Thursday, June 20, 2024

Invasive Plants and Trees in North America

 At this time of year most of us have made a few trips to the local nursery to find some new items to spruce up our homes landscaping.  One of the last things most of us consider is if our new planting is an invasive species or something non-native to our area that could actually harm or starve out our natives.  Most of the common plant species thriving in the United States came from somewhere else originally, mostly Europe or Asia. The same goes for most invasive insects that are harming our natives. While they are often considered to be beautiful and desired additions, many of these plants spread rapidly in an environment that has not evolved to keep its growth in balance naturally.  If not controlled an invasive species of plant can take over and harm or prevent native species from surviving.

Below is a quick list of some of the top invasives in North America. How many can you find in your own backyard?

Kudzu - Pueraria montana

Photo Citation: Peggy Greb, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Commonly seen growing as a high climbing, rapidly growing vine throughout the southeastern United States, the perennial known as Kudzu originally hails from Asia and was introduced in 1876.  The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that kudzu spreads up to 150,000 acres annually and The Forest Service estimates that the weed spreads by 2,500 acres per year. Either way this invasive is capable of covering anything in its path, from trees, fences, and other permanent structures.  When a tree or shrub is covered by Kudzu, the Kudzu usually wins and the "host" tree or shrub is often killed or significantly degraded. Flowering Kudzu is a fast-growing vine/legume with a grapelike odor and deep green leaves.

Image Citation: Gerald Holmes, Strawberry Center, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org  (Kudzu overtaking native plants)


English Ivy - Hedera helix

Image Citation: Randy Cyr, Greentree, Bugwood.org

How many of our Grandmothers had a patch of English Ivy in their yards?  (Mine did for sure!) English Ivy was originally brought to America by early settlers/colonists who sought to recreate the charms of their homeland. In this new environment English Ivy quickly became invasive, destructive and covered (even toppling) trees, low growing native species and climbing (charmingly) up the walls of houses.  This one can be bought as a "houseplant" still even though it is restricted in most parts of the country as highly invasive.


Wisteria - Wisteria sinensis

A native of China, Wisteria is beautiful, fragrant and waterfalls over anything it covers. The beautiful Purple curtain like flowers are one of the biggest reasons so many fall for the beauty of Wisteria. Beware of planting Wisteria on your property, it grows so vigorously that it can quickly become difficult to manage.  Like English Ivy, Wisteria has the ability to overtake anything in its path even killing mature canopy trees. 


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

Barberry

This one is quite surprising as Barberry is commonly used as a shrub by many landscapers.  I have some planted in various locations in my own yard but am very careful to keep them trimmed and under control.  Believe it or not both common barberry and Japanese barberry are banned from sale in many areas of the United States (Not yet the Mid Atlantic region where we live). Originally introduced in the late 1800s, not only is it invasive, but it also provides an ideal hiding place for deer ticks which are a carrier of Lyme Disease.  

Image Citation: Britt Slattery, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bugwood.org

Butterfly Bush - Buddleja davidii

This one is another that is surprising as this can be found at most nurseries and even some big box stores this time of year.  Butterfly bush offers much-needed nectar for many pollinators like butterflies and bees, but it is also considered an invasive or noxious weed in many states.  Butterfly bush is known to push out native species and spread into uncultivated areas where it is not wanted.  If not trimmed frequently Butterfly Bush can overtake an area in a single growth season. 


Image Citation: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Purple LoosestrifeLythrum salicaria

Purple loosestrife is a beautiful but aggressively invasive and hardy perennial.  It is most commonly the cause of native plant growth restriction in natural and disturbed wetland areas.  Once established it most often out competes and replaces native grasses, sedges and other flowering plants that would provide more nutrient rich sources of food for native wildlife.  Originally introduced in the Northeast United States and Canada in the 1800's for medicinal and ornamental uses, it can now be found growing wildly in every state except Florida.  

Image Citation: L.L. Berry, Bugwood.org

Norway Maple

Norway Maple is a vigorous grower and an adaptable species loved by many homeowners. Norway Maple surprisingly are also on the invasive plant list in many states. The Norway's shallow, dense root system often competes with lawns, other landscape plants and hardscaping causing not only annoying roots that can trip you, a bumpy mowing process and even lifting sidewalks and shifted retaining walls.

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

Japanese Honeysuckle -Lonicera japonica

Honeysuckle has been used for decades along highways for effective erosion control. Japanese honeysuckle however can cause more harm than good by threatening native plants, it is famous for hoarding light, space, and nutrients in an established area suffocating out all of the native weaker plantings.


Image Citation- Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org


Black Locust -Robinia pseudoacacia

Black locust spreads quickly, and is also short lived.  Its branches are brittle and break easily when exposed to high winds. As a result of its ability to propagate quickly, it is considered invasive and is on the do-not-plant list in many areas throughout the country.  Even so, it is still commonly planted by many commercial landscape firms on roadsides and within communities.


Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org

Bittersweet-

This woody, perennial vine is native to Asia, and although it has beautiful berries in winter, it is considered an invasive species due to the way it starves out otherwise successful native plants.







