Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Black Locust - Robinia pseudoacacia

The Black Locust - Robinia pseudoacacia,  is most easily recognized by the combination of hanging clusters of creamy white flowers, pinnate leaves subtended by a pair of sharp pointed spines and coarse ridged or furrowed blackish or deep brown bark.  

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

Black Locust is established in the moist woods, stream margins, river bottoms and Mountains in most of the United States, the Southern most portions of Canada and some parts of Europe.  Believed to have a native range from the Southern Appalachian to the Ozark Mountains.  Similar in appearance to the Clammy Locust and Bristly Locust, with their only difference being flower colors of pink to rose-purple. 

Image Citation: Norbert Frank, University of West Hungary, Bugwood.org

The Black Locust is a deciduous tree that can reach heights of 75 feet tall in ideal conditions. Generally forming a single straight trunk, open irregular crown and ascending branches.  Occasionally taking on a spreading form when grown out in the open. The bark is dark in color ranging from gray to dark gray-brown or dark brown to black, with coarse ridges or deep furrows.  The leaves are alternate, pinnate, with blades ranging from 20-36 cm long and 4-12 cm broad.  The petiole averages about 3 cm long and is subtended by a pair of sharp pointed spines (thorns).  Leaflets occur in numbers of 7-25 generally in odd numbers, thin and elliptic in shape with a rounded or bluntly wedge shaped base, and tipped with small teeth.  The leaf surfaces are medium green to yellow green.  Flowers are bisexual, fragrant and white to creamy white in color with small dull yellow patch on each.  The Calyx is 6-9 mm long, corolla is 1.5-2.5 cm long, produced from the leaf axils in an elongate drooping raceme.  The flowers occur in Spring to early Summer annually.  The fruit is an oblong, flat legume 5-10 cm long and about 1 cm broad.  Fruit matures in late Summer to early Summer annually.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Common Buttonbush - Cephalanthus occidentalis

Common Buttonbush - Cephalanthus occidentalis is most easily recognized by the simple, whorled or opposite leaves and creamy white globe like heads on it's tubular flowers.  It is a deciduous shrub or small tree that ranges in height from 9-45 feet on average.  This variety grows in an erect upright fashion with a single main trunk, open crown and vase shape.  It is native to The United States and can be found growing in all but 10 states (those 10 are Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, North Dakota and South Dakota).  It is primarily found in swamps, wetland depression, stream banks, lake and pond margins from the East to the West coast.

Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University, Bugwood.org

The bark is smooth when young becoming rigid and furrowed with age.  The leaves are simple, whorled or opposite, lanceolate or elliptic with a wedge shaped base.  The upper surface is lustrous and dark green, the lower surface is paler with conspicuous veins.  The flowers are bisexual, creamy white and tubular, produced in large numbers in globular, pendant or ball like heads 2-4 cm in diameter. The fruit is a capsule like shape 5-8 mm long,  maturing in Summer to early Autumn.  

Troy Evans, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Bugwood.org

The Common Buttonbush is vegetatively similar to the Georgia Fever Tree (Pinckneya bracteata), both are found in wetland areas.  They are best distinguished from one another by the differences in flower and fruit.

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Elderberries - Sambucus

The Elderberries - Sambucus are a small genus made up of only 10 species of which only 2 are commonly found in North America the American Elderberry- Sambucus nigra and the Red Elderberry- Sambucus racemosa, a third Danewort/Dwarf Elderberry- Sambucus ebulus is reported to be naturalized in the Northeast portions of the United States. They are deciduous shrubs, small trees or herbs with very soft wood and conspicuous pith.

Image Citation: (Common Elderberry) Charles T. Bryson, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

The leaves are opposite and compound usually pinnate but occasionally bi-pinnate. The leaflets are lanceolate or ovate with distinctly toothed margins. The flowers are small, white or cream in color and generally made up 3-5 petals and 5 stamens. When crushed the flowers produce a sweet yet rancid odor. The fruit is a fleshy round berry like drupe, red or black in color depending on the species, these berries generally occur in bunches.

