Friday, March 15, 2019

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),

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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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Downy Hawthorn - Crataegus mollis

The Downy Hawthorn - Crataegus mollis - is a relatively small tree or large shrub that reaches 25-35 feet at maturity.  It generally grows in a single trunk but can also grow in a multi trunk or shrub form.  Because of the dense branching structure and thorns, Downy Hawthorn and other hawthorns provide great nesting habitat for the Yellow-Breasted Chat, Brown Thrasher, and other small birds. They also provide excellent protective covering for birds and other wildlife during the summer.  The pollen & nectar attracts various bees, flies and beetles.  Other insects such as caterpillars and moths feed on the foliage, flowers and wood of the Downy Hawthorn.

The trunk bark is roughly textured, shallowly furrowed and a grey-brown in color.  The branch bark is smoother, and slightly lighter in color.  Young branches are non-woody and green.  The root system is woody and branching in habit, and it spreads by reseeding itself.  The leaves are simple, oval in shape and shallowly clefted with 3-5 lobes along the edges.  The leaves are generally bluntly pointed rather then rounded.  The margins are serrated or double serrated and the leaf bases are slightly cordate to truncate. Upper leaf surfaces are medium to yellow green in color while the lowers are pale green and pubescent.

White flowers are produced on short spur twigs, they are 1-3 inches across and generally flat headed.  The blooming period is short lasting only about two weeks during the late Spring.  The flowers have a foul often pungent odor.  Fertile flowers are replaced by small apple-like fruits that become ¾-1" across at maturity during late summer. Young fruits are light green and pubescent, while mature fruit are yellowish red to scarlet and hairless.  The fruits each have 4-5 chunky seeds.  

Photo Citations (Photos - 1, 2 & 3) Richard Webb,

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Portia - Thespesia populnea

The Portia - Thespesia populnea, is an evergreen shrub or small bushy tree that reaches heights of 10-30 feet tall.  Growing in in an erect form with either a single or multiple trunks and low branching habit.  It was introduced to the United States, but is native to Old and New world tropic locations, it has escaped cultivation and established itself on disturbed sites, coastal hammocks and beaches in South Florida.  In South Florida this species is considered to be invasive as it has a very weedy tendancy.  Thespesia is a genus of about 17  species that are distributed only in the tropical parts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Australia.  

Image Citation: Dan Clark, USDI National Park Service,

The leaves of the Portia are alternate, simple, ovate, with a heart shaped base and long pointed tip.  The flowers are Corrolla yellow with a red or maroon base inside of the bloom.  Flowers are bell shaped about 8 cm in diameter with a staminal column about 2.5 cm long, occuring year round. The fruit that also occurs year round, is flattened or rounded in the form of a leathery capsule.  When young the fruit is yellow, becoming black when mature, the seeds are brown and hairy.  The bark is smooth brown with gray mollting.

Image Citation: William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International,

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Laurel Oak (aka Darlington Oak) - Quercus hemisphaerica

The Laurel Oak (Darlington Oak) - Quercus hemisphaerica, is a large semi-evergreen that can reach upwards of 80 feet tall.  Due to it's semi-evergreen nature the tree slowly loses leaves throughout the winter months but still has some green leaves remaining in the Spring season when the new leaves begin to appear.  The Laurel Oak is most often planted as an ornamental tree.  Naturally the Laurel Oak is found growing in waterways and bottom lands where the ground remains moist .  Although it prefers wet areas, it can still preform well in dry soils.  Naturally the Laurel Oak is found growing along the Coastal Plain from Southeastern Virginia up the Mississippi River floodplain to Kentucky. 

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

Even in the Winter season, the leaves are the fastest way to identify the tree.  The leaves are narrow and long, 2-4 inches long and 1/2 to 1 inch wide and may be rounded or tapered before flaring out gently along the length of the blade.  The rough bark pattern becomes smoother on the upper trunk and along the major limbs.  Unlike most Oaks the leaves of the Laurel Oak easily break when bent.  The acorn is 1/2 inch long and almost perfectly rounded, 1/4 of the nut is enclosed by a saucer shaped cup.  Acorns take two full years to mature.  

