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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Friday, July 26, 2019

West Indian Mahogany - Swietenia mahagoni

The West Indian Mahogany - Swietenia mahagoni, is best recognized by the fissured brown bark, leaves with curved leaflets and large fruit capsule.  It is a evergreen or semi deciduous tree that reaches heights of 50-85 feet and grows in an erect fashion with a broad crown.  It is native to subtropical hammocks, commonly grown in private gardens, along roadsides and in highway medians in South Florida.  The Swietenia is a small genus of only 3 species distributed in tropical West Africa and tropical America.  


Image Citation:  By I,J.M.Garg, CC BY-SA 3.0 , https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2602302

The bark of the West Indian Mahogany is brownish and smooth when young, becoming reddish brown and fissured at maturity.  The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, absent of a terminal leaflet, with blades of 6-8 cms long and 4-8 leaflets (rarely as many of 20), usually recurved and asymmetric at the base.  The upper leaf surfaces are a lustrous green, while the underside is a more yellow-green or brown-green.  The flowers are uni sexual, 5-7 mm in diameter, 5 sepals, 5 petals and are orange-yellow or green-yellow in color.  Male and female flowers both appear on the the same tree, the male have long non functional pistils, the females short pistils, 10 stamens with filaments fused into a tube surrounding the pistil.  The fruit are a large egg shaped brown capsule that ranges in size from 6-13 cm long, each fruit splits into 5 parts that release numerous flat winged seeds.  Both the fruit and flowers occur/appear year round.  


Image Citation: By I, J.M.Garg, CC BY-SA 3.0, , https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2602298


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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Shumard Oak / Buckley Oak - Quercus shumardii

The Shumard Oak / Buckley Oak - Quercus shumardii, is a deciduous tree that can reach heights of up to 120 feet tall in ideal growing conditions.  It grows in an erect form with a single trunk that is sometimes fluted or buttressed near the base.  Generally the Shumard Oak is high branching with the trunk remaining branchless until the canopy.  The crown is open and spreading with ascending and broad spreading branch habit.


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

It is most easily identified by a combination of deeply cut leaves, hairless terminal buds and a shallow acorn nut that encloses less than 1/3 of the nut.  The bark is pale gray in color, smooth when young, becoming finely ridged and deeply furrowed with age.  The twigs are gray or light brown in color, slender in form and hairless.  Terminal buds are generally egg shaped and range in size from 4-8 mm long.  The leaves are alternate, simple in form, elliptic or obvate with a wide angled flattened base.  Upper leaf surface is a pale yellow-green color, lustrous, hairless, the lower surface is similar in color to the upper.  The leaves turn brownish with small purple spots in Autumn.  The leaf blades 7-20 cm long and 6-15 cm broad.  The fruit is in the form of an acorn with a cup 7-12 mm deep, enclosing 1/3 or less of the light brown nut.  



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

The Shumard Oak is among one of the largest Red Oaks in the Southeastern United States.  Under ideal conditions they are fast growing, tolerant of harsh and dry conditions and varying soils.  It is considered a poplar landscape tree in the South and is used frequently in medians, parking lots, roadsides and larger suburban lawns.  In natural settings it does not form pure stands but instead occurs individually within the forest canopy, it is often found growing alongside American Elm, Winged Elm, Green Ash, White Ash, Cherrybark Oak, Southern Red Oak, Water Oak and White Oak. 


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




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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tree Destinations: (Giant Sequoia - Sequoiadendron giganteum) Sequoia National Park, Sierra Nevada Mountains of California

The "Giant Sequoia" - Sequoiadendron giganteum - is most well known for it's sheer size. They are the largest single living thing on the planet, growing on average from 164-297 feet tall in ideal conditions. They are also among the oldest with some being recorded (based on ring measurements) at over 3500 years old. They grow in a very small native area on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Generally the Giant Sequoias grow in groves or natural stands, currently there are only 68 known groves that exist. Groves range in size from 6-20,000 trees each. Giant Sequoias have been successfully grown outside of their native range in The Pacific Northwest, Southern United States, Western & Southern Europe, British Columbia, Southeast Australia and New Zealand. There are some specimen trees planted in parks and private lands around the world that reach great heights (191 feet is record outside of the US near Ribeauvillé, France), but none nearly as grand as the Giants growing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.