Image Citation: (Elderberry Flowers)  Ohio State Weed Lab , The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

The Elderberries are mostly found in moist to wet areas, roadsides, ditches, wetland and woodland margins at elevations ranging from 3-3000 m. It is a dominant under story species in riparian woodlands where it persists despite the competition from other species, it does not however grow well in closed story forests. American Elderberries are found from the central portion of the US (Wisconsin to Texas) all the way to the East Coast and as far North as Nova Scotia. The Red Elderberries are found in a more limited area on either coast of the US, from Alaska in the North and Northern California in the South on the Pacific Coast, Sporadically from Northern Idaho to Arizona and New Mexico in the central portion of the country, and from Wisconsin to Nova Scotia in the North East and West Virginia, Northern Virginia, Maryland and Delaware in the Mid-Atlantic/South.

Image Citation: (Red Elderberry) Gil Wojciech, Polish Forest Research Institute, Bugwood.org

American Elderberry is best distinguished by the black fruit, whereas the Red Elderberry has red fruit. Similar species include Box Elder and Ash, which have similar leaves however neither have fleshy fruits as the Elderberries do. The fleshy fruit is edible and has been used by various cultures including Native Americans, Spaniards, Cahuillas, French, Austrians, and Germans for many different purposes. The berries can be used to make wine, jams, jelly, syrup and pies. When dried they can be cooked down to form a sauce (sometimes called sauco by the Cahuillas) that does not require any type of sweetening. The flowers are sometimes added to batters, eaten raw, added to teas, or even fried for a sweet snack. The twigs can be used to tap Maple trees for Syrup collection, basket weaving, flute and clapper stick making, tinder and even homemade squirt guns (when hollowed out).

Image Citation: (Dwarf Elderberry) Jan Samanek, Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org

Many Elderberries are planted for their ornamental value offering visual interest with both the flowers and the berries, others are planted for the wildlife value as they attract birds, small mammals, rodents, deer and butterflies. They are very a productive, adaptable and easy to establish species. Elderberries also are a very useful ground cover for stabilizing stream banks and other sites that are prone to erosion. Elderberries grow best from seed and are most often sown in the Fall season, cutting from this species are not very successful. This species is recommended for hardiness zones 3-8 and can be found at many nurseries for planting in your own garden.

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Zelkova -Zelkova / Zelcova

The Zelkova -  is a deciduous tree in the Elm family that is native to Europe and Southeast Asia.  It is susceptible to Dutch Elm disease but most often survives it, this is one of the main reason why it is considered to be a replacement for the Elm tree.   With a vase shape and the ability to grow 90-100 feet tall with a 60-80 foot spread.  It has a moderate growth rate and thrives best in full sun locations.  

The leaves are 1 1/2 to 4 inches long, green when young and turning a brilliant orange to burnt umber in the fall.  This varities crown grows naturally in a vase shape very similar to that of the Elm.   The leaves are a simple shape with serrated edges.  There are not obvious flowers on this tree they are very small and inconspicuous.

The Zelkova grows in a variety of soils but prefers moist deep loams.  Established specimens are highly drought resistance.  This tree makes for an ideal street tree as they thrive even in pits that were they soil is restricted.  It also has a high disease and salt resistance.  

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

This tree thrives in zones 5-8 and is readily available from most local nurseries.  It will make for a sturdy addition to any landscape.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Apricot - Prunus armeniaca

Apricot - Prunus armeniaca is most easily recognized by the combination of broadly ovate to almost perfectly round leaves, pink flower buds and hairy fruit with stone inside. It is a small deciduous tree that reaches heights ranging from 16-30 feet on average. Originally introduced from China it is now found on roadsides and disturbed sites from 20-1600 m in the East from Pennsylvania in the North, West to Illinois and Missouri and South to Kansas. The Apricot grows in an upright erect fashion with a single trunk and rounded crown.

