Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Paw Paw - Asimina triloba

The Paw Paw - Asimina triloba, is a small deciduous fruit bearing tree that is native to North America.  They grow wild in much of the eastern and midwestern portions of the country, but not in the extreme North, West or South.   

Image Citation (Photos 1 & 2): Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org 

The leaves are green in the growing season and an elongated oval shape ranging in size from 10-12 inches long.  In the fall the leaves change to a rusty yellow in color.  When crushed the leaves have a strong unique odor, often compared to that of a bell pepper.  The leaves contain toxic annonaceous acetogenins, making them not palatable to most insects. The one exception is the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly.  

The flowers have 3 prominent triangular shaped green, brown or purple outer petals.  The flowers are insect pollinated, but fruit production is often limited by the small number of pollinators that are actually attracted to flowers very faint scent.

Image Citation (Photo 3): Wendy VanDyk Evans, Bugwood.org

The fruit is a green-brown in color and a curved cylindrical shape - the shape of the fruit is very similar to a fat lima bean.  The trees produce an almost tropical fruit with vanilla or banana/mango flavors. When ripe, the fruit’s soft flesh is very creamy in texture. The large seeds are easy to remove, making the pawpaw an excellent pick for fresh eating.  The short shelf life makes it an uncommon find in most market areas.   Fresh fruits of the Paw Paw are generally eaten raw, either chilled or at room temperature. However, they can be kept only 2–3 days at room temperature, or about a week if refrigerated.  

Many animals and insects make use of the Paw Paw tree and it's fruit.  The flowers attract blowflies, carrion beetles, fruit flies, carrion flies and other beetle varieties.  The fruits of the Paw Paw are enjoyed by a variety of mammals, including raccoons, foxes, opossums, squirrels, and black bears. Larvae of the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly, feed exclusively on young leaves of Paw Paw.  Chemicals in the Paw Paw leaves offer protection from predation throughout the butterfly's life remaining in their systems and making them unpalatable to predators.  Whitetail deer do not feed on the Paw Paw.

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Catawba Rosebay - Rhododendron catawbiense

Catawba Rosebay - Rhododendron catawbiense is distinguished by it's large pink flowers and evergreen leaves with bases that are rounded. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches heights of only 9-22 feet tall. It grows in a shrubby fashion, often branches closest to the ground. It is native to Mountain slopes, ridges, balds from 500-2000 rarely at lower altitudes. Found from Virginia and West Virginia south to North Georgia, west to Kentucky and northeast Alabama.

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

The bark of the Catawba Rosebay is smooth when young, becoming furrowed and shredding with age. The leaves are alternate, simple, narrowly broad and elliptic. In extreme cold or drought the leaves often curl under. The upper leaf surface is a dark lustrous green in color, while the lower surface is a paler green. The flowers are considered to to be a Corrolla Pink in color and are in a broad bell shape that can reach up to 6 cm in diameter. The petals and sepals number 5 each with 10 stamens, flowers occur in early Summer annually. The fruit is a linear or oblong capsule that is covered with red-brown hairs, the fruit occurs on erect stalks and mature between late Summer and early Fall.

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Friday, December 7, 2018

West Indian Almond - Terminalia catappa

The West Indian Almond - Terminalia catappa, is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of around 75 feet.  It grows in an erect form, generally with a single straight trunk sometimes becoming wider at the base with age.  It is easily identified in the Fall because of the large whorled leaves that become a bright crimson color in the fall.  Originally introduced from he West Indies but is cultivated and has become naturalized in hammocks and coastal areas of South Florida and the Florida Keys.  It is similar to Wild Almond (Terminalia arjuna), which is also naturalized in Southern Florida but the leaves are more or less oblong or oval rather then distinctively obvate.



Image Citation: Florida Division of Plant Industry , Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org

The West Indian Almond has branches borne in whorls that are often drooping.  The bark is smooth and a steely gray when young, becoming scaled with age.  The leaves are alternate, crowded near branch tips in an almost umbrella like form.  The leaves are simple, leathery in texture, narrowing to a short point with margins along the entire leaf.  The upper leaf surface is dark green in color with obvious veining, becoming crimson in the fall.  The flowers are bisexual and unisexual, borne in an elongated spike from the leaf axis, occurring in the early summer each year.  Flowers are absent of petals, having 5 sepals and are green-white in color.  The fruit is a flattened, fleshy, almond shaped drupe, green when young becoming yellow and then finally red or blackish-green when ripe.  The fruit reaches sizes of 5 cm long and matures between late Fall to early Winter.


