Monday, October 31, 2016

The Bald Cypress - Taxodium distichum

The Bald Cypress - Taxodium distichum  is a large conical shaped deciduous tree with a domed top.  Though it is thought by many to have the appperance of an evergreen most times of the year.  Sadly people who are not familiar with this variety of tree will think the tree is dead when the leaves fall off and may rush to remove it.  Generally found growing wild in swamp areas and flooding river plains.  They are native to much of the Mid to South Eastern United States and planted widely as ornamentals.  


Trees growing along the Chesapeake and other tidal areas flare ut at the trunks towards the base and make the trunks look almost disproportionate.  Trees growing in brackish lagoon areas tend to grow "knees" which can grow as far away as 20 yards from the tree.   It can take 50 years for a tree to grow "knees" , these knees contain spongy wood tissues and are believed to provide roots oxygen.


The leaves are flat, soft, and delicate and approximately 1/2 inch long.  They leaves are bright/light green when young and darken with age.  They grow alternately on side shoots which are shed completely when the leaves drop in the fall.  The male flowers grow in the form of 4 inch catkins while the females are small rounded cones which grow more often then not on different trees.  


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Image Citation : Amy Gilliss - Arundel Tree Service (Specimen located in Cape Saint Claire, Maryland)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Eugenia (Stoppers) - Eugenia

The genus Eugenia  (Stoppers) - Eugenia is made up of approximately 1000 species distributed throughout the tropics worldwide.  Only six species occur in North America.  Four of these species are considered to be native and 5 are found only in the far South-Eastern portion of the United States.  The five species found in North America are Eugenia axillaris, Eugenia foetida, Eugenia confusa, Eugenia uniflora, and Eugenia rhombea.  The Eugenia/Stoppers are evergreen shrubs or trees with opposite, simply shaped, leathery leaves.  The flowers are generally bisexual with 4 petals and 4 sepals each, they can be found clustered or individually depending on the species.  The fruit is in the form of a rounded berry with either 1 or 2 seeds, the top of each berry appears to have a crown shape from the remains of the calyx. 

Image Citation (Eugenia brasiliensis fruit) Cesar Calderon, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

The White Stopper - Eugenis axillaris, is most easily identified by the combination of opposite leaves with an acute tip and dotted underside, short fruit  and flower stalks.  It is native to the coastal hammocks from North Carolina through the Florida Keys.  The White Stopper is considered to be the most common Stopper in Florida.

The Boxleaf Stopper - Eugenis foetida, is most easily identified by the combination of opposite, oblanceolate or obvate leaves with rounded tips and tapering bases.  It is native to the sub tropical hammocks, pinelands or where lime stone is present in Southern Florida.  This species is found on a widespread basis in the tropics and actually reaches much larger sizes outside of the United States.  I is one of the more commonly found Stoppers in Florida, but not as widespread as the White Stopper.

The Redberry Stopper - Eugenia confusa, is most easily identified by the combination of bright red fruit and opposite, long-pointed leaves with drooping tips.  It is native to sub tropical hammocks and is considered a endangered species in Southern Florida due to it's rarity.  It is more commonly found growing in the West Indies where it is also native.

The Red Stopper - Eugenia rhombea, is most eaily identified by the combination of dull green opposite leaves and red to orange berries that become black when mature.  It is native to hammocks in Southern Florida and the Keys, where it is also considered an endagered species due to it's rarity and limited numbers.  

The Surinam Cherry - Eugenia uniflora, is most easily identified by the combination of short petioles, ribbed red fruit and opposite leaves under 7 cm in length.  It is not native but introduced into the hammocks of South Florida.  This species is considered to be invasive in habit and is listed as an invasive species throughout Southern Florida.

Image Citation (Surinam Cherry):Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Shortleaf Pine - Pinus echinata

The Shortleaf Pine - Pinus echinata, is a typical form as far as appearances are concerned. It can be identified by its combination of resin pockets in the bark, short needles and large amounts of small cones that can remain attached to a tree for years at a time. It is a large pine and can reach heights of up to 125-135 feet when fully mature (in the ideal location of course). Native to the United States, it can be found growing in a large variety of soil types from 150-600 m, From Texas and Missouri in the West along the Eastern Seaboard from Florida in the South to New York in the north. The Shortleaf Pine is considered to be somewhat fire resistant, surviving after moderate burns and reseeding itself after severe ones, sometimes even re-sprouting from the base after fire.


