Friday, February 15, 2019

Waterlocust-Gleditisia aquatica

The Waterlocust-Gleditisia aquatica, is a medium sized deciduous tree that can reach heights of 50-60 feet tall. In open areas it tends to grow with a stout trunk and crooked limbs beginning low on the ground. In forest settings the tree grows straight up, forming a long limb free trunk and rounded crown. Regardless of the shape of the tree the limbs are usually armed with long, slender, sharp thorns that are sometimes forked and could be up to 4 inches long. The Waterlocust is usually found growing in moist areas, flooded swamps and river bottoms. It can be found growing along the Atlantic and Gulf plains from North Carolina to eastern Texas, extending up the Mississippi River floodplains to Southern Illinois and southwestern Indiana.

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

Waterlocust leaves are compound or doubly compound, paired on lateral spurs that are 6-10 inches long with 12-20 oval blunt toothed leaflets. The leaflet surfaces are dark green to yellow-green in color above and slightly lighter below. The fruit is short and flat 1-3 inches long and 1 inch wide with 3 seeds inside. Pods are generally found hanging down in clusters but can be found singly on occasion.  Waterlocust are found in hardiness zones 6-9 and prefer a mix of shade and sun. They have an extensive root system and can be planted to help control erosion. The lumber from Waterlocust trees is used for custom cabinet building and in applications that require a durable wood capable or withstanding long term soil contact.

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Intricate Hawthorn - Crataegus intricata

Intricate Hawthorn - Crataegus intricata, is easily recognized by it's shrubby form, dull yellow-orange fruit, 10 stamen flowers and hairless, glandular petiole. It is a small deciduous small tree or shrub that rarely reaches over 16 feet tall. It grows in a variety of forms from upright to arching or multi-trunked and shrub like. It is native to the Eastern United States and can be found in rocky woods, woodlands, on slopes and hills, and in forest clearings. It is found from Ontario, New Hampshire and Wisconsin in the North through Georgia, Arkansas and Missouri in the South. The Intricate Hawthorn is very common in the Appalachians. This variety is also called the Copenhagen Hawthorn, this alternate name is derived from an early comparison to a species native to Copenhagen, Denmark.

Image Citation: Princeton Field Guide, Trees of Eastern North America, Dave More

The bark is gray and scaly, the branching is slender, straight or slightly curved sometimes armed with thorns of gray-black. The leaves are alternate, simple, broadly elliptic or egg shaped. The upper leaf surface is a dull green or yellow-green, firm in texture and usually firm to the touch. The flowers are 15-20 mm in diameter, white petals, 10 stamens, ivory anthers, creamy white to yellow or pink in color. The flowers appear in Mid-Spring along with the developing leaves.  The fruit is a dull yellow to orange pomme that ranges in size from 8-15 mm in diameter, that matures in Autumn.  The recommended hardiness zone is 4-9 and it is generally planted as an ornamental or in groupings.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

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, 

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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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

White Ash - Fraxinus americana

The White Ash - Fraxinus americana, is best identified by it's opposite compound leaves with 5-9 leaflets that are whitish on the undersides. It is a large deciduous tree that reaches heights of 40 - 90 feet tall, it grows in a erect fashion with a single trunk. It is native to upland woods, floodplains, dry hills, hammocks, and cove forests. It's range is widespread along the East coast, from Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec in the North, West through Eastern Nebraska and Eastern Texas.

Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

The bark is scaly, grayish, narrowly ridged and furrowed with furrows forming diamond patterns towards the base. The leaves are opposite, pinnately compound, 5-9 ovate leaflets with bluntly toothed margins. The upper leaf surfaces are dark green while the lowers are whitish, hairy when immature. Fall leaf color ranges from red to maroon to yellow. The fruit is a narrowly elliptic or linear samara that ranges from 2.5-3.2 cm long that matures in late summer to early fall each year.

Image Citation: Richard Webb,

There are three other variations of White Ash that were originally grouped together as one species. They are now identified as individual species the Texas Ash - Fraxinus albicans Buckley, Biltmore Ash - Fraxinus biltmoreana Beadle, and Fraxinus smallii. The ranges of these smaller species are much smaller and overlap the native range of the White Ash but not one another.

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Balsam Fir - Abies balsamea

Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea), is a small to medium sized evergreen tree that reaches heights of between 40-60 feet tall and grows in a pyramidal form.   Balsam grows in an upright pyramidal form. It is commercially important within it's native growth range, it is harvested for pulpwood, light frame construction material and as a Christmas tree.  Balsam is a close second to the Fraser as a popular Christmas tree variety, they are very similar to one another in many aspects.   Many types of wildlife, birds and mammals rely on the Balsam Fir for protection from the weather and for food from twigs and seeds. Considered a Canadian tree, it is found growing south through the Northern edges of Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Iowa and most of New England.  