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

Very similar to the Diamondleaf Oak, although the leaves differ on the lower surfaces, vein axils and habitat.  The Bluejack Oak is another similar species however their leaves have a blue or gray tint.  

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Japanese Pagoda Tree - Styphnolobium japonicum

Japanese Pagoda Tree - Styphnolobium japonicum, is recognized by the combination of  pinnate leaves, white or yellow to white flowers and yellow to brown, necklace like legume.  It is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of about 60-65 feet tall. Growing in an erect form with a single trunk and broad crown.  It was introduced from Asia and is cultivated and now naturalized from Pennsylvania and Ohio in the North to North Carolina in the South. 

Image Citation: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft.,

The Styphnolobium or Necklacepods is a small genus, made up of only 7 species of shrubs and trees.  The leaves are always alternate and pinnately compound and the flowers bisexual.  The fruit is a very distinct beadlike legume and the seeds are toxic.  The species in this genus have been commonly grouped with the Sophora, unlike the Sophora species, they lack the ability the fix atmospheric nitrogen.  

Image Citation: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft.,

The bark of the Japanese Pagoda Tree is gray-brown and ridged with elongated vertical furrows.  The leaves are alternate and pinnate, the blades are 15-25 cm long and about 11 cm broad.  The leaflets are 7-17 in number alternate and opposite.  The flowers are bisexual and either Corrolla White or Yellow White in color and about 1 cm long each.  The fruit is hairless and yellow-green to light brown in color and in the form of 8-20 cm long legumes with seed compartments that mature in Autumn and persist into Winter.  

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Friday, March 8, 2019

Cherrybark Oak - Quercus pagoda

Cherrybark Oak - Quercus pagoda, is most easily recognized by the combination of leaves with 5-11 marginal lobes and hairy lower surface, large buds and bark that is very similar to that of a Black Cherry.  It is a deciduous tree, potentially reaches heights of 60-80 feet tall.   Growing in an erect upright fashion with a single trunk which is generally clear of branches on the trunk.  The Cherrybark Oak prefers a bottomland, floodplain forest, lower slopes, river beds and other areas that are subject to periodic flooding.  The Overcup Oak is another Oak that is commonly found growing in the same habitat areas, however they are not very similar in appearance having very different leaves and acorns.  

Image Citation: Brian Lockhart, USDA Forest Service,

The leaves of Cherrybark Oak are alternate, simple, ovate or elliptic to nearly obvate.  The upper leaf surface is lustrous and dark green in color hairy when immature.  The lower leaf surface is paler and densely hairy and soft to the touch.  The fruit is in the form of an acorn with a cup that is 3-7 mm deep, brown in color, rounded and striped.  This is one of the largest and fastest growing of all the Southern Oaks.  

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Oysterwood - Gymnanthes lucida

Oysterwood - Gymnanthes lucida (also called the Crabwood), is the only tree native to Florida whos leaves have an eared base.  It grows in an erect form with a single trunk and narrow crown.  It is found in Hammocks in the Florida Keys and Southern Florida only.  A member of the very small genus Gymnanthes which is made up of only 12 species a distributed in the American tropics, Oysterwood is the only member found in North America.  It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches height of only about 30 feet tall.  

Image Citation: Dan Clark, USDI National Park Service,

The bark of the Oysterwood is smooth, sometimes finely fissured, and gray-brown in color. The leaves are alternate, simple, leathery, elliptic with a distinct ear shape at the base.  The flowers are unisexual, with male and female on the same tree.  Flowers are mostly absent of petals and sepals.  Male flowers occur in elongated racemes reaches up to 5 cm long, but remaining shorter then the leaves.  Female flowers are solitary at the tip of a long stalk that arises from the base of the male raceme.  Flowers occur between Summer and Winter annually.  The fruit is rounded, 3 part with a dark brown capsule that reaches up to 12mm in diameter.  

