Friday, February 24, 2017

Austrian Pine - Pinus nigra

The Austrian Pine, Pinus nigra (also called the European Black Pine) is a medium sized evergreen that reaches heights of 60 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter.  Similar to the Eastern White Pine and Red Pine, each year it grows a set of limbs in a whorled pattern around the trunk that resemble spokes on the hub of a wheel.  The limbs of the Austrian Pine form a large, thick, pyramidal crown that is filled with dark green needle-like foliage.  This variety was one of the first trees introduced into the United States, often planted by homesteaders in the treeless Great Plains for protection from the sun, wind and snow.   Native to Europe the Austrian Pine was first imported in the eighteenth century and has been widely planted as an ornamental through the middle and eastern United States.  It's tolerance to salt and sulfur dioxide damage make it popular as an Urban Tree as well.



Image Citation: Robert Vid├ęki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org

In the Northern United States the Austrian Pine is often confused with the native Red Pine as they are similar in appearance, though the trained eye is able to distinguished between the two by inspecting the bark color.  The evergreen needles range in size from 3-6 inches long and are bundled in sets of two.  The needles are slender, shiny, stiff and dark blue-green in color.  The cones are egg shaped and 2-3 inches in length at maturity.  When the cones open and shed their seeds, they remain on the tree for several years before eventually falling from the tree.  The bark of the trunk is a dark gray to dull/dark brown with a thin surface of flat plates that thicken with age.



Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The "White Oak" - Quercus alba

 The "White Oak" - Quercus alba - is one of the most prominent and well recognized trees in our area. It is a long lived tree, with some recorded still living at 450 years. Maryland's famous Wye Oak (in Wye Mills, Maryland) was estimated to be over 450 years old when it was knocked down by a storm in 2002. The White Oak is the state tree of Maryland, Connecticut and Illinois, It's native range is from Quebec in the North, Minnesota in the West and Texas-Florida in the South. It is not a very tall tree, with an average height of 80-100 feet at maturity.

Wye Oak-Image Citation: Martin MacKenzie, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The bark is a light grey color with very rigid and noticeable fissures. The leaves are green in color ranging from 5-8 inches in length, changing to a red-brown in the Autumn season. White Oaks will sometimes hold their dead brown leaves over winter, these leaves will fall out in the Spring with the new growth. The wood is pale brown in color, solid, heavy and durable. The acorns appear annually, they are cup shaped and are a shiny brown in color.


Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org

The White Oak is a food source for many forest animals. Deer and Rabbits will nibble on the twigs and sometimes dead leaves. The acorns are a favorite of Turkeys, Wood Ducks, Pheasants, Jays, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers. The White Oak is also the only known food source for Bucculatrix luteella and Bucculatrix ochrisuffusa caterpillars.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Waterlocust-Gleditisia aquatica

The Waterlocust-Gleditisia aquatica, is a medium sized deciduous tree that can reach heights of 50-60 feet tall. In open areas it tends to grow with a stout trunk and crooked limbs beginning low on the ground. In forest settings the tree grows straight up, forming a long limb free trunk and rounded crown. Regardless of the shape of the tree the limbs are usually armed with long, slender, sharp thorns that are sometimes forked and could be up to 4 inches long. The Waterlocust is usually found growing in moist areas, flooded swamps and river bottoms. It can be found growing along the Atlantic and Gulf plains from North Carolina to eastern Texas, extending up the Mississippi River floodplains to Southern Illinois and southwestern Indiana.

Image Citation:  T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

Waterlocust leaves are compound or doubly compound, paired on lateral spurs that are 6-10 inches long with 12-20 oval blunt toothed leaflets. The leaflet surfaces are dark green to yellow-green in color above and slightly lighter below. The fruit is short and flat 1-3 inches long and 1 inch wide with 3 seeds inside. Pods are generally found hanging down in clusters but can be found singly on occasion.  Waterlocust are found in hardiness zones 6-9 and prefer a mix of shade and sun. They have an extensive root system and can be planted to help control erosion. The lumber from Waterlocust trees is used for custom cabinet building and in applications that require a durable wood capable or withstanding long term soil contact.

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Intricate Hawthorn - Crataegus intricata

Intricate Hawthorn - Crataegus intricata, is easily recognized by it's shrubby form, dull yellow-orange fruit, 10 stamened flowers and hairless, glandular petiole. It is a small deciduous small tree or shrub that rarely reaches over 16 feet tall. It grows in a variety of forms from upright to arching or multi-trunked and shrub like. It is native to the Eastern United States and can be found in rocky woods, woodlands, on slopes and hills, and in forest clearings. It is found from Ontario, New Hampshire and Wisconsin in the North through Georgia, Arkansas and Missouri in the South. The Intricate Hawthorn is very common in the Appalachians. This variety is also called the Copenhagen Hawthorn, this alternate name is derived from an early comparison to a species native to Copenhagen, Denmark.


