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MailTribune.com
  • A tree grows in J'ville

  • Can you identify the ornamental trees on North Fifth Street as you approach East California Street in Jacksonville? They are evergreen and have red berries in the winter. I'd love to plant one in my yard.
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  • Can you identify the ornamental trees on North Fifth Street as you approach East California Street in Jacksonville? They are evergreen and have red berries in the winter. I'd love to plant one in my yard.
    — Sydney K., Jacksonville
    There are a lot of trees on that street, Sydney. We sent out one of our crack Since You Asked tree experts to take photos of all the trees on Fifth. We found fruit trees, almond trees and all manner of trees in the vicinity, so we were a little flummoxed by your question.
    We turned to a real expert, Medford City Arborist Bill Harrington, who's not necessarily an expert on Jacksonville, but does know his trees.
    He carefully reviewed each photo taken by our skilled cameraman, when the "aha" moment came to him. "My suspicion is it's a Portugese laurel," he said.
    The tree's Latin name is Prunus Lusitanica, by the way.
    Harrington said the Portugese laurel, which is related to the English laurel, can be either a well-behaved bush or tree, depending on how you prune.
    "It can provide a good border, or hedge," he said.
    Originally from Spain and Portugal, the tree has fragrant, creamy-colored flowers in the spring with bright red to purple berries in the fall and winter.
    The tree loves full sun, but will tolerate shade and grows to a height of 10 to 20 feet, he said.
    Before planting, Harrington suggests you contact a nurseryman for more information, particularly whether you want the Portugese laurel to grow as a bush or a tree.
    "It's very urban tolerant, and it will take severe pruning," Harrington said.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.
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