Thursday, May 17, 2018

Glossy Privet (Ligustrum lucidum)

The Glossy Privet (Ligustrum lucidum) is best recognized by it's shrubby growth habit and lustrous v shaped leaf blades, large inflorescence and clusters of blue to black drupes.  The Glossy Privet is a large sized shrub or small tree that can reach heights of up to 20 feet tall.  It generally has multiple trunks, a vase shape and arching or drooping branches.  The Glossy Privet was introduced from Asia and established from cultivation throughout the Southeastern Coastal Plains from South Carolina to Central Florida, West through Eastern Texas.  

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

The leaves of the Glossy Privet are opposite, simple, thick and leathery often v shaped with a narrowly elongated tapered point.  The upper portions of the leaves are dark green and hairless, the lower surface is pale and slightly duller in sheen.  The flower is small, white with a slightly greenish hint, tubular with four petals born in conspicuous branching panicles.  The flowers are notably fragrant and are attractive to many pollinators.  The fruit is a blue to black drupe 4-8 mm long that matures in late Summer to early Winter.  

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

Privets grow at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24" per year. They prefer full sun or partial shade, a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day. The Privet grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam and well-drained soils.  The Japanese Privet is similar in appearance and is sometimes confused with the Glossy Privet.  The easiest way to decipher between the two is the leaf size which is less then 10 cm on the Japanese Privet and greater then 10 cm on the Glossy Privet.  

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Golden Chain Tree - Laburnum anagyroides (Golden Rain)

The Golden Chain Tree - Laburnum anagyroides (Golden Rain) is a small deciduous ornamental tree that reaches heights of 30-35 feet tall at maturity.  The Golden Chain grows in a erect, slender form with slightly dropping limbs.  It was native to Europe but has been long cultivated in the United States, common in landscapes along the East Coast especially in Massachusetts, but much more widespread in the West.  Laburnum, commonly called Golden Chain, is a genus of two species of small trees in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae.

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

The leaves are alternate, palmately compound with either 3 ovate or broadly lanceolate leaflets. The flowers are bright yellow in color and are generally 1.5-2 cm long each growing in long, loose, pendant shaped clusters that can range from 10-40 cm long.  The fruit is a slightly hairy plump brown legume that is constricted between the seed compartments.  

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

The wood from the Laburnum family has been used in woodworking, cabinet making, instrument production.  The heartwood is often used as an alternative to ebony or rosewood because of the dark yellow-chocolate coloring.  All parts of the Golden Chain are poisonous, symptoms can include sleepiness, vomiting, convulsive movements, coma, slight frothing of the mouth and unequally dilated pupils. In some cases, diarrhea can be very severe.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Honey Locust - Gleditsia triacanthos

The Honey Locust - Gleditsia triacanthos is a large deciduous tree with an open spreading crown and branched spines growing from the trunk and branches.  It is most easily recognized by the combination of pinnate and bipinnate leaves, large visible thorns and elongated legume. Known to reach heights of 80-140 feet, they are considered a medium to large tree. Though in most areas it reaches an average of 65-100 feet.  The fruit is a flat black - brown hairy pod (legume) often a foot or more long and twisted in appearance. The leaves each have 7-16 pairs of leaflets and are a true green color during the growing season changing in the fall to a lovely yellow color.  Flowers are greenish-yellow, bell shaped and grow in small upright symmetrical clusters.  The bark is red when young becoming brown and deeply furrowed with narrow ridges when mature.
  
This tree grows naturally in many habitats throughout the Eastern United States from Pennsylvania in the North to Nebraska and Texas in the South. The cultivated forms often lack the prickly spines that many tree workers dread working around and are much preferred in residential and urban settings.  Recommended for hardiness zones 3-9, the Honey Locust is a shade tree capable of completely blocking sunlight to areas below.  Honey Locust's are fast growers gaining as much as 24 inches each year. They prefer full sunlight or at least 6 hours per day and are tolerant of wet and dry sites, salt, compacted soil, pollution and most other urban stresses.

Image Citation: (legumes) Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.), Bugwood.org
Image Citation: (thorns) William Fountain, University of Kentucky, Bugwood.org

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Butternut - Juglans cinerea

The Butternut - Juglans cinerea, is a medium to large sized deciduous tree that can reach heights upwards of 75 feet in ideal growth conditions.  It is sometimes also referred to as the White Walnut and is best recognized because of it's combination of long pinnate leaves with multiple leaflets and sticky 4-angled fruit husk.  It is native to the woodlands, floodplains, river terraces, and rocky slopes of the Eastern United States.  Found from New Brunswick, West through Minnesota in the North continuing South to South Carolina, Georgia, Northern Alabama, Northern Mississippi and Arkansas.  It is sometimes confused with the Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) but the fruit husks are greatly different as one has ridges and the other lacks ridges and angles all together.  This species is considered to be at risk as the Butternut Canker a fungal disease caused by Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglans-dacearun, has wiped out large populations throughout the native growth range.  

