Tristaniopsis laurina (syn. Tristania laurina)
kanuka, water gum
This is a small, well-behaved tree of tidy appearance, smaller than brush box and with a noticeable display of yellow flowers arranged in cymes and with five small petals. The glossy, leathery green leaves about 4 inches long form a dense crown. The dark bark peels to reveal a fresh satin finish. In its native habitat, water gum is found along coastal water courses and reaches about 20 feet. The timber, which is sold under the name of kanuka (which is also the common name of the much taller New Zealand Kunzea ericoides, syn. Leptospermum ericoides), is used for golf-club heads and wooden screws. It would be a very suitable tree for courtyard plantings where the use of taller plants leads ultimately to dank and sunless conditions.
At the Medical Center, five 12-foot trees are adjacent to the sidewalk at 1180 Welch Road near Pasteur Drive. Perhaps inspired by those, younger ones were planted in late 2013 in small groups in the median strips on Welch Road from that spot to Quarry Road, when the new Stanford Hospital and Packard Children’s Hospital were being constructed. Five specimens noted on Campus Drive at the Taube Tennis Stadium in October 2005 are no longer present.
In Palo Alto, see a fine example at 1820 Cowper Street. A beautiful multitrunked specimen at 1441 Edgewood Drive was removed in 2019.
Name derivation: Tristaniopsis – Jules Tristan (1776–1861), French botanist, with Greek opsis (likeness), referring to the similarity to Tristania; laurina – resembling Laurus.
About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings added the Taube locations ca. 2005. Sairus Patel inserted the current accepted name for Leptospermum ericoides Jul 2019. Sairus Patel added Welch Road median locations, noted removals; all locations now up to date (Jul 2020).