Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Maple Leaf Oak - Quercus acerfolia

The Maple Leaf Oak - Quercus acerfolia is a very unique, very rare member of the Oak (Quercus) Species on the Red Oak (Fagaceae) family.  It is considered a threatened/protected due to loss of natural habitat. 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).   


Image Citation:  Brent Baker/Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.

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.



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Monday, June 29, 2020

El Arbol del Tule - The Tree of Tule - 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/



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Thursday, June 25, 2020

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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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

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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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Tree Destinations: Joshua Tree National Park, 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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Monday, June 22, 2020

Red Maple - Acer rubrum (also called Scarlet Maple, Swamp Maple, Water Maple, White Maple or Soft Maple-regionally)

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


(Fruit) Image Citation: Wendy VanDyk Evans, Bugwood.org


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Friday, June 19, 2020

Wax Myrtle / Southern Wax Myrtle - Myrica cerifera or Morella 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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Thursday, June 18, 2020

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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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Loquat - Eriobotrya japonica

The Loquat - Eriobotrya japonica is most easily recognized by the combination of large coarsely toothed, heavily veined, dark green leaves and large flowering panicles with yellow or orange fruit. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches heights of 9-20 feet high on average. The crown is dense, rounded and somewhat vase shaped. The Eriobotrya is a small genus of only 30 species of evergreen shrubs or trees that are native to mostly Asia.


Image Citation: Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

The bark is brownish gray, smooth and somewhat hairy. The leaves are alternate, simply toothed, stiff, leathery, obovate or elliptical, with coarsely toothed margins and parallel veins. The upper leaf surface is lustrous, dark green, hairless, with a paler lower surface. The flowers are 10-15 mm in diameter with 5 petals in an oval or circular form. The flowers are a creamy white color with a sweet fragrance, borne in conspicuous branches and hairy terminal panicles. The flowers appear is late Autumn to early Winter. The fruit is a yellow, orange or whitish pomme, that is pear shaped or oblong with 1-2 large seeds. The fruit matures in Spring to early Summer.


Image Citation: Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

The Loquat was originally introduced from East Asia and is now found on disturbed sites from South Florida to South Louisiana, and cultivated into the southern portion of North Carolina. The Loquat is considered to be somewhat invasive in some portions of Florida.

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Monday, June 15, 2020

Chickasaw Plum - Prunus angustifolia

Chickasaw Plum - Prunus angustifolia, is a thicket-forming small tree that has an early blooming habit and folding leaves. It is deciduous and reaches heights of only 20 feet tall.  It grows in an erect fashion with multiple trunks and a thicket forming habit.  It is native to the United States from New Jersey to Pennsylvania in the North to Florida, Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico in the South and West.    Commonly found on roadsides, in old fields, sandy clearings, rural homesteads, thickets, in open woods, dunes pastures from 0-600 m.


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

The bark is a dark reddish brown to gray, splitting but not exfoliating.  The leaves are alternate, simple, lanceolate, narrowly elliptic or oblong, upward folding from the mid rib, with a wedge shaped base.  The upper leaf surface is lustrous, bright green, hairless with a dull under surface. The flowers are 7-10 mm in diameter, 5 petals, 10-20 stamens each, with white filaments.  The fruit is ovoid or ellipsoid red or yellow drupe, 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter.  The fruit is considered to be pleasant tasting and can be used for making wine, jam and jellies.



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

The thickets are used by cattle for shading and protection from the summers heat.  When thickets form a majority of a cattles grazing area they tend to gain weight faster.  The thorned thickets are a popular plantings for songbirds and game bird nesting and roosting.   The fruit is eaten by numerous birds and small animals.  Lesser prairie-chickens use the cover of the thickets for cooling during the day.  Fire can damage the thickets but does not generally kill the plantings.



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Friday, June 12, 2020

Gray Birch - Betula populifolia

The Gray Birch - Betula populifolia Marshall, is most easily distinguished by it's triangular leaf with flattened base, elongated tip and doubly toothed margins.  It is a deciduous tree that reached heights of about 40 feet.  Generally growing in a multi trunk, curving or leaning fashion it makes for a beautiful focal point in both residential and commercial landscape settings.  


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

The bark of the Gray Birch is red-brown when young, becoming a gray or chalky white when mature.  The bark is smooth and tight, not usually exfoliating like some other Birch (Betula) varieties.  The leaves are alternate, simply shaped, thin and pendulous.  The triangular leaves are often compared in size and shape to those of the Quaking Aspen.  Leaf color ranges from a lustrous green in the Spring to a yellow or yellow-orange in the Fall.  The flower appears in late Spring in the form of a cylindrical catkin.  The fruit is a winged samara with wings broader then the body, they are borne in a narrow, bluntly pointed, erect or drooping structure.



Image Citations (Bark & Leaves): T. Davis Sydnor, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

The Gray Birch is native to the North East and Mid Eastern portions of the United States and extreme South Eastern portions of Canada.  It can be found from North Carolina and Virginia in the South, Illinois and Indiana in the West, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario in the North.  It prefers moist, well drained, rocky or sandy forests, abandoned sites (fields, pastures) and can often be found on natural reforestation sites that have been burned, or cleared.  Hybrids of the Gray Birch and Mountain Paper Birch are often called Blue Birch .  

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Pomegranate - Punica granatum

The Pomegranate - Punica granatum, is most often distinguished by the spiny branches, opposite clustered leaves, large showy flowers and very unique fruit.  It occurs in a deciduous shrub or small tree form, with a single short trunk and rounded crown that reaches an average height of only 8-25 feet tall.  The bark is brownish gray with thin smooth bark that becomes rougher with age.   The young twigs are angled at first but become rounded with maturity.  The leaves are simple, opposite, elliptic, oblong and clustered with a narrowly wedged shaped base and a blunt tipped point.  The upper surface of the leaves are a lustrous deep green with a pale underside.  The flowers are bisexual with fused sepals that form a tube, they are fleshy, reddish with 5-9 petals that are red, orange, yellow or white.  The flowers appear in late spring to summer.  


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

The fruit from the Pomegranate is rounded red, red-yellow, or red-brown with a white leathery berry that is 5-12 cm in diameter.  The fruit matures in the Fall.  Pomegranates are grown for both ornamental and food purposes and have been for centuries, the fruit is even mentioned in both the Bible and Quran.  It is said that the calyx on the fruit was even the inspiration for King Solomon's crown.  


Image Citation: USDA ARS Photo Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

The Pomegranate originated in the region that is known today as Iran and cultivated since ancient times throughout the entire Mediterranean region.  It was introduced to first Spanish America in the late 16th century and later into California and Arizona.  Today it is cultivated and sparingly established in some of the Southern United States from North Carolina to California.  It is also widely cultivated throughout the Middle East, North Africa, tropical portions of Africa, Central Asia, the Mediterranean Basin, and India.  Recently it has begun to appear in European and and the Western Hemisphere.


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

The fruit has been used for centuries in many different cuisines.  It is used for juices, sauces, as a spice (flavoring), or a topping for desserts or soups.  The seeds of the Pomegranate provide 12% of your daily value of Vitamins C, 16% of your value vitamin K and 10% daily value of folate, they are also an excellent source of dietary fiber at 20% of the daily value (this is entirely contained in the edible seeds).

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Oakleaf Holly - Ilex X conal

The Oakleaf Holly - Ilex x conal is most easily identified by its leaves that are similar in shape to an Oak tree.  Recommened for USDA Hardiness Zones 6-8, it can reach heights of 15-20 ft tall and 10-15 ft wide.  It prefers full sun and moist, well drained soil that is slightly acidic.  The foliage is Emerald Green in color but fades to a lighter coppery green during the winter.


(Oakleaf Holly) Photo Credit: Amy Gilliss - Arundel Tree Service - www.ArundelTreeService.com

As with most other Hollies, The Oakleaf Holly can serve well as a yard hedge, formally or informal, as a singular focal point or to anchor a corner. The Oakleaf Holly is one that I have in my own backyard (7) of them to be exact.  We planted ours around our deck to anchor the corners where the stairs meet the deck and then have one in a corner to hide our crawlspace access. Heavy pruning is not required on the Oakleaf Holly as it naturally maintains a somewhat pyramid form.  More pruning will be required if you are attempting to train this variety to grow into hedge form or have a "perfect" shape (less natural appearance).


(Foliage) Photo Credit: Amy Gilliss - Arundel Tree Service - www.ArundelTreeService.com

Oakleaf Holly can be found at most larger Nurseries within Hardiness Zones 6-8.  We found ours from a local nursery/grower near Dover, Delaware (balled and burlapped).  I have yet to see any available at the smaller garden centers or large chain stores in my area.