Image Citation: Eugene E. Nelson, Bugwood.org

The bark of the Apricot is deeply furrowed and Gray. The leaves are Alternate, simply shaped, broadly ovate to almost circular. The upper leaf surface is hairy along the veins, and the blades are 3-9 cm long. The flowers are 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter, 5 petals, pink when inside the bud, opening to a crisp white in Mid-Spring. The fruit is hairy, rounded or ellipsoid drupe, yellow to orange in color.

Image Citation (Leaves/Fruit): Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

The Apricot fruit matures in Summer and is sold commercially. Turkey is the number one country for Apricot production, followed by Iran, Uzbekistan, Algeria and Italy to round out the top five. The United States is not a major producer of Apricots and is not even in the top ten based on production numbers. Apricots are produced commercially by most countries with the climate to support their growth this includes The United Kingdom, Australia and The United States (mainly California, Washington and Utah) to name a few.

Image Citation (Fruit): Rory Register, Rory's Photography, Bugwood.org

Apricot trees can be found at most larger scale nurseries and can be grown in hardiness zones 5-8 (9). Apricot trees need well-drained soil in order to survive and produce well. Young Apricot trees can be susceptible to bacterial canker, powdery mildew and a variety of root fungus problems. Aphids, mites and peach twig borers are pests that you may encounter when growing Apricot trees.

Link to USDA Database entry for Apricot nutritional value:

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

American Elm - Ulmus americana

The "American Elm" - Ulmus americana" is a medium to large sized deciduous tree that is native to Eastern North America. Found naturally from Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario, Southern Saskatchewan, Montana and Wyoming in the North continuing South through to Florida and Texas. It is an extremely hardy tree and can withstand temperatures as low as -44 degrees F. It's numbers have significantly decreased over the last century due to Dutch Elm disease. The Elm family is made up of about 45 species and are found from Northern and Central Eurasia and Eastern North America South through Panama. Elms are not found in the Rocky Mountains or on the West Coast of North America.

Image Citation: Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The American Elm is the largest and most widespread of all the Elms in the North America. It grows in a beautiful upright vase shape, and was often used as a focal point or large Ornamental planting along Main Streets and Park areas throughout it's hardiness zones. However, in more recent decades it has been destroyed in many areas by Dutch Elm disease. The leaves are broad and flat, with a simple shape and fine teeth along the edges. They are bright green in color during the growing season and yellow-green to yellow in the Fall. The wood is grained in a fine wavy pattern that is remarkably durable when wet. Elm logs were hollowed out and used during Roman times as water pipes, some have even been unearthed in good condition. The wood wears well and takes well to polish. It has traditionally been used in making coffin boards, stair treads, chairs and paneling. The flowers are perect in form and contain both sexes on one flower. They grow in bunches or on long slender stalks in racemes.

Image Citation: Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona, Bugwood.org

Image Citation: Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Dutch Elm disease was introduced to the US in 1930 and has been devestating to the American Elm ever since. Dutch Elm disease is recorded in 41 states across the US. The disease is generally characterized by a gradual wilting and yellowing of the foliage, followed by death of the branches and eventually the whole tree. American Elm is also attacked by hundreds of insect species including defoliators, bark beetles, borers, leaf rollers, leaf miners, twig girdlers, and sucking insects. Both birds and mammals feed on fruit and buds, and mammals will chew the bark and twigs of younger trees. Animals and insects are not nearly as damaging to this species as Dutch Elm disease is.

Image Citation: Linda Haugen, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org 

The Buckley Elm of Michigan, a National Tree Champion was killed by Dutch Elm in 2001, it was estimated to be over 100 feet tall with a diameter of 8 feet.