The Shortleaf Pine is of more importance commercially then most others Pines as it produces a better quality wood. The lumber from the Shortleaf Pine can be used in finer grade applications producing furniture and cabinetry. It is occasionally planted in parks or along roadsides but is not a popular ornamental.


The bark of the Shortleaf Pine is a reddish brown in color, scaly and made up of plates with resin pockets. The leafs are in the form of needles 7-11 cm long and 1mm wide, straight in form, occasionally twisted, gray-yellow or green-yellow in color, occurring in bundles of two.  The pollen cone is 15-20 mm long, yellow-green or purplish green in color.  The seed cone can be solitary or clustered, with great numbers within the crown, symetrical in shape, 4-6 cm long, red to brown in color, sharp prickly points of varying lengths.  The Seed cones can remain attached within the crown of the tree for several years after maturing.

Image Citations (Photos 1, 2 & 3): Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Meet The "Lombardy Poplar" (Populus nigra "italica)

The Lombardy Poplar - Populus nigra "italica" - is an upright/erect form of the European Black Poplar.  This tree was originally spread by cuttings in the Po Valley of Italy and introduced in Britain in 1758, It's spread continued rapidly through Europe once introduced.   Today this tree can also be found in every state in the United States and throughout Southern Canada.  The roots of the Lombardy Poplar are considered to be invasive, they seek water sources (like drain pipes and ditches) and spread very much like Bamboo. Even when the tree is removed and the stump ground out the root system will remain and often resprout in another location nearby.  


Image Citation: Zelimir Borzan, University of Zagreb, Bugwood.org
Description: Branchlet with male catkins (a - f) and a closed terminal vegetative bud of a new leader (k). - 2. Branchlet with female catkins (g - i, l) and closed terminal vegetative bud (k). - 3. Branchlet with developed shoots and with ripe fruit-catkins (a, b). There are numerous seeds in a capsule. Stipules at n. - 4. Seedling with cotyledons and first ordinary leaves. - 5. Winter-branchlet. After Hempel & Wilhelm, 1889. Photos and explanations from the book: Zelimir Borzan. "Tree and Shrub Names in Latin, Croatian, English, and German, with synonyms", University of Zagreb, 2001.

 It has shown notable decline in some regions of North America due to pests and disease, most notably Borers, Cankers and Bacterial Wetwood.  Pest damage to the Lombardy Poplar is commonly seen in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Okalahoma, Idaho and Montana-but is by far at it's worst in Texas.  With the exception of the areas most prone to pests this tree seems to thrive in North America, especially in the Southern Canadian range.  Professional Landscapers, Arborist and Tree Experts are not very quick to recommend planting of Lombardy Poplars because of their relatively short life span, on average only 15 years.  They do however offer a rapid growth rate, perfect for creating a privacy screen in a shorter amount of time then the much slower growing more long lasting Spruce or Arborvitae (for those of us who may be a bit impatient!).




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

With their upright nature the Lombardy Poplar tends to begin branching out close to the ground.  When mature they can reach average heights of  40-50 feet tall, but a spread of only 10-15 feet.  In the Spring and Summer their leaves are a crisp green changing to a golden yellow in the Fall. They are recommended to be planted in zones 3-9.
If you like the appearance of this tree but do not want to take on the high risk for the reward, the more pest resistant alternative is the European Aspen - Populus tremula "erecta" it has a similar appearance and growth habit.

  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sugarberry - Celtis laevigata (Southern Sugarberry or Hackberry)

The Sugarberry - Celtis laevigata is a small deciduous tree that grows upwards of 95 feet, they often flower and fruit when young. The Sugarberry grows in an upright erect form with an open spreading crown. The simple bark is grey in color and smooth when young, becoming marred with cork or wart like ridges / growths. The bark marking is often caused by bird excavating the bark to access the sweet sap, this in turn attracts insects to the wounds. The leaves are simple and alternate usually thin and paper like in texture, lanceolate or ocassionally ovate with a rounded, flattened or asymmetric tip. The upper surface is pale green and hairless, smooth surfaced with visible veins.

