Foxtail Farm is situated in the foothill woodlands and lower montane forest of the Sierra Nevada mountains between 2500 and 3100 feet of elevation. Our typical weather consists of hot, dry summers and cool moist winters. The property features many trees and shrub species.
Populus trichocarpa. We have a few examples of Black Cottonwood on Foxtail Farm and two that are relatively close to the house. Native Americans used components of the tree for treatments in traditional medicine. Because of its salicin content, it was used raw or in salves to treat various ailments.
Black Cottonwood is a deciduous broadleaf tree. The bark is grey and covered with lenticels, becoming thick and deeply fissured on older trees. The bark can become hard enough to cause sparks when cut with a chainsaw. The leaves are long with a glossy dark green upper side and light grey-green underside. The buds are conical, long, narrow and sticky, with a strong balsam scent in spring when they open.
California Black Oak
Quercus kelloggii is a critical species for wildlife. Cavities in the trees provide den or nest sites for owls, various woodpeckers, tree squirrels, and black bears. Acorns are heavily utilized by mule deer, mountain quail, Steller's Jay, and woodpeckers. Acorn woodpecker, Bullock's oriole, and Nashville warbler show a strong preference for California Black Oak.
Tree is deciduous, trunk bark is deeply furrowed, checkered, and dark gray-brown to black. Leaves have deep pointed lobes with a soft bristle and the acorn has flat scales on the cap. California Black Oaks are found below 8000 feet (2400 m) in elevation. We have several specimens on Foxtail Farm.
California Black Walnut
Juglans californica var. hindsii. Foxtail Farm has one specimen of this tree that we know of and it is relatively close to the house and right next to a Canyon Live Oak and Black Cottonwood.
California Black Walnut is classified as a large shrub or a small tree. It grows as part of mixed woodlands either in single species stands or mixed with California oaks and cottonwoods. Compound leaves are formed from groups of smaller leaflets.
Aesculus californica has a short lived season with the leaves intact as they wither and drop by mid-summer leaving the branches and seeds. There are several examples on the Foxtail Farm property. Since the tree's flowers are harmful to our honey bees, any specimens that will be found on the trails throughout the property.
California Buckeye is a large deciduous shrub or small tree with gray bark often coated with lichens and mosses. The leaves are dark green, palmately compound with five leaflets. The flowers are sweet-scented, white to pale pink, borne on erect panicles. The fruit is a fig-shaped capsule containing a large round, orange-brown seed. The seeds are poisonous.
Canyon Live Oak
Quercus chrysolepis is nearly everywhere on the Foxtail Farm property. We have several trees growing near the house. The Canyon Live Oak has multiple trunks for each single tree. Hummingbirds will nest among the live oaks.
Canyon Live Oak is a species of evergreen oak. Its leaves are a glossy dark green on the upper surface and a dull golden or gray nether surface. The bark is light gray and can be smooth or scaly. Acorns occur solitarily or in pairs with a turban-like thick cup densely covered with yellowish hairs.
Pinus sabiniana this tree has several more common names including ghost pine, California foothill pine, digger pine, and bull pine. This tree is not the most attractive on the property and the look doesn't improve with age. This is the most common pine to be found at Foxtail Farm. You can always tell the gray pine as the trunk splits near the top and with most specimens the tree leans somewhat.
Gray Pines grow to 45 feet but can reach heights up to 105 feet. The needles are in fascicles of three, pale gray-green, sparse and drooping and can grow to 12 inches in length. The seed cones are large and heavy. They can be up to 12 inches in length and are almost as wide as long and can weigh 1-1/2 pounds. The bark is brownish gray and generally smooth.
Calocedrus decurrens is one of the most fire and drought tolerant trees. On Foxtail Farm, we have one specimen, a juvenile, near the house. The tree had been planted prior to the acquisition of the property in 2015.
Incense Cedar is a large evergreen tree. It has a broad conic crown of spreading branches. The bark is orange-brown weathering grayish. The foliage is bright green flattened sprays with scale-like leaves arranged in opposite decussate pairs. The seed cones are 3/4 inch in length and start pale green turning to yellow-brown when mature.
Interior Live Oak
Quercus wislizeni grows alongside the Canyon Live Oaks and on Foxtail Farm the trees are often shrubby with the lower branches often devoid of foliage. They are everywhere on the property with several specimens near to the house.
Interior Live Oak is an evergreen oak, highly variable and often shrubby. It is most abundant in the lower elevations of the Sierra Nevada. The dark green leaves are usually small, thick and spiny-toothed. The Bark is smooth and gray. The acorn is long with thin scales on the cap.
Pinus ponderosa was once the most common tree found in the Sierra Nevada foothills but the drought and pine-bark beetles have laid waste to millions of trees. On Foxtail Farm we have been fortunate as we have lost only a few trees and have several healthy specimens on the property near the house.
Ponderosa Pine is a large coniferous pine. The bark on mature trees is yellow to orange-red and younger is blackish-brown. The needles are bright green in plume-like fascicles of three. The cone prickles point outward.
We use Hugelkultur, a permaculture-inspired method to grow our fruit trees.
Hugelkultur, pronounced Hoo-gul-culture, means hill culture or hill mound. We mound logs, branches, leaves, straw, manure, compost or whatever other biomass is available and top with soil and plant our trees. The advantages of a hugel bed are many with the gradual decay of wood as a consistent source of long-term nutrients for the plants and the composting wood generates heat which extends the growing season (when you plant vegetables on the mounds). Additionally, Soil aeration increases as those branches and logs break down... meaning the bed will be no till, long term.
