Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Paulownia family

The Paulownia family consists of  approximately 17 varieties of trees native to North American, China, Laos, Vietnam, Japan and Korea.  Common names for these trees are the Paulownia, Princess Tree, Royal Paulownia, or Empress Tree.  The are prized mostly for their showy clusters of violet flowers in the early spring that grow from panicles that are 3-11 inches long.  The flowers themselves resemble a foxglove flower and many say the Paulownia is part of the Foxglove family while others categorize it as a member of the similarly leaved Catalpa tree.  It has very recognizable large heart shaped leaves that grow on average from 6-18 inches across.  

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



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


This is a fast growing family of trees and when young, can grow up to 20 feet in a single season.  This rapid growth habit makes it sometimes weak and succeptable to limb breakage or loss as it matures.  Taking advantage of this rapid growth rate, some Paulownia plantations are able to harvest lumber in as little as five years. In China the Paulownia is both a popular roadside and ornamental tree.  It's wood is also used to make sound boards for many string instruments throughout Asia.  The lumber is also used in many agro foresty settings as the wood is light but strong. In Japan where it is called the Princess Tree, it was customary to plant a tree to honor the birth of a baby girl and then cut the tree at the time of her marriage to craft a piece of furniture for her new home (often a dresser or chest).  Because of the tight grain this type of wood it is also used to make guitar bodies, skis,  chests, boxes, and traditional wooden clogs.   

Image Citation: Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Table Mountain Pine, Pinus pungens

The Table Mountain Pine, Pinus pungens is a small to mid sized scruffy looking tree that reaches heights of only 50 feet tall.  It has an irregularly shaped crown that is filled with twisted limbs and clusters of barbed cones.  The Table Mountain Pine can generally be found growing above 2500 feet in elevation in only the southern mountains and other higher elevations of the piedmont from New York in the north to Georgia in the south.


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

The bark of the Table Mountain Pine is red brown and furrowed into moderately thin, rounded to flat scaled plates on the lower portion and rough to the touch.  The leaves are in the form of evergreen needles are 1.5 to 3 inches long and grow in bundles of 2 each. Needles are dark green in color, thick and stiff sometimes twisting.  Cones are the easiest way to identify this particular tree, they are short and fat with thick, sharp hooked barbs on the scale ends that resemble a mini - rhinoceros horn.  When viewing a cone from the tip down, there is a visible spiraling pattern.  Some cones are so tightly closed that only the heat from fire is able to open them to release their winged seeds.


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

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Littleleaf Linden - Tilia cordata

The Littleleaf Linden is found commonly in the United States though it is actually native to Europe.  it is used frequently as a street tree or in park settings throughout the United States. it has a pleasing shape, dense canopy and very fragrant flowers.  At maturity it can reach heights of 50-60 feet tall with a spread of up to 40 feet.  Growing at a medium rate it can grow 12-24 inches in a single year.  It grows best in full sun or partial shade in acidic, alkaline, moist, sandy or clay soils.  It does not do well in extremely wet or dry conditions.


Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org

The blooms appear in the summer later in the season when most other trees have finished.  they flowers hang on a long stalk with an attached wing like leaf.  The flowers are a great source of nectar and pollen for bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.  The fruits are 1/4 inch in diameter.



Image Citation: Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org


The leaves are heart shaped and lopsided at the base.  Leaf sizes vary from 2-3 inches long with a slightly saw toothed margin.  The color of the leaves range from light green to a deeper glossy green, shifting to yellow in the fall season.


Image Citation: Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.), Bugwood.org



The soft wood cavities provide ideal nesting sites for birds that prefer cavity dwelling.  The wood is considered a soft wood and does not have any significant value in the lumber market.


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Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Black Maple - Acer nigrum

The Black Maple - Acer nigrum (also called the Black Sugar Maple, Hard Maple, or Rock Maple) is a medium sized deciduous tree that can reach heights of up to 80 feet tall.  The tree generally has a relatively short trunk with large rounded crown full of long upward reaching branches.  


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

The bark of the Black Maple is black to brown in color with a silver gray layer on top.  The trunk of the Black Maple is often fluted which gives the tree a rougher appearance.  The leaves are simple and grow opposite from one another, as opposed to being side by side.  The lobes are often coarsely toothed before ending in narrow blunted tips.  The upper leaf surface is smooth, dark green in color, wile the lower surface is lighter and duller in finish.  The leaves become yellow to yellow brown in the fall before falling off.  The leaf stalk or petiole is long and often fuzzy. The bodies of the paired fruit are joined at the stem with flat wings hanging down from each side.  





