Help me identify this bee-friendly tree
January 26, 2013 3:40 PM   Subscribe

This tree is taller than our single-story house, has soft brown branches, grows long, skinny, pointy leaves in groups of three, produces bunches of tiny yellow flowers, and is full of bees. It grows very fast. The flowers and leaves don't seem to smell like anything in particular. We're in Los Angeles. The leaves are green year-round, and the tree needs no watering. Here's a pair of photos of the tree and a branch tip. Here's a close up of the flowers. And here's a close up of the underside of the leaves. What is it?
posted by smoq to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Where are you?
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:48 PM on January 26, 2013

The OP is in Los Angeles.
posted by Solomon at 3:50 PM on January 26, 2013

Looks like some kind of acacia to me.
posted by lydhre at 3:54 PM on January 26, 2013

Missed that part, oops.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:46 PM on January 26, 2013

African sumac?
posted by SandiBeech at 4:49 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by Nomyte at 4:51 PM on January 26, 2013

I can see how you might get Olive from that, but the little balls that turn into flowers are much, much smaller on my tree, and indeed, the blossoms on mine are about the size of a ball on a straight needle, much smaller than olive blossoms.
posted by smoq at 5:03 PM on January 26, 2013

If it is starting too bloom right now in LA, I would go with Acacia.
posted by eleslie at 5:45 PM on January 26, 2013

That is absolutely not an olive tree, I say as someone who grows olive trees to make olive oil.
posted by lydhre at 6:48 PM on January 26, 2013

How about Acacia saligna?
posted by lydhre at 6:54 PM on January 26, 2013

Hmm, it seems like it's probably some sort of acacia, especially with the winter blooming, but none of the acacia species I've been able to find photos of match mine. The wattles (at least) are all different. Thanks guys! I think we're getting closer.
posted by smoq at 7:46 PM on January 26, 2013

I'm going to side with SandiBeech's African Sumac. I seriously doubt Acacia, unless it's a really weird trifoliate one, and I don't think olives have compound leaves.
posted by Red Loop at 8:47 PM on January 26, 2013

Here's an image of Rhus lancea the foliage with some flowers, it's a little blurry.
posted by Red Loop at 8:49 PM on January 26, 2013

Acacia have pinnately compound leaves. I think Red Loop has it.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:33 PM on January 26, 2013

Rhus lancia - I'm almost positive.
posted by aryma at 12:25 AM on January 27, 2013

Can you mail a sample leaf to the county agricultural office?
posted by notreally at 3:28 PM on January 27, 2013

Thanks everyone! It's definitely an african sumac (Rhus lancea). The photo Red Loop posted matches exactly, and further investigation backs that up.
posted by smoq at 3:26 PM on January 28, 2013

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