4’ tall, 5’ wide. Flower stalks reach 5-6’ tall, appear in late spring and last through summer. The flower/seed heads are rather robust and are held erect. Wide green leaves have a distinctive whitish central vein. This plant does a lot of what Pampas Grass does without actually being Pampas Grass. It doesn't get too big, has a nicer overall, shinier look, doesn't seed itself all over creation, and doesn't cut you like a knife when you get near it. But it is big and moves nicely in the wind. Surprisingly, Art Cameron of MSU informs me this plant is hardy and reliable in Michigan, resprouting readily from the roots after winter. Taiwan. rev 5/2005

Monardella villosa 'Russian River'   unirrigated, shouldering aside the weeds    closeup   purchased at my local CNPS chapter plant sale, this is a tough, satisfying native that has been a great performer for me. Bright green to deep green leaves against reddish stems form a somewhat open dome to about 15"-2' tall and wide, with tall flower spikes reaching to 30". Wonderful mauve purple flower heads are produced from early summer until mid- December. with no irrigation, weeding help or tending. Foliage is attractively mint-scented, hummingbirds, butterflies and beneficials are attracted to the flowers and it should need little or no watering once established except in the most extreme-summer climates. It expands very slowly by short stolons. Sun to half-shade, average to good drainage. Frost hardy for most inhabited areas of California, probably USDA zone 7. rev 2/2021

Muehlenbeckia axillaris   (not currently in production)    full bud and bloom    bright green mat to about 6-12" tall that spreads relatively slowly by underground stolons. This is a much more compact, well behaved, polite relative of the attractive but hyperactive Wire Vine, M. complexa. It is pretty hardy, but will be deciduous in areas with harder winters. Flowers are almost unnoticeable. Sun to mostly shade, average to occasional summer watering. New Zealand. Polygonaceae. rev 9/2020

'Tricolor' (not currently in production)  faint variegation   when fully variegated, quite pink and quite slow. Mostly it is half-variegated and moderately slow. Same habit, but smaller due to lower vigor. Must be watched to rogue out reversions. rev 9/2010

compressa  (not currently in production)  MATTRESS PLANT, CREEPING WIRE VINE    with Chiqa   dense, mounding, scrambling ground cover native to near coastal strand habitats in New Zealand. Fast, aggressive, but useful and striking in many applications as well as being useful for covering old cars and blue tarps. Sun to part shade, infrequent watering when established. Sunset zones 8-9, 14-24/USDA zone 9. rev 1/2008

Muhlenbergia    clumping perennial grasses, evergreen to facultatively deciduous, large scale. Mostly great ornamentals. Graminae/Poaceae. rev 6/2006

capillaris (not currently in production)  PINK MUHLY GRASS   modest flower display     nice foliage at UC Davis   fine textured grey green foliage then quite airy plumes of pinkish flowers appear like a mist over the clumps in late spring. Very drought tolerant, but doesn't bloom well in cool summer areas. Sun, infrequent watering. Sunset zones 3-9, 12-24/USDA zone 6. rev 11/2012

lindheimerii  (not currently in production)  TEXAS MUHLY, GULF COAST MUHLY    at Sierra Azul Nursery    at UC Berkeley    this is a Texan version of our own familiar Deer Grass, but with a wider, bluer grey leaf and a more open, airy display of the flower stalks. The stalks themselves are tinged purple when blooming then are retained and age to silver by late summer. It is also lower and a little more garden tolerant, coming from a region with summer rainfall. Think of it as a Helictotrichon scaled up. It makes a great focal point plant and can also be used as a massed groundcover. It looks great with boulders. Sierra Azul Nursery has a couple of good examples in their demonstration garden. To about 3' tall, taller when blooming, 4' across, drought tolerant when established. Sun to part shade, best in soils of at least average drainage. Sunset zones 5-24/USDA zone 7. rev 6/2006

rigens  (not currently in production)  DEER GRASS    habit    this clumping native perennial grass bears very thin, arching grey green leaves to 3' long. Stiffly erect, very thin flower stalks appear in late spring and last through winter. It is one of our most distinctive native grasses, probably the largest, and looks great near large rocks or planted in groups or even en masse. The old seed stalks remain as ornamental features long after the seed has scattered. Sun to part shade, little or no summer watering when established. Very frost hardy. California. rev 10/2003