Image Citation (Yosemite General): Brian Lockhart, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The sheer size of this type of tree, has lead to extensive research regarding ability to maintain and supply water within such a large living structure. Osmotic pressure can only force water a few meters then the tree's xylem must take over, still it is not possible for these capillaries to transport water hundreds of feet in the air even accounting for the sub-pressure caused by the leaves water evaporation. Sequoias have the ability to supplement their water intake from the ground or soil by using moisture in the air, generally this comes in the form of fog which frequently blankets the native growth range .

Image Citation (Cone and Foliage): Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona, Bugwood.org

Over time, the Giant Sequoias have developed a resistance to fire damage. The first way is because their extremely thick bark is almost impenetrable to fire damage. Secondly the heat from fire causes the cones to dry and then open, disbursing seeds which will go onto become new seedlings repopulating what may have been lost below. Fire damage also wipes out any small ground cover that may have competed for sunlight and nutrients the new seedlings require to thrive. On their own without help from fires the Giant Sequoias seed have trouble germinating as shade loving species tend to choke the new seeds out.

The leaves are evergreen, awl shaped 0.12-0.24 inches in length and arranged spirally on each shoot. The bark is very furrowed, thick and fibrous. The seed cones are 1.5-2.8 inches long and mature in 18-20 months, though they usually remain closed and green for upwards of twenty years. Cones are made up of 30-50 spirally arranged scales, each scale containing several seeds. Each individual cone can produce approximately 230 seeds each. Seedlings grow from seeds but do not begin to produce cones until at least their 12th year. Once mature the tree does not produce shoots on their stumps as the Coast Redwood does, they do however sprout from boles after fire damage.

Image Citation (Bark looking Up) Caleb Slemmons, National Ecological Observatory Network, Bugwood.org



Image Citation (General Sherman): Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The most well known Giant Sequoias in the United States are:
1. General Sherman (located in the Giant Forest, 274.9 feet tall)
 2. General Grant (located in General Grant Grove, 268.1 feet tall)
3. President (located in the Giant Forest, 240.9 feet tall)
4. Lincoln (located in the Giant Forest, 255.8 feet tall)
5. Stagg (located in Alder Creek Grove, 243 feet tall)
6. Boole (located in Converse Basin, 268 feet tall)
7. Genesis (located in the Mountain Home Grove, 253 feet tall)
8. Franklin (located in the Giant Forest, 223.8 feet tall)
9. King Arthur (located in Garfield Grove, 270.3 feet tall)
10. Monroe (located in the Giant Forest, 247.8 feet tall)
The Giant Forest is home to over half of the worlds Giant Sequoia Trees. Located in Sequoia National Park, The Giant Forest should be included as a top "to do" on any tree lovers list. You can visit there website directly at: http/www.visitsequoia.com/giant-sequoia-trees.aspx

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Tree Destinations: Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, England (English Oak)




There is a very unique English Oak tree (Quercus Robur) growing in Sherwood Forest near the small village of Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, England which is rumored to be where Robin Hood and his men would hide out, in it's hollow trunk sections. It is called the Major Oak and is estimated to be between 800 - 1000 years old. In 2014 it was even crowned "England's Tree of the Year", because of this honor it will represent England in the running for the "European Tree of the Year" against entries from both Wales and Scotland.

Image Citation: www.RobinofSherwood.org

Major Oak was not always the name this tree was called. It has also be recorded as the Queen Oak, and the Cockpen Tree. The current name "Major Oak", originated from Major Hayman Rooke's very popular book about the ancient Oaks of Sherwood Forest from 1790.

Estimated to weigh around 23 tons, it has a diameter of over 33 feet and a crown spread of 92 feet - it is claimed ot be the largest Oak tree in all of England.  The Major Oak has been in a conservation status since the early 1900's. When visiting the tree today you will find a fence surrounding the base of the tree which serves as protection for it's roots and truck from foot traffic. During the Edwardian period there were chains used to support the branches and lead sheets around the trunk, these were replaced in the 1970's by wooden supports, which were replaced by the steel support rods that remain in place today.

