Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Meet The "Saw Palmetto" - Serenoa repens

The Saw Palmetto - Serenoa repens -  is the only species in the Serenoa genus.  A relatively small Palm that reaches only 7-10 feet tall at maturity.  It does not often grow with straight or singular trunks, but instead grows in low lying clumps or thickets.  It is most common in the understory of Atlantic Coastal Forests or Sandy Coastal lands.  It is considered to be one of the more hardy Palms with some specimens being 500-700 years old.  It's Natural range is quite small, only covering one entire state (Florida), it then hugs the Gulf & Atlantic coasts in the far southern portions only of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina.  It is now found growing in most of the South Eastern United States, especially in Coastal areas but can be found as far inland as Arkansas.  

Tha Saw Palmetto is a fan palm, it's leaves are made up of 20 (+/-) leaflets that originate from the petiole.  The Petiole is covered with sharp teeth or spines, these spines are sharp enough to break human skin.  The leaves are simple in form and bright green when grown inland and a more silver-white green in Coastal areas.  Leaves can range in length from 40-80 inches, and the leaflets are 20-40 inches long.  The fruit of the Saw Palmetto is a reddish-black.  The fruit is very high in fatty acids and phytosterols, it is edible to both humans and animals.  Saw Palmetto is also used as a supplement and can be bought in pill form.  The supplement is rumored to help with some forms of Cancer but this has yet to be proven by any type of FDA research.

Image Citations (All Above):  Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Recommended for hardiness zones 8-11.  Here in Maryland, it can only be grown indoors and may only be available from your local nursery as a houseplant. 
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Meet The "Sweetbay Magnolia" - Magnolia virginiana

The "Sweetbay Magnolia" - Magnolia virginiana - is native to the Eastern/Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions of the United States, with it's highest "natural" numbers occuring in the South Eastern States of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. It grows naturally most commonly in poorly drained or highly acidic soils that are often subject to flooding. This tree has a vase shaped growth habit and generally reaches 10-20 feet tal at maturity. It is considered a medium to fast grower, gaining an average of 12-24 inches per year when young.

Image Citation: Richard Webb, www.Bugwood.org 

Though it is not as showy as it's counterparts (the more commonly planted ornamental Magnolia's) it offers great interest from May - Late June when it is in bloom. After the initial bloom, some flowers will often continue to sporadically appear late into the summer season, disappearing before the first frost. The blooms are a creamy white in color, highly fragrant and 2-3 inches in diameter. The scent of the flowers is often compared to a light lemon or citrus scent. When the flowers disappear the "fruit" appears in the form of red-orange cones often growing in clusters. This fruit is eaten by a wide variety of animals including Squirrels, Mice, Turkey, Quail and many Songbirds.

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

The leaves are simple oval shape with a slight point at each end (lanceolate). They are a glossy dark green in color with a lighter silvery underside. In some areas of the United States, the leaves are retained throughout the year, because of this it is considered to be semi-evergreen.

Image Citation: Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.), www.Bugwood.org 

The Sweetbay Magnolia is hardy in USDA zones 5-9. Some cultavars found at local nurseries may include the Southern (australis), Henry Hicks, and Moonglow.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Meet The "Swamp Water Oak" - Quercus bicolor

The Swamp White Oak - Quercus bicolor is an attractive deciduous shade tree. Even though it is named Swamp White Oak and is similar to the White Oaks, it is actually a member of the Chestnut Oak family. It has beautiful fall coloring that ranges from Orange, Gold and Yellow in mid-Autumn. With a broad open crown, rounded form and a short trunk it makes for a sturdy medium sized shade tree. It is considered one of the easiest Oaks to transplant and is tolerant to salt, drought, heat and poor drainage. It has good visual interest in Mid Winter, Early Summer and Fall.

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

The leaves are lobed and have an almost two toned appearance, during the early growing season they are a dark green on top and a silvery white on the underside becoming green all over by the summer months. The leaves grow alternately and are coarsly toothed/lobed with variable margins. The bark is a pale grey with networks of thick course blackish grey ridges, becoming a dark grey when mature. The acorns are 1 inch long and enclosed in a warty cap, this cap often remains attached to the stalk once the fruit is ripe and falls from the tree.