Malus domestica; The 'Braeburn' is a cultivar of apple that is firm to the touch with a red/orange vertical streaky appearance on a yellow/green background. Its color intensity varies with different growing conditions. It was discovered as a chance seedling in 1952 in the Moutere Hills near Motueka, New Zealand. The apple itself is named after Braeburn Orchard near Motueka, where it was first commercially grown. Planted 2017, hugel mound 3, position 1
Chicago Hardy Fig
Ficus carica; The Chicago Hardy Fig bears delicious medium-size figs. The tree exhibits drought-tolerance once established. The fruit produced on the older wood will appear in early summer and fruit on new growth will appear in early fall. The ripe fruit has a dark mahogany color. Planted 2016 and transplanted 2017, hugel mound 5, position 1
Chojuro Asian Pear
Pyrus pyrifolia; The Chojuro Pear is an old variety with firm, brown to orange skin, flat shaped, and high productive. It is less juicy than other newer varieties but still popular in Japan and California. Our Asian Pear is a hybrid with branches of 2 other Asian Pears grafted onto the same root stock. Planted 2017, hugel mound 4, position 1
Dapple Dandy Pluot
The Pluot is "Interspecific" meaning it is a complex hybrid of 70 percent plum, 30 percent apricot with decidedly more plum-like traits. The fruit is uniquely colored with pale green to yellow skin with distinctive red dots. Creamy white flesh, edged and streaked with crimson; firm with high sugar and unique plum-apricot flavor.Our Pluot tree is a hybrid of 4 varieties of Pluots. Planted 2017, hugel mound 4, position 2
Flavor King Pluot
The Pluot is "Interspecific" meaning it is a complex hybrid of 70 percent plum, 30 percent apricot with decidedly more plum-like traits. Smooth-skinned like a plum, this Pluot is sturdy and durable with a sensational bouquet and a sweet, spicy flavor with reddish-purple skin and crimson flesh. Our Pluot tree is a hybrid of 4 varieties of Pluots. Planted 2017, hugel mound 4, position 2
Flavor Queen Pluot
The Pluot is "Interspecific" meaning it is a complex hybrid of 70 percent plum, 30 percent apricot with decidedly more plum-like traits. Fruit is medium to large with yellow flesh and a pleasantly sweet flavor. Our Pluot tree is a hybrid of 4 varieties of Pluots. Planted 2017, hugel mound 4, position 2
Flavor Supreme Pluot
The Pluot is "Interspecific" meaning it is a complex hybrid of 70 percent plum, 30 percent apricot with decidedly more plum-like traits. The fruit is sweet, richly flavored, with firm red flesh and greenish-maroon mottled skin. Our Pluot tree is a hybrid of 4 varieties of Pluots. Planted 2017, hugel mound 4, position 2
Housi Asian Pear
Pyrus pyrifolia, Introduced from Japan in the 1970s. The tree produces excellent-quality fruit with a slightly higher acid content than other Asian pears. Tree is moderately vigorous with a slightly spreading nature. Fruit is sweet like a pear and crisp like an apple with lots of juice. Our Asian Pear is a hybrid with branches of 2 other Asian Pears grafted onto the same root stock. Planted 2017, hugel mound 4, position 1
Mutsu Semi-Dwarf Apple
Malus domestica; Complex and spicy flavor. This tree is the result of a cross between the Golden Delicious and the sweet Japanese variety apple called Indo. Also known by the name Crispin Apple, the fruit is larger and rounder than Golden Delicious. Resists russeting and is best eaten fresh from the tree. Keeps well in proper storage without shriveling. Originates from Mutsu Province, Japan. Introduced in 1948. Cold-hardy. Ripens in late September or early October. Planted 2016, hugel mound 1, position 2
Nijisseiki Asian Pear
Pyrus pyrifolia; The Nijisseiki or more generally known as the 20th Century Asian Pear originated in Japan about 1900 and is an August ripening variety that is semi-self fertile. It is a medium to large, round yellow-green colored pear of good quality and decent sweet taste. Our Asian Pear is a hybrid with branches of 2 other Asian Pears grafted onto the same root stock. Planted 2017, hugel mound 4, position 1
Peter's Honey Fig
Ficus carica; Peter's Honey Fig produces very sweet, shiny, high quality, and greenish yellow fruit when ripe. The fruit tastes syrupy and honey-like. Planted 2017, hugel mound 5, position 2
Shangri La Mulberry
Morus alba x rubra; The Shangri La Mulberry originated in Naples, Florida. The fruit resembles a Blackberry and are pest and disease resistant and form an attractive, small tree with dark green, tropical foliage. Planted 2016, hugel mound 2, position 2
Sierra Beauty Apple
Malus domestica; Sierra Beauty was discovered on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California in the 1890s as a seedling apple tree, it was thought to be a remnant of the miner’s movements during the earlier days of the California Gold Rush. Gowans planted the Sierra Beauty apple in 1906 and have been growing it successfully since. Sierra Beauty apple is a large, handsome apple with thin green and yellow skin, striped or blushed red. Juicy, very crisp, rich, tart, sprightly flavor. Planted 2017, hugel mound 3, position 2