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


Japanese Knotweed

Introduced to the United States from East Asia in the late 1800s, Japanese Knotweed has been considered problematic since the mid-20th century. It spreads quickly, crowding and shading out native vegetation.






Image Citation: Randy Westbrooks, Invasive Plant Control, Bugwood.org


Common Buckthorn 

Like so many invasive species, Common Buckthorn was introduced to this nation's gardens by well-meaning botanists in the late 19th century. Besides crowding out native shrubs, it plays host to many pests, and the decomposition of its leaf litter can change the pH of the surrounding soil, which can cause problems for other nearby plants.






Image Citation: Jan Samanek - Phytosanitary Administration - Bugwood.org


Dame’s Rocket 

Dame’s Rocket, with its fragrant white, pink or purple flowers blooming in spring, has long been a traditional garden favorite. But it is an invasive species, and no matter how beautiful, it has the potential to damage entire natural ecosystems.






Image Citation:  Leslie J. Mehrhoff - University of Connecticut - Bugwood.org


Burning Bush 

Known for its bright red, fall color, burning bush is a popular landscaping shrub throughout North America. It has many invasive traits, however, that allow it to spread aggressively. It’s not recommended for planting near uncultivated areas, and may end up on official invasive species lists in the near future.






Image Citation: Richard Webb - Bugwood.org


Giant Hogweed 

Giant hogweed is not only on invasive species lists, it is officially classified as a noxious weed. Though it was originally cultivated as an ornamental plant, contact with its sap can cause terribly painful burns, scarring, and even blindness.






Image Citation: Terry English - USDA APHIS PPQ

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Purpleosier Willow - Salix purpurea

 The Purpleosier Willow - Salix purpurea, is a deciduous clone forming shrub or shrubby tree that reaches heights of 4-20 feet tall.  Growing in an erect, upright form or arching, usually with numerous branches and multiple trunks.  Originally introduced from Europe, it has been cultivated and is now naturalized in various wetlands throughout much of the Eastern United States as far South as Georgia, west to Minnesota and Iowa and sporadic in the West.  


The leaves of the Purpleosier Willow are alternate or opposite, simply shaped, narrowly oblong and often widest around the base of each leaf.  The upper leaf surface is dull or slightly lustrous, dark green in color and hairless.  The lower leaf surface is bluish-white in color and hairless.  Each leaf blade os 2-10 cm long and 1.5- 3 cm broad.  The flowers are unisexual, with male and female occuring in catkins on separate plants.  Male catkins are 25-33 mm long and 6-10 mm in diameter, while the female are 13-35 mm long and 3-7 mm in diameter.  Flower occur each Spring prior to the appearance of the new leaves.   The fruit is an egg shaped capsule that ranges in size from 2-5 mm long. 




Image Citations (Photos 1-3): Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org 

Meet more trees and shrubs on our website www.ArundelTreeService.com or follow our blog at https://arundeltreeservice.meetatree.com/

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Ruby Falls Weeping Redbud, Cercis canadensis

 Ruby Falls Weeping Redbud, Cercis canadensis is a dwarf cascading Redbud variety with a huge impact on any setting.  At only 6-8 ft tall and 5-6 wide at maturity this compact tree will fit in almost any garden, it even does well in containers (for those of you without a garden).  Ruby Falls boosts ease of care with a high tolerance of most soil conditions with the exception of poorly drained saturated soils.  It will have success in partial to full sun. Blooms area a brilliant Lavendar color and they contrast beautifully off of the red stems of the tree.  The leaves are small, semi-glossy, and heart-shaped. Leaves turn yellow in fall and are maroon to dark purple in the Spring and Summer seasons.  Even in the winter when the tree is bear it still offers interest with it's flowing branches and weeping habit.


The Ruby Falls Redbud is very unique and can be perfect for any space.  We have three on our property, two on either side of our front porch and one in our pool yard. They are medium to moderate rate growers.  This variety is both pest and disease resistant and is even drought tolerant making it extremely easy to care for.  Recommended for USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9.  Redbuds are native to North America

Ruby Falls can be purchased from most large online nurseries and limited local nurseries.  I have not yet seen them available for purchase at the big box centers or smaller garden centers (unless they have a  local grower that stocks for them).  This variety has greatly increased in popularity in our area over the last few years and for very good reason....it is absolutely gorgeous!


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( Leaves/Tree) Photo Credit: Amy Gilliss - Arundel Tree Service - www.ArundelTreeService.com

Friday, June 7, 2024

Chickasaw Plum - Prunus angustifolia

  Chickasaw Plum - Prunus angustifolia, is a thicket-forming small tree that has an early blooming habit and folding leaves. It is deciduous and reaches heights of only 20 feet tall.  It grows in an erect fashion with multiple trunks and a thicket forming habit.  It is native to the United States from New Jersey to Pennsylvania in the North to Florida, Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico in the South and West.    Commonly found on roadsides, in old fields, sandy clearings, rural homesteads, thickets, in open woods, dunes pastures from 0-600 m.