Image Citations (Above Photos Left: Leaves & Right: Acorns) : Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org 

It is recommended for zones 4-8 and is available at limited nurseries in it's growth zone. Be wary of soils with high pH as this tree does show signs of chlorosis (yellowing) with high pH.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Meet The "Northern Red Oak" - Quercus rubra

The Northern Red Oak (Querus Rubra) is a medium to large deciduous tree. It is also called Common Red Oak, Eastern Red Oak, Mountain Red Oak, Grey Oak or just Red Oak. It is the Northernmost growing of all the Oaks in the East, with it's native range extending to Nova Scotia. It grows from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, through Ontario, in Canada downward into Minnesota and South to Eastern Nebraska and Oklahoma; Arkansas, continuing to dip down into Alabama, Northern parts of Mississippi and Louisiana and continuing East to Coastal Georgia and North Carolina. It is an easily transplanted, low maitenance shade tree with good form and dense foliage. It's hardwood lumber is very important to lumber production in North America, it is also used for firewood. The Northern Red Oak is the State Tree of New Jersey.

Image Citation: Becca MacDonald, Sault College, Bugwood.org

Northern Red Oak is monoecious, it's staminate flowers are borne in catkins that develop from leaf axils of the previous year and emerge around the same time as the new leaves in April/May. The pistillate flowers are solitary or occur in two+ flowered spikes that develop in the axils of the this year's leaves. The fruit is an acorn or nut that occurs singly or in clusters of from two to five, is partially enclosed by a scaly cup. Northern Red Oak acorns are brown when mature and ripen from late August to late October, depending on geographic location. The acorns of the Northern Red Oak are favorited by many type of wildlife including the voles, mice, squirrel, deer, black bears, and even some birds. The bright Red fall leaf coloring of the Northern Red Oak is one reason it is added to many planned landscapes as a shade tree. In the growing season the leaves are a crisp green. It features alternating leaves that are 4–8" long and have 7–11 waxy, spine-tipped lobes each.

Image Citation (Catkins): DAVID LEE, Bugwood.org  & (Full Tree)  Richard Webb, Self-employed horticulurist, Bugwood.org 

The Northern Red Oak is recommended for zones 3-8 and is readily available at most nurseries during the planting season. The Northern Red Oak grows to a height of 60–75' with a crown spread of around 45' at maturity. Be sure when planting to plan ahead for the potential size at full maturity - always remembering to plant the right tree in the right place!

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Meet The "Paperbark Maple" - Acer griseum

The Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) is a small to medium sized ornamental with wonderful year round interest. It is a slow growing and long living tree that is recommended for zones 5-8. With an average height of only 25 feet and a spread of 15-20 feet wide it is an ideal specimen tree in any size landscape. It has a rounded crown and open growth habitat, allowing sunlight to filter through to reach plantings below.

Image Citation (Photo 1-Leaves in Summer)-Amy Gilliss, Arundel Tree Service- Location: North Carolina Aquarium, Roanoke Island, NC

In early Spring, dark purple-green buds unfurl to reveal three-lobed leaves that are usually three to six inches in length, with blunt toothed margins. Late Spring and into Summer the leaves become a bright green to bluish-green on top with frosty silver undersides. Also in the Spring, the flowers which are often considered insignificant, hang in non-showy inch long clusters of pale yellow-green blooms. Flowers give way to attractive one to three inch red-brown winged fruits in the Fall that may persist on the tree into Winter, and that spread widely when dispersing resulting in very little litter beneath. Late in the Fall, this Maple variety begins its own leaf show – leaves change from yellow to orange, dark vibrant reds, and sometimes even scarlet, crimson, or pink. These leaves hang on the tree well into winter allowing for another level of visual interest.

Image Citation (Photo 2-Leaves in Early Fall) Amy Gilliss, Arundel Tree Service- Location: North Carolina Aquarium, Roanoke Island, NC
Image Citation (Photo 3-Bark and Leaves Close Up) -Amy Gilliss, Arundel Tree Service - Location: North Carolina Aquarium, Roanoke Island, NC

The Paperbark Maple often grows multiple trunks, some even branch out quite close to the ground. This gives it a vase-shaped, and almost sculptured appearance, particularly when the leaves fall in the Winter. On this particular tree, you want to keep it pruned to see as much of the bark as possible, since that bark is one of the most appealing features and the very reason for its name. The bark is a coppery, orange,cinnamon to red-brown exfoliating bark. The bark that gets darker reaching a purple-brown with age. Bark begins peeling on even very young trees, peeling as early as the trees second or third year. Bark peels in curly, translucent, papery strips that remain attached to the trunk and branches until naturally worn away. After peeling, the bark underneath is smooth, lighter tan, salmon, or even rose in color.