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Southern Red Oak

The Southern Red Oak is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of around 100 feet but sometimes much larger.  It grows in an erect, single trunk with initially a narrow crown that spreads with age.  It is most easily recognized by it's U shaped based and extended sickle or strap like terminal lobe.  It is native to the dry, sandy upland woods, pine lands and sandy loam soils from Delaware to Southern Missouri in the North and Northern Florida, Oklahoma and Eastern Texas in the South.  
Image Citation:  Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

The Southern Red Oaks leaves are alternate, simple, mostly ovate, with a rounded base, and 3-6 bristle tipped lobes, the terminal lobe generally being the longest.  The upper surface is lustrous and dark green in color, the lower surface is a grayish or rusty color.  In the fall the leaves turn brown to yellow in color.  The fruit is an acorn with a shallow cup that encloses less then 1/3 of the acorn, the nut is an orange brown in color generally 1-1.5 cm long.  The bark is dark gray in color mixing in with black with age, it is deeply furrowed, ridged, rough and scaly with blocked plates.
Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

The Southern Red Oak is often confused for the Cherrybark Oak and the Turkey Oak, neither have the Southern Red Oaks signature U shaped leaf base.  The leaves of the Post Oak have a similar U shaped base, but the branches and lower leaf surfaces are visably different covered with a stellate grayish pubescence.  The Southern Red Oak is one of the more common Southern Red Oaks and is often found growing wild in pastures, woodlands and along roadsides in the native range.  It is not very tolerant to drought or low rainfall periods, the leaves when drought stressed turn brown in large patches.  It is most commonly found growing in combination with Loblolly, Longleaf and Virginia Pines, Black, Blackjack and Post Oaks, Gums, and Hickories.  

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Monday, March 4, 2019

Arborvitae - Thuja occidentalis

Arborvitae - Thuja occidentalis is monoecious evergreen tree that generally reaches heights of 40-50 feet tall, although it has the potential to grow much taller in ideal conditions.  It is a native northern Cypress with scale like leaves, and flattened twigs that are grouped in fan shaped sprays with bilaterally symmetric cones.  Found mostly on limestone derived soils, in swampy areas, riparian areas, and on cliff /talus from 0-900 m.  It is common from Ontario and New Brunswick in the north, south through the Appalachians of North Carolina and Tennessee.  It is also commonly called Northern White Cedar, American Arborvitae, Eastern Arborvitae, or Cedar Blanc.

Image Citation: (Foliage) Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

The bark of the Arborvitae is Red-Brown in color and becomes gray with age.  The bark is thin and fibrous becoming fissured and forming long strips with age.  The pollen cones are 1-2 mm long reddish in color. The seed cones are ovoid 9-14 mm long, green maturing to brown with 2 pairs of woody, fertile scales, each one is longer then it is wide.  The leaves are scale like, flattened 1-4 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, pointed and dull yellow-green on the upper and lower surface with visible glands and lateral leaves near twig tips.

Image Citation:  (Bark) Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

It is written that in 1536 an extract from the foliage of the Arborvitae saved the lives of Jacques Cartier and his crew who were suffering from scurvy during their second discovery voyage to Canada,  they in turn named the tree Arborvitae which is Latin for "tree of life".  They brought the tree home with them to Europe, making it the first North American tree to be introduced to Europe.   Since that time, there have been more then 120 cultivars discovered and named.  This sheer number makes it one of the most popular trees in horticulture today.  Arborvitae is also one of the longest lived trees in Eastern North America, it has been documented to live up to 1890 years.

Image Citation: (Row planting) Jason Sharman, Vitalitree,

Arborvitae is a very common planting in both residential and commercial settings.  It is recommended for hardiness zones 3-7 and holds it foliage year round.  This tree adapts very well to both shearing and shaping and naturally grows in a pyramidal shape.  It is often used as a natural fencing or planted in rows to create a hedgerow/screening effect.

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Friday, March 1, 2019

Water Tupelo - Nyssa aquatica

The Water Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica), is best identified by it's combination of wetland habitat and and large very long stalked leaves. They can reach heights upwards of 100 feet tall and are deciduous in their native range. The Water Tupelo grows in a erect and upright form with usually only one single trunk.

Image Citation: Brian Lockhart, USDA Forest Service,

The bark of the Water Tupelo is grey and color and young twigs appear to have more of a reddish tone. The leaves are alternate, simple and ovate or oblong, wedge shaped or even heart shaped in some cases. The male and female flowers generally occur on separate trees and appear in compact clusters in the Spring. The fruit is oblong and dark blue to purple in color, borne singly on a conspicuous stalk, it matures in late Summer to early Fall.