From the Sherwood Forest Visitor Center you are a 10-15 minute walk from this Majestic Old Major Oak. The visitor center is open daily (the hours vary by season) and allows you to explore not just the Major Oak but the 450 acre forest that is home to an estimated 900+ veteran Oak trees. If that is not enough to draw you in there is also an Annual Robin Hood Festival in August that celebrates the Legendary Home of Robin Hood and his Men.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Tree Destinations: El Arbol del Tule (Montezuma Cypress): Oaxaca, Mexico

"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/


Image Citation (Church/Town Center Historical Plaque): Santa Maria Del Tule - Asociación Mexicana de Arboricultura,  www.arboricultura.org


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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tree Destinations: Ashikaga Flower Park in Japan

Japan’s largest wisteria located in Ashikaga Flower Park in Japan, is certainly not the largest in the world, but it still measures in at an impressive half an acre and dates back to around 1870.  Is also referred to as the most beautiful Wisteria in the World.  The blooms range in color from pale red, purple, yellow and white depending on variety.
     
Park Description from Roadtrippers.com : "Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture is famous for its wisteria blossoms. Elaborate supports to the three big wisteria trees cover an area of about 1,000㎡. The best times to visit Ashikaga Flower Park is from mid April to mid May. It is a truly unique attraction; the blossom starts with light pink blooms first in the season, followed by purple wisteria, white and then yellow. Just before you decide to visit the park, I recommend to check the official website for the latest status of the blossoms."
 
Image Citations (Photos 1 & 2): Roadtrippers.com

This is not the home of the largest Wisteria vine in the world, the record holder measures in at about 4,000 square meters, and is located in Sierra Madre, California.  Although wisterias can look like trees, they’re actually vines. Because the vines have the potential to get very heavy, these particular plants entire structures are held up on steel supports, allowing visitors to walk below their canopies and bask in the pink and purple light cast by its beautiful hanging blossoms.

Price for entry into the park depends on the season and what/how many plants are in bloom.  The Wisteria bloom in Ashikaga Flower Park from April to May annually.  The park is a popular tourist destination so be sure to plan your visit well.  For more on Ashikaga Flower Park in Japan visit the parks website (English Version)   http://www.ashikaga.co.jp/english/  or in person

Ashikaga Flower Park

329-4216 Tochigi Prefecture
Totigi [Tochigi] 329-4216 Japan
+81-284-91-4939

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Cashew Tree - Anacardium occidentale

The Cashew Tree  Anacardium occidentale is a tropical evergreen that produces the Cashew seed and Cashew Apple.  Reaching heights of around 45 feet it is not a large tree by any means.  The trunk is generally short and irregular in form.  The dwarf variety is considered to be more profitable having earlier production maturity and higher yields at around 20 ft tall.  Native to Brazil, Portuguese colonist were recorded to export the tree and nuts as early as 1550.  Currently there is major Cashew production occurring in Vietnam, India, Nigeria and The Ivory Coast.  During the 21st century Cashew cultivation has significantly increased to meet new demands for manufacturing of Cashew Milk a plant based alternative to Dairy Milk.  In 2017, globally the production of Cashews was measured in tonnes at 3,971,046 with the leading producer being Vietnam 22%, India 19% and the Ivory Coast 18%. Benin, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Mozambique and Tanzania are all also notable producers.


The leaves of the Cashew Tree are spirally arranged, elliptic to obvate in shape and leathery in texture.  The flowers are produced in panicle or corymb up to 10 inches in length.  Flowers begin as small and pale green in color, becoming red and slender with maturity.  The Cashew Nut, simply called Cashew is widely consumed throughout the world.  It can be eaten alone, used in baking, as a salad topping or processed into Cashew Cheese or Cashew butter.   The Cashew Apple is a light red to yellow fruit similar to a gourd in appearance, it is an accessory or false fruit.  The pulp of this false fruit can be processed and made into a astringent but sweet drink or distilled into liquor.  The actual fruit of the tree is the kidney shaped drupe that occurs at the base of each Cashew Apple. Within each true fruit is a single seed (or nut), this seed is surrounded by a double shell that contains a resin that is an allergenic phenolic, called anacardic acid.  Anacardic acid is chemically related to Urushiol which is the toxin found in Poison Ivy.  For this reason Cashews are not readily available or sold in shell direct to consumers.




