Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Common Hackberry - celtis occidentalis

The Common Hackberry - celtis occidentalis, is a deciduous tree or sometimes large shrub.  It grows primarily in an erect upright fashion with a single trunk and low branching, rounded, broad crown.  The branching habit of the Hackberry can range from slender and horizontal to zig-zag or irregular.  It is native to stream banks, flood plains, wooded hillsides and often found in areas that are moist from 0-1800 m.  In the North they can be found from Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Maine, in the South from North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, West through Wyoming, Colorado, Arkansas, Northern Oklahoma and Northern Texas.  

Most easily recognized by the combination of alternate, simply shaped leaves that are 3-14 cm long and coarsely toothed and the hard rounded single stoned drupe.  The bark is light brown ans silvery gray, divided into narrow ridges with corky wart like growths.  The leaves are alternate, simple, thin, leathery and either broadly ovate, ovate-lanceolate or triangular in shape.  The leaf tips are usually abruptly pointed and the edges are coarsely toothed from mid-blade to the tip.  The upper leaf surface is light green or blue-green and the lower is a paler green.  The flower is greenish in color and tiny, 5 sepals and absent of petals, found in the Spring growing solitary on the axils of the upper leaves.  The fruit is an ellipsoid or rounded single stoned orange-red or purple drupe, with a cream colored stone, maturing in the Fall and shriveling but persisting through winter.



T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org


The Hackberry is recommended for hardiness zones 3-9 and is considered both a shade tree and an ornamental.  On average the Hackberry reaches heights of 40-60 feet tall and the same broad, maximum recorded heights are upwards of 115 feet tall.  It is a fast grower and can gain 12-24 inches in height per year.  Hackberry fruit is a popular food for Winter Birds including the Cedar Waxwing, Mockingbird and Robin.  The tree also is very attractive to many butterfly species including, Comma, Hackberry, Mourning Cloak, Tawny Emperor, Question Mark, and American Snout.





Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Glossy Privet - Ligustrum lucidum

The Glossy Privet (Ligustrum lucidum) is best recognized by it's shrubby growth habit and lustrous v shaped leaf blades, large inflorescence and clusters of blue to black drupes.  The Glossy Privet is a large sized shrub or small tree that can reach heights of up to 20 feet tall.  It generally has multiple trunks, a vase shape and arching or drooping branches.  The Glossy Privet was introduced from Asia and established from cultivation throughout the Southeastern Coastal Plains from South Carolina to Central Florida, West through Eastern Texas.  

Image Citation: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The leaves of the Glossy Privet are opposite, simple, thick and leathery often v shaped with a narrowly elongated tapered point.  The upper portions of the leaves are dark green and hairless, the lower surface is pale and slightly duller in sheen.  The flower is small, white with a slightly greenish hint, tubular with four petals born in conspicuous branching panicles.  The flowers are notably fragrant and are attractive to many pollinators.  The fruit is a blue to black drupe 4-8 mm long that matures in late Summer to early Winter.  

Image Citation: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Privets grow at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24" per year. They prefer full sun or partial shade, a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day. The Privet grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam and well-drained soils.  The Japanese Privet is similar in appearance and is sometimes confused with the Glossy Privet.  The easiest way to decipher between the two is the leaf size which is less then 10 cm on the Japanese Privet and greater then 10 cm on the Glossy Privet.  

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Monday, September 16, 2019

Chinese Elm - Ulmus parvifolia

The Chinese Elm - Ulmus parvifolia - is also referred to as the Lacebark Elm. It is a small to medium deciduous or semi-deciduous tree that reaches heights of 30-60 feet tall on average when mature. It is considered a tough landscape tree and is tolerant to sites that are not ideal for other plantings such as parking lots, street/patio planters and even windswept coastal areas.

Image Citation: Michasia Harris, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The bark is a beautiful combination of greys, reds, and tans that appear in a flaking or lace pattern (hence the name Lacebark Elm). The leaves are small only 2-5 cm long, single toothed and green in color during the growing season. The leaves change to a deep purple-green in the fall. Many Chinese Elms in the United States and Europe retain their leaves into late December or even early January.

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

The Chinese Elm is considered a very tough wood with interlocking grain. This type of Elm wood is used for hardwood floors, tool handles, cabinets, veneers, and furniture making. The lumber takes well to stains and turns well with wood turning machinery but is not easy to carve using hand tools. The heartwood of the Chinese Elm ranges from reddish brown to light flesh color and the sapwood is a very light off-white. The graining of Chinese Elm wood is very beautiful. Freshly cut Chinese Elm is said to have a peppery/spicy odor which is not a trait of any other Elm.

Though a native of Asia (China, India, Taiwan, Japan and North Korea) the Chinese Elm is hardy in zones 5-9 and is used commonly in landscaping as a shade or specimen tree. It's strong qualities and beauty have made it so popular that it can be found planted on every continent except Antartica. There are many different cultivars available and with each the cold hardiness range could vary. The Chinese Elm is very resistant (but not 100% immune) to Dutch Elm Disease, a serious disease that has devestated others in the Elm family.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Golden Chain Tree - Laburnum anagyroides (Golden Rain)

The Golden Chain Tree - Laburnum anagyroides (Golden Rain) is a small deciduous ornamental tree that reaches heights of 30-35 feet tall at maturity.  The Golden Chain grows in a erect, slender form with slightly dropping limbs.  It was native to Europe but has been long cultivated in the United States, common in landscapes along the East Coast especially in Massachusetts, but much more widespread in the West.  Laburnum, commonly called Golden Chain, is a genus of two species of small trees in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae.

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

The leaves are alternate, palmately compound with either 3 ovate or broadly lanceolate leaflets. The flowers are bright yellow in color and are generally 1.5-2 cm long each growing in long, loose, pendant shaped clusters that can range from 10-40 cm long.  The fruit is a slightly hairy plump brown legume that is constricted between the seed compartments.  

