Friday, January 20, 2017

The Slash Pine - Pinus elliottii

The Slash Pine - Pinus elliottii is a tall, straight, deciduous tree that can reach heights of 60-100 feet on average.  Growing in an upright fashion, Slash Pine generally does not have lower limbs along the trunk but has a dense rounded crown.  It is native to the United States mainly in the South from South Eastern-South Carolina, throughout all of Florida, and along the Gulf Coast through Louisiana.  The Slash Pine is a rapid grower with a desirable form and natural resistance to southern Pine beetles, because of this it is widely planted along the coastal plain for timber production. 


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

The trunk of the Slash Pine is mainly limb free, covered with large, flat, purple-brown bark plates and topped by a dense rounded crown with dark green needles.  The needles are dark green, lustrous, stiff and 6-10 inches long in bundles of two or three.  The needles grow in clusters near the ends of otherwise bare orange-brown branches that resemble brooms.  The seeds are winged and borne in cones that range from 5-8 inches long and grow tilted back towards the trunks. 


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

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Red Spruce - Picea rubens

The Red Spruce - Picea rubens is a small-mid sized tree that can reach 50-80 feet tall. Red Spruce is a long lived tree that can live to be well over 400 years old. Red Spruce can be found growing from Canada in the North through North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia in the South. The branches on the Red Spruce are close in proximity to one another, growing straight out from the trunk and gently sweeping upward near the ends. The wood of Red Spruce is light in color and weight, straight grained, and resilient. This type of lumber is used for making paper, construction lumber, and stringed musical instruments.


Image Citation: Keith Kanoti, Maine Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Red Spruce is moneocious, with male and female flower buds occurring on the same tree but different branches, each year in May. The pendant male flowers are bright red while the female flowers are erect and bright green in color with a hint of purple. The seeds are small and winged, borne in cones. Cones mature from about mid-September to early October, the autumn following flowering. Cones are 1.3 - 1.5 in long, light red-brown, with rigid, rounded scales that are slightly toothed on the edges. Cones are receptive to pollen only when fully open, a condition which lasts briefly for only a few days. The needles are easily identified, they are shiny yellow-green on all sides and point out in all directions very much like porcupine quills. The needles are stiff 3/8 - 5/8 inch long, sharply pointed, four sided and awe shaped.


Image Citation: Georgette Smith, Canadian Forest Service, Bugwood.org

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Meet The " Chinkapin Oak" - (Quercus muehlenbergii)

The Chinkapin (Chinquapin) Oak - Quercus muehlenbergii is a medium to large deciduous tree.  The name Chinkapin originated from the strong resemblance to the Alleghany Chinquapin Castanea pumila (a relative of the American Chestnut).   At full maturity the Chinkapin can reach heights of 70 feet with a broad and rounded crown.   It is a slow to moderate grower that does best in zones 3-9.  Although native to these zones, Chinkapin Oak is sporadic within its range and is seldom a dominant species in a woodland. Its common associates include White, Bur and Black Oaks, Ironwood, Red Cedar and Hickories. Chinkapin Oak prefers well drained soils, bottomlands, limestone ridges, or along stream edges. It is also commonly found on bluffs, ridge tops, and rocky, south facing slopes. 

Image Citation (Photos 1& 2): Jason Sharman, Vitalitree, Bugwood.org 

The leaves are alternate, oval, elliptical, or oblong in shape, 4" to 6" long and 1.5" to 2" wide.  The leaf edges are sharply toothed in almost a serrated fashion.  Male and female flowers appear separately but on the same tree in Spring.  Male flowers borne on a yellowish catkin 3" to 4" long, while the female flowers are less conspicuous and reddish in color. The bark is light gray in color, with short, narrow flakes on the main trunk and limbs, and deep furrows on older trunks.  The wood of the Chinkapin Oak is heavy, hard, strong, and durable.  It is used for making barrels, fencing, fuel, and occasionally for furniture.

Image Citation (Photo 3 & 4): Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Swamp Tupelo - sylvatica var. biflora (AKA Swamp Blackgum)

The Swamp Tupelo - sylvatica var. biflora (AKA Swamp Blackgum), is most often found as a small tree but can reach heights of over 80 feet tall.  The Swamp Tupelo is filled with small branches that grow in almost perfect right angles from the trunk forming an open but unkempt crown.  Mature trees often develop swelling near the base of their trunks.  Bees are often found around Swamp Tupelo as they gather the flower pollen to produce Tupelo Honey which is highly prized.   Their sour fruits are grazed upon by a variety of small mammals and birds.  The soft wood is not commercially important but is sometimes used in local applications where a rot resistant wood is required.  Swamp Tupelo prefers to grow in shallow moving water or swamp lands, and can be found from Maryland in the North through Florida in the South and west through eastern Texas and North along the Mississippi River to Illinois.  


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

The leaves of the Swamp Tupelo are alternate, thick and textured with short leaf stalks.  The leaf blade is 1.5 to 4 inches long and .5 to 1.5 inches wide.  The upper leaf surface is lustrous and green in color, the lower is pale and covered in hairs.  The fruit is purple-black in color, sour in flavor, 1/4-1/2 inch long with a hard seed that has distinct ridges.  The bark is silver-gray in color occasionally almost black in color with rough rectangular chunky plates and crooked furrows. 