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

The Water Tupelo is native to river swamps, floodplains, and lake margins from Virginia south to Northern Florida, West through Illinois and Southeast through Missouri, Arkansas and Eastern Texas.  The most similar species to the Water Tupelo is the Ogeechee Tupelo (Nyssa ogeche).

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Overcup Oak - Quercus lyrata

The Overcup Oak - Quercus lyrata, (also called Swamp Post Oak, Swamp White Oak, or Water White Oak) is a medium sized southern deciduous tree that does not generally reach heights of more then 60-90 on average.  It grows in an erect form with a single trunk that is usually short in comparison to other Oaks.  The tree generally has a symmetric form with slender, most times with dropping branches, crown of open grown trees are often have lateral branches that spread perpendicular to the trunk.  

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

The name Overcup Oak comes from the fact that the "cup" of each acorn almost completely covers each nut.  The lumber from the Overcup Oak has little commercial value, primarily because of it's spiral grain, frequent knots and tendency to crack or split open during the drying process.   The leaves are alternate, 6-8 inches long and 1-4 inches wide with deep sinuses and 5-9 rounded lobes.  The leaf base usually tapers from a thin point to the widest lobes that occur around the midway point of each leaf.  

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

Most commonly found growing in flooded low land areas, river bottoms or swamps.  It grows best on wetter sites around the Coastal or Gulf Plains from Delaware in the North south from Florida to Eastern Texas and up the Mississippi River bottoms through Southeastern Missouri, Southern Illinois, Southwestern Indiana or Western Kentucky.  

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Swamp Chestnut Oak - Quercus michauxii

The Swamp Chestnut Oak - Quercus michauxii, is a medium to large sized deciduous tree that reaches heights of only 40 feet on average but can grow as tall as 100 feet tall in it's ideal settings (well drained alluvial floodplains).  Regardless of the overall height and site location the crown remains compact.   

Image Citation: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University,

The leaves of this tree range in size from 4-8 inches long.  The leaf blades are leathery in textured and diamond shaped with the widest portions being located two third of the way to the tip of each leaf. Each leaf is coarsely toothed on all sides in a wavy fashion. The leaf surfaces are dark green and smooth while the bottom downy and paler in color.  The bark patterns of the Swamp Chestnut Oak vary and can be tight with shallow parallel ridges/valleys or have long peeling side strips.  The bark of the tree differs in color depending on the location, it is lighter gray in upland settings and dark gray in lowlands. The acorns of the Swamp Chestnut Oak are 1 inch long and light brown in color and sweet to the taste.

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

It is very hard to differentiate between the Swamp Chestnut Oak, Chinkapin Oak and White Oak as they share many of the same characteristics.  Swamp Chestnut Oak grows best in low lying bottomlands that periodically flood whereas the other two grow best in well drained soils.  

The lumber from the Swamp Chestnut Oak is grouped with other White Oaks during lumber production.  It can be used in almost any application from tools to furniture to baskets.  The lumber has a very nice appearance and can be left natural in many applications.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The President's Park at the White House

The President's Park is made up of the lands that surround the White House, equaling just over 82 acres.  The Park includes two trails, one to the North of the White House and one to the South as well as many statues and memorials in honor of our past President's, First Ladies, as well as Military and other Memorials signifying different events and people who have helped shape our nation.  Both trails begin at the White House Visitor Center, which is located at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington D.C.  On both trails you will have great views of the White House, the home and office of the President of the United States and first family. The Park also contains the Ellipse (a large open area surrounded by an oval drive), Haupt Fountains, The Boy Scout Memorial, The National Christmas Tree and The Second Division Memorial - just to name a few.

Many trees have been planted within the park by various Presidents and First Ladies during their time at the White House.  Below is a list of each tree, it's planter as well as a number to identify it on the map below.  Not included on this Map is The National Christmas Tree, Originally planted in 1923, it has moved locations around the grounds as it's predecessors have  declined.