Image Citation: Brian Lockhart, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The Sugarberry is a member of the Cannabaeceae (Hemp) family. Sugarberry is usually found growing in sandy loam or rocky soils along streams, bottom lands, and in woodlands. The Cannabaceae Family is made up of 11 genera and 180 species of shrubs, trees, herbs and vines - 14 species are found in North America only 9 are native others are naturalized. The woody members of this family are most easily identified by their alternate simple leaves with 3 primary veins from the base and inconspicuous flowers, and were originally classified as members of the Elm family (Ulmaceae) but recent studies suggest they should actually be included with the Cannabaeceae family.

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

Sugarberry has long been used for many purposes by a variety of Native American tribes. The Houma used a concentrate made from the bark to treat sore throats and ground up shells to treat venereal diseases. The Comanche would beat the fruits to a pulp and then mixed with animal fat, rolled into balls, and roasted in the fire as food. The Acoma, Navajo, and Tewa all consumed raw Sugarberries for food. The leaves and branches were boiled by the Navajo to make dark brown and red dye for wool.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Sassafras - Sassafras albidum

The Sassafras - Sassafras albidum is a member of the Laurel family. Having only three varieties, two of which are native to China and Taiwan, and the other is native to the Eastern portion of the United States. Spreading by suckers growing from the roots, in it's natural habitat it is commonly found growing along the woods edge and fields or as the under story of a forest.

Image Citation: (Photo 1) USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station Archive, USDA Forest Service, SRS, Bugwood.org & (Photo 2) The Dow Gardens Archive, Dow Gardens, Bugwood.org 

The fruit from the Sassafras is blue in color when mature starting at clear and red when young. Growing from red stems the fruit grow in an almost ornamental pattern. The fruit/berries are a favorite of small birds such as Finches in the Spring and Summer. Like the Amercian Holly, the Sassafras is dioecious, meaning the pistallate and staminate flowers mostly grow on different trees.

Image Citation: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - Forestry Archive, Bugwood.org

The Sassafras tree has a unique scent that is recognizable even before the tree is in view, the oil that produces the scent is in the roots, the leaves and even the bark of the tree. Teas can be made by steeping the roots of the tree-Native American are recorded to have used this tea to treat many ailments. The oil was also used as the flavoring for traditional Root Beer prior to it's use being banned by the FDA in 1960 because of the Safrole found in the oil was thought to be a possible carcinogen. This banned was reversed partially in 1994 but new restrictions were put into place to be sure that the Safrole was removed prior to human consumption . File Powder, is a spicy herb made from dried and ground leaves. It was traditionally used by Native Americans in the South, and was adopted into Creole cuisine in Louisiana as a very commonly used ingredient.

Image Citations (Left & Right Photos): Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org

The foliage of the Sassafras is very unique having as many as three varying type of leaves. The leaves can vary from single lobes, double lobed or mitten shaped to triple lobed. They are green in color during the growing season and in the fall put on a very beautiful show. The leaves will vary in color in the fall from Yellow, Orange, Scarlet and Crimson.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

The Crab Apple Trees - (Malus)

Crabapples are small deciduous trees with a broad and open crown. Apples and Crabapples are in the rose family, Rosaceae, in the genus Malus. Crabapples are differentiated from Apples based on fruit size. If fruit is two inches in diameter or less, it is termed a Crabapple. If the fruit is larger than two inches, it is classified as an Apple. The height of Crabapples ranges greatly from 6- 50 feet depending on the variety and the growing conditions, however most average in the 15-25 ft range. There are currently 35 species and over 700 cultivated varieties of Crabapples recorded.

Image Citation (Crabapple in bloom-Left & Right): Dow Gardens Archive, Dow Gardens, Bugwood.org

The fragrant flowers are white with a hint of pink or sometimes all pink. Growing in clusters of flowers that appear with the new leaves. Crabapple flowers may be single (5 petals), semi-double (6 to 10 petals) or double (more than 10 petals). Single-flowered Crabapple varieties tend to bloom earlier than semi-double or double-flowered varieties. Actual dates of blossoming can vary each year depending on weather conditions. The length of time in bloom, can range from 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the variety and weather conditions.