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


The Black Maple is very often confused with the Sugar Maple, with which it freely hybridizes.  Both the Black and Sugar Maple are tapped for Maple Syrup, planted as shade tree and sold in the commercial lumber market as hard Maple.  The Black Maple can be found growing from The Great Lakes in the North to Tennessee in the south.  


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

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Horse Chestnut - Aesculus hippocastanum

The Horse Chestnut - Aesculus hippocastanum, is only native to a very small area of Mountains between Greece and Albania- it was not discovered/recorded until 1596.  Once discovered it was rapidly planted and spread almost all over Europe in the early 1600's, then later by the early colonists of North America.  It is a very common street tree from Ontario to Virginia.  In the West it's spread ranges from British Columbia down through New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.  It is one of the more common street trees in the United States and has naturalized in most regions. Growing to heights of 50-75 feet at maturity, this tree can live upwards of 300 years so when planted correctly it can be considered a permanent addition to most landscapes.  It is recommended to be planted in hardiness zones 4-7


The name Horse Chestnut was thought to gain it's origin from the false belief that this tree was part of the Chestnut family, combined with the fact that despite the fruits being poisonous to horses they actually cured some chest related ailments when eaten by sick horses.  

Image Citations (Photos 1 & 2):Norbert Frank, University of West Hungary, Bugwood.org

Although the Horse Chestnut is sometimes confused with the closley related American Buckeye, that name is generally reserved for the North American members of the Aesculus genus.  The Horse Chestnut differs from the American Buckeyes because of it's shiny orange-brown terminal buds, bigger leaves on stalkless leaflets, 1 foot tall heads with predominently white flowers and very prickly husks that enclose the mahogany colored seeds.  Each individual flower opens to reveal a bright splash of yellow at the base of every petal, once pollinated this yellow turns a deeper orange and then finally a crimson red.

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

The flowers provide a rich source of nectar and pollen to insects, especially bees. Caterpillars of the triangle moth and horse chestnut leaf miner moth feed on the leaves. Deer and other mammals eat the conkers.  The most famous use of Horse Chestnut is in the game of conkers. The first record of the game is from the Isle of Wight in 1848.
The wood of the Horse Chestnut is soft and often considered weak.  It has a very straight light colored grain and is often used for wood turning, artificial limb production and wooden toy making.  This weakness can be considered a liability as mature trees in full leaf have been known to drop large branches without warning during heavy storms. 



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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Black Maple - Acer nigrum

The Black Maple - Acer nigrum (also called the Black Sugar Maple, Hard Maple, or Rock Maple) is a medium sized deciduous tree that can reach heights of up to 80 feet tall.  The tree generally has a relatively short trunk with large rounded crown full of long upward reaching branches.  


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

The bark of the Black Maple is black to brown in color with a silver gray layer on top.  The trunk of the Black Maple is often fluted which gives the tree a rougher appearance.  The leaves are simple and grow opposite from one another, as opposed to being side by side.  The lobes are often coarsely toothed before ending in narrow blunted tips.  The upper leaf surface is smooth, dark green in color, wile the lower surface is lighter and duller in finish.  The leaves become yellow to yellow brown in the fall before falling off.  The leaf stalk or petiole is long and often fuzzy. The bodies of the paired fruit are joined at the stem with flat wings hanging down from each side.  





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


The Black Maple is very often confused with the Sugar Maple, with which it freely hybridizes.  Both the Black and Sugar Maple are tapped for Maple Syrup, planted as shade tree and sold in the commercial lumber market as hard Maple.  The Black Maple can be found growing from The Great Lakes in the North to Tennessee in the south.  


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

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The White Spruce - Picea glauca

The White Spruce - Picea glauca, (also Canadian Spruce, Skunk Spruce or Cat Spruce) is a medium to large sized evergreen tree that can reach heights of over 100 feet tall.  White Spruce is a commercially important tree, it wood is lightweight, straight grained and resilient.  The lumber of the White Spruce is harvested for both lumber and pulpwood.  Mainly found in Canada it's growth range enters the northern United States from Minnesota through Maine.  



Image Citation: Bill Cook, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

The bark is light brown is thin with a whitish inner layer.  The leaves are in the form of four sided needles, blue green in color with white lines on the bottoms.  The needles appear to grow on top of the branches as they sharply turn upward and wrap around the twigs blending in with the ones growing on the upper surface.  When crushed the needles release a pungent or foul odor. The sticky sap often oozes from the surface.  