With so many interesting features going on throughout the year this tree would make for an amazing centerpiece in any garden. It is especially beautiful against the Bright white Winter snowfall.

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Meet The "Jacaranda" Tree - (jacaranda mimosifolia)

The Jacaranda tree (jacaranda mimosifolia) is a medium sized shade tree native to South America.  It is a deciduous tree that sometimes acts as an evergreen in extremely warm climates.  It is also called the Brazillian Rosewood, Blue Trumpet tree, or Blue Jacaranda.  In climates outside of it's native or recommended hardiness zones (9-11) the Jacaranda is often grown indoors as a houseplant or even trained as a Bonsai.

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

The Jacaranda's leaves are pinnately compound and are 2 inches or less in size.  The flowers (arguably the trees most beautiful feature) appear in late Spring to early fall.  Appearing in clusters the trumpet shaped flowers are exceptionally fragrant.  In warmer climates this tree may act as a semi evergreen and not only retain it leaves but bloom at multiple times throughout the year.  

Image Citation: William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org

The Jacaranda performs best when planted in the Fall.  The tree can be propagated from softwood cuttings, grafting or seeds. It has a high tolerance to disease and does not have any notable pests.  Also very drought tolerant this tree is used frequently as a street tree in it's recommended hardiness zones.  Size at maturity can range from 5-50 feet tall and 15 to 60 feet wide, the size at maturity is reliant on the area planted, pruning schedule and zone planted.  

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Meet the "American Snowbell" - (Styrax americanus)

The "American Snowbell" - Styrax americanus - is a deciduous shrub/small tree that is native to the Southeastern United States.  It ranges in height from 6-10 feet with some even reaching heights of 15 ft in ideal conditions.  It is native to damp woods areas, swamps, marshes, flood plains and stream/river banks, sometimes growing even in standing water.  Primarily found in the Southeastern protions of the U.S. from Florida to Eastern Texas and North along the coastal plains to Virginia and up the Mississippi valley to Southeastern Missouri, up the Ohio valley to Southern Illinois and Southern Indiana.  

The American Snowbell has showy and fragrant white bell shaped pendulous flowers that average 1/2 inch long.  These flowers bloom from April to late May or early June (depending on the area) either singularly or in clusters of 2-4.  There are five reflexed petals in each flower.  The leaves are elliptic to oval in shape and range from dark to medium green in color.  the top side of the leaves have a slight sheen to them and the undersides are a more dull grey green.

Image Citations (Photos 1, 2 & 3): Karan A. Rawlins, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org 

The American Snowbell is recommended for zones 6-8.  It makes for a beautiful addition to any wooded landscape.  It prefers full sun to partial shade and moist soil.  It has a rounded shape and showy flowers that not only add interest, but also attract butterflies.  There are not any serious pests or diseases that effect this shrub/tree.  It is propagated by both seed and cuttings.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Meet the "Black Walnut" - Juglans nigra

The Black Walnut - Juglans nigra - is a large flowering deciduous tree in the Walnut family, growing to heights of 100-130+ feet tall.  The bark is a grey-black color that shows deep furrows throughout.  The leaves are green during the growing season and are made up of 15-23 leaflets growing in an alternate pattern, chaging in color to a bright yellow in the fall.  

Image Citations: (Photo #1) Bill Cook, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org (Photo #2) Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org 

The roots of  the Black Walnut produce a chemical called Juglone (5-hydroxy-alphanapthaquinone), this chemical is known to be harmful or toxic to many other plants and some animals. most notably horses.  Horses are effected most when Black Walnut wood chips or sawdust are used in their bedding, exhibiting allergy symptoms (which are worse in the spring) similar to that of humans.  Plants including tomatoes, potatoes, blackberries, blueberries, azaleas, mountain laurels, rhododendrons, red pines and apples are known to be severly injured if not killed when planted/grown in 50-60 foot of the Black Walnut. Gardeners should take care when planning a garden around a mature Black Walnut, paying extra attention to what plants are tolerant of Juglone.  

The Black Walnut is native to the Mid-West and Eastern-Central United States, with a recommended growth zone of 4-9.  This tree is used in both nut and lumber production.  The trees begin to produce nuts at 4-7 years old and continue annually ripening each October, because it is self pollinating it is possible to have nuts with just one tree.  The nut is firm and has an enjoyable flavor.

Image Citation (Photo #3): USDA Forest Service - Northeastern Area Archive, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org 

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