Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Gray Birch - Betula populifolia

The Gray Birch - Betula populifolia- Marshall, is most easily distinguished by it's triangular leaf with flattened base, elongated tip and doubly toothed margins.  It is a deciduous tree that reached heights of about 40 feet.  Generally growing in a multi trunk, curving or leaning fashion it makes for a beautiful focal point in both residential and commercial landscape settings.  

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

The bark of the Gray Birch is red-brown when young, becoming a gray or chalky white when mature.  The bark is smooth and tight, not usually exfoliating like some other Birch (Betula) varieties.  The leaves are alternate, simply shaped, thin and pendulous.  The triangular leaves are often compared in size and shape to those of the Quaking Aspen.  Leaf color ranges from a lustrous green in the Spring to a yellow or yellow-orange in the Fall.  The flower appears in late Spring in the form of a cylindrical catkin.  The fruit is a winged samara with wings broader then the body, they are borne in a narrow, bluntly pointed, erect or drooping structure.

Image Citations (Bark & Leaves): T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

The Gray Birch is native to the North East and Mid Eastern portions of the United States and extreme South Eastern portions of Canada.  It can be found from North Carolina and Virginia in the South, Illinois and Indiana in the West, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario in the North.  It prefers moist, well drained, rocky or sandy forests, abandoned sites (fields, pastures) and can often be found on natural reforestation sites that have been burned, or cleared.  Hybrids of the Gray Birch and Mountain Paper Birch are often called Blue Birch .  

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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, Bugwood.org

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, Bugwood.org

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, September 17, 2018

Engelmann Spruce - Picea engelmannii

The Engelmann Spruce - Picea engelmannii - is a medium/large Evergreen tree.  Growing in a tall and conical form with an average height of 80-130 feet tall, with few recorded to reach heights of over 200 ft.   

Image Citation (Photos 1&2): Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired), Bugwood.org

The bark is Grey, thin, scaly, flaking off in circular sections revealing an Orange color in sections below.  Male flowers are a dark purple and Female are a reddish/purple, the flowers develop into shiny light brown cones that average 2-2.5 inches long.  The cones form at the ends of the twigs during the Spring growth season.  

The Engelmann Spruce is native through Southwest Canada, through the Cascade, Monashee, and Selkirk Mountains, continuing South through the Rocky Mountains and portions of the Pacific Northwest.  It is often confused with the Blue Spruce, White Spruce, Black Spruce, Norway Spruce and Sitka Spruce-many of which take over in growth ranges where the Engelmann leaves off.  The seeds are black with slender brown wings.

Engelmann Spruce wood is harvested for both paper-making and general construction. Wood from slow-grown trees such as this variety growing at high altitudes have a specialized use in the making of musical instruments such as acoustic guitars, harps, violins, and pianos.



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Friday, September 14, 2018

Sweet Birch or Cherry Birch - Betula lenta

The Sweet Birch or Cherry Birch (Betula lenta) is most easily recognized by the combination of fine and sharply toothed leaf margins, wintergreen scent, scales on the cone-like fruit and dark brown almost black bark.  It is a deciduous tree that can reach heights up to 65 feet, but usually does not exceed 3.5 feet in diameter.  The tree grows in an upright form with a generally single erect straight trunk and a rounded crown.  The Sweet or Cherry Birch is native to the United States.  It prefers rich, moist soil, cool forest areas, mountain slopes, Appalachian hardwood forests.  It can be found naturally occurring from New York and Maine in the North to Northern Georgia, Alabama and Central Mississippi in the South.  It is not often confused with the closely related Yellow Birch as the bark is significantly different in not only color but texture as well (Yellow Birch has a yellowish exfoliating bark).

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


The bark of the Sweet/Cherry Birch is a dark gray brown to brown black in color, it is smooth when young becoming furrowed with age.  The twigs exude a winter green aroma and taste when scraped or injured.  The leaves are alternate, simple, paperlike in texture, obvate and and heart shaped at the base.  The leaf margins are finely and sharply toothed.  The upper surface is a dark green while the lower surface is a more pale green.  The flowers occur in make and female catkins, the male are reddish brown and 7-10 cm long, while the female are pale green and 1.5-2.5 m long both occur in the late Spring.  The fruit is a winged samara born in a scaly erect egg shaped structure that matures in late Summer or early Fall.

