General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Tree or shrub with large fuzzy brown flowers: can you identify?

Asked by Jeruba (47746points) July 3rd, 2009

Seen in a median strip in Santa Clara Valley, Northern California. Seems to be in bloom right now (mid-June – early July).

It’s a treelike shrub, or, if a tree (what’s the difference, anyway?) it branches very low. Height is maybe 8 or 10 feet. It has very dark green leaves, some appearing brown or reddish in the sun. Overall impression is that they are brown all over.

The most notable feature, the great oddity, is that it has long stalks sticking out all over it with brown fuzzy-looking balls on the ends. Up close they are not really fuzz but a kind of globular network of tiny very fine branches with seeds clinging to them. From a little distance they look like semitransparent balls of puffy brown mesh, cotton-candy shaped, sticking out all over a largish shrub of brown leaves. It’s because of the seeds that I am guessing these are flowers in a botanical sense, faintly resembling what happens to asparagus when it goes to seed (though much smaller and browner), but in no other way do they resemble flowers—nothing petal-like about them.

I have never seen anything like this plant anywhere ever before. It almost looks like something I would expect to see in Africa or Australia (not that I have ever been to either place) than North America.

Any clue?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

40 Answers

cyn's avatar

maybe it’s in here

Jeruba's avatar

No, sorry, @whatthefluther, but thanks. The “flowers” look like pom-poms made of something like this.

whatthefluther's avatar

@cyndihugs…I think you win!!

cyn's avatar

@whatthefluther—don’t give up…yet… :)

Jeruba's avatar

Those are great, @cyndihugs, but nope. They don’t look like flowers at all.

cyn's avatar

@Jeruba this is a mission…

whatthefluther's avatar

OK, I’ll go look for more fuzzy balls

whatthefluther's avatar

@jonsblond….Sure, pass it this way!

Jeruba's avatar

Smokebush isn’t it, but it’s much closer, to judge from this picture. Now imagine this with brown puffs on long stalks that extend well out from the body of leaves, and the leaves very dark, so that the whole effect is brown. (Maybe those pink things turn brown later?) This is on the right track.

cyn's avatar

uhh
i think i’m getting off track

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Something like this that has brown fuzzy balls like this?

Jeruba's avatar

Nope. The brown fuzzy balls look more like this.

Jeruba's avatar

No, really—maybe it is a smoke bush or a smoke tree. It is more like this. But all brown, not red or pink or orange at all. Brown as in Crayola burnt umber.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, you guys are working pretty hard, but I wonder if you are looking at my links. The “flowers” are nothing but a spidery webwork of tiny branches, with no body to them at all and no color other than dark brown.

I actually cut a small branch from the tree, but I can’t post a photo of it without creating some kind of account somewhere.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m going to figure out how to post a picture of the branch I cut.

Aethelwine's avatar

Here’s a close up of the smoke bush. I have seen some that look more brown than purple. My mind is stuck on this bush. I have wanted one for the past two years but we have no more room in our yard for new plants. When you first described it I imagined this bush immediately. looking forward to your picture!

cyn's avatar

@Jeruba try photobucket….

Jeruba's avatar

Isn’t there anyplace I can post photos without having to register and create an account with personal information in it?

SeventhSense's avatar

@Jeruba
Are you sure you weren’t smoking bush? :P

Jeruba's avatar

Ha ha, @SeventhSense. They were so strange looking that I did wonder if I’d exaggerated them in my imagination. But here is my evidence. The first three shots come from a cellphone camera. Pardon the port-a-potty; there’s a construction site next to them. The rest are closeups of the branch I cut.

The flash and the yellow tablecloth do make it look reddish, but it is still perfectly brown to my eye.

whatthefluther's avatar

It may well be in one of the families of this order, or…..somebody find a botanist, please…..wtf

cyn's avatar

@Jeruba type fake information….

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks, @cyndihugs. I decided to give Picasa a try. I posted the pix at the link in my last post above.

cyn's avatar

@Jeruba then I believe that it loooks more like the smoking tree…like what @jonsblond said before…...

Jeruba's avatar

Maybe it is. I agree there’s a stronger resemblance than I thought at first. I would love to get a positive ID just to satisfy my curiosity.

cyn's avatar

@Jeruba :) ...curiosity killed the cat….j/k I would’ve already been in the doctor plant office just to find out the name of that damn tree.

Jeruba's avatar

(That’s why cats have nine lives. They can spare a few just checking things out.)

I thought maybe Dr. Plant lived here. If the man who’s doing some work in our yard comes by before this twig shrivels up, I will ask him.

lofro's avatar

I think it’s a “spirea”

Jeruba's avatar

It’s a “smoke tree” or “ghost tree.” We now (a year later) have one growing in our yard.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther