Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Glossy Privet - Ligustrum lucidum

The Glossy Privet (Ligustrum lucidum) is best recognized by it's shrubby growth habit and lustrous v shaped leaf blades, large inflorescence and clusters of blue to black drupes.  The Glossy Privet is a large sized shrub or small tree that can reach heights of up to 20 feet tall.  It generally has multiple trunks, a vase shape and arching or drooping branches.  The Glossy Privet was introduced from Asia and established from cultivation throughout the Southeastern Coastal Plains from South Carolina to Central Florida, West through Eastern Texas.  

Image Citation: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The leaves of the Glossy Privet are opposite, simple, thick and leathery often v shaped with a narrowly elongated tapered point.  The upper portions of the leaves are dark green and hairless, the lower surface is pale and slightly duller in sheen.  The flower is small, white with a slightly greenish hint, tubular with four petals born in conspicuous branching panicles.  The flowers are notably fragrant and are attractive to many pollinators.  The fruit is a blue to black drupe 4-8 mm long that matures in late Summer to early Winter.  

Image Citation: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Privets grow at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24" per year. They prefer full sun or partial shade, a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day. The Privet grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam and well-drained soils.  The Japanese Privet is similar in appearance and is sometimes confused with the Glossy Privet.  The easiest way to decipher between the two is the leaf size which is less then 10 cm on the Japanese Privet and greater then 10 cm on the Glossy Privet.  

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Monday, September 16, 2019

Chinese Elm - Ulmus parvifolia

The Chinese Elm - Ulmus parvifolia - is also referred to as the Lacebark Elm. It is a small to medium deciduous or semi-deciduous tree that reaches heights of 30-60 feet tall on average when mature. It is considered a tough landscape tree and is tolerant to sites that are not ideal for other plantings such as parking lots, street/patio planters and even windswept coastal areas.

Image Citation: Michasia Harris, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The bark is a beautiful combination of greys, reds, and tans that appear in a flaking or lace pattern (hence the name Lacebark Elm). The leaves are small only 2-5 cm long, single toothed and green in color during the growing season. The leaves change to a deep purple-green in the fall. Many Chinese Elms in the United States and Europe retain their leaves into late December or even early January.

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

The Chinese Elm is considered a very tough wood with interlocking grain. This type of Elm wood is used for hardwood floors, tool handles, cabinets, veneers, and furniture making. The lumber takes well to stains and turns well with wood turning machinery but is not easy to carve using hand tools. The heartwood of the Chinese Elm ranges from reddish brown to light flesh color and the sapwood is a very light off-white. The graining of Chinese Elm wood is very beautiful. Freshly cut Chinese Elm is said to have a peppery/spicy odor which is not a trait of any other Elm.

Though a native of Asia (China, India, Taiwan, Japan and North Korea) the Chinese Elm is hardy in zones 5-9 and is used commonly in landscaping as a shade or specimen tree. It's strong qualities and beauty have made it so popular that it can be found planted on every continent except Antartica. There are many different cultivars available and with each the cold hardiness range could vary. The Chinese Elm is very resistant (but not 100% immune) to Dutch Elm Disease, a serious disease that has devestated others in the Elm family.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Golden Chain Tree - Laburnum anagyroides (Golden Rain)

The Golden Chain Tree - Laburnum anagyroides (Golden Rain) is a small deciduous ornamental tree that reaches heights of 30-35 feet tall at maturity.  The Golden Chain grows in a erect, slender form with slightly dropping limbs.  It was native to Europe but has been long cultivated in the United States, common in landscapes along the East Coast especially in Massachusetts, but much more widespread in the West.  Laburnum, commonly called Golden Chain, is a genus of two species of small trees in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae.

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

The leaves are alternate, palmately compound with either 3 ovate or broadly lanceolate leaflets. The flowers are bright yellow in color and are generally 1.5-2 cm long each growing in long, loose, pendant shaped clusters that can range from 10-40 cm long.  The fruit is a slightly hairy plump brown legume that is constricted between the seed compartments.  

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

The wood from the Laburnum family has been used in woodworking, cabinet making, instrument production.  The heartwood is often used as an alternative to ebony or rosewood because of the dark yellow-chocolate coloring.  All parts of the Golden Chain are poisonous, symptoms can include sleepiness, vomiting, convulsive movements, coma, slight frothing of the mouth and unequally dilated pupils. In some cases, diarrhea can be very severe.

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Stewardia (also spelled Stuartia)

The Stewardia (also spelled Stuartia) is a small genus of only 8-20 species of flowering plants in the Theaceae family. They are closely related to the Camellia. They are mostly native to the Eastern portions of Asia including China, Japan, Korea, Laos, Vietnam Myanmar, and Thailand. There are two species native to Southeast North America, from Virginia and Kentucky to the North and Florida through Louisiana in the South. The Stewardia varieties range in size from shrubs to small trees. As trees they can reach heights of 10-65 feet (Asian Varieties) and 10-30 feet (American Varieties).

Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org

One of the most recognizable features is by far their beautiful bark. The smooth bark can range in color from orange, yellow, or brown and peels in fine flakes revealing more depth of colors underneath.The Stewardia are mainly deciduous with a few members being considered evergreen, these are sometimes even categorized into an even smaller genus known as Hartia. The leaves are simply shape and arranged alternately. The leaf edges are serrated and the upper surface is usually glossy. The leaves range in size from 3-14 cm long.

The second most identifiable feature of the Stewardia is the showy flowers. The flowers are large ranging in size from 3-11cm diameter. Each flower is made up of 5-8 petals. Flowering generally occurs in the mid to late summer depending on the region. The flowers are white in color with orange centers, the flowers coloring greatly compliments the bright green leaves.

Image Citation: Cynthia Taylor, Elachee Nature Science Center, Bugwood.org

The genus was named by Carolus Linnaeus in 1753 to honor John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute. The name Stuart was transcribed incorrectly and instead spelled Stewart, leading to the spelling Stewardia. Many publications have used both versions of the spelling with the "Stewardia" version being the most universal, the Stuardia spelling was used more frequently in the 19th century.

The Stewardia requires full to partial sunlight. It prefers wet soil and is not tolerant to drought. It is a slow grower and makes for a beautiful specimen tree it offers year round interest. The recommended hardiness zones are 5-7( or 5-8 depending on variety).

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Sweetbay Magnolia - Magnolia virginiana

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

Image Citation: Richard Webb, www.Bugwood.org 

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

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

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

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

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

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Alder trees -Alnus

Alder trees -Alnus  are a very small group of trees and shrub, made up of only 30 varieties most of which are native to the Northern temperate areas. Ten of which are native specifically to North America half of these can be grown as either shrubs or trees. As a whole, Alders rarely grown to over 70 feet tall. They are relatively fast growers and are short lived not recorded to live very often beyond 100 years.

Image Citation: Brian Lockhart, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Alders are considered part of the larger Birch family since they are very similar in habit and appearance, however there are two things that set them apart from Birch trees. The first is the fruit of the Alder not only resembles a small cone, but when ripe it becomes hard and woody very much like a cone. The second is that the roots of the Alder grow nodules that house nitrifying bacteria which enables these trees to grow well in bare or poor soils that lack the nitrates the plants need to survive. When the leaves of the trees fall each year and decay they enrich the soil, this enables other tree species to eventually grow in these once uninhabitable areas as well.. Red and Gray Alders are commonly planted along the edges of newly constructed roads and in quarry spoils for this very reason. In its native growth range, the Alder is commonly seen as one of the first signs of new growth in previously burned or logged forests. They are also usefully grown along the banks of rivers and ponds as their root systems will extend down into the water creating a stronger bank and helping with erosion control.

Image Citation: Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org

The Alders wood is durable in water, it is hard and dense in quality. The wood is also used to make charcoal for gunpowder. It has been used for both bank and canal construction.

It is recorded in Welsch Mythology that the Alder fought in the great "Battle of Trees" against the dark spirits of the underworld. When cut the wood of the Alder turns from white to red which is said to signify the tree is bleeding.
Native Americans not only made tools and utensils from the Alders wood but they also extracted and used the red dye from it's wood as well. Twigs, leaf buds, leaves and catkins (both male and female) all have medicinal purposes.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Mockernut Hickory - Carya tomentosa (alt. Bullnut, Hognut, Mockernut, White Hickory or Whiteheart Hickory)

Mockernut Hickory - Carya tomentosa is also called the Bullnut, Hognut, Mockernut, White Hickory or Whiteheart Hickory (Depending on the region it is located in).  The Mockernut Hickory is a large deciduous tree that can reach heights of up to 100 feet in ideal conditions.  It is native to the United States and can be found growing from Massachusetts and New York in the North, west to southern Michigan and Northern Illinois, south to eastern Texas and east to northern Florida.  Mockernut Hickory is considered to be a tough tree and can take abuse, it's timber is used for tool handles.  


Image Citation: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The main trunk of the Mockernut Hickory is free of branches before spreading into a thick oblong shaped crown.  Tha bark is a mousy gray in color with very tight interlocking flat or slightly rounded ridges that appear to be almost laced together over the crevices.  The bark pattern gives the trunk the illusion of being wrapped in tight netting.  The leaves are alternate, compound and 8-12 inches long with 5-9 leaflets each that are a deep green in color.  In the fall the leaves change to a bright yellow, yellow-brown and finally brown before falling to make room for next seasons new growth.  The leaflet bottoms and leaf stalks are covered with fuzzy hairs and the edges are finely - coarsely toothed.  When crushed the leaflets release a strong odor.  The nuts have very small fruit cavities and are clothed in thick round or pear shaped husks with indented seams.  The nuts are a favorite meal for squirrels. 



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


Image Citation: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org



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Friday, September 6, 2019

Inkwood - Exothea paniculata

The Inkwood - Exothea paniculata also called Butterbough is an evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches heights of up to 50 feet in height. It is most easily identified by its compound leaves with 4 leaflets. It grows in an erect, upright form with a single trunk and narrowly rounded crown.


(Photo By: Michelle M. Smith, 2018 - In habitat, Ned Glenn Nature Preserve, Florida)

When young the bark is bright, reddish-brown becoming dark gray and fissured with age. The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound with an even number of leaflets, 2-6 in number but usually 4. Each leaflet is elliptic or oblong in shape with a rounded tip and slight notching. The upper surface of the leaves are lustrous and dark green in color, while the lower is a paler green. The flowers are unisex and white with the male and female occurring on separate plants. The flowers contain 5 petals, 5 sepals and generally 8 stamen and occur from late winter to early spring. The fruit is a fleshy berry that is red when young becoming purple or almost black when mature. Fruit reaches maturity annually in Summer.

The Inkwood is native to only the the very southernmost portion of Florida and the Florida Keys. It prefers hammocks and shell mounds. It is a member of the Exothea genus which contains only 3 species all but 1 are native to the Caribbean, the Inkwood is the only member native to the United States.

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Leyland Cypress - Cypressus x leylandii

The Leyland Cypress - Cypressus x leylandii is usually in tree form and can be planted as both a specimen and in mass plantings as a living fence or screen.  The Leyland Cypress originated from cultivation as a hybrid between the Alaska Yellow Cedar (C.nootkatensis D.Don) and the Monterey Cypress (C.macrocarpa Hartw.) and is a member of the Cupressaceae or Cypress family. 

Image Citation: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The Leyland Cypress is one of the most popular and diverse ornamental conifers, with a huge variability in it's size, appearance and uses.  The Leyland Cypress can grow as much as 50 ft in a 15 year period and is considered to be a very fast growing speciman.

Image Citation: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The bark is fibrous in texture and gray in color.  The leaves are scalelike ranging in size from 1.5-2.5 mm long, lacking conspicuous glands, waxy underneath with white X shaped marks on the stomata. The Seed Cone in many cultivars is sterile, the seed cone when present are globose and 1.5-2 cm in diameter slightly waxy and composed of 4 pairs of woody scales.  
Image Citation: John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Cupressaceae or Cypress' in general are monoecious or diocious and either deciduous or evergreen.  Many Genera within the family contain only one single species.  The Cupressaceae or Cypress family was once more wide spread and contained many more members.
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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Common Whitebeam -Sorbus aria (and other Whitebeam hybrids)

There are multiple varieties of Whitebeams that are used in various settings most of which have simply shaped slightly rounded and broad leaves. Whitebeams are Old World trees native to the Northern Parts of the Eurasian landmass, from the British Isle to Japan.  The Common Whitebeam -Sorbus aria - also called the Chess-Apple is native to southern England and parts of Central Europe.The Lutescens which is used as a street tree because of it's tight egg shaped crown. The Majestica which is mainly found in France and has larger leaves. The Himalayan - Sorbus cuspidata is a vigorous tall growing tree, with thicker and longer leaves with shallow toothing and slight lobing.  The Wilfred Fox(a hybrid of the common and the Himalayan) this variety is strictly upright and does not have red fruit as the others do. The Finnish Whitebeam -Sorbus thuringiaca  (unknown origin) also a hybrid has a very different appearance then all of the other Whitebeams, it's leaves are not simply shaped they are instead deeply lobed or pinnate with 1-2 separate leaflets at the base of each leaf.  


Image Citation: Zelimir Borzan, University of Zagreb, Bugwood.org

Whitebeams are moderate sized trees, growing as tall as 60+ feet.  They withstand the harsh conditions of street type locations in European city suburbs.  The leaves are generally simply shaped, rounded and broad (except on the Finnish, theses are deeply loped) Green above and silver below.   The fruits appears in bunches of small berries, depending on the variety the berries are red, orange or sometimes brown.  The flowers are generally small and white in color, bisexual and usually arranged in large, branched corymbs, except on the Himalayan their flowers are larger and have a strong scent similar to the Hawthorn.  Flowers on the Whitebeams are smaller in size and number then the Mountain Ash, the berries also occur in lesser numbers.



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

Whitebeams are not commonly found growing in the United States as they are not native to our area.  When found they are primarily planted in park settings or as specimen trees but never growing wild.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Post Oak - Quercus stellata

The Post Oak - Quercus stellata is a deciduous tree that is 32 - 65 feet tall. It grows in an upright erect fashion with generally a single trunk. The crown grows in a rounded form, spreading and ascending, openly branched with a somewhat gnarled appearance. It is native and typically occurs in dry, upland, sandy or gravelly woods, or in dry, mixed deciduous forests from 0-1500 m. The Post Oak can be found from Massachusetts to Iowa in the North and Florida and Texas in the South.  The Post Oak has a very high wildlife value, it's acorns provide high energy winter food for Wild Turkey, Whitetail Deer, Squirrels and other small woodland rodents.  The trunk cavities provide good nesting sites for birds and small mammals. The leaves, buds and acorns are however toxic to cattle, sheep and goats.  

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

The Post Oak is most easily identified by its cross shaped leaves with rectangular lobes.  The leaves are alternate, simple and vary in size, they are U shaped or tapered at the bases.  The upper leaf surfaces are lustrous, dark green and have the texture of a fine grained sand paper.  The fruit is an acorn with a cup ranging in size from 7-18 mm deep, this cup encases 1/3 - 2/3 of the nut.  The acorns are generally a light brown in color and are egg shaped or rounded.  The bark is grayish in color, dull, irregularly furrowed and moderately scaly.  The buds are a reddish brown in color and egg shaped or rounded.  

Image Citation: Franklin Bonner, USFS (ret.), Bugwood.org
Image Citation: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University, Bugwood.org

The Post Oak can be planted anywhere in hardiness zones 6-9 (about half of the United States), though it is not Native to all of these areas.  The branches of the trees begin to droop with age and will require pruning/elevation to maintain clearance for traffic and pedestrians below.  The Post Oak will require minimal pruning in order to develop a strong structure. It prefers full sun, and has a high tolerance to drought and various soil conditions. The wood is often marketed as White Oak when sold as firewood.

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Monday, September 2, 2019

Common Apple - Malus pumila

Common Apple - Malus pumila - Trees are small deciduous trees in the Rosaceae family with a single erect trunk and low hanging branches that often reach the ground. Sometimes also called Paradise Apple, this is the Apple of commerce. Numerous cultivars have been selected from this genus for taste, size, shape and color. Fruits of wild plants are often of lesser quality then those that are tended to in orchards. Other varieties of Apples and Crab Apples have smaller fruit and thorny twigs.

Image Citation: Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org

The fragrant flowers are white with a hint of pink or sometimes all pink. Flower have 5 petals and appear with the new leaves in mid - late Spring. The leaves are alternate, simply shaped, oval or elliptic with a bluntly pointed tip. The upper leaf surface is a deep green hairy when young, becoming hairless with age. The fruit is round or slightly ellipsoid pome, green when young becoming red with maturity. The fruit matures in Summer to Early Fall annually.

Image Citation: H.J. Larsen, Bugwood.org

Growing commonly in forest clearings, near streams in the Eastern United States (but not very far to the North or Gulf Coast region). Ornamental varieties are grown throughout the majority of the United States. It is believed that the Common Apple was originally introduced from Asia or Europe but has naturalized in many areas within it's hardiness zones.

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