The Oklahoma Survivor Tree is a very notable American Elm tree. Standing on the site of the Oklahoma City Bombings it has witnessed and withstood the unimaginable. You can learn more about it by checking out one of my previous blogs: https://destinationtrees.meetatree.com/2015/03/oklahoma-citys-survivor-tree-oklahoma.html

The tallest American Elm on record in New England "Herbie", was located in Yarmouth, Maine. It stood in this location until it too was killed by Dutch Elm disease and had to be removed in January of 2010. Herbie was estimated to be 110 feet tall and 217 years old.

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Monday, August 12, 2019

Wild Olive, Osmanthus americanus (Devilwood)

The Wild Olive, Osmanthus americanus is also called the Devilwood tree.  Most commonly recognized by it's dark green leathery opposite leaves small white flowers, and olive like fruit.  The Wild Olive is a small evergreen tree or shrub that reaches heights upwards of 50 feet.  Generally the tree form grows with one single trunk while the shrub form may have multiple trunks and a more bushy shape.  The named Devilwood is thought to be given because of it's very hard wood which is "devilish" to woodworkers.  

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

The bark fo the Wild Olive is Grey or Red-Grey when young becoming rough, scaly and Red-Brown with maturity.  The leaves are opposite, glossy, leathery, oblong and occasionally notched.  The upper surface of the leaves are lustrous and hairless dark green in color, while the underside is a paler green.  The flowers are unisexual, with the male and female flowers appearing on different trees.  Flowers are small creamy white with four petals and a fused tube.  Male flowers contain 2 stamens and are produced in short axillary panicles.  The fruit is oval or ellipsoid in shape, similar to that of a common olive, containing one seed.  The dark purple to black fleshy fruit matures in Summer to Fall.

Image Citation: Nancy Loewenstein, Auburn University, Bugwood.org

The Wild Olive is native to coastal dunes, sand hill and upland woods area up to 150 meters above sea level.  It can be found from South Eastern Virginia along the East Coast through Florida and along the Gulf Coast into small portions of Louisiana and Texas.  
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Friday, August 9, 2019

Axel Erland's Tree Circus - Gilroy Gardens, Gilroy CA

 The "Tree Circus" originally opened in 1947, as a roadside attraction in Scott's Valley California.  Axel Erlandson a bean farmer who pruned, grafted and trained the trees into various shapes as a hobby to amuse himself and his family, went to his grave holding the secrets of his technique. Most of his work was performed behind screens to protect his secret methods from the potential spy!  Since his death in 1964 many have tried to recreate his work unsucessfully, so this method of privacy seems to have paid off.  Sadly now it seems this type of tree "training" talent may never be seen again.

Millionaire Michael Bonfante purchased the trees and transplanted them to his amusement park Gillroy Gardens in 1985, where you can still see them today.  In the winter of 1984 the trees were all carefully hand dug and boxed.  On November 10th 1985 they began their 80 mile journey to their new home a trip that required many permits and the help of 20 local/state agencies to pull off.  Gilroy Gardens is in Gilroy, California and is home to 24 trees from Axel Erlandson's orginal "Tree Circus".

Some of the trees on display are:

The Cage Trees-Crafted of 10 American Sycamore

The Arch-Crafted from 2 American Sycamore

The Basket Tree-Crafted from 6 American Sycamore (and the most intricate of all)

The Chain Link or 3-2-1 Tree-Crafted from a single American Sycamore

The Compound 8-Crafted from a single Box Elder

The Double Hearts-Crafted from what is recorded as a Red Maple (although the species of this tree is often questioned)

The Figure Y-Crafted from 1 Cork Oak

The Four Legged Giant-Carfted from 4 Amercian Sycamore

The Oil Well-Crafted from 4 Box Elders

The Picture Frame-Crafted from a single Cork Oak

The Revolving Door or Compound Square-Carfted from a single Box Elder

The Zig-Zag- Crafted from 1 American Sycamore

Some of the trees formerly on display have been moved to private areas of the park for extra care and attention due to decline.  Hopefully one day we will be able to see them come back on display!

These landmarks are surely on my to do list!

