Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tree Destinations: (Giant Sequoia - Sequoiadendron giganteum) Sequoia National Park, Sierra Nevada Mountains of California

The "Giant Sequoia" - Sequoiadendron giganteum - is most well known for it's sheer size. They are the largest single living thing on the planet, growing on average from 164-297 feet tall in ideal conditions. They are also among the oldest with some being recorded (based on ring measurements) at over 3500 years old. They grow in a very small native area on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Generally the Giant Sequoias grow in groves or natural stands, currently there are only 68 known groves that exist. Groves range in size from 6-20,000 trees each. Giant Sequoias have been successfully grown outside of their native range in The Pacific Northwest, Southern United States, Western & Southern Europe, British Columbia, Southeast Australia and New Zealand. There are some specimen trees planted in parks and private lands around the world that reach great heights (191 feet is record outside of the US near Ribeauvillé, France), but none nearly as grand as the Giants growing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.


Image Citation (Yosemite General): Brian Lockhart, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The sheer size of this type of tree, has lead to extensive research regarding ability to maintain and supply water within such a large living structure. Osmotic pressure can only force water a few meters then the tree's xylem must take over, still it is not possible for these capillaries to transport water hundreds of feet in the air even accounting for the sub-pressure caused by the leaves water evaporation. Sequoias have the ability to supplement their water intake from the ground or soil by using moisture in the air, generally this comes in the form of fog which frequently blankets the native growth range .

Image Citation (Cone and Foliage): Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona, Bugwood.org

Over time, the Giant Sequoias have developed a resistance to fire damage. The first way is because their extremely thick bark is almost impenetrable to fire damage. Secondly the heat from fire causes the cones to dry and then open, disbursing seeds which will go onto become new seedlings repopulating what may have been lost below. Fire damage also wipes out any small ground cover that may have competed for sunlight and nutrients the new seedlings require to thrive. On their own without help from fires the Giant Sequoias seed have trouble germinating as shade loving species tend to choke the new seeds out.

The leaves are evergreen, awl shaped 0.12-0.24 inches in length and arranged spirally on each shoot. The bark is very furrowed, thick and fibrous. The seed cones are 1.5-2.8 inches long and mature in 18-20 months, though they usually remain closed and green for upwards of twenty years. Cones are made up of 30-50 spirally arranged scales, each scale containing several seeds. Each individual cone can produce approximately 230 seeds each. Seedlings grow from seeds but do not begin to produce cones until at least their 12th year. Once mature the tree does not produce shoots on their stumps as the Coast Redwood does, they do however sprout from boles after fire damage.

Image Citation (Bark looking Up) Caleb Slemmons, National Ecological Observatory Network, Bugwood.org



Image Citation (General Sherman): Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The most well known Giant Sequoias in the United States are:
1. General Sherman (located in the Giant Forest, 274.9 feet tall)
 2. General Grant (located in General Grant Grove, 268.1 feet tall)
3. President (located in the Giant Forest, 240.9 feet tall)
4. Lincoln (located in the Giant Forest, 255.8 feet tall)
5. Stagg (located in Alder Creek Grove, 243 feet tall)
6. Boole (located in Converse Basin, 268 feet tall)
7. Genesis (located in the Mountain Home Grove, 253 feet tall)
8. Franklin (located in the Giant Forest, 223.8 feet tall)
9. King Arthur (located in Garfield Grove, 270.3 feet tall)
10. Monroe (located in the Giant Forest, 247.8 feet tall)
The Giant Forest is home to over half of the worlds Giant Sequoia Trees. Located in Sequoia National Park, The Giant Forest should be included as a top "to do" on any tree lovers list. You can visit there website directly at: http/www.visitsequoia.com/giant-sequoia-trees.aspx

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Tree Destinations: Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, England (English Oak)




There is a very unique English Oak tree (Quercus Robur) growing in Sherwood Forest near the small village of Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, England which is rumored to be where Robin Hood and his men would hide out, in it's hollow trunk sections. It is called the Major Oak and is estimated to be between 800 - 1000 years old. In 2014 it was even crowned "England's Tree of the Year", because of this honor it will represent England in the running for the "European Tree of the Year" against entries from both Wales and Scotland.

