Friday, April 3, 2020

American Beech - Fagus grandifolia

The American Beech - Fagus grandifolia can be most easily identified by the combination of smooth gray to almost blue gray bark, coarsely toothed leaves and elongated torpedo shaped buds. It is a deciduous tree that can reach heights of near 100 feet if given the right location and ideal growing conditions. Generally growing in an erect upright fashion with a single main trunk and broad open crown. Native to rich woodlands, moist slopes and deciduous forests the American Beech can be found growing from New Brunswick and Ontario in the North South through Texas and Florida between 0-1250 m. It is believed that the best specimens are found growing in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys where growing conditions are ideal.

Image Citation (Beech from below): David Stephens,
Image Citation (Trunk of Mature Beech): Richard Webb,

Image Citation (Close up of Leaves): Rob Routledge, Sault College,

Even without leaves the bark of the American Beech sets it aside and makes it easy to identify, smooth in texture and gray to almost blue gray in color it is a stark contrast to the Oak and Pines generally found growing nearby. With age this smooth bark tends to darken and develop cankers or molten in appearance. The leaves are equally interesting, simply shaped ovate or elliptic they are coarsely toothed on the edges. The upper leaf surface is lustrous and dark green in color, while the lower surface is paler and hairy. In the fall the leaves begin to shift from green to yellow, then a lustrous brown and finally a pale brown before falling and making room for new leaves in the Spring. The flowers are tiny, the males are borne in a globular head at the end of a silky stalk, the female are inconspicuous borne singly or in pairs. The fruit is a bristly 4 compartment cupule that usually contains 2 angled or ridged nuts (occasionally 1 or 3).

Image Citation (close up of bark): Wendy VanDyk Evans,
Image Citation (Fall Foliage):T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University,

The American Beech is readily available at most nurseries within hardiness zones 4-9, it is a slow grower and can be planted as both a shade tree and an ornamental. Full sun is ideal for the American Beech - meaning it should get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day. Be sure when planted that there is ample space available as when full grown the American Beech can reach heights of 100 feet tall with a spread of 40-50 feet. Beechnuts are frequently eaten by birds and small mammals, they serve as an important food for both chipmunks and squirrels.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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,

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,
Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

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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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Sugar Maple - Acer saccharum

The Sugar Maple - Acer saccharum (also called Hard Maple, or Rock Maple in certain regions) is a deciduous tree that is well known for it's lovely vibrant fall coloring, large size, larger leaves and winged fruit. Growing in an upright erect form, generally with one single trunk, the Sugar Maple makes for a lovely focal point in any setting. It is Native to much of the Eastern portion of North America from Nova Scotia, Ontario and North Dakota, South from Georgia, Northern Alabama, Northern Louisiana, and Eastern Oklahoma. It slightly overlaps the Southern Sugar Maple in range in the Southern most growth areas only (LA, GA, & AL). The Sugar Maple is a slow growing, long lived tree with specimens recorded as old as 400 years. Commonly found as a tree of importance in various Eastern Forest types including, Hemlock/Northern hardwoods, Beech/Sugar Maple, Sugar Maple/Basswood, Cherry/Maple, and Red Spruce/Sugar Maple.

Image Citation (Fall Coloring) Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service,

Image Citation: Jason Sharman, Vitalitree,

The bark of the Sugar Maple is smooth and Gray when young, becoming irregularly furrowed, scaled and darker with maturity. The leaves are opposite, simple, thin, firm and broader then they are long. Upper leaf surfaces are a dark yellow/green in color, palmately veined with a paler yellow/green or whitened underside. Leaf blades range in size from 7-20 cm long and broad. In the fall the leaves turn a brilliant Red, Yellow or Orange in color.  The flowers of the Sugar Maple are tiny they contain 5 sepals that are green/yellow in color, occurring in clusters near the leaf axil in Mid-Late Spring on thin/long drooping stems. The fruit occurs in early Fall in the form of paired samaras that are 2-3 cm long, the pair of samaras almost always forms a U shape where connected.

Image Citation (Flowers) Joseph Berger,

Image Citation: John Ruter, University of Georgia,

The Sugar Maple is a very popular tree and can be found at almost any nursery in hardiness zones 3-8. It can be grown as both a shade tree and an ornamental, be careful when planting this tree as although it is a slow grower it will get very large with age 65-75 feet tall and 40-50 feet broad (canopy). The Sugar Maple prefers partial shade or full sun and deep, well-drained, acidic to slightly alkaline soil. Sugar Maple also has a moderate drought tolerance. Sugar Maples are commonly browsed upon by Whitetail Deer, Squirrels, Moose and Snowshoe Hares. Sugar Maple is the Official State tree of New York, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Vermont (more states than any other tree).

