Thursday, November 4, 2021

Golden Dewdrops - Duranta erecta

  The Golden Dewdrops - Duranta erecta, are most easily identified by their brilliant sky blue colored flowers and bright yellow fruit.  They originated in the West Indies but have been naturalized from South Florida to East/Central Texas.  In the United States they are found primarily on disturbed sites, pine lands, and hammocks from 0-100 m.  An evergreen shrub, occasional vine or rarely a small tree they reach heights of only 20 feet.



Image Citation: Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org

The unique sky blue flowers are about 1cm in diameter, with 5 petals each, borne in an elongated raceme ranging in size from 5-15 cm long.  The flowers occur year round.  The fruit is a round yellow drupe that matures year round an averages about 1.5 cm in diameter.   The leaves are opposite, simple, elliptic or egg shaped, tapered to a short point at the tip.  The bark is simple and gray when young, becoming fissured and rough with age.

The Golden Dewdrops is a member of the Vervain (Verbenaceae) family that includes roughly 35 genera and 1000 unique species found in only topical and sub tropical regions.  This family includes many colorful ornamentals and recent research shows this family is closely related to the Lamiaceae (mints & teak are in this family).

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Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Sparkleberry - Vaccinium arboreum

  The Sparkleberry - Vaccinium arboreum, is best recognized by the combination of reddish bark, bell shaped flowers and lustrous green leaves with a tiny point on the tip. It is an evergreen in most locations or late deciduous in colder climates. It grows in an upright fashion small bush or tree form. It is native to North America, dry sandy woodlands, thickets and clearings.  It is widespread on the East Coast of North America, found from Ontario in the North and Florida in the South, West through Kansas and Eastern Texas.  




Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org

The bark is reddish brown to molted gray in color that often peels in plates or sheets.  The leaves are alternate simply shaped and firm in texture, the upper surfaces are lustrous and dark green in color.   The flowers are white in color, usually around 4 mm long and cup shaped.  The flowers occur in the Spring Season.  The fruit is a black berry that is dry in texture and 5-9 mm in diameter occurring in late Summer to early Autumn.  


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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Catawba Rosebay - Rhododendron catawbiense

 Catawba Rosebay - Rhododendron catawbiense is distinguished by it's large pink flowers and evergreen leaves with bases that are rounded. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches heights of only 9-22 feet tall. It grows in a shrubby fashion, often branches closest to the ground. It is native to Mountain slopes, ridges, balds from 500-2000 rarely at lower altitudes. Found from Virginia and West Virginia south to North Georgia, west to Kentucky and northeast Alabama.




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

The bark of the Catawba Rosebay is smooth when young, becoming furrowed and shredding with age. The leaves are alternate, simple, narrowly broad and elliptic. In extreme cold or drought the leaves often curl under. The upper leaf surface is a dark lustrous green in color, while the lower surface is a paler green. The flowers are considered to to be a Corrolla Pink in color and are in a broad bell shape that can reach up to 6 cm in diameter. The petals and sepals number 5 each with 10 stamens, flowers occur in early Summer annually. The fruit is a linear or oblong capsule that is covered with red-brown hairs, the fruit occurs on erect stalks and mature between late Summer and early Fall.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Lombardy Poplar - Populus nigra italica

  The Lombardy Poplar - Populus nigra "italica" - is an upright/erect form of the European Black Poplar.  This tree was originally spread by cuttings in the Po Valley of Italy and introduced in Britain in 1758, It's spread continued rapidly through Europe once introduced.   Today this tree can also be found in every state in the United States and throughout Southern Canada.  The roots of the Lombardy Poplar are considered to be invasive, they seek water sources (like drain pipes and ditches) and spread very much like Bamboo. Even when the tree is removed and the stump ground out the root system will remain and often resprout in another location nearby.  



Image Citation: Zelimir Borzan, University of Zagreb, Bugwood.org
Description: Branchlet with male catkins (a - f) and a closed terminal vegetative bud of a new leader (k). - 2. Branchlet with female catkins (g - i, l) and closed terminal vegetative bud (k). - 3. Branchlet with developed shoots and with ripe fruit-catkins (a, b). There are numerous seeds in a capsule. Stipules at n. - 4. Seedling with cotyledons and first ordinary leaves. - 5. Winter-branchlet. After Hempel & Wilhelm, 1889. Photos and explanations from the book: Zelimir Borzan. "Tree and Shrub Names in Latin, Croatian, English, and German, with synonyms", University of Zagreb, 2001.

 It has shown notable decline in some regions of North America due to pests and disease, most notably Borers, Cankers and Bacterial Wet wood.  Pest damage to the Lombardy Poplar is commonly seen in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Idaho and Montana-but is by far at it's worst in Texas.  With the exception of the areas most prone to pests this tree seems to thrive in North America, especially in the Southern Canadian range.  Professional Landscapers, Arborist and Tree Experts are not very quick to recommend planting of Lombardy Poplars because of their relatively short life span, on average only 15 years.  They do however offer a rapid growth rate, perfect for creating a privacy screen in a shorter amount of time then the much slower growing more long lasting Spruce or Arborvitae (for those of us who may be a bit impatient!).