Image Citation (Southern Crabapple Flowers Purple and White): Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org

The leaves are coarsely toothed and green in color. In the fall the leaves change in color, the colors range from yellow to orange, red to purple. The falling leaves reveal the still attached fruits offering another level of interest.
The Crabapples fruit is small, long stalked and rather sour in flavor. They are yellow-green in color an grow in clusters of 3 to 4. The fruit is rarely eaten raw as it is sour, bitter and sometimes woody in texture. However in some Asian cultures it is used and valued as a sour condiment. There are few varieties that are sweet though not as common as the sour varieties.

Image Citation (Crabapple Illustration): Zelimir Borzan, University of Zagreb, Bugwood.org

Crabapple has been listed as one of the 38 plants that are used to prepare Bach flower remedies, an alternative medicine practice promoted for its effect on health. Though this has not been scientifically proven to date.
The Crabapple grows commonly in forest clearings and near streams in the Eastern United States (but not very far North). Ornamental varieties are grown throughout the United States in many Landscapes. Crabapple trees are fairly drought tolerant. They can be low maintenance and versatile landscape plants, and offer more than one season of interest between their flowers, fruit, and changing leaf colors. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Pin Cherry - Prunus pensylvanica

The Pin Cherry - Prunus pensylvanica is one of the most easily identified of all the Cherries because of the red twigs and long tapering lanceolate leaves. It is a deciduous small tree that reaches heights of only 25-40 feet tall at maturity. Growing in an erect fashion with a single slender trunk that produces suckers from the root crown, an open rounded crown, slender spreading branches. It is native to North America from New Foundland west to British Columbia, South to Colorado in the West and South to NE Georgia in the East. This variety of Cherry is fast growing with a short life span of only 20-40 years. Pin Cherry is a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae) and is sometimes referred to as the Fire Cherry or Bird Cherry.

Image Citation: Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org

The leaves of the Pin Cherry are alternate, simple, thin, lanceolate, often folded upward from the mid vein, curved at the apex. The upper leaf surface is lustrous, hairless, and yellow-green in color, the lower is paler and also hairless. In the fall the leaves turn red, maroon or orange adding interest to the tree. Each leaf blade is 7-15 cm long and about 5 cm broad. The Flower is small only 1-1.25 cm in diameter with 5 white petals and 15 stamens each. Flowering occurs in late Spring to early Summer.  The bark of the Pin Cherry is a reddish-brown sometimes gray-brown in color, lustrous in texture with numerous horizontal lenticels that are well spaced.  At maturity the bark becomes fissured and begins to peel off in paper like plates.

Image Citation: Becca MacDonald, Sault College, Bugwood.org
Image Citation: Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org

The fruit of the Pin Cherry is in the form of a drupe with a hard pitted stone center. Rounded in shape, bright red in color, 6-8 mm each on a slender stalk, the fruit matures in Mid to late Summer each year. Wild Cherries are high in Vitamin C and can be used for many purposes. The pitted fruits/drupe can be used in jellies, jams, juice, tea, breakfast syrup, and desserts. Pin Cherry trees provide food for many species of animals, including Grouse, Whitetail deer, at least 25 species of non-game birds, and many species of Lepidoptera. A recipe for cough syrup can be created using the juice of pin cherries. The flesh of pin cherries can be used as a flavoring for whiskey or brandy and wilderness wine can be created from the drupes (many describe it as bitter to the taste). Pin Cherry stones (the hard center) and leaves of the tree contain cyanide, but the flesh of the drupe is edible. Pin cherry leaves are less toxic than those of most other cherry species. Livestock (primarily cattle) have been known to get sick and even die after grazing on wilted cherry leaves, because they contain hydrocyanic acid. The wilted leaves of the Pin Cherry are more toxic than fresh because the concentration of cyanide is significantly higher.