We recently visited Saint Lucia (one stop on a cruise) and while there we toured the Drive In Volcano / Geothermal Area near Soufrière. There at the site just on the edge of the overlook was a lone Cashew tree, the first I have ever seen in person (and not in a book) so I was quite intrigued.   The tour guide explained how the Cashew was not native to the island, but was introduced over 100 years ago and is now found throughout the island. She also explained in depth about the risks of eating or handling an "unprocessed" Cashew because of what she called the "poisonous shell".  The tree itself appeared to be mature between 35-40 ft tall and has had obvious damage from what I assume to be weather combined with tourist over the years.  Perched at the edge of the overlook it is only protected by a small rail system but otherwise is right in the flow of foot traffic.  It's trunk is irregular and gnarly in appearance and part of the canopy appears to have broken out well before our visit, though it still hangs on directly above the (Smelly) Sulphur Springs bubbling below.  Another testament to the strength and determination we so often see in nature.


Photo Credits (1, 2 & 3): Amy Gilliss, Arundel Tree Service 
Location - Sulphur Springs (geothermal area) Soufrière, Saint Lucia.
It was very hard to photograph trees in this crowded tourist area as they are not the "attractions" to others ;-) 


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Friday, July 12, 2019

Tree Destinations: The Joshua Tree National Park - Southeastern California

The Joshua Tree national park is approximately 800,000 acres, the park is made up of a very diverse ecosystem and is located in Southeastern California.  The park itself did not become a National Park until 1994, however it has been protected as a US Monument since 1936.   Named for it's Joshua Trees Yucca brevifolia which grow in the dryer and cooler Mohave Desert areas of the park.  The Joshua trees grow in both forest type areas as well as sparce single specimens.  The Joshua Trees are the dominant tree in the open areas of the park, however the Pinyon Pine is more common in the areas where there are rock outcroppings.  Joshua trees are often described as something that should be found in a Dr.Suess story, they are often twisted or curvy, not quite symmetrical, with a top heavy appearance and usually a single trunk.  Within the park the tallest tree is forty feet high, it is located within the Queen Valley Forest.  Joshua trees do not have growth rings, but instead their trunks are made up of  thousands of small fibers which makes it harder to gauge the age of each tree.  The best way to determine the age of a Joshua Tree is to estimate based on it height as they are very slow growers and only grow 1/2 - 3 inches per year.  Researchers estimate that the life span of the Joshua tree is only about 150, however there are specimens growing within this park that far exceed that age.


Image Citation:  Greg Bartman, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org



More then half of the park is considered to be wilderness area.  The park includes parts of two very unique deserts, The Mohave (higher) and the Colorado (lower) Deserts, Mountain Terrain, Oases, Rock Formations, as well as flatlands.  The characteristics of each desert area is greatly influenced by the elevations where they are located.  The Little San Bernardino Mountains also run through the Southwest portion of the Park.

Day by day and area to area the appearance of the park can greatly and rapidly change, with very quick  (yet sparce) downpours coming from what seems like out of no where, to high winds, to calm dry desert days that seem to have no end.  Sometimes the plants look dry and possibly even dead but most are just waiting for the next rain to come to bring them back to life.  Only 158 naturally occurring Palm Oases are found in North America, 5 of them are within the Joshua Tree National Parks boundaries. Generally occurring along fault lines where impermeable rocks force groundwater to the surface, a Oasis provides constant water to what would otherwise be a constantly dry and arid area.