Image Citation: Princeton Field Guide, Trees of Eastern North America, Dave More

The bark is gray and scaly, the branching is slender, straight or slightly curved sometimes armed with thorns of gray-black. The leaves are alternate, simple, broadly elliptic or egg shaped. The upper leaf surface is a dull green or yellow-green, firm in texture and usually firm to the touch. The flowers are 15-20 mm in diameter, white petals, 10 stamens, ivory anthers, creamy white to yellow or pink in color. The flowers appear in Mid-Spring along with the developing leaves.  The fruit is a dull yellow to orange pome that ranges in size from 8-15 mm in diameter, that matures in Autumn.  The recommended hardiness zone is 4-9 and it is generally planted as an ornamental or in groupings.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

The Blue Spruce - Picea pungens

The Blue Spruce - Picea pungens, is an evergreen tree native to the Western United States.  The Blue Spruce is also called the Colorado Blue Spruce, Silver Spruce or Colorado Spruce.  It is a very popular landscape tree throughout the majority of the United States even though it is only native to the Western portion.  The Blue Spruce is a large tree that an reach heights of over 100 feet in it's native region, however in the East it grows much more slowly only reaching heights of 30-50 feet in fifty years time.  The tree grows in a pyramidal form, over time it will begin to droop and become more open and irregular in shape.  In urban settings the tree will usually hold it's branches all the way to the ground.  


Image Citation: T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

Blue Spruce is a valued ornamental tree and a highly desired Christmas Tree variety.  The dark gray bark is thin and often flaky, the branches are bright orange-brown and covered on all sides with the stiff needles.  The powdery blue needles are 3/4-1 1-/4 inches long, four sided and sharply incurved. It is well known to be the best for needle retention among all of the Christmas tree varieties.  The Colorado Blue Spruce is often sold balled and burlapped as a "live" tree to be planted after the holiday and enjoyed for many years to come.   The needles release a sharp acidic flavor if chewed. The seeds are winged, borne in cones that are cylindrical, except at the very end where they almost taper.  Cones are 2-4 inches long, brown in color, shiny with irregular scaling.  


Image Citation: Elmer Verhasselt, Bugwood.org

Fun Fact: The Colorado Blue Spruce is the state tree of both Colorado and Utah.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Ohio Buckeye- Aesculus glabra

The Ohio Buckeye- Aesculus glabra - is a medium sized rounded crown Deciduous tree. Growing to only 20-40 feet tall at maturity, it has a moderate growth rate.  It is the most widespread of all of the Buckeyes in North America. It's range is on mostly mesophytic sites through Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Southern Michigan on West to Illinois and Central Iowa, extending South to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Central Texas; East into portions of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama. This tree thrives best in moist locations and is most frequently found along river bottoms and in streambank soils.  It has been planted frequently outside of it's native range in Europe and the Eastern United States.  Different from the other Buckeyes because of two main features, first the leaflets have barely any visible stalk and second the husk of the fruit has short spines.  The Ohio Buckeye is sometimes referred to as the American Buckeye, Fetid buckeye, and Stinking Buck-eye, the last because of the foul odor emitted when the leaves are crushed.

Image Citations (Photos 1, 2, & 3): T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org 

Ohio Buckeye is polygamo-monoecious, meaning it bears both bisexual and male flowers. The leaves are made up of unevenly toothed leaflets that all grow from the same point on the stem, they are green during the growing season and turn an almost grey when shifting finally to wyellow in the Fall.  The flowers are a yellow-green with prominent stamens growing as upright spikes. The bark is dark grey with shallow but coarse fissures leading into square scaly plates. It flowers in the Spring and fruits from summer to fall.  This tree also produces small, shiny, dark brown nuts with a lighter tan patch


"Buckeyes" has been the official Ohio State nickname since 1950, but it had been in common use for many years before.  According to folklore, the Buckeye resembles the eye of a deer and carrying one brings good luck.


Recommended for Hardiness Zones 3-7, Buckeyes are found in larger nurseries within their growth range. 

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The White Ash - Fraxinus americana

The White Ash - Fraxinus americana, is best identified by it's opposite compound leaves with 5-9 leaflets that are whitish on the undersides. It is a large deciduous tree that reaches heights of 40 - 90 feet tall, it grows in a erect fashion with a single trunk. It is native to upland woods, floodplains, dry hills, hammocks, and cove forests. It's range is widespread along the East coast, from Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec in the North, West through Eastern Nebraska and Eastern Texas.

Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org


The bark is scaly, grayish, narrowly ridged and furrowed with furrows forming diamond patterns towards the base. The leaves are opposite, pinnately compound, 5-9 ovate leaflets with bluntly toothed margins. The upper leaf surfaces are dark green while the lowers are whitish, hairy when immature. Fall leaf color ranges from red to maroon to yellow. The fruit is a narrowly elliptic or linear samara that ranges from 2.5-3.2 cm long that matures in late summer to early fall each year.

Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org

There are three other variations of White Ash that were originally grouped together as one species. They are now identified as individual species the Texas Ash - Fraxinus albicans Buckley, Biltmore Ash - Fraxinus biltmoreana Beadle, and Fraxinus smallii. The ranges of these smaller species are much smaller and overlap the native range of the White Ash but not one another.

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