Through our virtual programming series, Nature in your Neighborhood, we challenged volunteers to go out into their neighborhoods or backyards to see what plants sparked their interest. Whether plants are native or non native, we can all appreciate a connection to nature and the curiosity that it can spark!
By: Minh-Nha Kawamura
Scientific Name: Pelargonium zonale
Description: The horseshoe geranium is an ornamental shrub. It is a perennial (survives for longer than two years) and its flowers are commonly white, bright pink, deep red or a mixture of these colors. The flowers bloom in the summer, and the geranium has leaves year round.
Origin: This plant originated in South Africa. It is non-native in California, but is not considered an invasive species.
Name History: This plant gets its name from the black horseshoe shaped rings on its leaves.
Uses: The horseshoe geranium is used to decorate gardens and houses. It’s flowers grow in clusters (called umbels) and create vibrant bursts of color. It’s leaves and flowers are edible and can be used to flavor food. An essential oil can be obtained from the plant, and all parts of the plant can be used as an astringent. An astringent is applied to the skin like a lotion and helps to constrict skin cells which can reduce minor bleeding and oiliness.
Wood of the Gods: Deodar Cedar
Scientific Name: Cedrus Deodara
Description: The Deodar cedar is an evergreen tree with needles. It can grow to be 40 to 70 feet tall and spread 20 to 40 feet wide. This tree produces reddish brown cones that are three to six inches long.
Origin: The Deodar cedar originated in the Himalayas where it can grow to be 250 feet tall. It was introduced to Europe (in 1822) and North America (in 1831). This tree is a non-native species in California but is not considered invasive.
Name Origin: The name is derived from the Sanskrit term devadaru which means “wood of the gods”.
Uses: The wood is popular for building because it is durable and rot resistant. Historically, the wood from Deodar cedar has been used to build sarcophagi, temples, and palaces. The tree has many medicinal uses including the relief of inflammation and treatment of many ailments from acne to bronchitis. The tree is also used in landscaping and is decorated as Christmas trees in North America.
Bonus Facts: The Deodar cedar produces an aromatic oil that naturally deters insects. A nickname for the Deodar cedar is “California Christmas Tree”.