Image Citation: Greg Bartman, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

There is so much to do here within this beautiful park, Hiking, Biking, Rock Climbing, Camping, Birding and Star Gazing just to name a few.  There are nine campgrounds established within the park.  There is a fee for camping and reservations can be made in some campgrounds October through May, while the other campgrounds are first-come, first-served.  Back-country camping, is also permitted with a few regulations in some areas, be sure to check with the park for more details on this option.  As far as hiking, riding and lookout points go there are too many to list in this amazingly beautiful National Park,  so just to name a few there are: Keys View, Indian Cove, Hidden Valley, Cholla Cactus Garden, Contact Mine, Forty Nine Palms Oasis, Lost Horse Mine, Lost Pine Oasis, California Riding and Hiking Trail (a 35 mile portion falls within the park), Rattlesnake Canyon, Barker Dam, Saltan Sea, Ryan Mountain, Warren Peak, and various Native American sites (some of which have been closed to the public over the years due to damage from vandals).


Image Citation:  "Joshua Tree National Park 2013" by Tuxyso / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - Wikimedia Images Link


Despite the landscape that may seem barren at times, many types of wildlife call Joshua Tree National Park home including various lizards, coyote, kangaroo rats, black tailed rabbits, big horned sheep, ground squirrels and other small rodents.  There are also an estimated 250 varieties of birds that have been spotted throughout the park including many migrating species during the Winter season.  It is also estimated that the park is home to thousands of Anthropods (creatures with multiple legs, segmented bodies and hardened outer shells) the most notable residents of this variety include tarantulas, honey pot ants, fairy shrimp, giant desert scorpions and green darners.  There are at least 75 different types of butterflies and more then twice that number of moths.


Image Citation: "JoshuatreeNP" by NASA - http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=36836. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - Wikimedia Images Link

Learn more about this amazing National Park & plan your visit http://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm or http://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/hours.htm

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tree Destinations: Yellowwood State Forest - Nashville, Indiana

In the quaint village of Nashville, Indiana near the Brown County State Park lies the Yellowwood State Forest. The Yellowwood State forest was organized in 1940 when federal lands were leased to the state of Indiana, this land was eventually deeded to the state in 1956. Over the years more then 2000 acres of abandoned and eroded lands within the Parks footprint have been planted with various Pines (jack, red, shortleaf, white and scotch), Black Locust, Black Walnut, White and Red Oaks. The Yellowwood Lake which covers 133 acres and is 30 feet deep at it's deepest point was completed in 1939, there are two other lakes within the park though much smaller in size (Bear Lake and Crooked Creek Lake). Over the years the Yellowwood State Forest has increased in size by gaining parcels of land through the Heritage Trust Program. Their are many activities to enjoy while visiting the Park including Fishing (a boat launch is located in the South end of the main lake), Hunting (Whitetail Deer, Ruffed Grouse, Turkey, Squirrel, Fox, Woodcock and Raccoon-valid Indiana Hunting license required), Primitive Camping, Horsemen's Camping (many miles of horse trails within the park), Gold Panning (must have permit), Hiking, Kayak/Canoe Rental and Picnicking. Today the Forest covers 23,326 acres, made up of 17 different areas all located within Brown County.