Image Citation: Joseph OBrien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The White Spruce is the state tree of South Dakota.  White Spruce is a favorite Christmas tree variety in the North Eastern United States, it is considered to have one of the best "wild" or "natural" appearance.  Though the needles are poorly retained once the tree is cut, the limbs are thick and hold even heavy ornaments very well.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

The Sweetgum - Liquidambar styraciflua

The Sweetgum - Liquidambar styraciflua, is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of up to 132 feet. It is most easily identified by it's palmately lobed, almost star shaped leaves and spiked fruiting balls (which are even called some not so nice names when an unknowing party steps on one). Generally Sweetgums grow in a upright fashion, with a single erect trunk with little branching on the lower 1/2, this is especially true when grown in woodland or forest areas. The Sweetgum is a member of the Altingiaceae family, this family has members in North and Central America, Southeast Asia and Turkey - it includes 2 genera and 13 species, only 1 that is native to the United States. The Sweetgum is also called to as Gum, Gum Ball, Monkey Ball, or Sweet Gum. 

Image Citation: Deena Sharon Chadi, Bank Street College of Education, Bugwood.org

The Sweetgum has grayish or green-gray bark that is finely or moderately fissured. The leaves are alternate and simple, palmate with 5-7 lobes, almost shaped like a star with a more flattened base. The upper portions of the leaves are usually lustrous and green, while the lower surface is more dull and paler in color. The flowers are absent of sepals and petals, the males are greenish-yellow in oblong clusters at the branch tips. Female flowers are paler green, occurring in ball-like dangling clusters. The fruit is made up of numerous capsules that are consolidated into a spiny ball. The balls are generally about 3 cm in diameter with stiff spines forming on the tips. These fruits are generally the biggest complaint when it comes to this species as they can be a hazard on the ground if stepped on or tripped over.

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

The Sweetgum is generally found in rich woods, slopes, fields, residential and urban landscapes, low woods, swamp margins and floodplains. It is native to the United States and can be found as far West as Texas in the South to Southern Illinois in the North continuing to the East Coast New Jersey and Maryland in the North and Central Florida in the South.

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

The American Sycamore also has ball like fruit, however they are not Spiked like the Sweetgum. The Japanese Maples leaves may be confused with the Sweetgum but the fruits are completely different (the Sweetgum having a spiky ball and the Maple having paired samara). The Sweetgum is an important tree to the Eastern landscape. It is recommended for hardiness zones 5-9.

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The Sweetgum - Liquidambar styraciflua

The Sweetgum - Liquidambar styraciflua, is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of up to 132 feet. It is most easily identified by it's palmately lobed, almost star shaped leaves and spiked fruiting balls (which are even called some not so nice names when an unknowing party steps on one). Generally Sweetgums grow in a upright fashion, with a single erect trunk with little branching on the lower 1/2, this is especially true when grown in woodland or forest areas. The Sweetgum is a member of the Altingiaceae family, this family has members in North and Central America, Southeast Asia and Turkey - it includes 2 genera and 13 species, only 1 that is native to the United States. The Sweetgum is also called to as Gum, Gum Ball, Monkey Ball, or Sweet Gum. 

Image Citation: Deena Sharon Chadi, Bank Street College of Education, Bugwood.org

The Sweetgum has grayish or green-gray bark that is finely or moderately fissured. The leaves are alternate and simple, palmate with 5-7 lobes, almost shaped like a star with a more flattened base. The upper portions of the leaves are usually lustrous and green, while the lower surface is more dull and paler in color. The flowers are absent of sepals and petals, the males are greenish-yellow in oblong clusters at the branch tips. Female flowers are paler green, occurring in ball-like dangling clusters. The fruit is made up of numerous capsules that are consolidated into a spiny ball. The balls are generally about 3 cm in diameter with stiff spines forming on the tips. These fruits are generally the biggest complaint when it comes to this species as they can be a hazard on the ground if stepped on or tripped over.

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

The Sweetgum is generally found in rich woods, slopes, fields, residential and urban landscapes, low woods, swamp margins and floodplains. It is native to the United States and can be found as far West as Texas in the South to Southern Illinois in the North continuing to the East Coast New Jersey and Maryland in the North and Central Florida in the South.