Unlike most other Cherry woods that are highly sought after for firewood and furniture making, the wood of the Pin Cherry is softer and porous making it much less desirable and of little commercial value. This weak wood could be the result of it's fast growth habit. The fast growth habit of the Pin Cherry is beneficial in controlling soil erosion and minimizes loss of soil nutrients. It is not commonly planted in residential landscapes because of it's short life span.
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Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Cottonwood - Populus deltoides

The Cottonwood - Populus deltoides  - is a tall deciduous shade tree with a large spreading crown, named for its cotton-like seeds. It is part of the Poplar family, this diverse family includes the quaking aspen, which boasts the widest range of any North American tree, and the Plains cottonwood, which was the only tree many early settlers met as they forged westward through America's prairies.  It is also one of the largest North American hardwood trees.


Image Citation: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Eastern Cottonwood grow from 60 to 100 feet tall.  The leaves are almost triangular in shape, 3-5" long and wide. In the Spring the start as a Shiny Green then turning a bright yellow-gold in fall. The leaves are alternate and simple, with coarsely toothed (crenate/serrate) edges, and subcordate at the base.  Male and female flowers occur on separate catkins, and appear before the leaves in spring. The seeds are within a cottony structures that allows them to be blown long distances in the air before settling to ground.  Their fruit consists of egg-shaped capsules averaging 1/2" long, that mature in spring and split into three parts. Bark is gray, thick, rough and deeply furrowed.  The cottonwoods have a rapid growth rate and are also adaptable to many soils and climates.  They are very resistant to flood damage but do not fair well with wind or heavy ice storms. Recommended for growth Zones 2-9

Image Citations: (Bark-Left) Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org & (Seeds/Cotton-Right) Troy Evans, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Bugwood.org

Cottonwood trunks provided a great material for early timber homes and canoe making. Their bark was used to produce food for horses and a bitter medicinal or healing tea. In regions with few trees, the very noticeable cottonwoods often served as gathering places and trail markers, and as sacred objects for several Plains tribes, they were also a sure sign that water was nearby as when found in the wild their roots almost always are near a water source. Today, Cottonwood's are most commonly used to produce some interior grade furniture, plywood, matches, crates, boxes, and paper pulp.  The lumber is considered weak, soft, light and often warps during the drying process.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Sawtooth Oak - Quercus acutissima

The Sawtooth Oak - Quercus acutissima is most easily recognized by it's fringed acorn cup and narrow leave with bristle tipped teeth, resembling the teeth of a saw. It is a fast growing, deciduous shade tree that can reach heights of 30- 70 feet tall. Sawtooth Oak grows in an erect fashion with a single trunk and dense rounded crown. Originally introduced from Asia, generally found in planned landscapes and is reported to be naturalized in scattered areas from Pennsylvania South to North Carolina and Georgia, South to Louisiana. Sawtooth Oak is primarily planted for wildlife cover and food due to it's abundant fruit and fast growth habit. This species is sometimes used for urban and highway beautification as it is tolerant of soil compaction, air pollution, and drought.



Image Citations (Photos 1 & 2): Richard Gardner, UMES, Bugwood.org

Named for it's unique leaf edges, the Sawtooth Oak is a beautiful tree. The green leaves are alternate, simple, oblong or obvate, 12-16 pairs of sharp bristle tipped teeth, parallel veins and a lustrous upper surface and dull pale underside. The leaves add to the visual interest by beginning a brilliant yellow to golden yellow color in the Spring, turning dark lustrous green in summer and yellow to golden brown in the fall. The bark is dark gray in color with light gray scales that become deeply furrowed with age. The fruit is in the form of an acorn, the cup encloses 1/3 - 2/3 of the 1-2.5 cm nut. The acorn rim is adorned with long spreading hairlike scales that form a distinctive fringe.