All below photos credit: Gilroy Gardens Website

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Lone Cypress - A Monterey Cypress, Pebble Beach Golf Course, CA

The Lone Cypress - A Monterey Cypress is often said to be the most photographed tree in The United States. Estimated to be over 250 Years old the tree is located within the grounds of The Pebble Beach Resort in California - Arguably one of the most expensive and beautiful Golf Courses in the US. The tree has been injured over the years by fire, winds and storms but remains held in place by an intricate system of support cables.  The Monterey Cypress only grows naturally in a two areas of Monterey County, Del Monte Forest and Point Lobos Natural Reserve-but is planted widely as an ornamental.

Image Citation: "Lone Cypress" by Sharashish - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia -https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lone_Cypress.jpg#/media/File:Lone_Cypress.jpg

You do have to pay to see The Lone Cypress in person by entering the scenic "17 mile drive", but don't worry it is just $10 a car!  This 17 mile scenic route includes some of the most beautiful coastline in California and runs between the Pebble Beach Golf Links and Cypress Point Golf Course through the gated community of Pebble Beach.  Also along this scenic route is Bird Rock, Spanish Bay, Spy Glass Hill, Point Joe and the 5300 acre Del Monte Forest.  
Image Citation : Pebble Beach Golf Course-Public-Wikipedia Page 

This tree is so famous it has been featured in The LA Times - Postcards from the west series- http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-postcards-lone-cypress-20130519-dto-htmlstory.html

This link will take you to an interactive map of "17 Mile Drive"

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Tree Destinations: General Sherman (Sequoiadendron giganteum), The Forest of Giants, California

Within Sequoia National Park in California there is a Forest of Giants.....trees that is!  The most notable of all the trees in the Forest of Giants is the General Sherman.  A Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), that is currently the largest living thing on planet Earth.

Image Citation: Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The General Sherman is not the tallest tree on Earth, that honor belongs to Hyperion (Coast Redwood also in California), nor is it the widest, or even the oldest, but it is the largest!  The General has a combined estimated bole volume of 52,513 cu ft.  It is 274+ feet tall, 102+ feet in circumference at the ground, 36 1/2 feet in diameter at the base, with a crown spread of 106+ feet.   It's age is estimated to be between 2300 and 2700 years old.  There have been others that have live before that are recorded to have more volume but the General Sherman remains, standing proudly within The Forest Of Giants.   Named in 1879, after the American Civil War General William T. Sherman by Naturalist James Wolverton who had served under him as a Lieutenant.  

Pictures will never do justice to a tree such as this one, this is a must see in person Giant!  Plan your visit to see this National Treasure in person at: http://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/nature/sherman.htm 

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Tree Destinations: Big Cypress National Preserve, Southwest Florida

Big Cypress National Preserve is located in Southwest Florida.  The preserve houses some of the most diverse land in the region, it is made up of 729,000 acres of freshwater swamp ecosystem.  All plants and animals residing/growing in the area are protected from unauthorized collection. The preserve was officially named/organized in 1974 by President Gerald Ford, to protect the wildlife, the water quality, natural resources and the ecological integrity if the area.  This preserve helps to support the health of the neighboring everglades and marine estuaries along the Florida coast.

Contrary to it's name, there are very few "Big Cypress" growing in the preserve, the name actually references the "big expanse" equaling hundreds of thousands of acres of cypress forest growing within the preserve.  The preserve is a mixture of both temperate and tropical regions-each having it's own "residents".  The preserve is home to many unique species of plants that remain protected by the natural habitat and stable ecosystem, such as the Red Mangrove, The Cardinal Airplant, The Ghost Orchid, and of course the Cypress for which it was named.  There are also a very diverse group of animals (from feathered, to furry, to scaled) that call this area home.  They include, The Mosquito Fish (I wish they lived here), Wood Storks, Anhingas, Egrets, Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, Bobcats, Black Bears, Florida Panthers (highly endangered), River Otters, Big Cypress Fox Squirrels, Florida Manatees, Pythons, Water Moccasin, and the American Alligator.
The park offers guided tours from November - April, however you can plan an adventure on your own anytime.  There are many self guided viewpoints, designated boardwalks/hiking areas and even scenic drive routes available year round. Due to it's very remote areas and sheer size the preserve does have limited cell phone reception so be sure to plan ahead!  Currently there is no fee for entry, however there is a fee for off road vehicles, backwoods permits, research permits and some camping areas