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



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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Winged Sumac - Rhus copallinum

Winged Sumac - Rhus copallinum is a sumac that is most easily recognized by it's alternate, pinnately compound leaves with 4+ mm winged rachis.  It is a small deciduous shrub or small slender tree that reaches heights of only 30-35 feet tall.  Generally growing in an erect upright fashion it can have single or multiple trunks and is often thicket forming from the production of numerous root suckers.  It is native to the North America and can be found growing throughout the Eastern seaboard from Canada and Maine in the North south throughout Florida, west through eastern Nebraska and eastern Texas.  It is similar in appearance to the Prairie Sumac with the only difference being the rachis size.  

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

The bark of the Winged Sumac is smooth, brown or reddish brown with numerous visable lenticles.  The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound with blades ranging in size from 10-30 cm long, having conspicuous winged rachis, the wings each reaching sizes of over 4 mm each, with 9-23 leaflets.  The flowers are unisexual, with male or female typically occurring on separate trees, green-white in color, with 5 petals and sepals each abut 1 mm long.  The fruit is a hairy rounded red drupe 4-5 mm in diameters, occurring in late Summer to early Fall and remaining until Winter.

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Deciduous Holly - Ilex decidua (Also known as Possumhaw Holly)

The Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua) or Possumhaw Holly as it is more commonly known is a deciduous Holly tree that reaches heights of only 30 feet tall and grows in an ascending, erect or leaning fashion with a single or multiple trunks.  In open grown specimens the crowns are cylindrical in form and densely foliaged, while in forest grown specimens branches are few. The Possumhaw is native to the Eastern United States from Maryland in the north to Southern Florida in the South, West through Kansas and central Texas.  Most often located between 0-360 m in moist and wet woodlands, floodplains, bottoms, and occasionally dry uplands.  It is similar in appearance to the Carolina Holly but can be distinguished by elliptic rather than oblanceolate leaves.  





Image Citation: Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The leaves of the Possumhaw Holly are alternate most often occurring in closely set clusters on short shoots which leads them to appear to be whorled or opposite, they are distinctly widest towards the tip with a long tapering base.  The upper leaf surfaces are dark green, margins are not visible, edges are bluntly toothed, each tooth tipped with a tiny gland. The twigs are greenish in color when young, becoming greenish brown and then gray at maturity.  The bark is grayish or gray-brown in color, smooth when young becoming slightly rougher with age.  The flowers are greenish white in color with 4-6 petals each, occurring in the Spring each year.  The fruit is a round multi-stone drupe ranging in size from 4-9mm in diameter, varying in color from red to yellow or orange, occurring in the Fall and persisting into Winter.

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Image Citation: Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Loblolly Pine - Pinus taeda

The Loblolly Pine - Pinus taeda -  is a large evergreen tree that can reach heights of 80-100 feet in height.   It is commonly found growing in the Western United States and Canada but is native to the Southeastern United States from Central Florida on North.  It grows in a straight tall fashion with a short spread crown.  It is most commonly found from floodplains and roadsides to well drained hillsides.  Its trunk diameter can reach a very large 6+ feet and it is considered to be a very important timber tree.  The lumber is used for construction, interior finishing, craft wood, paper/pulp production, railroad ties and pilings. The name Loblolly comes from the southern term for the moist hollows or depressions that this particular tree is partial to.


Image Citation:  David Stephens, Bugwood.org

The needles are stiff and sharp tipped, pale green in in clusters of three.  The needles are generally six to nine inches long and yellow-green in color and grow in an almost tufted appearance near the edges of the branches.  The bark is cinnamon colored and appears in scaly plates.  The cones are three-six inches long, reddish brown in color and egg shaped.   The seeds are about 1 inch in size, black-brown in color and rhomboidal winged.  The flowers are monoecious and yellow in color, they appear between May-June depending on the region.  



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


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Monday, December 3, 2018

Quickstick - Gliricidia sepium (Kakawati)

The Quickstick - Gliricidia sepium (also called Kakawati), is most easily identified by the combination of pinkish flowers, large blackish colored fruit and oddly number pinnate leaves. It is a small deciduous tree or shrub that reaches heights of only 32 feet tall, generally growing in an erect form with a single upright trunk. Originally introduced from Mexico and Central/Southern America it has been cultivated and established in Southern Florida, especially in Key West.


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

The leaves of the Quickstick are alternate, pinnate, leaflets are in odd numbers between 7-15, ovate, elliptic or lanceolate in shape with a dull green upper surface that is a dull green in color. The flowers are bisexual, white or pink in color 1.5-2.2 cm long, inflorescence is a raceme occurring at the branch tips. Similar in appearance to the Black Locust, however the Black Locust has white flowers and smaller fruit, their ranges do not overlap so you will not see both in one area.