Yellowwood State Forest Map, Image Citation: Yellowwood State Park
The park was named for a tree common in the mid-south but rare in the area that is found growing in the park. The Yellowwood Tree - Cladrastis kentukea is a medium sized deciduous member of the legume family. With it's smooth elephant grey bark, pendulous fragrant flowers, and red/brown stems it offers beauty to any landscape year round. It is native to the Eastern United States, most notably two very small areas, one runs along the Kentucky and Tennessee border, and the other between Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. It is commonly planted in landscapes from New England south to Washington DC & Virginia. Yellowwood is hardy from zones 4a to 8b and can be purchased from most large nurseries in the Eastern US. The leaves are composed of widely spaced leaflets that are alternate not opposite one another. There are usually 9-11 leaflets per leaf. The leaves are a yellow green in Spring, bright green by Summer and then Yellow in the Fall. The wood of this tree contains a Yellow dye which stains the heartwood, hence the name Yellowwood. The flowers of the Yellowwood are very similar to Wisteria, they grow in a pendulous form and feature white fragrant flowers. The flowers are small and grow on open panicles ranging from 10-15 inches long. They are considered to be highly fragrant and appear in May. The flowers give way to long brown seed pods as the Spring Summer season changes. When mature this tree can reach heights of 30-50 feet and a spread of 40-55 feet wide. It is considered to be virtually pest free and quite hardy in it's native range. This tree is easily transplanted in B&B or bare root up to 2 inches in caliper. The Society of Municipal Arborist's named this tree the "2015 Urban Tree Of The Year", this selection was made based on it's adaptability and strong ornamental traits. Within the park there are less than 200 acres that can support the Yellowwood tree, these can be found on North facing slopes and deep ravines near Crooked Creek Lake. A specimen can also be found planted at the Forest Office on Yellowwood Lake Road.
Within the Yellowwood Forest there are some unique features. One of which is the Tecumseh Trail, named in honor of the Shawnee Chief who in the early 1800's attempted to ally several smaller tribes into one large confederacy. The trail spans the native lands of these tribes and has 5 trail heads within the forest. The trail covers various types of terrain and offers beautiful views of the Forest and Lakes. The second and most unusual is the 4 large sandstone boulders that are found not on the ground but in the canopies of Oak trees. It is said that the first boulder was originally discovered by a hunter and three more were discovered by hikers. The largest sandstone slab is 4 foot by 1 foot and thought to weigh as much as 400 lbs. Theories the boulders in trees phenomena range from natural things such as flooding or a tornado to the more extreme (or maybe unbelievable) including UFO's, Acoustic Levitation (where a rock becomes weightless), or even a good old Fraternity Prankster using heavy machinery, we may never know! No evidence of disturbance was found at any of the tree locations that would support the heavy machinery or tornado theories.


You can find the Yellowwood State Forest at:
772 South Yellowwood Road
Nashville, IN 47448
(812) 988-7945

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Maple Leaf Oak - Quercus acerfolia

The Maple Leaf Oak - Quercus acerfolia is a very unique member of the Oak - Quercus Species, Red Oak / Fagaceae family . The leaves are Maple like in shape and are broader then they are long, which is unusual for an Oak tree. The Maple Leaf Oak also has a very tiny growth range, made up of only a few counties in Eastern and Central Arkansas. It prefers dry slopes and ridges between 500-800 m and is deciduous in habit. As a member of the Red Oak- Fagaceae family, it also is relatively small reaching maximum heights of only 50 feet tall (which is large in comparison with many other families but not the Oaks).   


The Maple Leaf Oak earned it's name because of the unique leaf shape, they are broadly elliptic to round and shaped like a Maple leaf. The blades of the leaves are 7-14 cm long and 10-15 cm broad.  The yellowish green foliage appears in April, changing to a lovely Red in the Fall. The flowers are insignificant in size and are yellow green in color.  The fruit is an acorn (like other Oaks) 4-7 mm deep, enclosing less than 1/3 of the egg shaped nut. The grayish bark is smooth in early years, but acquires dark ridging on the trunk with maturity.  


Recommended for hardiness zones 5-8 Maple Leaf Oak is considered to be easily grown, drought tolerant and have minimal problems (though like most other Oaks it is susceptible to damage by many insects).  Maple Leaf Oak is closely related to the Shumard Oak - Quercus Shumardii and was for a long time thought to be a variant of that species, in that case it is referred to as Quercus Shumardii var. acerfolia.  Originally recorded in 1926 by Palmer, it was not until recent years that the tree was given it's own full species status because of the difference in not only the leaves but the acorn morphology.   It is ideally planted as a specimen tree or focal point in any garden residential or commercially. Due to it's rarity however, it may be hard to find on the commercial market.