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

The American Sycamore also has ball like fruit, however they are not Spiked like the Sweetgum. The Japanese Maples leaves may be confused with the Sweetgum but the fruits are completely different (the Sweetgum having a spiky ball and the Maple having paired samara). The Sweetgum is an important tree to the Eastern landscape. It is recommended for 

Friday, January 19, 2018

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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Thursday, January 18, 2018

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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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Maple Leaf Oak - Quercus acerfolia

The Maple Leaf Oak - Quercus acerfolia is a very unique member of the Oak - Quercus Species, Red Oak- Fagaceae family . The leaves are Maple like in shape and are broader then they are long, which is unusual for an Oak tree. The Maple Leaf Oak also has a very tiny growth range, made up of only a few counties in Eastern and Central Arkansas. It prefers dry slopes and ridges between 500-800 m and is deciduous in habit. As a member of the Red Oak- Fagaceae family, it also is relatively small reaching maximum heights of only 50 feet tall (which is large in comparison with many other families but not the Oaks).   


The Maple Leaf Oak earned it's name because of the unique leaf shape, they are broadly elliptic to round and shaped like a Maple leaf. The blades f the leaves are 7-14 cm long and 10-15 cm broad.  The yellowish green foliage appears in April, changing to a lovely Red in the Fall. The flowers are insignificant in size and are yellow green in color.  The fruit is an acorn (like other Oaks) 4-7 mm deep, enclosing less than 1/3 of the egg shaped nut. The grayish bark is smooth in early years, but acquires dark ridging on the trunk with maturity.  


Recommended for hardiness zones 5-8 Maple Leaf Oak is considered to be easily grown, drought tolerant and have minimal problems (though like most other Oaks it is susceptible to damage by many insects).  Maple Leaf Oak is closely related to the Shumard Oak - Quercus Shumardii and was for a long time thought to be a variant of that species, in that case it is referred to as Quercus Shumardii var. acerfolia.  Originally recorded in 1926 by Palmer, it was not until recent years that the tree was given it's own full species status because of the difference in not only the leaves but the acorn morphology.   It is ideally planted as a specimen tree or focal point in any garden residential or commercially. Due to it's rarity however, it may be hard to find on the commercial market.

Image Citations (photos 1, 2 & 3):  Missouri Botanical Gardens: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/FullImageDisplay.aspx?documentid=4307


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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Corkwood - Leiterneria floridana

The Leitneriaceae Family currently only contains one single species, the Corkwood Leiterneria floridana.  The Corkwood is a very sporadically distributed species found only in Northern Florida, Southeastern Texas, Eastern Arkansas and the far Southeastern region of Missouri.  It is most commonly found growing in swamp areas, depressions, ponds, roadside ditches or bordering tidal marshes.  It is easily recognized in it's native regions by it's very upright form combined with elliptical leaves, catkins, and tan colored lenticels found within the red-brown bark.   The Leitneriaceae florida is included on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as a "Near Threatened/Lower Risk" species because of its very small number (limited by a very small native range), thought they do not show a significant decline in the population.  Leiterneria floridana was only first discovered in 1835, in the saline marshes of Florida where the Apalachicola River empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Image Citation: J.S. Peterson, hosted by the USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 24 February 2016)

The Corkwood is a small deciduous tree or shrub that only averages 15 feet in height at maturity.  Corkwoods always grow in a very upright form and generally have one single straight trunk with a narrow crown containing very few branches.  The leaves appear in alternately in simple narrow elliptical form.  The upper portions of each leaf is lustrous, leathery and medium green in color, while the lower surface is a more dull pale green.  The leaves have fine hairs on the surface when young, becoming hairless when mature.  The foliage is among the most persistent of the deciduous autumn leaves, remaining green till late November (in the more northern portions of it's range), then becoming greenish-yellow. The flowers are unisex with male and female flowers on separate plants.  The male flowers appear in upright grey-brown catkins that are 2-5 cm long,  while the female appear in reddish catkins that are 1-2 cm long.  The fruit occurs in a single seeded ellipsoid drupe that is yellow-brown in color.  The wood of the Corkwood is very fitting to it's name as it is extremely lightweight.  The wood is often compared to balsa wood and can be used in similar applications.  Corkwood is the lightest weight of all of the native Eastern North American trees.  Portions of the trunk/stems have even been used to craft fishing floats.

The Corkwood - Leiterneria floridana is not the same as the shrub also commonly known as Corkwood - Stillingia aquatica (of the Euphorbiaceae family).  The genus, Corkwood Leiterneria floridana is thought by many researchers to be related to the similarly pollenated quassia family (Simaroubaceae), though they retain very unique and identifiable features that easily separate the two.

