Friday, May 29, 2015

Meet The "American Beech" Tree (Fagus grandifolia)

Image Citation: David Stephens,

The American Beech Tree is a slow growing, low branched, large deciduous tree. It's shallow root habit and dense foliage make it tough to maintain for the average homeowner. It has a interesting shape and interesting bark that give it character even during the winter when there are no leaves remaining. This particular variety of Beech grows best in moist and cool soils. It does not do well in city conditions or park settings where there is high foot traffic around it's sensitive roots. It is also very difficult to transplant due to the sensitivity of it's root system.

Image Citation:T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University, 
The American Beech is considered to be a more elegant and attractive tree then it's European counterpart, some of the differences between the two are the coloring of the bark, and the sheen of the leaves. The American Beech is the only Beech that spreads by sucker growth occurring around the base of the tree. The bark of the American Beech is smooth and Silver Gray, even when mature. The leaves are a dull bluish-green that shifts to yellow and orange in the fall. The male flowers are pale yellow and hang in clusters, while the female flowers grow in red-green pairs-both appear around the same time as the leaves in the Spring.

Image Citation:(?) Richard Webb, Self-employed horticulturist,

Beechwood Forests are very common in Eastern North America. They are native from Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ottawa, and Ontario in the North, South through Wisconsin, through the Lake Superior region, into Illinois and continuing East to the Atlantic, they are rarely found as far South as Florida. They are planted in many State & National Parks and are also used in planned landscapes.

Readily available at most case this is one you want to add to your own landscape!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Meet The "Pacific Madrone" (Arbutus menziesii)

The Pacific Madrone is considered to be a medium sized evergreen, though it has been recorded to grow as tall as 100 ft-which is quite large!  It is the biggest of all the Madrones, and grows in an upright fashion with a rounded crown. The main trunk or shoot is stout in size and is a yellow-green during the first growing season then changing to a bright orange, as the bark thickens with age this color finally shifts to deep red.  

The leaves are leathery, shiny, evergreen and are 2-6 inches long.  The seedlings have very finely toothed leaves.  Flowers grow on conical panicles that are about 8 inches long, they open in March in the California region but not until May in British Columbia.  The fruit are green in color when young in early fall, and change to a orange or scarlet by October of each year.  

This tree is native from the Southern half of Vancouver Island along the coast and hills down through southern California.  It is very commonly found in the woods from Alberni to Victoria, BC, through Ashland, Oregon, Grants Pass, The Rougue River Valley and south through San Francisco, CA.

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Image Citations: Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service,

Friday, May 15, 2015

Meet The "Bald Cypress" (Taxodium distichum)

The Bald Cypress - Taxodium distichum  is a large conical shaped deciduous tree with a domed top.  Though it is thought by many to have the appperance of an evergreen most times of the year.  Sadly people who are not familiar with this variety of tree will think the tree is dead when the leaves fall off and may rush to remove it.  Generally found growing wild in swamp areas and flooding river plains.  They are native to much of the Mid to South Eastern United States and planted widely as ornamentals.  

Trees growing along the Chesapeake and other tidal areas flare ut at the trunks towards the base and make the trunks look almost disproportionate.  Trees growing in brackish lagoon areas tend to grow "knees" which can grow as far away as 20 yards from the tree.   It can take 50 years for a tree to grow "knees" , these knees contain spongy wood tissues and are believed to provide roots oxygen.

The leaves are flat, soft, and delicate and approximately 1/2 inch long.  They leaves are bright/light green when young and darken with age.  They grow alternately on side shoots which are shed completely when the leaves drop in the fall.  The male flowers grow in the form of 4 inch catkins while the females are small rounded cones which grow more often then not on different trees.  

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Image Citation : Amy Gilliss - Arundel Tree Service 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Meet The "Tulip/Yellow Poplar" Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

The Tulip Poplar or Yellow Poplar -(Liriodendron tulipifera)- is a large deciduous tree that grows in an upright fashion.  The leaves are green and appear to have the ends almost cut off.  The flowers are green and yellow in color and grow upright in a bowl or cup shape.  The flowers generally appear at the ends of twigs.  The fruit is very distinct and are made up of many narrow-winged seeds.   The Poplar has a fairly rapid growth rate and can grow upwards of 170 feet (mainly in forest settings).

Image Citation (Photos 1 &2) :(?) Bonsak Hammeraas, Bioforsk - Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, - See more at:

Generally found in the Eastern half of the United States it is one of the largest native trees in the area.  They are often times planted as an ornamental, due to their large size when mature careful placement should be used considered before planting.  

Image Citation (Photo 3) :(?) USDA Forest Service, Forest Operations Research Archive, USDA Forest Service, - See more at:

The wood is a hardwood that is used in lumber production and is often marketed overeas as American Tulipwood.  Comparable to White Pine in lumber strength-it is highly sought after for use in both interior construction and wood carving type projects.  This lumber is affordable and very easy to work with due to it's softer and lighter characteristics-making it a favorite for interior building framing and wood carving alike.  Many say it is termite resistant and it is often used for barn and house sill plates in the South.  The wood of the Poplar can be burned as firewood, but burns much faster than a more dense Oak or Hickory wood so it is not highly sought after for this reason.  

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Meet The "Kentucky Coffeetree" - (Gymnocladus dioicus)

The Kentucky Coffeetree -(Gymnocladus dioicus) -  is a deciduous medium sized tree with large, coarse, wide hanging pods that are red-brown when ripe.  The leaves are large up to  30 inches long, divided into pairs of opposite side stalks with 6-14 oval leaflets on each stalk.  The flowers are greenish-white growing in large upright clusters at the ends of each twig.  

The Kentucky Coffeetree grows in moist places and valleys.  It is found in the Central and Eastern United States.  It is naturalized and planted as an ornamental further East.  It grows best in rich, light soils.  This species is unusually free of fungus, parasites and insect infestations.

Image Citations (photos 1 & 2): Jason Sharman, Vitalitree, (Node Affiliation: International Society of Arboriculture)

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