Image Citations (photos 1, 2 & 3):  Missouri Botanical Gardens: https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/FullImageDisplay.aspx?documentid=4307


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Monday, July 8, 2019

Red Maple - Acer rubrum

The Red Maple - Acer rubrum, is also called Scarlet Maple, Swamp Maple, Water Maple, White Maple or Soft Maple in different regions. It is one of the most abundant trees in the forests of the Eastern United States, and can be found growing from Florida in the South to Canada in the North.  Red Maple is harvested and marketed as soft Maple, it is valued on a limited basis for Maple Syrup production, but is most valued as a strong and durable urban tree.  A medium to large sized deciduous tree with the potential of reaching 60-90 feet tall in ideal conditions, The Red Maple is a fast grower with beautiful fall foliage and the ability to thrive in even poor or degraded soil conditions. 

(Canopy and bark) Image Citation: David Stephens, Bugwood.org

(Fall Color) Image Citation: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Red Maple can pose a challenge when it comes to identification as the features and characteristics of the tree change as the tree ages.  When small the bark is thin, smooth, and light gray in color, becoming thicker and a gray-brown with age and developing flaky thick bark from the trunk up to the limbs, smooth patches generally remain high in the branches into maturity and in patches on the trunk during the transitional period.  Slender and young branch tips are often bright red in color and the forked trunks and limbs that grow from the trunk usually have sharp V shaped crotches.  The leaves are opposite and simple in form, 2.5 - 4 inches in length and width, with wide, pointed, toothed lobes.  Generally the leaves all contain three large lobes, and occasionally two additional smaller lobes.  The leaves are Green on the upper surface with a whitish underside, and become a vibrant scarlet, yellow or orange in the fall.  The sinuses between lobes generally form sharp V shaped notches.  The flowers are uni-sexual and tiny red or orange in color with 4-5 sepals and petals each, generally male and female flowers occur as separate trees. only occasionally on the same tree.  The fruit occurs in paired Samaras (lovingly called "helicopters" by many) 1.5-3 cm long often bright red in color, maturing or shedding before or with leaf emergence.  

(Foliage changing in Fall) Image Citation: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

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



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Friday, July 5, 2019

Wax Myrtle / Southern Wax Myrtle - Myrica cerifera

The Wax Myrtle / Southern Wax Myrtle - Myrica cerifera or Morella cerifera is a small evergreen shrub or small tree, that reaches heights of only 36 feet tall on average.  The Wax Myrtle most often forms in colonies from underground rhizomes.  Growing in an erect, leaning, or ascending form with multiple trucks and low branching habit that usually begins close to the ground.  The crown is dense and branches grow in upright or ascending. Native to a wide variety of habitats including bogs, fresh water banks, bracish water ponds, inlets, swamps, hammocks, swales and mixed upland woods.  Found mostly in the Southeastern coastal plains from Maryland and Delaware throughout south Florida, west through southern Arkansas and eastern Texas.  

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

The leaves are alterante and simple in form, aromatic when crushed, tapered at the base, blunt or rounded, margins along the entire length of the leaves and toothed at least near the tip.  The upper surface dark green, while the underside is paler in color.  The flowers male and female on separate plants, petals and sepals are absent, inflorence occur erect at the leaf axil.  The fruit is rounded whitish gray in color, in a waxy nutlike drupe, 2-4 mm in diameter, maturing between Summer and Autumn each year.  

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

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

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 

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Silver Maple - Acer saccharinum

Silver Maple - Acer saccharinum, is a medium to large tree that matures at 50-80 feet in height and 2-3 feet in diameter. Usually forking near the ground with two or three main trunks supporting an openly spreading crown.  The Silver Maple is most easily identified by it's sharply forked form, thin, flat edge curling bark, widely spaced branches and large often partially exposed (runner) roots.  When split the fissures in the bark often expose a pink color below the brown-gray upper bark.



Image Citation: Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org

The leaves are opposite, 6-8 inches long with prominent, pointed, coarsely toothed lobes and narrow, rounded sinuses.  The lower leaf surfaces are a silver color while the upper are a crisp green.  Silver Maple logs are harvested and sold often combined with Red Maple and other soft Maples.  The buds are often eaten by Squirrels when other foods are not available.  



Image Citation: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org



Silver Maple can be found growing almost anywhere in the Eastern Untied States.  Preferring moist, deep, well drained soils where it can get sufficient moisture, for this reason it is often times found growing near stream or river banks.
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