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Pin Oak - Quercus palustris

The Pin Oak - Quercus palustris is a large deciduous tree that has been recorded as present in the United States since at least 1770.   It is most commonly planted along highways, parking lots, open spaces as well as in ornamental in landscapes as a specimen tree.  The Pin Oak generally has a single erect trunk,  and thin pin like twigs.  It's lower branches if left natural can often sweep the ground,  the middle branches grow in a more horizontal fashion, while the uppers are horizontal then ascending in the upper crown.  The Pin Oak when mature has an almost symmetrical, conical or cylindrical appearance.

Image Citation: David Stephens,

A rapid grower, Pin Oak is one of the fastest growing Oaks.  This species can grow on average 12-15 feet in a window of just 5-7 years.  In the Spring the foliage is a dark green color, shifting to russet-bronze and red in the Autumn.  The leaves  are alternate, have 5-7 deep narrow primary lobes, each containing a few bristle like teeth/tips.  They are a lustrous dark yellowy green on the surface, changing to a bright scarlet red in the Fall.  The bark is Grayish brown with small ridges, that over time become more furrowed.  The twigs are slender and a lustrous reddish brown color.  The terminal buds are also a reddish brown color ranging from 2-5 mm long, egg shaped, and pointed on the tip.  The fruit is an acorn, with a shallow cup that is 3-6 mm deep which encloses only about 1/4 of the nut.

Image Citation: Richard Webb,

It grows well in zones 4-9 and is one of the most commonly used native Oaks for landscape purposes. This tree tolerates wet soils and prefers moist rich soil, but does have a sensitivity to high PH. The flowers are similar to those on a Red Oak, acorns that are nearly round and brown when ripe.  The Pin Oak is readily available at most nurseries and would make a beautiful sturdy addition to any landscape.  It is found native in lowland woods, river bottomlands, swamp margins, poorly drained uplands, normally found naturally between 500-1000 meters, also widely planted as a street and yard tree above 1000 meters.  Generally found from Massachusetts and New York in the North, Virginia, small portions of North Carolina and Tennessee in the South on West through Kansas and Oklahoma.  

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Melaleuca - Melaleuca quinquenervia

Melaleuca, Melaleuca quinquenervia, is most easily recognized by the combination of whitish peeling bark, white bottle brush shaped inflorescence and narrow 5 veined leaves. It is an evergreen tree that reaches heights of between 50-90 feet tall.  Generally growing in an erect form with a single trunk and narrow crown that is often open and irregularly branched.  It is well established in hammocks, pine lands, disturbed woodlands and along roadsides mostly in Southern Florida and sparsely in Southeastern Louisiana. This variety originated in Australia and Melanesia.  

Image Citation (In Bloom): Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental,

Melaleuca quinquenervia is considered to be one of Florida's top three invasive species.  It covers thousands of hectares in tropical and subtropical regions.  Eradication efforts have been largely unsuccessful due to it's aggressive growth and rapid establishment.  It has even reestablished itself after forest fires that have wiped out all other growth.

Image Citation (Melaleuca Infestation):Randy Westbrooks, Invasive Plant Control, Inc.,

The leaves of the Melaleuca are alternate, simply shaped, slightly thickened and stiff.  When crushed the leaves have a resinous odor when crushed, narrowly elliptic, or oblanceolate with a evenly tapered base and tip.  The flower is bisexual with 5 tiny sepals and petals, white in color and circular shaped 2-3 mm broad, filaments are white.  They are produced closely together, sometimes interuppted, internodal clusters 5-15 cm long, giving the appearance of a bottle brush. The fruit which occurs almost year round is a roundish or square capsule that is stalkless and crowded encircling the stem between leaf nodes, seeds are brown.

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Wednesday, March 25, 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,

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 Vid├ęki, Doronicum Kft.,

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Camphortree - Cinnamomum camphora

Camphortree - Cinnamomum camphora, is a small to mid sized evergreen that can reach heights of up to 60 feet tall.  It grows in an erect form generally with a single short trunk, sometimes producing several secondary trunks from the base.  The tree generally has a dense crown that grows in an oval form, with lustrous often low spreading branches that become more or less ascending with time.  Native to Asia, it is now naturalized on disturbed sites, vacant lots, roadsides, upland woodlands, and fence lines from Southeastern North Carolina, South through Georgia and Florida and West through Eastern Texas.  There are over 200 species of Cinnamomum recorded, most of which are native to India, China and Japan.  

Image Citation: Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental,

The leaves of the Camphortree are alternate, simple in shape, and somewhat leathery at maturity.  The leaves and bark give off a camphor like aroma when crushed.  The bark is dark cinnamon brown to dark steel in color and becomes deeply furrowed with age.  The flowers are bisexual and tiny in size 1-2  mm in diameter, with 6 green-white or creamy tepals occurring in the Spring annually.  The fruit is a lustrous black drupe 8-9 mm in diameter and born in a cup like receptacle, maturing in Autumn to Winter annually.

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

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