In Italy a single compressed endocarp was collected from the Villa San Faustino site in Italy.  This single specimen shows that until the Early Pleistoncene period Leitneria venosa grew there.  Leitnera is also listed as a species found within the early Pliocene San Gimiginiano flora. Several other similar endocarps have been found on other sites in Northern Italy dating all the way up to the Cenozoic period, though rare. These fossils shows that the Leiterneria family was not always made up of this one single species but had other members with possibly a greater range then the Leiterneria floridana.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Quaking Aspen - Populus tremuloides

The Quaking Aspen - Populus tremuloides - is also called the Trembling Aspen, Golden Aspen or Mountain Aspen. With the smallest of breezes the leaves will flutter hence it's name. When fluttering the leaves even making an audible sound which would explain why the Onondagas called it the "nut-kie-e" which means noisy leaf. This tree has a very remarkable native range covering a majority of the Northern portion of the continent, ranging from New Foundland South to Delaware in the East and along the Coast of Alaska and British Columbia running South through the Rocky Mountains. Although it is not found in the South it does have one of the widest distributions of any tree in North America. It can be grown throughout hardiness zones 1-7. It is often times one of the first trees to appear after a Forest Fire. It is a fast grower often gaining 24 inches in a single season. Aspen wood Is used to make a variety of items such as wooden toys, tongue depressors, popsicle sticks, clothes pins, crates and even for paper pulp.


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

The leaves are rounded triangles with small teeth along the margins. The leaves are a glossy green above and dull below, during the Spring they change to a vivid Yellow or very rarely Red. They are arrranged alternately on the branches. Catkins are long and silvery and appear between April and May. In the late Spring, it's tiny seeds which are enclosed in cottony tufts are dispersed by the wind. The bark is a Greenish-White to Grey in color, it is often marked with black knots or horizontal scars.

Image Citation (Fall Foliage): Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

The Aspen is a favorited food and shelter source for many different type of wildlife. The leaves and bark are eaten by Deer, Elk and Hare/Rabbits. The Buds are an important food source for Grouse during Winter. Beavers not only feed from the Aspen, they also use it's lumber as a building material. Many different birds and butterflies make their homes in these stands.

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

The Aspen holds the the title of largest living organisms on Earth, growing in clones/stand that reproduce primarily by sending up sprouts from their roots. For the most part each clone within a stand is connected to the next one through it's root system. One clone/stand in Utah (where it is the State tree) has been determined to have over 47,000 stems, this stand is estimated to weigh over 6,000 tons! While individually each stem lives 100-150 years, Aspen stands are one of the longest living organisms. One clone in Minnesota is estimated to be 8,000 years old, making it one of the longest living organism on Earth.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

The Chinkapin (Chinquapin) 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 Allegheny 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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Thursday, January 11, 2018

The 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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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The 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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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

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

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Black Jack Oak - Quercus marilandica

The Black Jack Oak - Quercus marilandica, is a small to mid sized deciduous tree that reaches heights of only 15 - 45 feet tall.  Black Jack Oak often grows in an irregular shape with an open crown and crooked branches.  It is one of the fews Red Oaks that produce and store a substance called tyloses, this substance seals the vessels and make the wood watertight.  The small trees lumber is not highly valuable because of it's small size and knotty qualities it is used for fence posts, wooden water buckets, railroad ties, firewood and charcoal.  Black Jack Oak is native to dry, sandy or soils from Iowa in the West, New Jersey and New York in the North, South through Florida, West through Texas and Northern Nebraska.  


Image Citation: David Stephens, Bugwood.org

The leaves of the Black Jack Oak are tough and leathery, triangular and 4-8 inches long and wide.  The leaf stalk or petiole and lower surface are covered with dense brown-orange hairs.  The veins are raised on both the upper and lower leaf surfaces.  Acorns occur singularly or in pairs on a short stalk with red-brown top shaped cups with hairy scales.  The nuts are elliptic, 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch each, with a stout point.



Image Citation:  Vern Wilkins, Indiana University, Bugwood.org

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Friday, January 5, 2018

The American Smoketree - Cotinus obovatus

The American Smoketree - Cotinus obovatus is a small tree that does not reach heights of more then 35 feet tall.  Generally having a short trunk and a full crown with widely spaced branches.  American Smoketree is used on a limited basis as an ornamental and is valued for it's distinctive smoky plumed flowers and dark red fall coloring.  This rare specimen is found growing on rock bluffs and in limestone glades from eastern Tennessee and Northern Alabama west through Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.  


Image Citation: Charles T. Bryson, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

The leaves are alternate, egg shaped and are 2-6 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide.  The upper leaf surface is a dull green and the lower surface is lighter and hair covered.  When crushed the leaves give off a distinctive mint odor.  The pink flowers are in the form of hairy fluff that from a distance look to be puffs of smoke, giving the tree it's unique name.   The bark is light gray to gray brown and thin, flaking and peeling up from the bottom edges.  



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