Big Ol’ Eugenia Hedge

Me an Fetter were trimming this big puppy for about 5 hours. We are starting a yearly maintenance schedule in order to try to restore this hedge after many years of topping. It was full of stubs and suckers. It was also much wider on the top than at thr bottom and had very little inner green.

Inner green is the green leaves that grow toward center of the tree. It is important for tree health. The sugars produced by these leaves have less distance to travel to feed the trunk and roots.

I often see trees that have been striped out of their inner green. It is a common practice among some tree trimmers. Stripping away the inner green also creates disproportionate weight on the branches. They become heavy on the ends and more prone to break. We call this “lion-tailing.”

Eugenia is yet another Australian tree in Myrtaceae family (Eucalyptus, Corymbia, Lophostemon). There are three botanical names: Eugenia paniculata, Syzygium paniculatum, and Eugenia myrtifolia. I’m still trying to figure out why. If you have any idea, please comment.

Eugenia can get very tall, very quickly, up to 50 feet. With the exception of the one at the Eagle Tavern, all of the Eugenias I’ve s
een in San Francisco are infested with the psyllid Trioza eugeniae (a small winged insect about the size of an aphid). The psyllid causes the leaves to look blistery and distorted. They can look really sickly

In 1991 the Center for Biological Control at the University of California at Berkeley went in search of a natural enemy of the Eugenia psyllid. They discovered a parasitic wasp in the genus Tamarixia in Australia where Syzygium paniculatum naturally occurs. It was initially released in the Eugenia hedges at Disneyland in July 1992. While a success story in southern California, the little wasp can’t survive San Francisco’s cooler climate. We have to rely on pesticides.

People sometimes make jelly out of the pink berries. I’ve never tried it.