Meet more trees by following our blog or visit our website to learn more www.ArundelTreeService.com

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Rubber Tree - Hevea brasiliensis

The Rubber Tree - Hevea brasiliensis, is also called Sharinga Tree, Rubberwood or Para Rubber Tree.  It was only originally found growing in the Amazon Rainforest but was planted in more widespread tropical and sub-tropical areas once the demand for it's naturally produced rubber increased.  This tree is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family and has major economic value because of it's milky latex that naturally occurs within the tree.  Recorded uses of this and similar tree rubber/latex products date back to the Olmec people of Mesoamerica some 3600 years ago.  By the late 1800's rubber plantations were established in the British colonies, Java, and Malaya.  Today most rubber plantations outside of the native region occur in tropical portions of South/East Asia and West Africa. Cultivating in South America has not been satisfactory because of leaf blight this leaf blight is a major concern for plantations worldwide as it has not been cured or corrected and is thought to pose a threat to all varieties/clones growing today.

Image Citation: David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

This latex that occurs in the Rubber Tree is the primary source of natural rubber, it occurs in vessels within the bark just outside of the phloem. The vessels spirals up and around the tree in a right handed helix pattern forming an angle of about 30 degrees and occurring at heights of up to 45 feet.  In the wild the tree has been found to reach heights upwards of 100 feet, but this is not very common.  Trees grow at a much slower rate once they are tapped for latex and are generally cut down after about thirty years as they usually stop producing at this point so they no longer have economical value.  When harvesting cuts are made in the vessels but only deep enough to tap into them without harming the trees growth.  In order to grow these trees require tropical or sub-tropical climates, with no chance of frost.  One simple frost event can completely wipe out a plantation and be detrimental to production as the rubber becomes brittle and breaks.  Latex production is not very reliable the amount and quality is variable from tree to tree. When a tree is tapped (the process is called rubber tapping) the latex is collected in small buckets and looks almost similar to the process used to collect syrup from Maple trees.



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Monday, June 8, 2020

Solanaceae - Nightshade Family (Most common members are Tomatoes and Potatoes)

In the family Solanaceae (Nightshade Family) there is a genus called Solanum it contains 1500-2000 varieties of herbs, shrubs and trees. Of these varieties two are major food crops in North America, Potato and Tomato and another less Popular including Eggplant. In other regions there are varieties such as the Ethiopian eggplant, Gilo (S. aethiopicum), Naranjilla or Lulo (S. quitoense), Turkey Berry (S. torvum), Pepino (S. muricatum), Tamarillo and Bush Tomatoes (which includes several Australian species). Most of the members of this family are native to the American Tropics, 65 occur in North America (only 35 are native). Even though two of our largest food crops are included in this genus most of the green parts of the plants and unripened fruits are poisonous, but some bear edible parts in the form of fruit, leaves or tubers. Also included in this genus are Nightshades, Horse Nettles and many other plants cultivated for their ornamental flowers and fruits. The species grows in various habits including annual, perennial, vine, subshrub, shrub and even small trees.


Image Citation: Bruce Ackley, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org - Subject: Buffalobur (Solanum rostratum) Dunal

Image Citation:  Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org  - Subject: Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) L.

Most of the plants have green simply shape leaves that are ovate or elliptic. Flowers can range in color depending on the variety but generally have 5 petals. The fruits can vary from small and insignificant to large and very visable - berries, tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants. Some produce fruit from the leaves while other grow underground (like the potato). Many plants in the Solanum genus are an important food source for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species (Butterflies and Moths), these include various Angle shades (Phlogophora meticulosa), various members of the Bedellia species, the Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae), Common swift (Korscheltellus lupulina), Garden dart (Euxoa nigricans), Ghost moth (Hepialus humuli), Tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta), Tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata), and Turnip moth (Agrotis segetum) to name a few.


Image Citation: J. Jeffrey Mullahey, University of Florida, Bugwood.org Subject: Tropical Soda Apple (Solanum viarum) Dunal

Food Crop production in the Solanum genus is extremely important throughout the world. In 2013, the recorded world production of Tomatoes was 163.4 million tonnes, with China producing 31% of the total, followed by India, the United States and Turkey. In 2012, Tomato production was estimated to be valued at 59 billion dollars, making it the eighth most valuable agricultural product worldwide. In 2013, the recorded world production of Potatoes was 368 million tonnes. Two thirds of the global production is eaten by humans, the remaining third is consumed by animals or used in starch production. Potatoes remains an essential crop in Europe, where per capita production remains the highest in the world. The most rapid expansion over the past few decades has occurred in southern and eastern Asia. As of 2007, China led the world potato production, and nearly a third of the world's potatoes were harvested between China and India. It is believed that the geographic shift in potato production has been moved from wealthier countries toward low income areas of the world because it is a cheap and plentiful crop that is able to grow in wide varieties of climates and locales. Only about 5% of the world's Potato crop are traded internationally because of the perishability. In 2013, the recorded world production of Eggplants was 49.4 million tonnes, 57% of which came from China, 27% from India, Iran, Egypt and Turkey were also major producers all total account for 97% of the world production. More than 4,000,000 acres are devoted to the cultivation of eggplants in the world.

Image Citation: Howard Schwartz , USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org - Subject: Potato (Solanum tuberosum) L.

Many members of the Solanaceae:Nightshade family members can be grown in your own landscape some in your vegetable garden and others in you flower gardens. With 1500-2000 varieties and counting I am sure you can find one that is right for you! Hardiness zones vary by plant and within the family can range from zones 4-12.

Meet more trees, shrubs and vines on our website www.ArundelTreeService.com or follow our blogs www.MeetATree.com and Eat A Tree

Friday, June 5, 2020

Ginkgo Tree - Ginkgo Biloba

The The Ginkgo Tree - Ginkgo Biloba - is the survivor of all arboreal survivors. There were Ginkgo trees when dinosaurs walked the Earth. The sole remnant of a group of plants even more primitive than Conifers. It is a living fossil, and fossils relating to the modern Ginkgos dating back 270 million years. They were wiped out completely in North America by the Glaciers,and thought to at one time be extinct in the wild the world over. They however thrived in China where the Buddhist monks tended to them in their gardens. When growing in the wild , they are found infrequently in deciduous forests and valleys with fine silty soil. It has long been cultivated in China and is now common in the southern third of that country. They were exported to England in 1754 and to the U.S. about 30 years later, cultivated in both countries for over 200 years it has failed to become significantly naturalized in either.



Ginkgos are also known as Maiden Hair trees, and sometimes referred to by a variation in spelling on the name -Gingko/Gingo/Ginko. They grow to be very tall, they average between 60-100ft, with some specimens in China reaching over 160 ft tall. The tree has an angular crown and long, somewhat erratic branches. This tree is deep rooted which makes it tolerant to wind and snow damage. They grow best in moist soil, but are known to be very tolerant. Young specimens are often tall, slender, and sparcely branched, but with age the crown broadens. In the fall the leaves will turn a bright yellow before they fall often within as short a span as 15 days. Their combination of disease resistance, insect resistant wood, and their ability to form aerial roots/sprouts make them very longed lived. Some specimens in China are claimed to be over 2500 years old.


Being Dioecious, Ginkgos are either male or female. Males produce small pollen cones. Females do not produce cones, instead two ovules are formed at the end of a stalk and after pollenation one or both develop into seeds. The seed is 1-2 cm long, the outer layer is a yellowy brown flesh that is soft and fruit-like. It is attractive in appearance but contains butanoic acid (or butyric acid). The males are generally preferred in urban landscapes because the fruits from the females tend to be messy when they fall onto sidewalks and have a peculiar odor from the butanoic acid (often compared to a strong cheese). The kernel/seed (or Silver Nut) inside the fruit is considered a delicacy in the Orient. The fertilization of a Ginkgo occurs via motile sperm (as in Cycads, ferns, or moss), the sperm have a very complex structure. They adapt well in urban environments, tolerating pollution as well as confined soil space, for this reason as well as just being a beautiful tree they are often planted in streetside setting.



Used in both culinary and medicinal settings, the Ginkgo is thought by some to have health benefits and is also considered by others to be an aphrodisiac. However when eaten in large quantities for a number of years (especially by children) the meat of the seed can cause poisoning. Others are sensitive to the chemical in the outer fleshy part of the fruit, having symptoms similar to poison ivy. The extract of Ginkgo leaves contains flavonoid glycosides and terpenoids and have been used pharmaceutically. Medical trials have shown Ginkgo to be moderately effective in improving symptoms in dementia patients, but not in preventing the onset of Alzheimer's disease in the average person. Used primarily as a memory and concentration enhancer, and anti-vertigo agent, even though some studies differ in results about its effectiveness. Ginkgos are truly an amazing species of tree all on their own, surviving and adapting for hundred of millions of years.


Image Citations (Photos 1, 2 & 3) : Jan Samanek, State Phytosanitary Administration, Bugwood.org

More Tree Facts www.ArundelTreeService.com or www.MeetaTree.com - is the survivor of all arboreal survivors. There were Ginkgo trees when dinosaurs walked the Earth. The sole remnant of a group of plants even more primitive than Conifers. It is a living fossil, and fossils relating to the modern Ginkgos dating back 270 million years. They were wiped out completely in North America by the Glaciers,and thought to at one time be extinct in the wild the world over. They however thrived in China where the Buddhist monks tended to them in their gardens. When growing in the wild , they are found infrequently in deciduous forests and valleys with fine silty soil. It has long been cultivated in China and is now common in the southern third of that country. They were exported to England in 1754 and to the U.S. about 30 years later, cultivated in both countries for over 200 years it has failed to become significantly naturalized in either.


Ginkgos are also known as Maiden Hair trees, and sometimes referred to by a variation in spelling on the name -Gingko/Gingo/Ginko. They grow to be very tall, they average between 60-100ft, with some specimens in China reaching over 160 ft tall. The tree has an angular crown and long, somewhat erratic branches. This tree is deep rooted which makes it tolerant to wind and snow damage. They grow best in moist soil, but are known to be very tolerant. Young specimens are often tall, slender, and sparcely branched, but with age the crown broadens. In the fall the leaves will turn a bright yellow before they fall often within as short a span as 15 days. Their combination of disease resistance, insect resistant wood, and their ability to form aerial roots/sprouts make them very longed lived. Some specimens in China are claimed to be over 2500 years old.


Being Dioecious, Ginkgos are either male or female. Males produce small pollen cones. Females do not produce cones, instead two ovules are formed at the end of a stalk and after pollenation one or both develop into seeds. The seed is 1-2 cm long, the outer layer is a yellowy brown flesh that is soft and fruit-like. It is attractive in appearance but contains butanoic acid (or butyric acid). The males are generally preferred in urban landscapes because the fruits from the females tend to be messy when they fall onto sidewalks and have a peculiar odor from the butanoic acid (often compared to a strong cheese). The kernel/seed (or Silver Nut) inside the fruit is considered a delicacy in the Orient. The fertilization of a Ginkgo occurs via motile sperm (as in Cycads, ferns, or moss), the sperm have a very complex structure. They adapt well in urban environments, tolerating pollution as well as confined soil space, for this reason as well as just being a beautiful tree they are often planted in streetside setting.



Used in both culinary and medicinal settings, the Ginkgo is thought by some to have health benefits and is also considered by others to be an aphrodisiac. However when eaten in large quantities for a number of years (especially by children) the meat of the seed can cause poisoning. Others are sensitive to the chemical in the outer fleshy part of the fruit, having symptoms similar to poison ivy. The extract of Ginkgo leaves contains flavonoid glycosides and terpenoids and have been used pharmaceutically. Medical trials have shown Ginkgo to be moderately effective in improving symptoms in dementia patients, but not in preventing the onset of Alzheimer's disease in the average person. Used primarily as a memory and concentration enhancer, and anti-vertigo agent, even though some studies differ in results about its effectiveness. Ginkgos are truly an amazing species of tree all on their own, surviving and adapting for hundred of millions of years.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Sourwood Tree - Oxydendrum arboreum

The Sourwood Tree - Oxydendrum arboreum is very unique as it is the only species in it's genus. This genus is a part of the larger Ericaceae Family, which is commonly called the Heath or Heather Family. The Ericaceae family is made up of a very diverse group of plants including Heather, Azaleas, Rhododendron and Madrones.


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

The Sourwood has grey bark with deep lobes that almost make the bark appear chunky. The leaves are very finely toothed and a smooth grey-green in color during the growth season and a bright red, crimson or even purple in the fall. The leaves are arranged alternately and average 3-8 inches long. The flowers are white or ivory in color and bell shaped, they are very small only 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch each. The flowers though small on their own grow on 6-10 inch long panicles. The fruit are small downy, five sided/angled woody capsules that are ivory in color. The roots of the Sourwood are considered shallow, this tree grows best with little to no root competition. It prefers very acidic soil and will not tolerate . The wood of the Sourwood is heavy, hard and close grained. This type wood takes well to high gloss finish. Honey produced from the flowers of this tree is considered by many to be unmatched by clover, orange blossom, or any other honey.



Image Citation: David Stephens, Bugwood.org 

It is native to Eastern United States, ranging in the North from Pennsylvania and in the South from Western Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Northwest Florida. It is found most commonly in the lower chain of the Appalachian Mountain. Recommended for hardiness zones 5-9, this tree is a medium sized deciduous tree that makes for a lovely ornamental addition to any landscape. With a maximum height of 35-70 feet and a spread of 20 feet it's size allows it to fit in places where some other shade trees will not.

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