Mystery tree

We visited the Griffith Park observatory in Los Angeles for a view of the city and a short wildlife hunt.

Even on a moderately clear day, a layer of smoggy air clings to the skyline

Even on a moderately clear day, a layer of smoggy air clings to the LA skyline

A tree we didn’t recognize seemed to be particularly attractive to a wide variety of birds:  acorn woodpeckers, house finches, Anna hummingbirds, to name a few.

I first thought the orange clusters were dead leaves, but on closer inspection...

I first thought the orange clusters were dead leaves, but on closer inspection…

those orange clusters appeared to be flowers

those orange clusters appeared to be flowers

Strange looking flowers, full of sticky globs of glistening nectar residue.

Strange looking flowers, full of sticky globs of glistening nectar residue.

The House finches were really enjoying this sticky treat.

Notice how this male House finch keeps his distance from the sticky stuff.

Notice how this male House finch keeps his distance from the sticky stuff.

A female House finch delicately sampled the gooey flowers.

A female House finch delicately sampled the gooey flowers.

The most likely candidate for this mystery tree was some kind of eucalyptus, but I couldn’t find one that matched these leaves and flowers.  So it’s a mystery…any ideas?

 

12 thoughts on “Mystery tree

      • Although we live right on the outer edge of the proper zone for this tree, we have several in our garden, and their tendency to flower fluctuates depending on what kind of winter we’d just had. This year the winter was very warm and dry, and the trees are blooming like crazy. All kinds of birds love the blossoms: Western Tanagers, Orioles, titmouses, bushtits, and bushtits. In winter, we get Red-breasted Sapsuckers drilling sap-wells, and then the hummingbirds and Townshend’s Warblers visit the sap wells to gather the insects that are attracted to the sap.

  1. I wonder what the biological rationale for the ‘glue’ is? The tree must invest a lot of energy in making that stuff (presumably it’s made from carbohydrate?) so I guess it must stick to pollinating birds and insects?

    • Me either but it is a common ornamental used in California, Hawaii, and Florida because it grows quickly and is insect and fungus resistant.

  2. Very cool! apparently it’s a bird-pollinated tree so the gluey stuff is for sticking pollen on them (one source says insects who visit it including honeybees are essentially nectar-robbers because they don’t contact the pollen). The seeds are wind-distributed. And now I know stuff I didn’t know when I awoke this a.m. 🙂 Enjoy your trip!

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