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

The wood from the Laburnum family has been used in woodworking, cabinet making, instrument production.  The heartwood is often used as an alternative to ebony or rosewood because of the dark yellow-chocolate coloring.  All parts of the Golden Chain are poisonous, symptoms can include sleepiness, vomiting, convulsive movements, coma, slight frothing of the mouth and unequally dilated pupils. In some cases, diarrhea can be very severe.

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Stewardia (also spelled Stuartia)

The Stewardia (also spelled Stuartia) is a small genus of only 8-20 species of flowering plants in the Theaceae family. They are closely related to the Camellia. They are mostly native to the Eastern portions of Asia including China, Japan, Korea, Laos, Vietnam Myanmar, and Thailand. There are two species native to Southeast North America, from Virginia and Kentucky to the North and Florida through Louisiana in the South. The Stewardia varieties range in size from shrubs to small trees. As trees they can reach heights of 10-65 feet (Asian Varieties) and 10-30 feet (American Varieties).

Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org

One of the most recognizable features is by far their beautiful bark. The smooth bark can range in color from orange, yellow, or brown and peels in fine flakes revealing more depth of colors underneath.The Stewardia are mainly deciduous with a few members being considered evergreen, these are sometimes even categorized into an even smaller genus known as Hartia. The leaves are simply shape and arranged alternately. The leaf edges are serrated and the upper surface is usually glossy. The leaves range in size from 3-14 cm long.

The second most identifiable feature of the Stewardia is the showy flowers. The flowers are large ranging in size from 3-11cm diameter. Each flower is made up of 5-8 petals. Flowering generally occurs in the mid to late summer depending on the region. The flowers are white in color with orange centers, the flowers coloring greatly compliments the bright green leaves.

Image Citation: Cynthia Taylor, Elachee Nature Science Center, Bugwood.org

The genus was named by Carolus Linnaeus in 1753 to honor John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute. The name Stuart was transcribed incorrectly and instead spelled Stewart, leading to the spelling Stewardia. Many publications have used both versions of the spelling with the "Stewardia" version being the most universal, the Stuardia spelling was used more frequently in the 19th century.

The Stewardia requires full to partial sunlight. It prefers wet soil and is not tolerant to drought. It is a slow grower and makes for a beautiful specimen tree it offers year round interest. The recommended hardiness zones are 5-7( or 5-8 depending on variety).

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Sweetbay Magnolia - Magnolia virginiana

The Sweetbay Magnolia - Magnolia virginiana - is native to the Eastern/Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions of the United States, with it's highest "natural" numbers occurring in the South Eastern States of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. It grows naturally most commonly in poorly drained or highly acidic soils that are often subject to flooding. This tree has a vase shaped growth habit and generally reaches 10-20 feet tall at maturity. It is considered a medium to fast grower, gaining an average of 12-24 inches per year when young.

Image Citation: Richard Webb, www.Bugwood.org 

Though it is not as showy as it's counterparts (the more commonly planted ornamental Magnolia's) it offers great interest from May - Late June when it is in bloom. After the initial bloom, some flowers will often continue to sporadically appear late into the summer season, disappearing before the first frost. The blooms are a creamy white in color, highly fragrant and 2-3 inches in diameter. The scent of the flowers is often compared to a light lemon or citrus scent. When the flowers disappear the "fruit" appears in the form of red-orange cones often growing in clusters. This fruit is eaten by a wide variety of animals including Squirrels, Mice, Turkey, Quail and many Songbirds.

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

The leaves are simple oval shape with a slight point at each end (lanceolate). They are a glossy dark green in color with a lighter silvery underside. In some areas of the United States, the leaves are retained throughout the year, because of this it is considered to be semi-evergreen.

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

The Sweetbay Magnolia is hardy in USDA zones 5-9. Some cultivars found at local nurseries may include the Southern (australis), Henry Hicks, and Moonglow.

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Alder trees -Alnus

Alder trees -Alnus  are a very small group of trees and shrub, made up of only 30 varieties most of which are native to the Northern temperate areas. Ten of which are native specifically to North America half of these can be grown as either shrubs or trees. As a whole, Alders rarely grown to over 70 feet tall. They are relatively fast growers and are short lived not recorded to live very often beyond 100 years.

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

Alders are considered part of the larger Birch family since they are very similar in habit and appearance, however there are two things that set them apart from Birch trees. The first is the fruit of the Alder not only resembles a small cone, but when ripe it becomes hard and woody very much like a cone. The second is that the roots of the Alder grow nodules that house nitrifying bacteria which enables these trees to grow well in bare or poor soils that lack the nitrates the plants need to survive. When the leaves of the trees fall each year and decay they enrich the soil, this enables other tree species to eventually grow in these once uninhabitable areas as well.. Red and Gray Alders are commonly planted along the edges of newly constructed roads and in quarry spoils for this very reason. In its native growth range, the Alder is commonly seen as one of the first signs of new growth in previously burned or logged forests. They are also usefully grown along the banks of rivers and ponds as their root systems will extend down into the water creating a stronger bank and helping with erosion control.

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

The Alders wood is durable in water, it is hard and dense in quality. The wood is also used to make charcoal for gunpowder. It has been used for both bank and canal construction.

It is recorded in Welsch Mythology that the Alder fought in the great "Battle of Trees" against the dark spirits of the underworld. When cut the wood of the Alder turns from white to red which is said to signify the tree is bleeding.
Native Americans not only made tools and utensils from the Alders wood but they also extracted and used the red dye from it's wood as well. Twigs, leaf buds, leaves and catkins (both male and female) all have medicinal purposes.