Monday, February 17, 2020

Quaking Aspen - Populus tremuloides

The Quaking Aspen - Populus tremuloides - is also called the Trembling Aspen, Golden Aspen or Mountain Aspen. With the smallest of breezes the leaves will flutter hence it's name. When fluttering the leaves even making an audible sound which would explain why the Onondagas called it the "nut-kie-e" which means noisy leaf. This tree has a very remarkable native range covering a majority of the Northern portion of the continent, ranging from New Foundland South to Delaware in the East and along the Coast of Alaska and British Columbia running South through the Rocky Mountains. Although it is not found in the South it does have one of the widest distributions of any tree in North America. It can be grown throughout hardiness zones 1-7. It is often times one of the first trees to appear after a Forest Fire. It is a fast grower often gaining 24 inches in a single season. Aspen wood Is used to make a variety of items such as wooden toys, tongue depressors, popsicle sticks, clothes pins, crates and even for paper pulp.


Image Citation (Stand): Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired), Bugwood.org

The leaves are rounded triangles with small teeth along the margins. The leaves are a glossy green above and dull below, during the Spring they change to a vivid Yellow or very rarely Red. They are arrranged alternately on the branches. Catkins are long and silvery and appear between April and May. In the late Spring, it's tiny seeds which are enclosed in cottony tufts are dispersed by the wind. The bark is a Greenish-White to Grey in color, it is often marked with black knots or horizontal scars.

Image Citation (Fall Foliage): Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

The Aspen is a favorited food and shelter source for many different type of wildlife. The leaves and bark are eaten by Deer, Elk and Hare/Rabbits. The Buds are an important food source for Grouse during Winter. Beavers not only feed from the Aspen, they also use it's lumber as a building material. Many different birds and butterflies make their homes in these stands.

Image Citation (Stand surrounding field):  Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired), Bugwood.org 

The Aspen holds the the title of largest living organisms on Earth, growing in clones/stand that reproduce primarily by sending up sprouts from their roots. For the most part each clone within a stand is connected to the next one through it's root system. One clone/stand in Utah (where it is the State tree) has been determined to have over 47,000 stems, this stand is estimated to weigh over 6,000 tons! While individually each stem lives 100-150 years, Aspen stands are one of the longest living organisms. One clone in Minnesota is estimated to be 8,000 years old, making it one of the longest living organism on Earth.

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Austrian Pine (also called the European Black Pine)

The Austrian Pine (also called the European Black Pine) is a medium sized evergreen that reaches heights of 60 feet tall and 2 feet in diameter.  Similar to the Eastern White Pine and Red Pine, each year it grows a set of limbs in a whorled pattern around the trunk that resemble spokes on the hub of a wheel.  The limbs of the Austrian Pine form a large, thick, pyramidal crown that is filled with dark green needle-like foliage.  This variety was one of the first trees introduced into the United States, often planted by homesteaders in the treeless Great Plains for protection from the sun, wind and snow.   Native to Europe the Austrian Pine was first imported in the eighteenth century and has been widely planted as an ornamental through the middle and eastern United States.  It's tolerance to salt and sulfur dioxide damage make it popular as an Urban Tree as well.



Image Citation: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org

In the Northern United States the Austrian Pine is often confused with the native Red Pine as they are similar in appearance, though the trained eye is able to distinguished between the two by inspecting the bark color.  The evergreen needles range in size from 3-6 inches long and are bundled in sets of two.  The needles are slender, shiny, stiff and dark blue-green in color.  The cones are egg shaped and 2-3 inches in length at maturity.  When the cones open and shed their seeds, they remain on the tree for several years before eventually falling from the tree.  The bark of the trunk is a dark gray to dull/dark brown with a thin surface of flat plates that thicken with age.



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

Thursday, February 13, 2020

White Oak - Quercus alba

The "White Oak" - Quercus alba - is one of the most prominent and well recognized trees in our area. It is a long lived tree, with some recorded still living at 450 years. Maryland's famous Wye Oak (in Wye Mills, Maryland) was estimated to be over 450 years old when it was knocked down by a storm in 2002. The White Oak is the state tree of Maryland, Connecticut and Illinois, It's native range is from Quebec in the North, Minnesota in the West and Texas-Florida in the South. It is not a very tall tree, with an average height of 80-100 feet at maturity.


Wye Oak-Image Citation: Martin MacKenzie, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The bark is a light grey color with very rigid and noticeable fissures. The leaves are green in color ranging from 5-8 inches in length, changing to a red-brown in the Autumn season. White Oaks will sometimes hold their dead brown leaves over winter, these leaves will fall out in the Spring with the new growth. The wood is pale brown in color, solid, heavy and durable. The acorns appear annually, they are cup shaped and are a shiny brown in color.