Recommended for hardiness zones 5-9, the Sawtooth Oak can be found at most larger nurseries within those zones. Sawtooth Oak is also considered to be easily transplanted and hardy making it a wise choice for any landscape with room for a large spreading shade tree. It is similar to the Chinquapin Oak Castanea pumila in appearance, distinguished primarily by the difference in fruit.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Pitch Pine - Pinus rigida

The Pitch Pine - Pinus rigida is a 3 needle pine with random or adventitious branch habit and clustered cones.  The tree can grow either upright or with a crooked trunk, always with an irregularly shaped rounded crown.  Reaching heights upwards of 100 feet and 36 inches dbh (diameter at breast height) at maturity.  It is native to upland or low land sites that may considered otherwise infertile, sandy dry or even boggy type soils are all suitable for the Pitch Pine.  It can be found at elevations ranging from 0-1400 m from Georgia in the South to Maine and Quebec in the North.  The Pitch Pine is the dominant tree in the Pine barren forest of New Jersey, however in the rest of it's growth region it is secondary to the Virginia (Scrub) Pine, Table Mountain Pine, Eastern White Pine, Atlantic White Cedar, and various types of Oak (depending on the region).


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

The Pitch Pine has the ability to resprout even when cut off at the base of the tree, this makes it extremely hardy and able to survive even after forest fires which can kill off anything green.  The wood of the Pitch Pine is considered to be decay resistant, this is due to the high resin content.  Pitch Pine lumber has been used in Ship Building, for Mine Props, as Railway ties and distilled to produce Pitch.  Pitch Pine is considered to be ecologically important in it's native range as it is an important forest tree and the seeds are a foraging source for wildlife in the Winter.

The bark of the Pitch Pine is red-brown in color and deeply furrowed with long irregularly shaped, flat scaly ridges.  The needles are 5-10 cm long straight, stiff, sharp and a deep green to yellow green in color, occurring in bundles of 3 (rarely 5) that are held within a sheath that is 9-12 mm long.  The pollen cone in approximately 20 mm long and yellow in color, while the seed cone is often clustered 3-9 cm long and a light reddish brown color.  Cones on the Pitch Pine can remain on the tree for many years.


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

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Glossy Buckthorn - Frangula alnus

The Glossy Buckthorn - Frangula alnus is a deciduous small tree or shrub that reaches heights of 20-25 feet.  Generally growing with multiple erect trunks in a shrubby form, with a stout crown.  Originally introduced from Europe about 200 years ago, Glossy Buckthorn has become established in weedy bogs, and other wetland areas.  Found as far North as Saskatchewan and Quebec South to West Virginia and Tennessee and West to Idaho and Colorado.  The Glossy Buckthorn is considered to be invasive in many areas and is treated as an invasive species in most Mid-Western wetland areas. 


Image Citation: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Named for it's lustrous or glossy upper leaf surfaces, the Glossy Buckthorn is also easily identified by it's shrubby habit and clusters of red, purple or black drupes.  The bark of the Glossy Buckthorn is smooth and gray-brown in color with visible horizontal lenticels.  Young twigs are void of thorns and slender in form.  The leaves are alternate, oblong or oval in shape, with a rounded base and sharply pointed tip, sometimes having a wavy overall appearance.  The upper leaf surface is a dark lustrous or glossy green, while the undersides are a dull paler green.  Each leaf surface contains 5-9 pairs of obvious parallel lateral veins that curve to follow the margins.  The fall foliage turns a bright yellow and tends to remain on the tree/shrub long after others have lost their leaves. The flowers are bisexual, small in size and a creamy green or yellow-green in color, occurring in clusters at leaf axils each Spring.  The fruit is a rounded drupe, usually containing 2 seeds, 5-10 mm in diameter.  The fruit is red when young becoming a purple-black with maturity in the late Summer season.  


Image Citation: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org


The Glossy Buckthorn is suited for hardiness zones 3-7 however it is not a recommended planting as it can overtake native species easily.  It's seeds are spread by various types of wildlife including birds and small mammals.  It easily adapts to not ideal growing conditions such as full sun, little sun and even high soil pH levels.  

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Juneberry - Amelanchier alnifolia

The Juneberry - Amelanchier alnifolia - is a very hardy (to zone 2) medium to tall suckering shrub.  This shrub is native to hillsides, prairies and woody areas in North America, mainly the futher north portions of the Mid-Western United States and prairie regions of Canada.  Juneberry -Amelanchier alnifolia is a close cousin of the Eastern Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), which is found more commonly in the United States as a tall forest shrub.  Our neighbors to the North in Canada call the Juneberry the Saskatoon Serviceberry and even harvest it on farms for wholesale, you pick and fresh market uses.  The Juneberry seems to have several advantages to the more commonly grown/known Blueberry.  While Blueberries prefer well-drained acidic soils, the Juneberry is not so picky and will often thrive in areas where a Blueberry bush would die.  Juneberries are considered an uncommon fruit in the United States, with virtually no commercial cultivation.  In comparison to the market of our Canadian neighbors where Juneberries are grown on almost 900 farms covering more than 3,200 acres.  