               
                                                                            

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




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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Flowering Dogwood - Cornus florida

The Flowering Dogwood - Cornus florida - is by far the most common of all Dogwoods, there are about 40 varieties growing in mostly temperate regions of North America, Europe and Asia. Of the 40 varieties growing worldwide only 14 varieties of these trees and shrubs are native to America. Dogwoods for the most part are considered a small deciduous tree or shrub, they have a very slow growth rate and generally do not achieve great age or size. This tree is also considered a soil improver as the leaf litter tends to decompose more rapidly then other tree species.

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

The crown grows in a bushy and open fashion with small green leaves that change to a beautiful red in the fall. The bark has a almost square pattern and is reddish-brown in color, in winter this is the main way to distinguish a Flowering Dogwood from other varieties of Dogwood such as the Kousa.

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

The berries are a glossy bright red and are most showy when the leaves begin to turn, they grow in tight clusters at the end of a long stalk. The flesh of the fruit is mealy and bitter and encloses 1-2 seeds. Dogwood berries are poisonous to humans if consumed so NEVER try to taste these berries! 

Image Citation: David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The flowers are generally 3-4 inches across and are made up of 4 large bracts, surrounding a mass of tiny yellow-green true flowers, appearing before the leaves in early Spring, a welcome sight after a long winter! 

Image Citations (Left Photo) : Wendy VanDyk Evans, Bugwood.org  & (Right Photo): Robert L. Anderson, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org    
                         
Native Americans used various parts of the Dogwood as a natural medicine. The root bark was used as a pain reliever, astringent, and anti-diarrhea agent. The flowers were infused to relieve fever and sooth colic pain. The bark was used as a fever reducer and often chewed to aid with sore throat.

The Flowering Dogwood is a widely grown ornamental tree found at most nurseries. It thrives in zones 5-9.  Well drained soil is best for Flowering Dogwoods as they are not tolerant to drought conditions or saturated soils.  Full establishment of a new planting can take anywhere from 6-12 months for each inch of trunk diameter.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Eastern Redbud - Cercis canadensis

The Eastern Redbud - Cercis canadensis, is most easily recognized by the combination of Magenta flowers, flattened legumes and heart shaped leaves. It is a deciduous tree that ranges in height from 25-45 feet tall. Growing in an erect from with a single trunk, low branches and a rounded crown. It is native throughout the East from Ontario, New York and Massachusetts in the North and Central Florida to Texas in the South. It prefers moist or dry woodlands, sloped area and roadsides.

Image Citation: Carl Dennis, Auburn University, Bugwood.org

The Eastern Redbud is easy to identify by it's flowers, leaves, legumes and bark. The bark is gray-brown in color and mostly smooth. The leaves are alternate, simple, unifoliolate, heart shaped or abruptly pointed. The leaves are dull in sheen, medium to dark green in color, hairless, and paler in color on the lower surfaces. The flowers are bi-sexual 10-12 mm long, 5 sepals, 5 petals, 10 stamens, light to dark pink or magenta in color appearing in Spring prior to the new leaves. The fruit is a flattened and oblong legume that is 6-10 cm long and appears in late Summer to Autumn.

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

Cercis is a small genus of only 8 species, 2 of which are native to North America and most are often low branching. The Eastern Redbud is most often used as an ornamental and is often planted in combination with the Flowering Dogwood. The Eastern Redbud is recommended for hardiness zones 4-9. This tree is considered both a flowering tree and an ornamental tree and is planted for both reasons. It is typically planted for both its visual interest and beautiful showing of Spring flowers.
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Friday, September 7, 2018

Guava - Psidium guajava

The Guava, Psidium guajava is best recognized by the combination of stiff opposite leaves with very prominent venation, scaly bark and distinctive fruit.  It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches heights of only 15 feet.   It grows in an upright fashion with a spreading crown.  The bark is smooth and red-green in color with bark that shreds in thin plates.
  
Cesar Calderon, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

The leaves are opposite and simple in shape, thick, leathery, wedged at the base and with an abruptly shaped point on the tip.  The flowers have 5 petals and are white in color.  The fruit is green, yellow or pink in the form of a berry that is rounded or pear shaped.   

The fruit of a Guava is different by species and can range from roughly skinned with a bitter flavor or soft skinned and sweet.  In Mexico the guava is made into beverages, sauces, candies, fruit bars, desserts and dried snacks.  In many countries the fruit is eaten raw like an Apple of quartered and eaten with salt and pepper or served in salads.  In Pakistan the Guava is the national winter fruit.  In the Philippines Guava is used in cooking sinigang.  In Asia & Taiwan it is eaten with sweet and sour plum powder mixtures.  


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