Image Citation: www.RobinofSherwood.org

Major Oak was not always the name this tree was called. It has also be recorded as the Queen Oak, and the Cockpen Tree. The current name "Major Oak", originated from Major Hayman Rooke's very popular book about the ancient Oaks of Sherwood Forest from 1790.

Estimated to weigh around 23 tons, it has a diameter of over 33 feet and a crown spread of 92 feet - it is claimed ot be the largest Oak tree in all of England.  The Major Oak has been in a conservation status since the early 1900's. When visiting the tree today you will find a fence surrounding the base of the tree which serves as protection for it's roots and truck from foot traffic. During the Edwardian period there were chains used to support the branches and lead sheets around the trunk, these were replaced in the 1970's by wooden supports, which were replaced by the steel support rods that remain in place today.

From the Sherwood Forest Visitor Center you are a 10-15 minute walk from this Majestic Old Major Oak. The visitor center is open daily (the hours vary by season) and allows you to explore not just the Major Oak but the 450 acre forest that is home to an estimated 900+ veteran Oak trees. If that is not enough to draw you in there is also an Annual Robin Hood Festival in August that celebrates the Legendary Home of Robin Hood and his Men.

To learn about other Destination Trees visit our website www.ArundelTreeService.com or our blog www.MeetATree.com

Friday, July 19, 2019

Tree Destinations: El Arbol del Tule (Montezuma Cypress): Oaxaca, Mexico

"The Tree of Tule" or "El Arbol del Tule" as it is called in the Mexican state of Oaxaca where it is located, is among one the the largest trees in the world. It is a Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum), which was once very abundant in Mexico. Montezuma Cypress are closely related to the Swamp and Bald Cypress.  It is said to be large enough to shelter upwards of 500 people and requires 30+ people with hands outstretched to circle the trunk. 

Image Citation: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

The Arbol del Tule has the stoutest trunk of any known living tree in the world. The trunk when last measured in 2005 had a circumference of an astounding 137.8 feet and a diameter of 46.1 feet. The trunk is heavily bustressed which makes it very hard to get an accurate measurement. The height of the tree has been measured at 115-140 feet depending on the type of measurement used. At one point it was thought to be multiple trees that had grown together, though a DNA test proved it is only one tree.   The estimated age of the tree is somewhere between 1200 and 3000 years old.     In 1990, there was a report released that showed the tree is slowly declining because of the heavy pollution and nearby traffic that travels over the roots daily.  The Arbol del Tule is simply put a living & growing wonder of our world!

Image Citation: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

The tree was once guarded heavily by the Government and was considered a natural wonder in the early 1900's, however security for the tree is now more relaxed.  The tree is located on the Church grounds in the town center of Santa María del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.  It is a very popular tourist attraction and the fee for entrance to get a "closer' look is 10 pesos.  Young children are often used as mini tour guides to help point out the many animal shapes "seen" in the trees extremely rigid and textured trunk.  Santa Maria del Tule can be reached by car by traveling east on Highway 190 from Oaxaca, Mexico. Tour buses travel round trip from Oaxaca to Santa Maria del Tule seven days of the week. Local residents celebrate the famous Tule Tree on the second Monday in October, which was set aside as a holiday to celebrate this amazing tree, the celebration is often said to be as large as the tree itself.  Though the Arbol del Tule tree is the most famous because of it's size, there are actually 7 other large Montezuma Cypress growing in this one town that also deserve a visit (if you are in town)!  Learn more or plan you visit at: http://www.oaxaca-mio.com/


Image Citation (Church/Town Center Historical Plaque): Santa Maria Del Tule - Asociación Mexicana de Arboricultura,  www.arboricultura.org


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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tree Destinations: Ashikaga Flower Park in Japan

Japan’s largest wisteria located in Ashikaga Flower Park in Japan, is certainly not the largest in the world, but it still measures in at an impressive half an acre and dates back to around 1870.  Is also referred to as the most beautiful Wisteria in the World.  The blooms range in color from pale red, purple, yellow and white depending on variety.
     
Park Description from Roadtrippers.com : "Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture is famous for its wisteria blossoms. Elaborate supports to the three big wisteria trees cover an area of about 1,000㎡. The best times to visit Ashikaga Flower Park is from mid April to mid May. It is a truly unique attraction; the blossom starts with light pink blooms first in the season, followed by purple wisteria, white and then yellow. Just before you decide to visit the park, I recommend to check the official website for the latest status of the blossoms."
 