1. Southern Magnolia - Warren G. Harding
2. Southern Magnolia - Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. The Jacqueline Kennedy Garden 
4. Willow Oak - Ronald Reagan
5. Little Leaf Linden - George Bush
6. White Dogwoods x 2 - Hillary Rodham Clinton
7. White Pine - Gerald R. Ford
8. Eastern Redbud - George Bush
9. Northern Red Oak - Dwight D. Eisenhower
10. Patmore Ash - George Bush
11. Purple Beech - George Bush 
12. American Elms - John Quincy Adams / George Bush
13.White Oak - Herbert Hoover
14. Willow Oak - Hillary Rodham Clinton
15. Japanese Maple - Jimmy Carter
16. Japanese Maple - Grover Cleveland 
17. American Elm - William J. Clinton
18. Children's Garden - Lyndon B. Johnson
19. White Dogwood x 3 - Hillary Rodham Clinton
20. Cedar of Lebanon - Jimmy Carter 
21. White Oak - Herbert Hoover
22. Pin Oak - Dwight D. Eisenhower 
23. Little Leaf Linden - William J. Clinton
24. Little Leaf Linden - Franklin D. Roosevelt 
25. Willow Oak - Lyndon B. Johnson
26. Saucer Magnolia x 4 - John F. Kennedy 
27. Rose Garden 
28. Southern Magnolia x 2 - Andrew Jackson
29. Sugar Maple - Ronald Reagan 
30. Fern Leaf Beech - Richard M. Nixon
31. Fern Leaf Beech - Lyndon B. Johnson
32. American Elm - Gerald R. Ford 
33. American Boxwood - Harry S. Truman
34. Red Maple - Jimmy Carter 
35. White Saucer Magnolia x 2 - Ronald Reagan
36. White Oak - Franklin D. Roosevelt
37. Scarlet Oak - Benjamin Harrison

Image Citations: The White House Historic Guide
(The White House Historical Association- Visitors Guide Circa 2001/Bound)

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Tamarind - Tamarindus indica

The Tamarind - Tamarindus indica, is most easily identified by the combination of pinnate leaves, blackened trunk areas, zig zag limbs and variable sized and colored fruit.  The Tamarind is primarily an evergreen or semi deciduous tree that can reach heights of 65-100 feet or more.  The diameter in the United States tends to only reach 5 feet while in it's native range it has been reported as large in diameter as 25 feet.  It was introduced originally from tropical portions of Africa and India and has escaped cultivation and has established itself in Southern Florida.  

Image Citation: Chua Cheng Hong,

The leaf of the Tamarind is alternate, pinnate and 7.5-15 cm long.  The leaflets are in 10-20 pairs even in numbers, oblong and oblique at the base and squared at the apex.  The upper leaf surface is dark green or yellow green in color.  The flowers are bisexual about 2.5 cm in diameter, 4 sepals, 3 petals yellow in color with pinkish streaks and crinkled margins appearing in Spring to early Summer.  

Image Citation: Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University,

A similar species the Wild Tamarind - Lysiloma latisiliquum, also has zig zag twigs and is similar in stature, however it's bark is a paler white-gray in color and it's plat, twisted pods do not vary in size. 

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Friday, February 22, 2019

London Planetree- plantanus x acerfolia

The London Planetree- plantanus x acerfolia - is a hybrid of the Sycamore and the Oriental Plane. London Planetree are large deciduous trees that reach heights of 65-100 feet when mature.  It is one of the most commonly planted street trees in the United States because of it's high tolerance to both polluted air and limited rooting areas.  It possesses a very strong hybrid vigor and grows well in almost all locations, but is not very tolerant to extremely low temperatures.  It has a fairly long life expectancy and in many cases "outgrows" planting location by lifting sidewalks and other surrounding obstacles.  Thought to have been originally grown in Spain during the very early 17th century.  It is recorded in both France and Spain around 1650, and in England from 1680.