Image Citation: Robert Vid├ęki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org 

With their upright nature the Lombardy Poplar tends to begin branching out close to the ground.  When mature they can reach average heights of  40-50 feet tall, but a spread of only 10-15 feet.  In the Spring and Summer their leaves are a crisp green changing to a golden yellow in the Fall. They are recommended to be planted in zones 3-9.
If you like the appearance of this tree but do not want to take on the high risk for the reward, the more pest resistant alternative is the European Aspen - Populus tremula "erecta" it has a similar appearance and growth habit.



  

Monday, October 25, 2021

Sawtooth Oak - Quercus acutissima

  The Sawtooth Oak - Quercus acutissima is most easily recognized by it's fringed acorn cup and narrow leave with bristle tipped teeth, resembling the teeth of a saw. It is a fast growing, deciduous shade tree that can reach heights of 30- 70 feet tall. Sawtooth Oak grows in an erect fashion with a single trunk and dense rounded crown. Originally introduced from Asia, generally found in planned landscapes and is reported to be naturalized in scattered areas from Pennsylvania South to North Carolina and Georgia, South to Louisiana. Sawtooth Oak is primarily planted for wildlife cover and food due to it's abundant fruit and fast growth habit. This species is sometimes used for urban and highway beautification as it is tolerant of soil compaction, air pollution, and drought.




Image Citations (Photos 1 & 2): Richard Gardner, UMES, Bugwood.org

Named for it's unique leaf edges, the Sawtooth Oak is a beautiful tree. The green leaves are alternate, simple, oblong or obvate, 12-16 pairs of sharp bristle tipped teeth, parallel veins and a lustrous upper surface and dull pale underside. The leaves add to the visual interest by beginning a brilliant yellow to golden yellow color in the Spring, turning dark lustrous green in summer and yellow to golden brown in the fall. The bark is dark gray in color with light gray scales that become deeply furrowed with age. The fruit is in the form of an acorn, the cup encloses 1/3 - 2/3 of the 1-2.5 cm nut. The acorn rim is adorned with long spreading hairlike scales that form a distinctive fringe.


Recommended for hardiness zones 5-9, the Sawtooth Oak can be found at most larger nurseries within those zones. Sawtooth Oak is also considered to be easily transplanted and hardy making it a wise choice for any landscape with room for a large spreading shade tree. It is similar to the Chinquapin Oak Castanea pumila in appearance, distinguished primarily by the difference in fruit.

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Friday, October 22, 2021

Pitch Pine - Pinus rigida

  The Pitch Pine - Pinus rigida is a 3 needle pine with random or adventitious branch habit and clustered cones.  The tree can grow either upright or with a crooked trunk, always with an irregularly shaped rounded crown.  Reaching heights upwards of 100 feet and 36 inches dbh (diameter at breast height) at maturity.  It is native to upland or lowland sites that may considered otherwise infertile, sandy dry or even boggy type soils are all suitable for the Pitch Pine.  It can be found at elevations ranging from 0-1400 m from Georgia in the South to Maine and Quebec in the North.  The Pitch Pine is the dominant tree in the Pine barren forest of New Jersey, however in the rest of it's growth region it is secondary to the Virginia (Scrub) Pine, Table Mountain Pine, Eastern White Pine, Atlantic White Cedar, and various types of Oak (depending on the region).



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

The Pitch Pine has the ability to resprout even when cut off at the base of the tree, this makes it extremely hardy and able to survive even after forest fires which can kill off anything green.  The wood of the Pitch Pine is considered to be decay resistant, this is due to the high resin content.  Pitch Pine lumber has been used in Ship Building, for Mine Props, as Railway ties and distilled to produce Pitch.  Pitch Pine is considered to be ecologically important in its native range as it is an important forest tree and the seeds are a foraging source for wildlife in the Winter.

The bark of the Pitch Pine is red-brown in color and deeply furrowed with long irregularly shaped, flat scaly ridges.  The needles are 5-10 cm long straight, stiff, sharp and a deep green to yellow green in color, occurring in bundles of 3 (rarely 5) that are held within a sheath that is 9-12 mm long.  The pollen cone in approximately 20 mm long and yellow in color, while the seed cone is often clustered 3-9 cm long and a light reddish brown color.  Cones on the Pitch Pine can remain on the tree for many years.


Image Citation: Keith Kanoti, Maine Forest Service, Bugwood.org

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

American Basswood - Tilia americana

  The American Basswood - Tilia americana, is most easily recognized by the combination of alternate, two ranked, and heart shaped leaves that are asymmetric at the base and the leafy bract subtending the flowers and fruit.  It is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of 60-100 feet tall that grows in an erect form with a single trunk.  The crown of the American Basswood is ovoid or rounded with numerous slender branches.  



Image Citation: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University, Bugwood.org

The bark of the American Basswood is smooth and dark gray when young, becoming furrowed with vertical ridges.  The leaves are alternate, simple, 2 ranked, ovate, heart shaped and ovate at the base.  The upper surface of the leaves are a dark yellowish green, hairless with conspicuous veins, while the lower leaf surface is a paler green color and lightly haired.  The blades of the leaves are 12-15 cm long and 7-10 cm wide.  The flowers are yellowish white with 5 sepals, 5 petals and inflorescence.  The fruit is a rounded thick-shelled gray nut that is about 6 mm broad, maturing in Autumn.  


Image Citation: Wendy VanDyk Evans, Bugwood.org


The American Basswood is native to the rich and deciduous woods of North America, it is widespread in the East from New Brunswick and Saskatchewan in the North to Central Florida and Texas in the South.  

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