Shrubs are a versatile group of plants that give form and substance to a landscape. In order to keep the landscape composed and better organized, shrubs should be plentiful. They can divide large areas into smaller manageable sites for restoration projects. They also work well to hide any unsightly views and many shrubs provide beautiful and colorful blooms. For Butte Creek, shrubs are very plentiful and oftentimes have to be removed from designated walkways. However, native shrubs must be continually replanted or the invasive shrubs tend to take over the whole project. Trees are the biggest plants in our landscapes and deliver the greatest benefits. They add enduring structure to the design and can become the canopies and fortifications of our outdoor living spaces. For the Butte Creek Restoration Project, trees are a very important part of the current plan to remove invasive species, namely the Siberian Elm. Through a succession-based removal plan, smaller invasive trees are removed and then replaced with native tree species. Once the native trees grow enough to dominate the landscape, removal of the larger invasive elms occurs. The goal is a gradual succession from invasive tree dominance towards a more native tree canopy along Butte Creek.
The native plant species found in the riparian habitat along Butte Creek are varied and important to the overall health of the environment. Explore the photos and some facts to help familiarize yourself with these species.
Whitestem gooseberry is can be sprawling or even an erect shrub with slender and smooth stems with prickles. The leaves are generally ovate with a rounded to more commonly heart-shaped base from shorter to longer than the blades. Pink flowers bloom seasonally.
Silk tassel is an erect bushy shrub that grows 7 to 16 feet. The flowers are concentrated and cascade down the plant. Waxy convex leaves are coupled with dense individual hairs on the leaf undersides.
Pringle manzanita is a small to large shrub with reddish (occasionally gray) rough, shredded bark. The leaves are ovate to elliptic, hairy and/or glabrous (smooth, free from hair). The berries are red-brown and edible.
False mock-orange is a small to medium shrub usually 3-7 feet tall. The flowers have four entirely separate, white, clawed petals, and the leaves are opposite, oblong, entire, thick and twisted, with three veins.
Coffeeberry is a fast growing shrub with dark green leaves that 2-3 inches in length and rounded under margins. The greenish-yellow flowers are followed by showy berries that are first green then red and finally black when ripe.
Red willow is a stream-side small to medium size tree that is excellent for stream stabilization. It has broad lanceolate leaves on twigs that are red to yellow-brown and white “pussy-willow” flowers in spring.
Narrowleaf cottonwood is a medium size tree with a narrow crown. Shiny green, narrow lanceolate to ovate 2-5 inch leaves grow on short stems. Pale long yellow catkins give way to small dry capsule containing numerous cottony-like seedlings.
Arizona sycamore is a grand tree reaching very large proportions. The bark is smooth and peeling. The leaves on this tree are hand-shaped and can be up to nearly 12 inches across. Young leaves are velvety. Tiny red flowers bloom that then are followed by dangling seed balls to distinguish this tree.
Box elder is a small to medium tree in AZ with shiny dark green leaves on red stems, which should not be mistaken with poison ivy. Small flowers without petals form long pendulous spikes.
Fremont cottonwood trees grow to giant proportions with deeply furroughed bark and large leaves with blunt-tipped teeth. Non-petal flowers called catkins grow, with spiked fruits that release seeds with cottony filaments to travel by the wind.
Wax currant is a smaller shrub, growing up to five feet. It has a simple heart-shaped leaf with crenate rounded teeth; pink flowers, and red-orange seeded fleshy berries.
Mock orange is an erect to spreading shrub that grows 4 to 12 feet tall and 3 to 9 feet wide. The leaves are oblong to broadly lance shaped and are 1 to 3 inches long. Scented flowers grow that are white with four petals.
Littleleaf mock orange is a fine-textured compact shrub with slender twigs, brown and white bark. The leaves are small, narrow, and dark green. This shrub blooms with masses of white flowers and delightfully fragrant citrus smell.
Coyote willow is a deciduous shrub that grows in thickets. It can grow to an average of 6 to 20 feet tall. Long slender leaves grow on red to brown stems.
Chokecherry is a medium shrub that frequently grows with a crooked trunk. The leaves are alternate, simple, and lobed with rounded tips. The cherry-like fruit is found on short stems in clusters similar to grapes. It is nearly black and is edible when ripe.
Water birch prefers wet areas but is very adaptable to all regions. It is a small to medium tree that usually grows in several stems together up to 25 feet tall. The leaves are finely toothed and cone-like catkins hang from its branches.
Velvet ash is a medium to large rounded tree with a fast growth rate. The leaves are pinnately compound with usually 3-5 leaflets per stem. New growth twigs are velvety.
Ponderosa pine trees often grow to massive proportions with needles usually two to three inches in length in clusters of three. Egg shaped pine cones are usually 2-3 inches in length. The bark on this pine resembles a jigsaw puzzle and smells like vanilla.
Arizona walnut has narrow, somewhat curved ovate leaves in groups of 8-12 on a stem. Hanging catkin flowers make way for 1 inch round nuts that mature in the fall and are edible.
Desert willow is a slender-twigged small tree, often with a leaning trunk, that grows to 15-40 feet. The leaves are deciduous and the flower is dark pink or purple, which are replaced by slender dangling seedpods in autumn.
Goodding's willow is a medium size tree that develops a massive trunk and dark, slender, lanceolate in shape leaves. Cone-shaped capsules contain many small, cottony seeds borne on catkins.