Image Citations (All Photos): Tony Pernas, USDI National Park Service, Bugwood.org - Node Affiliation: Bugwood - UGA

http://www.nps.gov/bicy/index.htm  : Big Cypress National Preserve

Monday, August 5, 2019

Tree Destinations: Ohio State University (Ohio Buckeye- Aesculus glabra)

The Ohio Buckeye- Aesculus glabra - is a medium sized rounded crown Deciduous tree. Growing to only 20-40 feet tall at maturity, it has a moderate growth rate.  It is the most widespread of all of the Buckeyes in North America. It's range is on mostly mesophytic sites through Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Southern Michigan on West to Illinois and Central Iowa, extending South to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Central Texas; East into portions of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama. This tree thrives best in moist locations and is most frequently found along river bottoms and in streambank soils.  It has been planted frequently outside of it's native range in Europe and the Eastern United States.  Different from the other Buckeyes because of two main features, first the leaflets have barely any visible stalk and second the husk of the fruit has short spines.  The Ohio Buckeye is sometimes referred to as the American Buckeye, Fetid buckeye, and Stinking Buck-eye, the last because of the foul odor emitted when the leaves are crushed.

Image Citations (Photos 1, 2, & 3): T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org 

Ohio Buckeye is polygamo-monoecious, meaning it bears both bisexual and male flowers. The leaves are made up of unevenly toothed leaflets that all grow from the same point on the stem, they are green during the growing season and turn an almost grey when shifting finally to wyellow in the Fall.  The flowers are a yellow-green with prominent stamens growing as upright spikes. The bark is dark grey with shallow but coarse fissures leading into square scaly plates. It flowers in the Spring and fruits from summer to fall.  This tree also produces small, shiny, dark brown nuts with a lighter tan patch

"Buckeyes" has been the official Ohio State nickname since 1950, but it had been in common use for many years before.  According to folklore, the Buckeye resembles the eye of a deer and carrying one brings good luck.

Recommended for Hardiness Zones 3-7, Buckeyes are found in larger nurseries within their growth range. 

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Friday, August 2, 2019

Tree Destinations: Seven Sisters Oak (Live Oak) - Mandeville, Louisiana

Estimated to be around 1500 years old, The Seven Sisters Oak is not only a Louisiana state champion but a National Champion Live Oak as well.  This tree is the largest Live Oak in the Country, with a circumference of 467 inches, a height of 68 feet and a very large crown spread spanning over 139 feet.  This tree is the only recorded champion with a crown spread that is nearly double the height of the tree itself.  It has held the title of National Live Oak Champion for over 30 years.

Image Citation: Chuck Cook, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archive

Contrary to many beliefs the tree was not named for the Seven main trunk sections of the trees but by a former owner, who was one of Seven Sisters.  This tree is registered with The Live Oak Society, who's members are only Live Oak Trees.  Since 1968, The Historic Seven Sisters Oak has remained the President of this unique society, becoming president when the Society's first President The Locke Breaux Live Oak died.

Image Citation: www.AmericanForests.org

Located in Mandeville, Louisiana, the tree resides in the front yard of a private residence, but still draws many visitors.  It is located in the quiet historic neighborhood of Lewisburg, just North of Lake Pontchartrain.  Because of it's sheer size it is said to be not well represented in photographs as the sheer size is hard to judge from one single angle.  This one surely calls for an in person visit next time you are in Louisiana!

