Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Mountain (Fraser) Magnolia - Magnolia fraseri

 The Mountain (Fraser) Magnolia - Magnolia fraseri is most easily identified by the combination of gray colored trunk, leaves that are eared near the base and hairless buds and twigs. It is also referred to in some areas as the Mountain Magnolia.  Native to rich woods and cove forests from 300-1520 m, this species is confined mostly to the Southern Appalachians, found in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Northern Georgia. It is similar in appearance to the Pyramid Magnolia and is often only distinguished by the native range and habitat.




Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org

The Fraser Magnolia is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of about 80 feet tall. It grows in an upright and erect form with either a single or multiple trunks, the crown is spreading, irregular and most often high branching. The bark is gray to gray-brown in color and smooth or just slightly roughened, sometimes it is compared to concrete in appearance. The leaves are produced in whorl like clusters near each branch tip, they are simply shaped, ovate or nearly spatulate (spoon shaped). The leaves are broadest near the tip becoming more narrow closer to the base which is eared. The upper leaf surface is green and hairless, while the lower is paler in color. The entire leaf becomes a coppery brown at maturity. The flower is creamy white in color, 16-22 cm in diameter, fragrant and showy usually with 9 tepals each occurring in late Spring annually. The fruit is in a cone like form, shaped like a small cucumber, ranging in size from 6-13 cm long. Fruit is green when young, changing to pink when mature. Once mature each fruit splits to reveal bright red seeds that are 7-10 mm long. Fruit matures in late Summer or early Fall each year.



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

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Eugenia (Stoppers) - Eugenia

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




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

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

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


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

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



Image Citation (Eugenia uniflora)
Juan Campá, MGAP, Bugwood.org

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



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

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Friday, November 13, 2020

Bald Cypress - Taxodium distichum

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




Image Citation:
Joseph LaForest, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

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


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


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Thursday, November 12, 2020

Mahaleb Cherry - Prunus Mahaleb

 The Mahaleb Cherry - Prunus Mahaleb, is the only Cherry that grows in the Eastern portion of North America with primarily rounded or circular leaves.  It is a small deciduous tree that only reaches heights of 25-35 feet tall.  It was originally introduced from Eurasia and has become naturalized along roadsides, fields and vacant lots from 0-1000 m.  Found in the Eastern portion of the United States from Massachusetts, New York and Ontario in the North, South through North Carolina and and Oklahoma.  It is also found established in scattered areas in the West.  



Image Citation: Jan Samanek, Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org

The leaves are alternate, simply shape, oval to nearly circular in shape, the base rounded and tip pinched to a sharp point.  The upper leaf surface is lustrous and dark green in color, while the lower is paler and hairy at the mid-vein. The flower averages 18 mm in diameter with 5 petals, white in color, circular in shape.  The fruit is black or red-black in color, a rounded drupe that averages 8 mm in diameter.  


Image Citation: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Burning Bush - Euonymus alatus

 This one is a common sight this time of year, with lovely red fire like coloring the Burning bush - Euonymus alatus is a well loved addition to many fall landscapes.




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

Recognized by the combination of opposite leaves, paired purple fruits, bushy form and winged stems. The Burning Bush is a deciduous shrub or rarely small tree that can reach heights of up to 14 feet tall, though usually grown in shrub form. Naturally it grows mainly in a bushy form with multiple trunks and a broad crown. Burning bush was introduced to the United States but has become established in areas from New Hampshire to Ontario in the North, Missouri and Oklahoma in the West, and Georgia in the South. This variety is even considered to be invasive in the Southeast.



Image Citation: Richard Gardner, UMES, Bugwood.org

The bark is light gray at first becoming dark gray with age. The leaves are opposite, simple in shape, thin, elliptic, wedge shaped at the base, and medium to dark green in color. In the fall the leaves turn a beautiful crimson or purple-red in color. From a distance many say it appears to be burning, hence the common name "Burning bush". The flowers are green-yellow in color and approximately 9 mm in diameter with 4 petals. The fruit is red-brown or purple in color and in the form of a 10-13 mm in diameter capsule. The fruit appears in late Autumn or early winter and has a bright red outer layer.



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


Burning bush can be found at most local nurseries and makes a lovely addition to any landscape. The Burning bush is recommended for hardiness zones 4-8. The Burning bush prefers full sun to full shade and can be planted in a variety of soil types including sand, loam and clay. It prefers moist, well drained soils and does not adapt well to poorly drained locations.

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Monday, November 9, 2020

Lilac Chastetree - Vitex agnus-castus

 The Lilac Chastetree - Vitex agnus-castus was originally introduced from Eurasia but has naturalized through the South and Middle to South Eastern United States.  It is found from Southeastern Pennsylvania and Kentucky in the North to Florida and Texas on West through California in the West.  It is distinguished by the combination of palmately compound, 5 parted leaves, and lavender flowers.   It is a deciduous strongly aromatic shrub or small tree that reaches heights of 10-25 feet on average and grows in an erect form.  Generally a single trunk but sometimes found with multiple stems, a rounded crown that is dense in shape.




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

The bark is reddish brown or brown in color, smooth when young becoming finely fissured and scaly with age.  The leaves are opposite, palmately compound, with 3-9 leaflet but usually 5, lanceolate tapering to a sharp tip.  The upper leaf surface is dull green in color and hairless moderately lustrous, the lower surface is grayish green in color.  The flowers are about 1 cm long,  5 petals, lavender, blue or white in color.  The flowers are born in erect terminal clusters that are 12-18 cm long.  The flowers occur in the Summer before the fruit which appears in late summer to early fall. The fruit is round, dry, hard drupe that contains a 4 parted stone.  
  


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

The Vitex - Chasetrees are a family of more then 250 species distributed in mostly tropical or subtropical regions of the world.  Several are grown as ornamental and other are used for lumber production.  Only 4 of the Vitex have naturalized in the East.  There are both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs.



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Friday, November 6, 2020

West Indian Mahogany - Swietenia mahagoni

 The West Indian Mahogany - Swietenia mahagoni, is best recognized by the fissured brown bark, leaves with curved leaflets and large fruit capsule.  It is a evergreen or semi deciduous tree that reaches heights of 50-85 feet and grows in an erect fashion with a broad crown.  It is native to subtropical hammocks, commonly grown in private gardens, along roadsides and in highway medians in South Florida.  The Swietenia is a small genus of only 3 species distributed in tropical West Africa and tropical America.  



Image Citation:  By I, J.M.Garg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2602302

The bark of the West Indian Mahogany is brownish and smooth when young, becoming reddish brown and fissured at maturity.  The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, absent of a terminal leaflet, with blades of 6-8 cms long and 4-8 leaflets (rarely as many of 20), usually recurved and asymmetric at the base.  The upper leaf surfaces are a lustrous green, while the underside is a more yellow-green or brown-green.  The flowers are uni sexual, 5-7 mm in diameter, 5 sepals, 5 petals and are orange-yellow or green-yellow in color.  Male and female flowers both appear on the the same tree, the male have long non functional pistils, the females short pistils, 10 stamens with filaments fused into a tube surrounding the pistil.  The fruit are a large egg shaped brown capsule that ranges in size from 6-13 cm long, each fruit splits into 5 parts that release numerous flat winged seeds.  Both the fruit and flowers occur/appear year round.  


Image Citation: By I, J.M.Garg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2602298


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