Mulberry (fruiting, Morus spp.)  this variety, produced by a tissue culture lab, was purchased as 'Dwarf Everbearing Black Mulberry' and is available from numerous online sources under that title. It is clearly not dwarf (to 7' in 1g cans, first year), clearly not everbearing (being winter dormant) and I'm guessing likely not a black mulberry. One block of our 5g's did bear a crop of very tiny fruit, very close to the soil, but nothing on branches produced above that. The fruit looked like small, narrow, white mulberries. If this is truly a black mulberry (M. nigra) versus a white (M. alba) fruit should be very sweet, slightly tart, deep black in color, with large vessicles and appear in late summer. White mulberries are very sweet, usually longer and more narrow, acidless and commence bearing about June. My guess is this variety,, whichever type it is, might have become hyperjuvenilized during the TC process and will have to transition to mature-phase branches before it fruits. But I could be wrong. Sun, average to infrequent watering, most soils, mild-winter tolerant. USDA zone 5 or lower. Moraceae. rev 11/2020-Luen Miller

Musa, ornamental species and varieties (for edible varieties see Banana)    evergreen tropical and subtropical perennials, ranging from dwarf species and selections (under 3') to absolutely gi-normous specimens (50' and more, in the case of the stupendous M. ingens from New Guinea). They provide an unmatchable and irreplaceable tropical foliage effect, especially for their dramatic foliage but also their quite showy flowers. All pup before or after flowering and continue to grow a carpet of roots and pseudotrunks that form what is known as a "mat." Some will freeze down but survive considerable frost, and are grown as deciduous perennials as far north as Seattle and the upper-central Midwest. Southeast Asia. If flowering is desired (vs. continuous production of more pups) see instructions for doing the same with edible bananas. Musaceae. rev 8/2017

'Bordelon'    why you grow it    foliage closeup     translucent foliage    found in Bordelonville, Louisiana. This variety is an ornamental of supposed edible banana parentage, but its origin is circumspect and it is assumed to be a hybrid. It may be a cross with the very red-striped variety known in the trade as Sumatran Banana, M. sumatrana  ‘Zebrina,’ A.K.A. M. ‘Rojo,’ a notoriously slow, difficult, frost tender and somewhat cold sensitive plant even for Southern California. ‘Bordelon’ has green leaves striped with burgundy, and burgundy undersides. It is supposed to be a good cool grower and should be a great, more dependable substitute for true Sumatran Banana. rev 4/2017

basjoo    JAPANESE FIBER BANANA    in Portland      Glasshouse Works garden - Athens, Ohio      mature mat in spring, Richard Josephson's, Santa Cruz       flower and fruit spike     wonderful columnar trunks at Strybing Arboretum    a hardy (zone 5-6) banana, probably THE most cold hardy banana species. This species will survive snow and great amounts of cold, acting as a giant deciduous perennial. Unlike most other bananas, the foliage can take down to freezing or even slightly below without damage. Its trunks are know to take mid twenties before beginning to freeze down. In fact, one grower I know in the Pacific Northwest summed it up when he said “If it isn't freezing, it's growing.” It will reach 8-12' tall in one growing season with enough heat, water, and fertilizer, and can go close to 20' at maturity. In mild climates, it will overwinter and the stands look much like any other banana. While leaves will survive light frosts, they tend to get badly tattered during winter storms, and plants are probably best at least partially cut back early in spring in most situations. Like most bananas, it probably forms its flower stalk the first year and it emerges and continues the reproductive cycle the second year. If it doesn't freeze down, you may see typical banana flowers and small, seedy, essentially inedible fruit. All bananas seem to appreciate a warm situation, and if you are in the cool coastal belts, you should site this plant so it receives at least some direct sunlight in winter. This species will reportedly take 0°F without protection and -20°F with thick mulch. But unless you are in a very cold area where this species' extreme hardiness will be of value, why not try one of the fruiting types, which will look as good or better and may reward you with fruit as well? This species is actually not the real “Japanese Fiber Banana,” M. balbisiana is. And it is not really from Japan, it is from China. In fact, no bananas are truly native to Japan; even M. balbisiana is an introduced species there. USDA zone 7. rev 8/2017