Learn More About this and Other "Big Tree Champions" at:

or Visit our Site: www.ArundelTreeService.com

Thursday, August 1, 2019

China Fir - Cunninghamia lanceolata

China Fir - Cunninghamia lanceolata, is most easily identified by the long, stiff, sharply pointed leaves and oval cones of leather like sharply pointed bracts near twig tips.  The China Fir was introduced to the United States and is considered a distinct ornamental.  Native to Southeast Asia.  In China the China Fir is considered to be an important timber tree and is referred to as the China Fir, even though it is a member of the cypress family.  It is fast growing and highly resistant to pests and diseases. It is widely used for landscaping and has medicinal uses.

The China Fir is a Monoecious evergreen tree that can reach heights of 90 ft tall with and irregular cylindrical crown. The leaves are needle like deep green, stiff, straight or slightly curved 3-6 cm and spirally inserted on each twig.  It is in leaf all year, in flower from January to May, and the seeds ripen from August to September annually.  The twigs are covered by dead leaves behind 2 or 3 years of living leaf growth. The cones are ovoid, reddish brown at maturity, 1 1/2 - 4 1/2 cm and made up of glossy, leathery, sharply pointed bracts, occurring at twig tips in groups of 1-4.  The bark is dark gray to reddish brown in color and fissured to expose the aromatic inner bark.  Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling.

Image Citations (Photos 1, 2, & 3) : John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

China Fir has many uses outside of just being planted as an ornamental specimen.  The bark is a source of tannins and the branches produce an essential oil that is used in the perfume industry. The creamy yellow to white, fragrant wood is uniform in textured, straight-grained, lightweight and durable, though it will rot if it is continually wet. It is easily worked, sometimes turned and resistant to insect and termite damage. It is also used in construction such as ship building (mainly throughout Asia where it is harvested for lumber) where great strength is required. A good quality fuel and a charcoal can also be made from the wood.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Araucaria - Araucarias

The Araucaria (Araucarias) is a genus of trees mostly native to the Southern Hemisphere and including only 19 species. Four of these species have become popular ornamental plantings here in the United States (mostly in warm Southern portions of the Eastern Seaboard, and along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains). The four species that are found here in the US are Monkey Puzzle - Araucaria araucana (Molina), Cook Pine - Araucaria columnaris, Norfolk Island Pine - Araucaria heterophylla and Bunya Pine - Araucaria bidwillii. The Araucaria is one of three genera that make up the larger Araucariaceae family.

Bunya Pine  -  Image Citation: Dennis Haugen, Bugwood.org

Norfolk Island Pine - Thomas Smiley, Bartlett Tree Experts, Bugwood.org

All of the trees making up the Araucaria genus are tall evergreens with single straight trunks covered in rough dark gray-brown bark that is horizontally ridged. The trunks are generally covered in uniform whorls of branches that emerge at almost perfect right angles. The branches are covered in very dense or tight triangular or needle shaped evergreen leaves. The evergreen leaves are multi-veined and arranged spirally on each twig, branch and sometimes even on the trunk itself. Pollen Cones are large, one of the largest of any conifer. Seed Cones are dense and heavy, quickly disintegrating before or soon after falling. The inner seeds from the seed cone are considered a tasty treat to many varieties of native wildlife.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Black Oak - Quercus velutina

The Black Oak - Quercus velutina - is also known as the Eastern Black Oak. It was sometime/ formerly called the Yellow Oak, because of the yellow pigment in it's inner bark. It is native to the Eastern and Central United States and is found in every East Coast state from Southern Maine to the Northern panhandle of Florida. It is found as far inland as Ontario, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and even Eastern Texas. It is similar in appearance and often confused with the Northern Red Oak, Scarlet Oak and Southern Red Oak. Black Oak is known to hybridize with other members of the Red Oak group, and is a known parent in at least a dozen different named hybrids found today.