The Buds of the Juneberry are arranged in an alternate fashion, when the buds appear they are a Chestnut Brown to Purple in color.  The leaves are a simple oval shape and are serrated to dentate from the mid sections up.  When young the leaves are a grayish color, but quickly changing to a smooth dark green.  In the fall the shrub has a completely different appearance when the leaves shift to a bright yellow color.  The white flowers form in erect racemes appearing only at the tips of the branches.  The bark is light brown in color often shifting to gray with age.  It's hardiness, upright form, and size allow the Juneberry to be planted as a screen, windbreak, landscape border or for naturalizing of an area. Often found growing 6-15 feet tall with a spread of 5- 12 feet.  The Juneberry has a very high wildlife value as it offers not only cover but various food sources. The stems and twigs are eaten by deer, elk and moose. The fruits are eaten by a variety of small mammals and birds. The wood of the Juneberry was used in crafting arrow shafts by the Native Americans.

Image Citation (Flowers): Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, Bugwood.org

Juneberries are very nutritious and are sold fresh, frozen, and even processed.  They are most commonly compared in flavor texture and appearance to the common Blueberry.  An average Juneberry contains 18 percent sugar, and about 80 percent water.   Juneberries have a lower moisture content than blueberries, so they have relatively higher amounts of calcium, fiber, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. Juneberries are an excellent source of iron, with each serving providing around 23% of the reccommended daily  amount of iron (this is almost double what a Blueberry contains). They also provide healthy amounts of potassium, magnesium, anthocyanins.  The levels of phosphorous. vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin A and vitamin E are almost identical to that of a Blueberry.

Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, Bugwood.org

If you want to begin your own Juneberry crop, begin by developing your rows well in advance of ordering or delivery of plant material. Rows should be spaced on average 10 – 12 feet apart, planning for about 4 feet between bushes at maturity.  It will take patience as your first crop will not be ready until three years after planting, but you can expect each bush to yield 4 – 6 pounds of berries annually.  Remember that they need adequate water to bear fruit but do not tolerant excessively wet roots so do not overwater.  Great care in establishing your new crop will provide you with a very yummy payoff year after year!

Some commonly cultivated varieties you may find for purchase are:   Honeywood Juneberry (A. alnifolia 'Honeywood'), Northline Juneberry (A. alnifolia 'Northline'), Pembina Juneberry (A. alnifolia 'Pembina'), Smokey Juneberry (A. alnifolia 'Smokey'), and Success Juneberry (A. alnifolia 'Success')

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Pacific Yew - Taxus breifolia

The Pacific Yew - Taxus breifolia - is an extremely slow grower that sometimes rots from the inside, making it hard to determine the age by counting growth rings. The trunk often appears twisted and asymmetrical when left to grow in open areas but when growing in the tight confines of a thick forest it has little option but to grow straight. This conifer is native to the Pacific Northwest of the United States, from the southern portions of Alaska in the North through the Northern portions of California in the South. To the untrained eye it can easily be mistaken for a baby Hemlock , the best way to tell the difference between a Hemlock and a Yew is to look at the underside of the needles, Hemlock will be silvery in color and Yew will be a yellowish-green. The California Torreya also resembles the Pacific Yew, though it has longer needles and has seed coverings that are more plumlike and streaked in purple.

Image Citation: Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired), Bugwood.org

The fleshy coral colored fruit is frequently eaten by birds even though it contains a poisonous seed. The seeds simply passes through their bodies intact so it does not harm them. The fruit has a sweet mucilaginous pulp that surrounds the seed. The bark is thin, scaly and brown to reddish-purple in color. The bark scales off in thin irregular patches. The flowers are pale yellow (male) and appear in axils of scales on short branches.

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