Image Citation: Bill Cook, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

The bark of the Butternut is a light grey or brown, thick and deeply furrowed. The Leaves are alternate and pinnately compound with 11-17 leaflets one of which is a terminal leaflet. Each leaflet is 5-11 cm long and about 6 cm wide, narrow and ovate in shape with a tapering point at the end. The upper portions of each leaflet is a yellow green color while the lower is a paler in color, hairy and often sticky to the touch. In the fall the color of the leaves changes to a bright yellow or yellow-brown. The edible fruit is a brown ellipsoid or ovid drupe (nut) that is 5-8 cm long with a thick husk, it is sticky to the touch and mostly 4 sided. The kernel of the fruit is oily and matures in late Summer or Early Fall. The male flower of the Butternut are cylindrical, hairy and a green-yellow and occur as catkins that are 6-14 cm long, the female flowers occur as spikes of 4-7 flowers at the branch tips. The sweet sap of the Butternut is also edible and can be tapped during the Spring season. Butternut sap can be used as a refreshing drink, or boiled down to a syrup or sugar. The wood of the Butternut is coarse grained, soft, and very attractive, it weighs about 25 lb per cubic foot and is not as valuable a crop as the Black Walnut (J. nigra), but can also be used indoors for furniture, doors or trim.

Image Citation (Male Flowers): Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Image Citation (Female Flowers):Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The Butternut is recommend for hardiness zones and would make a lovely shade tree and nut producer in your landscape. Butternuts are the easiest of the native tree nuts to harvest and process though they are messy so be prepared for that when and if you decide to plant one in your yard. They are truly remarkable, in the sense that the nuts can remain fresh and edible for more than 25 years if the un cracked nuts are kept dry. Take care when trying to harvest the fruits/nuts as Butternut and Walnut husks emit a dye that will turn your skin and clothes brown. All trees in the Juglans family (this includes Butternut and Walnuts) generate a chemical from their root systems that will seep into the surrounding soil, the toxin, called juglone, prevents the growth of some species of plants. The most notable plants that can not tolerate juglone in their surrounding soils are rhododendrons, azaleas and crops such as potatoes and tomatoes.

Image Citation (Single Nut): Bill Cook, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

Butternut products have been used for generations for medicinal purposes.  The Native Americans used the Butternut as a laxative and/or tonic to remedy arthritic or rheumatic conditions, headaches, dysentery, constipation and treat wounds.  Modern medicine still recognizes Butternut as a remedy for chronic constipation as it helps gently produce bowel movements.  The inner bark is one of the few laxatives that are considered safe for use during pregnancy.  Butternut products have also been found to lower cholesterol and promote healthy liver function by improving the clearance of waste from the organ.
  

Image Citation (Butternut): Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org



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Friday, May 11, 2018

Smoketree - Cotinus coggygria

The Smoketree - Cotinus coggygria -  is a small deciduous tree and a native of the wooded hills above the Mediterranean.  Named for it's blooms of wispy filaments in either pink or cream that look like poofs of smoke radiating from the trees branches.   In some areas the tree is nicknamed the Mist Tree, Cloud Tree or even Jupiter's Beard.  It is a relatively low maintenance shrub/small tree classified as an ornamental.   With a max height of 10-15 ' tall and a spread of 12 ', the Smoketree grows at a medium rate of just 12-24 inches per year.



In addition to it's smoky filaments this tree also produces flowers from June to September that are not very noticeable they are yellow-pink to plain pink in color and are often hidden by the wispy hairlike filaments.  The leaves are small 1 1/4 to 4 inches long and a pretty blue green in color in season, changing yellow, purple and red in the fall.  When crushed the branches and leaves have an almost citrus smell often compared to an orange.

Image Citation:(1&2) The Dow Gardens Archive, Dow Gardens, Bugwood.org 

Introduced in the America's in the mid 1600's, this tree makes for an interesting addition to any home/commercial landscape and is recommended for hardiness zones 5-8.  It is not particular when it comes to soil types and can handle both wet soil and semi drought conditions with ease.  This variety has been naturalized in ranges North of the American Smoketree from Illinois, Ohio, Maryland on North through Ontario and Vermont.  It is cultivated in the South as a specimen tree and is often found more often then the American Smoketree in this application.



Thursday, May 10, 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, winter green scent, scales on the conelike 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 eract 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 occuring 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 exfolliating 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, May 9, 2018

Nannyberry - Viburnum lentago

The Nannyberry is a small tree or large shrub native to the Northern United States and Southern portions of Canada. Generally found growing naturally along woods edges and within woodland settings. Nannyberry is in the Elderberry family and is also called Nannyberry viburnum or Sheepberry. This variety is best suited for zones 3-7 and grows well in alkaline, moist, dry or well drained soils. The growth habit of the Nannyberry is clumping, thicket forming, arching or multi stemmed. The Nannyberry is a fast grower and is adaptable from full sun to partial shade.

Image Citation: Missouri Botanical Gardens - https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/FullImageDisplay.aspx?documentid=1040

The Nannyberry can reach heights of up to 25 feet and prefers full to partial shade. Nannyberry is known for its dark, lustrous green leaves which turn a maroon to deep red in the fall. The leaves are finely toothed, short to long pointed, hairless and somewhat egg shaped, leafstalks are winged. The leaves are 2-5 inches long. The twigs are long and flexible, with a rough granular texture on the surface. Buds are brown or gray in color, long and slender with rough-granular scales. Flowers are white in color and appear on the "old wood" portions of the tree, not new growth. The berry like fruit (drupe form) starting out yellow and red and maturing to blue or black. Birds are attracted to the fruit that ripens in the fall and often persists into December. This plant is a caterpillar and larva host to the spring azure butterfly.

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