The leaves are very similar in shape to the Maple with a tri-lobed appearance.  They are a bright green color when young and are coated with very tiny hairs which disappear by the Summer season.  In the fall the leaves slowly turn to a bright yellow color before falling off.  The bark is almost identical to the Sycamore in appearance, smooth Silver Grey that sheds to show a warm brown shade underneath.  The bark makes for a nice point of interest even in the winter when the leaves are all gone.  The lumber is known as Lacewood and has a very unique and decorative pattern when cut, it is light in color with dark red-brown flecks throughout.  The flowers are borne in one to three dense spherical florescence on a pendulous stem, with male and female flowers occurring on separate stems. The fruit matures in about 6 months, to just under a half inch in diameter, and is made up of a dense spherical cluster of achenes with numerous stiff hairs.  The fruit cluster breaks up slowly over the winter to release the numerous 2–3 mm seeds, this allows for great seed disbursement.

Image Citation (Photos 1-3): Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona,

One of the diseases that has known to significantly effect London Planetrees is Cankerstain.  Thousands of London Planetree have died from Cankerstain in the Eastern United States since the early 1930's.  Cankerstain is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata.  The fungus enters the trunk or branches through weakened areas such as injuries, or saw cuts and moves inward from there.  Once infected death of the entire tree usually occurs within a year or two.  Diseased trees should be removed and destroyed as soon as diagnosed to prevent spread. The London Planetree is also susceptible to Lacebug, Plum Borer and Anthracnose to name a few.
London Planetree are often pruned using a technique called pollarding.   A pollarded tree has a very noticeably different appearance than an unpruned tree, it will appear much shorter with stunted, clubbed branches.   Pollarding requires frequent maintenance (the process must usually be repeated annually), it creates a distinctive shape that is often sought after in plazas, parks, main streets, and other urban areas where overall size and appearance is of great concern.

London Planetree can be found at most local nurseries and is recommended 3A to 10B.  It is very important to plan ahead before planting a London Planetree, take into consideration how big it will be at maturity- 65-100 feet tall in very large!  

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Casuarina / She-Oaks - Casuarina

The Casuarina / She-Oaks - Casuarina is a small genus only including 17 species, only 3 are naturalized in the very Southern half of Florida.  Native to Australia, Indonesia and Asia only, the Casuarina are considered to be one of Florida's most troublesome and aggressive invasive species.  All three of the varieties found in Florida are referred to commonly as Australian Pine which is a direct reference to the similarity in branching.  The leaves are tiny and scale like and encircle the branchlets at regular intervals.  The number of leaves per encircling whorl provide the primary means for distinguishing one species from another.   The Casuarina or Beefwood family is made up of about 90 species, only the Casuarina are found in the United States. Most are evergreen with pine like needles and cone shaped fruit. The flowers are generally uni-sexual, male and female can appear on either the same tree or different tree, depending on the species.

Image Citation: Tony Pernas, USDI National Park Service,

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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),

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,

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), 

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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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Austrian Pine - Pinus nigra (AKA European Black Pine)

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

Image Citation: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft.,

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

Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

Monday, February 18, 2019

White Oak - Quercus alba

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

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

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

Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

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

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Waterlocust-Gleditisia aquatica

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

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

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

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Intricate Hawthorn - Crataegus intricata

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

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

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

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Ohio Buckeye- Aesculus glabra

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

White Ash - Fraxinus americana

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

Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

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

Image Citation: Richard Webb,

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

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Balsam Fir - Abies balsamea

Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea), is a small to medium sized evergreen tree that reaches heights of between 40-60 feet tall and grows in a pyramidal form.   Balsam grows in an upright pyramidal form. It is commercially important within it's native growth range, it is harvested for pulpwood, light frame construction material and as a Christmas tree.  Balsam is a close second to the Fraser as a popular Christmas tree variety, they are very similar to one another in many aspects.   Many types of wildlife, birds and mammals rely on the Balsam Fir for protection from the weather and for food from twigs and seeds. Considered a Canadian tree, it is found growing south through the Northern edges of Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Iowa and most of New England.  