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

The White Oak is a food source for many forest animals. Deer and Rabbits will nibble on the twigs and sometimes dead leaves. The acorns are a favorite of Turkeys, Wood Ducks, Pheasants, Jays, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers. The White Oak is also the only known food source for Bucculatrix luteella and Bucculatrix ochrisuffusa caterpillars.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Waterlocust-Gleditisia aquatica

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Ohio Buckeye- Aesculus glabra

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

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

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


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


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

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Monday, February 10, 2020

White Ash - Fraxinus americana

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

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


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

Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org

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

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Friday, February 7, 2020

Balsam Fir - Abies balsamea

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


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

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


Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org

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

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Tamarack- Larix laricina

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

Image Citation: Bill Cook, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

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

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

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

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Black Willow - Salix nigra

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

Image Citation: Bill Cook, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

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

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

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

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Norway Spruce - Picea abies

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

Image Citation: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org

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

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

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

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Monday, February 3, 2020

Shagbark Hickory - Carya ovata

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

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

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

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

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

Image Citation: Jason Sharman, Vitalitree, Bugwood.org

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Friday, January 31, 2020

Black Willow - Salix nigra

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

Image Citation: Bill Cook, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org

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

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

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

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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Red Pine - Pinus resinosa

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



Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org

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



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

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Table Mountain Pine, Pinus pungens

The Table Mountain Pine, Pinus pungens is a small to mid sized scruffy looking tree that reaches heights of only 50 feet tall.  It has an irregularly shaped crown that is filled with twisted limbs and clusters of barbed cones.  The Table Mountain Pine can generally be found growing above 2500 feet in elevation in only the southern mountains and other higher elevations of the piedmont from New York in the north to Georgia in the south.


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

The bark of the Table Mountain Pine is red brown and furrowed into moderately thin, rounded to flat scaled plates on the lower portion and rough to the touch.  The leaves are in the form of evergreen needles are 1.5 to 3 inches long and grow in bundles of 2 each. Needles are dark green in color, thick and stiff sometimes twisting.  Cones are the easiest way to identify this particular tree, they are short and fat with thick, sharp hooked barbs on the scale ends that resemble a mini - rhinoceros horn.  When viewing a cone from the tip down, there is a visible spiraling pattern.  Some cones are so tightly closed that only the heat from fire is able to open them to release their winged seeds.


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

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Friday, January 24, 2020

Littleleaf Linden

The Littleleaf Linden is found commonly in the United States though it is actually native to Europe.  it is used frequently as a street tree or in park settings throughout the United States. it has a pleasing shape, dense canopy and very fragrant flowers.  At maturity it can reach heights of 50-60 feet tall with a spread of up to 40 feet.  Growing at a medium rate it can grow 12-24 inches in a single year.  It grows best in full sun or partial shade in acidic, alkaline, moist, sandy or clay soils.  It does not do well in extremely wet or dry conditions.


Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org

The blooms appear in the summer later in the season when most other trees have finished.  they flowers hang on a long stalk with an attached wing like leaf.  The flowers are a great source of nectar and pollen for bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.  The fruits are 1/4 inch in diameter.



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


The leaves are heart shaped and lopsided at the base.  Leaf sizes vary from 2-3 inches long with a slightly saw toothed margin.  The color of the leaves range from light green to a deeper glossy green, shifting to yellow in the fall season.


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



The soft wood cavities provide ideal nesting sites for birds that prefer cavity dwelling.  The wood is considered a soft wood and does not have any significant value in the lumber market.


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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Horse Chestnut - Aesculus hippocastanum

The Horse Chestnut - Aesculus hippocastanum, is only native to a very small area of Mountains between Greece and Albania- it was not discovered/recorded until 1596.  Once discovered it was rapidly planted and spread almost all over Europe in the early 1600's, then later by the early colonists of North America.  It is a very common street tree from Ontario to Virginia.  In the West it's spread ranges from British Columbia down through New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.  It is one of the more common street trees in the United States and has naturalized in most regions. Growing to heights of 50-75 feet at maturity, this tree can live upwards of 300 years so when planted correctly it can be considered a permanent addition to most landscapes.  It is recommended to be planted in hardiness zones 4-7


The name Horse Chestnut was thought to gain it's origin from the false belief that this tree was part of the Chestnut family, combined with the fact that despite the fruits being poisonous to horses they actually cured some chest related ailments when eaten by sick horses.  