sikkimensis Ruby Dragon Fire-Breath  DARJEELING BANANA  striped young leaves   seed parent-plant at my house    mature leaves   flower spike  an even more intensely colored strain than the famous "Red Tiger," which we sold about ten years ago. This is one of the best and most dramatic ornamental species available, and one of the most cold-tolerant as well. It features wonderful, deep maroon stripes (a la M. sumatrana 'Zebrinus') and undersides on the youngest foliage, and occasionally on mature leaves as well but much fainter. It is a very large, fast grower where well sited, with pseudotrunks growing to 15-18' and leaves adding another 6' or so more. New pseudotrunks spread the clump slowly outwards, eventually forming very large, impressive, indeed gigantic colonies where happy. Mature plants can produce a long, arching to pendant flower spike, very showy with its very large, maroon and dark golden bracts and prominent central column of maroon bud bracts. Plants readily set fruit but those aren't edible, being fully packed with seeds. This species is grown as far north as Portland without special attention, and even Seattle if mulched. Where the trunks freeze it regrows to about 10' each year but doesn't flower. I've had a large grove at my house in Santa Cruz for over 15 years and it brings more tropical vibe and ambience to the yard than any other plant. Sun to mostly shade, moderate to little direct watering when established (those trunks are storage tanks). Our plants are grown from seed produced by my own single garden specimen (the reddest of all our original seedlings) and only the reddest of those are sold under this name. This also means supply is very limited. USDA zone 7/Sunset zone 5, 8-9, 14-24. Himalayas. rev 8/2017

sumatrana 'Zebrinus'    young plant    also sold as Musa 'Rojo' and Musa zebrinus, this is a tender subtropical variety that is slow and cranky under the best conditions, even in Southern California. Give it your warmest, most protected spot and it will do pretty well, but expect to lose it in protracted, cold, wet winters. Even if it doesn't die it can languish in cold or shady conditions and emerge with new growth quite late in spring. Its best application is probably in a container, where it can be moved to its most seasonally advantageous situation and protected from the worst a cold winter has to offer. Its leaves are the best of any currently available banana, being a deep, tropical olive green splashed with intense maroon, even on the older growth. Even if you have to replace it every few years it is unparalleled at making a tropical statement in a landscape. It is normally small-statured, under 10' tall and with only a few psuedotrunks. USDA Zone 9/Sunset zone 17, 21-24, or in protected containers anywhere. rev 4/2017

yunnanensis  YUNNAN BANANA, FOREST BANANA  distinctive, waxy, white petioles    graceful, arching habit, with '68 Ford LTD    young flower spike    new mature leaf, young plant  another highly sought after, highly ornamental, graceful, moderate size, cold-tolerant species from high elevation Yunnan Province in China. It is recognized by long, dark green, ribbed and usually folded leaves held partway out on long petioles which arch over gracefully over. It also has a characteristic, beautiful, white, waxy coating on the petioles and upper trunk, blackish marking on the leaves and pseudotrunks and long, sinuous flower spikes featuring a thin, extended central bud column. In hot, humid, partly shaded conditions the leaves are held flat but in full sun and cool, dry, coastal California the blades usually fold over neatly at the midrib. At my house orioles regularly use those folded leaves as sites for building their hanging-basket nests. Pseudotrunks are thinner and not so tall on this modest-sized species, so it's not likely to outgrow its spot. Originally purchased and sold as M. itinerans by us about ten years ago, this tightly clumping form was separated and formally described in 2008. As with M. sikkimensis Ruby Dragon, above, all our production derives from seed harvested from the single plant in my own home garden, so supply is intermittent and very limited. USDA zone 7 or 8/Sunset zones 5, 8-9, 14-24 rev 4/2017