Image Citations (Photos 1 & 2): Roadtrippers.com

This is not the home of the largest Wisteria vine in the world, the record holder measures in at about 4,000 square meters, and is located in Sierra Madre, California.  Although wisterias can look like trees, they’re actually vines. Because the vines have the potential to get very heavy, these particular plants entire structures are held up on steel supports, allowing visitors to walk below their canopies and bask in the pink and purple light cast by its beautiful hanging blossoms.

Price for entry into the park depends on the season and what/how many plants are in bloom.  The Wisteria bloom in Ashikaga Flower Park from April to May annually.  The park is a popular tourist destination so be sure to plan your visit well.  For more on Ashikaga Flower Park in Japan visit the parks website (English Version)   http://www.ashikaga.co.jp/english/  or in person

Ashikaga Flower Park

329-4216 Tochigi Prefecture
Totigi [Tochigi] 329-4216 Japan
+81-284-91-4939

Meet More Trees, Flowers and Shrubs on our website www.ArundelTreeService.com or follow our blogs www.MeetaTree.com

Monday, July 15, 2019

Cashew Tree - Anacardium occidentale

The Cashew Tree  Anacardium occidentale is a tropical evergreen that produces the Cashew seed and Cashew Apple.  Reaching heights of around 45 feet it is not a large tree by any means.  The trunk is generally short and irregular in form.  The dwarf variety is considered to be more profitable having earlier production maturity and higher yields at around 20 ft tall.  Native to Brazil, Portuguese colonist were recorded to export the tree and nuts as early as 1550.  Currently there is major Cashew production occurring in Vietnam, India, Nigeria and The Ivory Coast.  During the 21st century Cashew cultivation has significantly increased to meet new demands for manufacturing of Cashew Milk a plant based alternative to Dairy Milk.  In 2017, globally the production of Cashews was measured in tonnes at 3,971,046 with the leading producer being Vietnam 22%, India 19% and the Ivory Coast 18%. Benin, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Mozambique and Tanzania are all also notable producers.


The leaves of the Cashew Tree are spirally arranged, elliptic to obvate in shape and leathery in texture.  The flowers are produced in panicle or corymb up to 10 inches in length.  Flowers begin as small and pale green in color, becoming red and slender with maturity.  The Cashew Nut, simply called Cashew is widely consumed throughout the world.  It can be eaten alone, used in baking, as a salad topping or processed into Cashew Cheese or Cashew butter.   The Cashew Apple is a light red to yellow fruit similar to a gourd in appearance, it is an accessory or false fruit.  The pulp of this false fruit can be processed and made into a astringent but sweet drink or distilled into liquor.  The actual fruit of the tree is the kidney shaped drupe that occurs at the base of each Cashew Apple. Within each true fruit is a single seed (or nut), this seed is surrounded by a double shell that contains a resin that is an allergenic phenolic, called anacardic acid.  Anacardic acid is chemically related to Urushiol which is the toxin found in Poison Ivy.  For this reason Cashews are not readily available or sold in shell direct to consumers.




We recently visited Saint Lucia (one stop on a cruise) and while there we toured the Drive In Volcano / Geothermal Area near Soufrière. There at the site just on the edge of the overlook was a lone Cashew tree, the first I have ever seen in person (and not in a book) so I was quite intrigued.   The tour guide explained how the Cashew was not native to the island, but was introduced over 100 years ago and is now found throughout the island. She also explained in depth about the risks of eating or handling an "unprocessed" Cashew because of what she called the "poisonous shell".  The tree itself appeared to be mature between 35-40 ft tall and has had obvious damage from what I assume to be weather combined with tourist over the years.  Perched at the edge of the overlook it is only protected by a small rail system but otherwise is right in the flow of foot traffic.  It's trunk is irregular and gnarly in appearance and part of the canopy appears to have broken out well before our visit, though it still hangs on directly above the (Smelly) Sulphur Springs bubbling below.  Another testament to the strength and determination we so often see in nature.