Image Citation: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service,

The short awl shaped needles are flat and long lasting, they have a series of light stripes along the bottom that make the needles appear silver gray from below.  On lower branches needles occur in two rows along sides of the branch, 3/4 - 1 1/2 inches long, spreading in form and not crowded.  On older branches, the needles tend to be shorter and curved upward covering the upper sides of the twigs.  Yields cones 2–4" in length that start out dark purple, turning gray-brown and resinous at maturity. Once the seeds are ripe, the scales fall off, leaving only the central axis of the cone in spike like stems on the branches. Seed crops occur at 2–4 year intervals and when present the small cones stand erect on branches the first year.

Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

Balsam Fir is recommended for hardiness zones 3-5, and is a slow growing gaining less then 12 inches each year.  This variety prefers full sun or partial shade, with four hours of unfiltered light recommended daily and cool, moist, well drained soils.  The Balsam was named for the resin (also called balsam) that is found on the bark ridges and wounds, this resin was used during the civil war to treat wounds.  

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Tamarack- Larix laricina

The Tamarack- Larix laricina, is a deciduous conifer that can reach heights of 100 feet or more. It is native to Canada, Alaska and the Northeastern portion of the United States (South through Cranesville Swamp in Garrett County, Maryland) growing in elevations from 0-1200 m. Tamarack is generally found growing in well drained uplands and acidic soils with other Northern Conifers such as Spruce, Balsam Fir and Jack Pine. Occasionally Tamarack is also found growing in swamp areas of the far North, reaching the Arctic tree line.

Image Citation: Bill Cook, Michigan State University,

The Tamarack has an ovoid or conical crown, slender flexible orange-brown twigs. The leaves are needle like 2-3 cm long, light green in color becoming darker in the summer and then yellowing in Autumn before falling off. The needles are in tufts of 15-25 on each shoot. The pollen cone is spherical 3-4 mm in diameter and born on short shoots. The seed cone is larger 1-2 cm long but also spherical, red when young becoming yellow-brown when mature. Cones generally fall from the tree after maturing or can remain for multiple years in some cases. Tamarack is very intolerant of shade, it can only tolerate some shade during the first several years, but must become dominant to survive. When mixed with other species, it must be in the over story never surviving as an under-story tree. Tamarack is good at self-pruning, and boles of 25 to 30 year old trees may be clear for one-half or two-thirds their length.

Image Citation: Rob Routledge, Sault College,

The Tamarack tree was a very useful resource to the early Native Americans. Native Americans frequently used the Tamarack tree for various wood working and medicinal purposes. The needles were recorded to be made into a tea and used as an astringent. This tea was also used to treat dysentery and diarrhea. The Gum from Tamarack Sap was chewed for indigestion. The inner bark of the Tamarack was finely chopped and applied to burns to assist in healing. The wood was not only burned for firewood, but crafted into canoes, and snow shoes.  The word tamarack comes from the Algonquian and means "wood used for snowshoes."

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Norway Spruce - Picea abies

The Norway Spruce - Picea abies is a small to mid sized evergreen that reaches heights of less then 80 feet tall. The large downward hanging cones and drooping branches make this tree easy to identify. Main branches of the Norway Spruce curve upwards like outstretched arms with secondary branches hanging down like a leather fringe. Native to Europe the Norway Spruce has been planted extensively since colonial times and is considered naturalized throughout the Eastern United States. 

Image Citation: Robert Vid├ęki, Doronicum Kft.,

The bark of the Norway Spruce is is red-brown to ash gray, cracked in scaly plates that occasionally peel in thin curls. The leaves are in the form of needles from 1/2 to 1 inch long, four sided, sharply pointed, dull green in color and lustrous. Each needle grows from a short stem with a peg like base. The seeds are winged, borne in cones varying in size from 4-6 inches long. Even after releasing the seeds, cones often remain hanging on the tree for a long time.