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

The bark is a dark reddish brown to gray, splitting but not exfoliating.  The leaves are alternate, simple, lanceolate, narrowly elliptic or oblong, upward folding from the mid rib, with a wedge shaped base.  The upper leaf surface is lustrous, bright green, hairless with a dull under surface. The flowers are 7-10 mm in diameter, 5 petals, 10-20 stamens each, with white filaments.  The fruit is ovoid or ellipsoid red or yellow drupe, 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter.  The fruit is considered to be pleasant tasting and can be used for making wine, jam and jellies.



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

The thickets are used by cattle for shading and protection from the summers heat.  When thickets form a majority of a cattles grazing area they tend to gain weight faster.  The thorned thickets are a popular plantings for songbirds and game bird nesting and roosting.   The fruit is eaten by numerous birds and small animals.  Lesser prairie-chickens use the cover of the thickets for cooling during the day.  Fire can damage the thickets but does not generally kill the plantings.



Meet more trees on our website www.ArundelTreeService.com of follow our blog www.ArundelTreeService.MeetATree.com

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

The Sourwood Tree - Oxydendrum arboreum

 The Sourwood Tree - Oxydendrum arboreum is very unique as it is the only species in it's genus. This genus is a part of the larger Ericaceae Family, which is commonly called the Heath or Heather Family. The Ericaceae family is made up of a very diverse group of plants including Heather, Azaleas, Rhododendron and Madrones.



Image Citation: Richard Webb, Self-employed horticulturist, Bugwood.org 

The Sourwood has grey bark with deep lobes that almost make the bark appear chunky. The leaves are very finely toothed and a smooth grey-green in color during the growth season and a bright red, crimson or even purple in the fall. The leaves are arranged alternately and average 3-8 inches long. The flowers are white or ivory in color and bell shaped, they are very small only 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch each. The flowers though small on their own grow on 6-10 inch long panicles. The fruit are small downy, five sided/angled woody capsules that are ivory in color. The roots of the Sourwood are considered shallow, this tree grows best with little to no root competition. It prefers very acidic soil and will not tolerate . The wood of the Sourwood is heavy, hard and close grained. This type wood takes well to high gloss finish. Honey produced from the flowers of this tree is considered by many to be unmatched by clover, orange blossom, or any other honey.



Image Citation: David Stephens, Bugwood.org 

It is native to Eastern United States, ranging in the North from Pennsylvania and in the South from Western Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Northwest Florida. It is found most commonly in the lower chain of the Appalachian Mountain. Recommended for hardiness zones 5-9, this tree is a medium sized deciduous tree that makes for a lovely ornamental addition to any landscape. With a maximum height of 35-70 feet and a spread of 20 feet it's size allows it to fit in places where some other shade trees will not.

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Monday, June 3, 2024

Scarlet Oak - Quercus coccinea

 The Scarlet Oak - Quercus coccinea is most easily identified by it's deeply cut leaves in combination with 1 or more pitted rings at the acorn apex. It is a fast growing deciduous tree that can reach heights of 100 feet tall. Generally growing in an upright fashion with a single erect trunk that is more often then not swollen at the base.  It is native to the Eastern and Mid Atlantic regions of the United States from Maine in the North to Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama in the South, spreading as far West as Wisconsin. It is closely related to the Northern Pin Oak - Quercus ellipsoidalis, Shumard Oak - Quercus shumardii, Northern Red Oak -Quercus rubra and Pin Oak - Quercus palustris.


The crown of the Scarlet Oak is rounded and open with spreading branches.  This Oak has alternate, simply shaped leaves with 5-7 lobes each that range in size from 4-7 inches long. Leaves are bright green in the Spring and Summer and change to a brilliant Scarlet - Red in the Fall. The upper surfaces of the leaves are lustrous and hairless, while the lower is paler with tufts of hair in many of the vein axils. The fruit is a bowl shaped cupped acorn that is 7-15 mm deep enclosing 1/3 - 1/2 of the brown nut. Acorn crops are produced annually, however large crops are only seen every 3-5 years.The bark is thin, brown to dark gray in color, finely ridged and furrowed in texture.


Image Citation: (Fall Foliage) T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

The Scarlet Oak is often planted for a combination of it's rapid growth, beautiful foliage, soil tolerance, wind resistance and upright habit. It makes for a lovely focal point in any landscape. Scarlet Oak prefers well drained slopes, dry uplands, ridges, and even does well in poor soils (except akaline). Full sun is recommended for best performance (6 hours of direct sunlight daily). The best performance for the Scarlet Oak naturally seems to be in the Ohio River Valley where specimens are many in number, long lived and lovely in shape. It also is a very successful part of the South Appalachian forest story. Scarlet Oak is recommended for hardiness zones 4-9 and can be found at most larger nurseries. It is widely used in park settings, along roadside and in residential and commercial landscape design. The Scarlet Oak is the official tree for The District of Columbia. Scarlet Oak acorns are an important food source various types of wildlife including, songbirds, wild turkeys, grouse, squirrels and white-tailed deer.


Image Citation: (Acorns) David Stephens, Bugwood.org


Image Citation: (Canopy from below) David Stephens, Bugwood.org

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Sunday, June 2, 2024

The Tree of Tule - El Arbol del Tule

  "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/



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