Image Citations (Photos 1 & 2):Norbert Frank, University of West Hungary, Bugwood.org

Although the Horse Chestnut is sometimes confused with the closley related American Buckeye, that name is generally reserved for the North American members of the Aesculus genus.  The Horse Chestnut differs from the American Buckeyes because of it's shiny orange-brown terminal buds, bigger leaves on stalkless leaflets, 1 foot tall heads with predominently white flowers and very prickly husks that enclose the mahogany colored seeds.  Each individual flower opens to reveal a bright splash of yellow at the base of every petal, once pollinated this yellow turns a deeper orange and then finally a crimson red.

 
Image Citations (Photos 3 & 4) :Paul Wray, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org

The flowers provide a rich source of nectar and pollen to insects, especially bees. Caterpillars of the triangle moth and horse chestnut leaf miner moth feed on the leaves. Deer and other mammals eat the conkers.  The most famous use of Horse Chestnut is in the game of conkers. The first record of the game is from the Isle of Wight in 1848.
The wood of the Horse Chestnut is soft and often considered weak.  It has a very straight light colored grain and is often used for wood turning, artificial limb production and wooden toy making.  This weakness can be considered a liability as mature trees in full leaf have been known to drop large branches without warning during heavy storms. 



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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Black Maple - Acer nigrum

The Black Maple - Acer nigrum (also called the Black Sugar Maple, Hard Maple, or Rock Maple) is a medium sized deciduous tree that can reach heights of up to 80 feet tall.  The tree generally has a relatively short trunk with large rounded crown full of long upward reaching branches.  


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

The bark of the Black Maple is black to brown in color with a silver gray layer on top.  The trunk of the Black Maple is often fluted which gives the tree a rougher appearance.  The leaves are simple and grow opposite from one another, as opposed to being side by side.  The lobes are often coarsely toothed before ending in narrow blunted tips.  The upper leaf surface is smooth, dark green in color, wile the lower surface is lighter and duller in finish.  The leaves become yellow to yellow brown in the fall before falling off.  The leaf stalk or petiole is long and often fuzzy. The bodies of the paired fruit are joined at the stem with flat wings hanging down from each side.  





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


The Black Maple is very often confused with the Sugar Maple, with which it freely hybridizes.  Both the Black and Sugar Maple are tapped for Maple Syrup, planted as shade tree and sold in the commercial lumber market as hard Maple.  The Black Maple can be found growing from The Great Lakes in the North to Tennessee in the south.  


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



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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Sweetgum - Liquidambar styraciflua

The Sweetgum - Liquidambar styraciflua, is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of up to 132 feet. It is most easily identified by it's palmately lobed, almost star shaped leaves and spiked fruiting balls (which are even called some not so nice names when an unknowing party steps on one). Generally Sweetgums grow in a upright fashion, with a single erect trunk with little branching on the lower 1/2, this is especially true when grown in woodland or forest areas. The Sweetgum is a member of the Altingiaceae family, this family has members in North and Central America, Southeast Asia and Turkey - it includes 2 genera and 13 species, only 1 that is native to the United States. The Sweetgum is also called to as Gum, Gum Ball, Monkey Ball, or Sweet Gum. 

Image Citation: Deena Sharon Chadi, Bank Street College of Education, Bugwood.org

The Sweetgum has grayish or green-gray bark that is finely or moderately fissured. The leaves are alternate and simple, palmate with 5-7 lobes, almost shaped like a star with a more flattened base. The upper portions of the leaves are usually lustrous and green, while the lower surface is more dull and paler in color. The flowers are absent of sepals and petals, the males are greenish-yellow in oblong clusters at the branch tips. Female flowers are paler green, occurring in ball-like dangling clusters. The fruit is made up of numerous capsules that are consolidated into a spiny ball. The balls are generally about 3 cm in diameter with stiff spines forming on the tips. These fruits are generally the biggest complaint when it comes to this species as they can be a hazard on the ground if stepped on or tripped over.

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

The Sweetgum is generally found in rich woods, slopes, fields, residential and urban landscapes, low woods, swamp margins and floodplains. It is native to the United States and can be found as far West as Texas in the South to Southern Illinois in the North continuing to the East Coast New Jersey and Maryland in the North and Central Florida in the South.

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

The American Sycamore also has ball like fruit, however they are not Spiked like the Sweetgum. The Japanese Maples leaves may be confused with the Sweetgum but the fruits are completely different (the Sweetgum having a spiky ball and the Maple having paired samara). The Sweetgum is an important tree to the Eastern landscape. It is recommended for hardiness zones 5-9.