Image Citation: Norbert Frank, University of West Hungary,

Norway Spruce is recommended for hardiness zones 3-7 and is a relatively fast grower gaining 12-24 inches annually. This tree prefers full sun and should be planted in a location that allows 6-8 hours of full unfiltered light per day. The Norway spruce grows well in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained and/or clay soil types. Norway Spruce support a wide variety of wildlife, they provide winter cover for deer and small game including grouse, hare and woodcock. Song birds, fur bearers, Hawks and Owls also frequent these types of tree for cover, and roosting habitat.  It is widely planted as an ornamental, specimen or Christmas tree.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Black Willow - Salix nigra

The Black Willow - Salix nigra (also called Swamp Willow or Gooding Willow) is a moderately large deciduous tree that can reach heights of 60-100 feet tall. It prefers wet soils, moist bottom lands, swamps, marshlands or waters edge locations and is not tolerant of shade. The Black Willow is often short trunked with branches beginning low to the ground, often leaning or crooked in form. Black Willow is a common tree in the Eastern United States, it is best known for it's ability to control erosion and ability to sprout new growth from broken branches lodged along river/stream banks.

Image Citation: Bill Cook, Michigan State University,

The bark of the Black Willow thickens with age and changes from thin and red - brown to thick and brown - black. In the winter the tree offers color from it's long, shiny red-brown to burnt orange twigs. The leaves are alternate, simple in shape and bright green in color on both the upper and lower surfaces. Leaves are 4-6 inches long and less then 1/2 inch wide, the leaf edges are finely toothed from base to tip.

Image Citation: Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.),

Recommended for hardiness zones 4-9, with a life span of 40-100 years.  The wood is light in density and moderately soft, it does not easily splinter.  Black Willow lumber is used for toys, crates and barn floors, but never as fine furniture.  Black willow is generally not recommended for use as a specimen in residential landscapes because of its susceptibility to breakage, potential insect and/or disease problems, need for soils that never dry out, litter problems, shallow spreading root system which may seek out water and/or sewer pipes, and mature size potential. In the right location, its shallow roots can act as a quality soil binder which provides excellent erosion control.  

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Monday, February 4, 2019

Shagbark Hickory - Carya ovata

Shagbark Hickory - Carya ovata (also called the Scalybark Hickory or Upland Hickory) is a medium to large sized deciduous tree that reaches heights of 60-80 feet tall. It is native to the Eastern United States usually found growing naturally on dry sites. It's mousy gray to silver bark is easily identified by long narrow peeling bark scales that overlap and hang down in loose layers. The strips of bark create an almost armor that is very hard to pull off or remove from the tree. Generally the trunk of the Shagbark Hickory is long and void of limbs until reaching the oblong shaped crown that is full of short crooked limbs (this form may vary if grown in open setting instead of a forest setting).

Image Citation: Rob Routledge, Sault College,

The leaves of the Shagbark Hickory are 8-14 inches long, alternate, compound, with five to seven leaflets that are dark yellow-green in color on the upper surface and paler (sometimes downy) on the loser surfaces.  In the fall the leaves turn a brilliant yellow/ or golden orange or brown before falling off to make room for the next seasons new growth.  The nut of this Hickory is covered with a yellow-brown or nearly black four ribbed husk that ranges in size from 1.25-1.5 inches long it is smooth and nearly round in shape. When the husk splits it releases a light tan, slightly flattened nut that is ridged on four sides with needle sharp tips on each end.

Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,

Shagbark Hickory is recommended for hardiness zones 4-9. It can be grown as both a shade tree or a specimen tree and prefers dry soils. It is tolerant of drought and highly acidic soils but not tolerant to poor drainage or moist soils. The lumber of the Shagbark Hickory is very resilient, tough, and highly impact resistant. A wide variety of birds and mammals feed off the large nut crops produced by the Shagbark Hickory each year. The Shagbark is very similar to both the Southern Shagbark and the Shellbark Hickory.

Image Citation: Jason Sharman, Vitalitree,

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Friday, February 1, 2019

Red Pine - Pinus resinosa

The Red Pine - Pinus resinosa, is a large evergreen tree that can reach heights of over 125 feet tall, but averages only 60-80 feet tall with a rounded trunk and symmetrical oval crown. The limbs grow in sets of clustered whorls that project from the trunk like the spokes of wagon wheels, they form a tight crown. Each year a new set of encircling branches is grown, the years progress the newer limbs grow at the top of the tree and lower/older limbs will begin to die and fall off making the lowest portions of the tree limb free.

Image Citation: Richard Webb,

The bark of the Red Pine is Orange and flaky when young, becoming long plate like and flat topped red-brown in color. The bark The leaves are in the form of yellow-green needles that are 4-6 inches long and occur in bundles of two each.  The needles are long and break easily when bend in half.  The cones are about 2 inches long, rounded and brown in color.  

Image Citation: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service,
The Red Pine is most often found growing in the Northern states and Canada and is recommended from zones 3-6.  It is native to North America, occurring on sandy soils on swamp margins, mixed conifer and deciduous hardwood forests south of the boreal forest from 200-1300 meters from Minnesota and Ontario to Pennsylvania and New Foundland.

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