Image Citation: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service,

The short awl shaped needles are flat and long lasting, they have a series of light stripes along the bottom that make the needles appear silver gray from below.  On lower branches needles occur in two rows along sides of the branch, 3/4 - 1 1/2 inches long, spreading in form and not crowded.  On older branches, the needles tend to be shorter and curved upward covering the upper sides of the twigs.  Yields cones 2–4" in length that start out dark purple, turning gray-brown and resinous at maturity. Once the seeds are ripe, the scales fall off, leaving only the central axis of the cone in spike like stems on the branches. Seed crops occur at 2–4 year intervals and when present the small cones stand erect on branches the first year.

Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

Balsam Fir is recommended for hardiness zones 3-5, and is a slow growing gaining less then 12 inches each year.  This variety prefers full sun or partial shade, with four hours of unfiltered light recommended daily and cool, moist, well drained soils.  The Balsam was named for the resin (also called balsam) that is found on the bark ridges and wounds, this resin was used during the civil war to treat wounds.  

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Tamarack- Larix laricina

The Tamarack- Larix laricina, is a deciduous conifer that can reach heights of 100 feet or more. It is native to Canada, Alaska and the Northeastern portion of the United States (South through Cranesville Swamp in Garrett County, Maryland) growing in elevations from 0-1200 m. Tamarack is generally found growing in well drained uplands and acidic soils with other Northern Conifers such as Spruce, Balsam Fir and Jack Pine. Occasionally Tamarack is also found growing in swamp areas of the far North, reaching the Arctic tree line.

Image Citation: Bill Cook, Michigan State University,

The Tamarack has an ovoid or conical crown, slender flexible orange-brown twigs. The leaves are needle like 2-3 cm long, light green in color becoming darker in the summer and then yellowing in Autumn before falling off. The needles are in tufts of 15-25 on each shoot. The pollen cone is spherical 3-4 mm in diameter and born on short shoots. The seed cone is larger 1-2 cm long but also spherical, red when young becoming yellow-brown when mature. Cones generally fall from the tree after maturing or can remain for multiple years in some cases. Tamarack is very intolerant of shade, it can only tolerate some shade during the first several years, but must become dominant to survive. When mixed with other species, it must be in the over story never surviving as an under-story tree. Tamarack is good at self-pruning, and boles of 25 to 30 year old trees may be clear for one-half or two-thirds their length.

Image Citation: Rob Routledge, Sault College,

The Tamarack tree was a very useful resource to the early Native Americans. Native Americans frequently used the Tamarack tree for various wood working and medicinal purposes. The needles were recorded to be made into a tea and used as an astringent. This tea was also used to treat dysentery and diarrhea. The Gum from Tamarack Sap was chewed for indigestion. The inner bark of the Tamarack was finely chopped and applied to burns to assist in healing. The wood was not only burned for firewood, but crafted into canoes, and snow shoes.  The word tamarack comes from the Algonquian and means "wood used for snowshoes."

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Norway Spruce - Picea abies

The Norway Spruce - Picea abies is a small to mid sized evergreen that reaches heights of less then 80 feet tall. The large downward hanging cones and drooping branches make this tree easy to identify. Main branches of the Norway Spruce curve upwards like outstretched arms with secondary branches hanging down like a leather fringe. Native to Europe the Norway Spruce has been planted extensively since colonial times and is considered naturalized throughout the Eastern United States. 

Image Citation: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft.,

The bark of the Norway Spruce is is red-brown to ash gray, cracked in scaly plates that occasionally peel in thin curls. The leaves are in the form of needles from 1/2 to 1 inch long, four sided, sharply pointed, dull green in color and lustrous. Each needle grows from a short stem with a peg like base. The seeds are winged, borne in cones varying in size from 4-6 inches long. Even after releasing the seeds, cones often remain hanging on the tree for a long time.

Image Citation: Norbert Frank, University of West Hungary,

Norway Spruce is recommended for hardiness zones 3-7 and is a relatively fast grower gaining 12-24 inches annually. This tree prefers full sun and should be planted in a location that allows 6-8 hours of full unfiltered light per day. The Norway spruce grows well in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained and/or clay soil types. Norway Spruce support a wide variety of wildlife, they provide winter cover for deer and small game including grouse, hare and woodcock. Song birds, fur bearers, Hawks and Owls also frequent these types of tree for cover, and roosting habitat.  It is widely planted as an ornamental, specimen or Christmas tree.

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