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Monday, January 20, 2020

Slash Pine - Pinus elliottii

The Slash Pine - Pinus elliottii is a tall, straight, deciduous tree that can reach heights of 60-100 feet on average.  Growing in an upright fashion, Slash Pine generally does not have lower limbs along the trunk but has a dense rounded crown.  It is native to the United States mainly in the South from South Eastern-South Carolina, throughout all of Florida, and along the Gulf Coast through Louisiana.  The Slash Pine is a rapid grower with a desirable form and natural resistance to southern Pine beetles, because of this it is widely planted along the coastal plain for timber production. 


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

The trunk of the Slash Pine is mainly limb free, covered with large, flat, purple-brown bark plates and topped by a dense rounded crown with dark green needles.  The needles are dark green, lustrous, stiff and 6-10 inches long in bundles of two or three.  The needles grow in clusters near the ends of otherwise bare orange-brown branches that resemble brooms.  The seeds are winged and borne in cones that range from 5-8 inches long and grow tilted back towards the trunks. 


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



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Friday, January 17, 2020

Red Spruce - Picea rubens

The Red Spruce - Picea rubens is a small-mid sized tree that can reach 50-80 feet tall. Red Spruce is a long lived tree that can live to be well over 400 years old. Red Spruce can be found growing from Canada in the North through North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia in the South. The branches on the Red Spruce are close in proximity to one another, growing straight out from the trunk and gently sweeping upward near the ends. The wood of Red Spruce is light in color and weight, straight grained, and resilient. This type of lumber is used for making paper, construction lumber, and stringed musical instruments.


Image Citation: Keith Kanoti, Maine Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Red Spruce is moneocious, with male and female flower buds occurring on the same tree but different branches, each year in May. The pendant male flowers are bright red while the female flowers are erect and bright green in color with a hint of purple. The seeds are small and winged, borne in cones. Cones mature from about mid-September to early October, the autumn following flowering. Cones are 1.3 - 1.5 in long, light red-brown, with rigid, rounded scales that are slightly toothed on the edges. Cones are receptive to pollen only when fully open, a condition which lasts briefly for only a few days. The needles are easily identified, they are shiny yellow-green on all sides and point out in all directions very much like porcupine quills. The needles are stiff 3/8 - 5/8 inch long, sharply pointed, four sided and awe shaped.


Image Citation: Georgette Smith, Canadian Forest Service, Bugwood.org

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Quaking Aspen - Populus tremuloides

The Quaking Aspen - Populus tremuloides - is also called the Trembling Aspen, Golden Aspen or Mountain Aspen. With the smallest of breezes the leaves will flutter hence it's name. When fluttering the leaves even making an audible sound which would explain why the Onondagas called it the "nut-kie-e" which means noisy leaf. This tree has a very remarkable native range covering a majority of the Northern portion of the continent, ranging from New Foundland South to Delaware in the East and along the Coast of Alaska and British Columbia running South through the Rocky Mountains. Although it is not found in the South it does have one of the widest distributions of any tree in North America. It can be grown throughout hardiness zones 1-7. It is often times one of the first trees to appear after a Forest Fire. It is a fast grower often gaining 24 inches in a single season. Aspen wood Is used to make a variety of items such as wooden toys, tongue depressors, popsicle sticks, clothes pins, crates and even for paper pulp.


Image Citation (Stand): Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired), Bugwood.org

The leaves are rounded triangles with small teeth along the margins. The leaves are a glossy green above and dull below, during the Spring they change to a vivid Yellow or very rarely Red. They are arrranged alternately on the branches. Catkins are long and silvery and appear between April and May. In the late Spring, it's tiny seeds which are enclosed in cottony tufts are dispersed by the wind. The bark is a Greenish-White to Grey in color, it is often marked with black knots or horizontal scars.

Image Citation (Fall Foliage): Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

The Aspen is a favorited food and shelter source for many different type of wildlife. The leaves and bark are eaten by Deer, Elk and Hare/Rabbits. The Buds are an important food source for Grouse during Winter. Beavers not only feed from the Aspen, they also use it's lumber as a building material. Many different birds and butterflies make their homes in these stands.

Image Citation (Stand surrounding field):  Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired), Bugwood.org 

The Aspen holds the the title of largest living organisms on Earth, growing in clones/stand that reproduce primarily by sending up sprouts from their roots. For the most part each clone within a stand is connected to the next one through it's root system. One clone/stand in Utah (where it is the State tree) has been determined to have over 47,000 stems, this stand is estimated to weigh over 6,000 tons! While individually each stem lives 100-150 years, Aspen stands are one of the longest living organisms. One clone in Minnesota is estimated to be 8,000 years old, making it one of the longest living organism on Earth.

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