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

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Pondcypress - Taxidium ascendens

The Pondcypress - Taxidium ascendens is a very large deciduous tree that can reach heights of over 100 feet and live to be over 500 years old.  It is most commonly found growing in very moist areas, swamps or even shallow ponds.  When growing in water the tree forms knee like structures around the base of the tree, this unique rooting habit makes the tree able to withstands high winds.  The wood of the mature Pondcypress is highly prized for it's rot and termite resistant properties.  When young the tree grows in a conical shape, with age it will begin losing it's lower limbs and the trunk will become deeply fluted.  

Image Citation: David Stephens, Bugwood.org


Pondcypress leaves are in the form of 1/4 inch long needles that are lime green in color and loosely woven around thin soft center twigs that curve slightly out from the main branches.  In the fall the lime green leaves change in color, first to yellow and then to a red-brown before falling off.  To the untrained eye the Pondcypress may appear to be a dead evergreen tree during this time, this is not the case as the Pondcypress is deciduous in nature (meaning it loses it's leaves each fall/winter).  The fruit balls of the Pondcypress are rounded in shape, rough on the surface and silver gray in color.  The fruit balls appear in the Summer and in the Fall open to release their seeds before falling off.  During the Winter season the Pondcypress and Baldcypress appear almost identical and can be easily confused for one another. 


Image Citation: David Stephens, Bugwood.org


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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Meet the "Miracle Tree" - Moringa oleifera

Moringa oleifera is the most common of all of the Moringa genus.  The Moringa are the only members of the Moringaceae family.  Moringa oleifera has many common names such as the Miracle Tree (for the high nutrient content and said healing powers), Horseradish Tree (for the root flavor, often compared to horseradish), Drumstick Tree (for the slender seedpods) , Benoil and Benzoil Tree (for the oils derived from the seeds).  

According to tradition in parts of Africa (especially Ghana), the "Miracle Tree" and it's products have been used for generations.  The leaves are extremely high in nutrient value and are said to have natural healing powers.  The seed pods and leaves are eaten as a vegetable in many native areas and are used as an ingredient in herbal medicines.  Not only does the Moringa oleifera's products contain high nutrient values it can also be used for water purification purposes.

Image Citation: Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org

This fast growing deciduous tree can reach a height of 32-40 feet with a diameter of just 1.5 feet.  The whitish-grey bark is surrounded by a thick cork.  The young shoots have purplish or greenish-white hairy bark.  The open crown contains drooping, fragile branches and leathery tripinnate leaves.   The fragrant flowers are bisexual and contain five unequal yellow-white petals.  In cooler regions the flowers only appear once a year in April-June, however in warmer regions with high rainfall they can appear twice a year or even year round.  They appear on hairy stalks in spreading clusters that are 10-25 cm long.  The fruit occurs in brown three sided capsules containing dark brown seeds winged seeds that are dispersed by wind and water.  When cultivated as a crop it is cut back annually to allow the pods and leaved to remain within reach.

Image Citation: Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org

The Moringa oleifera is the main focus of Moringa Connect, a program that provides registered farmers with seeds and resulting manure for crop expansion and harvesting purposes.  It is also planted as part of the Feed The Future program, Feed The Future is a United States Government Global Hunger & Food Security Initiative that is currently focused in 19 countries.  These programs along with the help of volunteers (including Peace Corp Members, Private and Corporate Sectors) allow areas that are otherwise void of reliable / nutritional food sources to be planted with a resource that will continually produce and reproduce to provide nutritional food for generations to come.  

To learn more about how you can volunteer or donate to these amazing programs (Moringa Connect or Feed The Future) visit  http://moringaconnect.com/  or http://www.feedthefuture.gov/

You can also meet more trees at www.ArundelTreeService.com or Follow Our Blog www.MeetATree.com

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Lilac Chasetree - Vitex agnus-castus

The Lilac Chasetree - Vitex agnus-castus was originally introduced from Eurasia but has naturalized through the South and Middle to South Eastern United States.  It is found from Southeastern Pennsylvania and Kentucky in the North to Florida and Texas on West through California in the West.  It is distinguished by the combination of palmately compound, 5 parted leaves, and lavender flowers.   It is a deciduous strongly aromatic shrub or small tree that reaches heights of 10-25 feet on average and grows in an erect form.  Generally a single trunk but sometimes found with multiple stems, a rounded crown that is dense in shape.

 Image Citation:  Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The bark is reddish brown or brown in color, smooth when young becoming finely fissured and scaly with age.  The leaves are opposite, palmately compound, with 3-9 leaflet but usually 5, lanceolate tapering to a sharp tip.  The upper leaf surface is dull green in color and hairless moderately lustrous, the lower surface is grayish green in color.  The flowers are about 1 cm long,  5 petals, lavender, blue or white in color.  The flowers are born in erect terminal clusters that are 12-18 cm long.  The flowers occur in the Summer before the fruit which appears in late summer to early fall. The fruit is round, dry, hard drupe that contains a 4 parted stone.  
 
Image Citation:  Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The Vitex - Chasetrees are a family of more then 250 species distributed in mostly tropical or subtropical regions of the world.  Several are grown as ornamental and other are used for lumber production.  Only 4 of the Vitex have naturalized in the East.  There are both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs.

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