Musella lasiocarpa    CHINESE YELLOW BANANA, ROCK BANANA, “YELLOW LOTUS EMERGING FROM THE MOTHER EARTH” BANANA    amazing 14" flower    blue leaves, clumping habit    silver raindrops    nursery plants, cut back and dormant in winter    an interesting, compact, hardy banana relative from about 9000' elevation in the Himalayas of Yunnan, China. This species forms a robust trunk topped with luxuriant, broad, bluish green leaves to 3-4' long, held very upright, with whitish undersides well displayed. They are extremely wind tolerant, reported to resist even hurricane force winds without shredding. From personal experience I have never seen a single leaf split in many years of growing. Overall height is 5-6'. The second (or third, or fourth) year it may (or may not) produce a large, terminal, upright-facing, cone-like cluster of iridescent, light golden yellow flower buds, the basal bracts of which open in a star-like pattern until the entire massive display is about 8" across. The flowers exude a large quantity of nectar that attracts  butterflies and bees, and I would expect certainly hummingbirds too nce they discover it. Mature plants become quite enlarged and bulbous at the base. Even when young this pseudotrunk is quite ornamental in and of itself. I have seen plants near the end of their flowering cycle that look like enormous, fat 4' tall cones with no leves, just an enormous upward-facing yellow flower cluster perched on top. The complete flowering cycle can last up to a year, after which the central mother plant will die and several of the circle of pups at the base will push up and continue the cycle. Most plants will flower after three winters or less but I really like this plant just for those amazing leaves, their tropical look and that wonderful, perfect perky bluish leaf color. They need far less water than you might expect, behaving much like fruiting bananas in their ability to tank up when irrigated and store a large amount of water in their pseudotrunk.

This wonderful plant will tolerate long, cold, wet winters well, and is grown outdoors in the Seattle area among other cold areas. It is known to take 10°F without crown damage but expect leaves to decline and shed once dark, cold, wet days commence. The growth cycle seems to match a long-day pattern. This will grow under very cool or very hot conditions, give it some shade in bright, clear, hot sites. It may be extinct in the wild but is quite well established in horticulture in China, and has been since Confucius was a pup. The basal suckers are used for food after some kind of treatment, I'm not sure what. Musaceae. rev 10/2020

Myoporum parvifolium    CREEPING BOOBIALLA   a prostrate evergreen groundcover to 6" tall, spreading quickly to cover large areas by rooting in stems as it goes. Needs average to good drainage with modest to very infrequent summer watering depending on sun exposure, soil type and summer temperatures. This species ranges across southern Australia. The California trade forms all seem frost hardy to around 20°F. USDA zone 9. Scrophulariaceae, formerly Myoporaceae. rev 9/2020

'Pink Flower Form'    leaves and flowers   smaller, semisucculent leaves and a very prostrate habit. Light pink flowers. UCSC. rev 9/2020

'Putah Creek'  Watsonville commercial planting   Santa Cruz mound    this variety, introduced by the UC Davis Arboretum, has neat, dark green leaves with minute serrations. The variety name is derived from a Native California Indian word. rev 9/2020

Myrica californica   PACIFIC WAX MYRTLE   sheared commercial hedge, Capitola   almost unsheared garden hedge, Santa Cruz   an evergreen shrub to 10-15' tall with rather neat, dark green leaves. This is a good shrub to many situations. It will take very dry or very wet conditions, makes a good screen or hedge with some trimming and will grow in sun or shade. It produces little litter, just the leaves and very small, hard, dry berries or tiny clusters of male flowers. With the motivation and the time you can even collect the small waxy reddish female fruit clusters in fall, boil them in water to extract the wax, skim it off the top when cool and make you own California Native Bayberry candles for the holidays. Cold hardy down to USDA zone 7, depending on source material. Pacific Coast. Myrtaceae.  rev 9/2020


note: all above text and images ©Luen Miller and Monterey Bay Nursery, Inc. except as otherwise noted