The leaves are simple, alternate, ovate and 4-10 inches long with 5-7 bristle tipped lobes on each one. They are a shiny green in color on the top during the growing season which shifts to a Yellow-Copper color in the Fall.
The Black Oak is monecious, the male flowers are borne on slender yellow to green catkins, while the females are reddish green and borne on short spikes in leaf axils that appear in spring with the leaves.

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

The fruit, in the form of acorns that are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, 1/3 to 1/2 of the Acorn is enclosed in a bowl-shaped cap. The cap scales on each Acorn are light brown and fuzzy. The Acorns mature every two years and appear in late summer into early fall. These Acorns are eaten by Wild Turkey, Whitetail Deer, Grouse and other small woodland mammals.
The bark is gray and smooth when young, becoming thick, very rough, almost black in sections and deeply furrowed. The inner bark is yellow-orange and very bitter tasting.

Image Citation (Trunk): Vern Wilkins, Indiana University, Bugwood.org

The Black Oak is not very common in the nursery trade because it can be difficult to transplant. When full grown the Black Oak can reach heights of 135 feet in ideal locations, however the average height is only 60-80 feet tall in most areas. The current Co-National Champion trees are found in Michigan (131 feet) and Connecticut (84 feet). Black Oaks have very prominent tap roots that ensures this species' survival under even poor growth conditions. It is recommended for hardiness zones 6-9. The Black Oak can be harmed by quite a few outside agents including Gypsy Moths, Oak Leaf Caterpillar, Oak Wilt, and Shoestring Root Rot to name a few.

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Monday, July 29, 2019

White Mulberry - Morus alba

The White Mulberry - Morus alba - is a small to medium size tree native to China.  It is recorded to have been widely cultivated in China for over four thousand years to provide feed stock for silkworms. It has been cultivated for Silkworm raising and fruit so much so, that it is hard to determine where the original natural range lines begin/end.  It's leaves are also used as feedstock for livestock in areas where the climate does not allow for adequate ground covers.  It has been naturalized throughout most of the warmer temperate regions of the world including North America, India, and Southern Europe.  In some areas of the United States it is included on the invasive species list as it's ability to hybridize with the native Red Mulberry causes concern for the future of the Red Mulberry species.  If not properly managed this plant has a habit of becoming weedy and invasive, even displacing more desirable vegetation. It is found in hardiness zones 4-9 in North America.  

Image Citation: Ohio State Weed Lab , The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

Mulberry fruits are unique because each apparent fruit is actually made up of a cluster of fruits and the fleshy swollen part is the swollen calyx. The fruit is 1–2 1/2 cm long on average.  When found growing wild the fruit is a deep purple, but in many cultivated plants it varies from white to pink. The flavor is sweet but bland, unlike the more intense flavor of the red and black mulberry fruit. The fruit is enjoyed by many wild birds, hogs and poultry.  Seeds are often spread by birds consuming the fruit.  The flowers are single-sex catkins, male and female flowers are usually on separate trees although they may occur on the same tree but usually not connected to one another. The pollen of the White Mulberry has an extremely rapid release, moving at twice the speed of sound.

Image Citation: John Cardina, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

When young the leaves on the White Mulberry can reach up to 12 inches long, while a more mature tree may only have leaves that are 2-6 inches long.  The leaves are very interestingly shaped and can have as many as five different shaped leaves on one tree.  The leaf shapes vary from a simple ovate to a more intricately lobed version.  During the growing season they are a bright green color changing to a pale to bright yellow in the fall.  In very warm climates the tree may act as an evergreen retaining leaves year round.  At maturity the White Mulberry reaches an average height of 30-65 feet.

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

The White Mulberry is said to have some medicinal qualities and has been used throughout history for various ailments.  When taken internally the leaves are said to treat sore throats, eye infections, nose bleeds and the common cold.  The stems have been used in the treatment of rheumatic conditions, high blood pressure and spasms.  The fruit when eaten is said to to help ease dizziness, diabetes and constipation.  The root bark has been used in Asian cultures as a traditional medicine and antibacterial combatant against the micro-organisms that cause food poisoning.

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