Photo Credits (1, 2 & 3): Amy Gilliss, Arundel Tree Service 
Location - Sulphur Springs (geothermal area) Soufrière, Saint Lucia.
It was very hard to photograph trees in this crowded tourist area as they are not the "attractions" to others ;-) 


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Friday, July 12, 2019

Tree Destinations: The Joshua Tree National Park - Southeastern California

The Joshua Tree national park is approximately 800,000 acres, the park is made up of a very diverse ecosystem and is located in Southeastern California.  The park itself did not become a National Park until 1994, however it has been protected as a US Monument since 1936.   Named for it's Joshua Trees Yucca brevifolia which grow in the dryer and cooler Mohave Desert areas of the park.  The Joshua trees grow in both forest type areas as well as sparce single specimens.  The Joshua Trees are the dominant tree in the open areas of the park, however the Pinyon Pine is more common in the areas where there are rock outcroppings.  Joshua trees are often described as something that should be found in a Dr.Suess story, they are often twisted or curvy, not quite symmetrical, with a top heavy appearance and usually a single trunk.  Within the park the tallest tree is forty feet high, it is located within the Queen Valley Forest.  Joshua trees do not have growth rings, but instead their trunks are made up of  thousands of small fibers which makes it harder to gauge the age of each tree.  The best way to determine the age of a Joshua Tree is to estimate based on it height as they are very slow growers and only grow 1/2 - 3 inches per year.  Researchers estimate that the life span of the Joshua tree is only about 150, however there are specimens growing within this park that far exceed that age.


Image Citation:  Greg Bartman, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org



More then half of the park is considered to be wilderness area.  The park includes parts of two very unique deserts, The Mohave (higher) and the Colorado (lower) Deserts, Mountain Terrain, Oases, Rock Formations, as well as flatlands.  The characteristics of each desert area is greatly influenced by the elevations where they are located.  The Little San Bernardino Mountains also run through the Southwest portion of the Park.

Day by day and area to area the appearance of the park can greatly and rapidly change, with very quick  (yet sparce) downpours coming from what seems like out of no where, to high winds, to calm dry desert days that seem to have no end.  Sometimes the plants look dry and possibly even dead but most are just waiting for the next rain to come to bring them back to life.  Only 158 naturally occurring Palm Oases are found in North America, 5 of them are within the Joshua Tree National Parks boundaries. Generally occurring along fault lines where impermeable rocks force groundwater to the surface, a Oasis provides constant water to what would otherwise be a constantly dry and arid area.


Image Citation: Greg Bartman, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

There is so much to do here within this beautiful park, Hiking, Biking, Rock Climbing, Camping, Birding and Star Gazing just to name a few.  There are nine campgrounds established within the park.  There is a fee for camping and reservations can be made in some campgrounds October through May, while the other campgrounds are first-come, first-served.  Back-country camping, is also permitted with a few regulations in some areas, be sure to check with the park for more details on this option.  As far as hiking, riding and lookout points go there are too many to list in this amazingly beautiful National Park,  so just to name a few there are: Keys View, Indian Cove, Hidden Valley, Cholla Cactus Garden, Contact Mine, Forty Nine Palms Oasis, Lost Horse Mine, Lost Pine Oasis, California Riding and Hiking Trail (a 35 mile portion falls within the park), Rattlesnake Canyon, Barker Dam, Saltan Sea, Ryan Mountain, Warren Peak, and various Native American sites (some of which have been closed to the public over the years due to damage from vandals).


Image Citation:  "Joshua Tree National Park 2013" by Tuxyso / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - Wikimedia Images Link


Despite the landscape that may seem barren at times, many types of wildlife call Joshua Tree National Park home including various lizards, coyote, kangaroo rats, black tailed rabbits, big horned sheep, ground squirrels and other small rodents.  There are also an estimated 250 varieties of birds that have been spotted throughout the park including many migrating species during the Winter season.  It is also estimated that the park is home to thousands of Anthropods (creatures with multiple legs, segmented bodies and hardened outer shells) the most notable residents of this variety include tarantulas, honey pot ants, fairy shrimp, giant desert scorpions and green darners.  There are at least 75 different types of butterflies and more then twice that number of moths.


Image Citation: "JoshuatreeNP" by NASA - http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=36836. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - Wikimedia Images Link

Learn more about this amazing National Park & plan your visit http://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm or http://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/hours.htm

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