Monday, October 26, 2020

"Dragon's Claw" or "Corkscrew" Willow - Salix matsudana

 The "Dragon's Claw" or "Corkscrew" Willow - Salix matsudana - is a cultivar of the Chinese (Babylon) Willow.  This cultivar grows very fast from cuttings made from the youngest (and often most curly) shoots.  It is considered medium to large in size and is a deciduous tree that grows in a primarily upright fashion. Chinese Willow's have a relatively short lifespan, estimated between 40-75 years in the wild. The Chinese Willow is a Native of Northeastern China. It has been planted heavily as an ornamental in the United States, Europe and Australia, so is seen often outisde of it's native area.  






Photo 1 & 2 Image Citations: Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona, Bugwood.org


The leaves of this variety come out early in the Spring and often hold on well into December.  Even in Winter when the tree is bare the interest of the curls and curves in the branches remain, making it a beautiful year round addition to any landscape.  The leaves are green in color and when flattened look similar to the more common types of Willow (Weeping, Babylon and Coastal).  The female and male flowers appear as Catkins and are always on different trees. The branches are often used in floral arrangements or even as bonsai because of their unique curling habits.

The Corkscrew Willow is available at most major nursery's and makes a lovely addition to any landscape.  It may also be sold as a Dragon's Claw Willow or Curly Willow.

Learn more about tree varieties www.ArundelTreeService.com or www.MeetaTree.com

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Sparkleberry - Vaccinium arboreum

 The Sparkleberry - Vaccinium arboreum, is best recognized by the combination of reddish bark, bell shaped flowers and lustrous green leaves with a tiny point on the tip. It is an evergreen in most locations or late deciduous in colder climates. It grows in an upright fashion small bush or tree form. It is native to North America, dry sandy woodlands, thickets and clearings.  It is widespread on the East Coast of North America, found from Ontario in the North and Florida in the South, West through Kansas and Eastern Texas.  




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

The bark is reddish brown to molted gray in color that often peels in plates or sheets.  The leaves are alternate simply shaped and firm in texture, the upper surfaces are lustrous and dark green in color.   The flowers are white in color, usually around 4 mm long and cup shaped.  The flowers occur in the Spring Season.  The fruit is a black berry that is dry in texture and 5-9 mm in diameter occurring in late Summer to early Autumn.  


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Monday, October 19, 2020

Catawba Rosebay (Rhodedendron) - Rhododendron catawbiense

Catawba Rosebay - Rhododendron catawbiense is distinguished by it's large pink flowers and evergreen leaves with bases that are rounded. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches heights of only 9-22 feet tall. It grows in a shrubby fashion, often branches closest to the ground. It is native to Mountain slopes, ridges, balds from 500-2000 rarely at lower altitudes. Found from Virginia and West Virginia south to North Georgia, west to Kentucky and northeast Alabama.



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

The bark of the Catawba Rosebay is smooth when young, becoming furrowed and shredding with age. The leaves are alternate, simple, narrowly broad and elliptic. In extreme cold or drought the leaves often curl under. The upper leaf surface is a dark lustrous green in color, while the lower surface is a paler green. The flowers are considered to to be a Corrolla Pink in color and are in a broad bell shape that can reach up to 6 cm in diameter. The petals and sepals number 5 each with 10 stamens, flowers occur in early Summer annually. The fruit is a linear or oblong capsule that is covered with red-brown hairs, the fruit occurs on erect stalks and mature between late Summer and early Fall.

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Friday, October 16, 2020

Lombardy Poplar - Populus nigra "italica"

 The Lombardy Poplar - Populus nigra "italica" - is an upright/erect form of the European Black Poplar.  This tree was originally spread by cuttings in the Po Valley of Italy and introduced in Britain in 1758, It's spread continued rapidly through Europe once introduced.   Today this tree can also be found in every state in the United States and throughout Southern Canada.  The roots of the Lombardy Poplar are considered to be invasive, they seek water sources (like drain pipes and ditches) and spread very much like Bamboo. Even when the tree is removed and the stump ground out the root system will remain and often resprout in another location nearby.  



Image Citation: Zelimir Borzan, University of Zagreb, Bugwood.org
Description: Branchlet with male catkins (a - f) and a closed terminal vegetative bud of a new leader (k). - 2. Branchlet with female catkins (g - i, l) and closed terminal vegetative bud (k). - 3. Branchlet with developed shoots and with ripe fruit-catkins (a, b). There are numerous seeds in a capsule. Stipules at n. - 4. Seedling with cotyledons and first ordinary leaves. - 5. Winter-branchlet. After Hempel & Wilhelm, 1889. Photos and explanations from the book: Zelimir Borzan. "Tree and Shrub Names in Latin, Croatian, English, and German, with synonyms", University of Zagreb, 2001.

 It has shown notable decline in some regions of North America due to pests and disease, most notably Borers, Cankers and Bacterial Wet wood.  Pest damage to the Lombardy Poplar is commonly seen in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Idaho and Montana-but is by far at it's worst in Texas.  With the exception of the areas most prone to pests this tree seems to thrive in North America, especially in the Southern Canadian range.  Professional Landscapers, Arborist and Tree Experts are not very quick to recommend planting of Lombardy Poplars because of their relatively short life span, on average only 15 years.  They do however offer a rapid growth rate, perfect for creating a privacy screen in a shorter amount of time then the much slower growing more long lasting Spruce or Arborvitae (for those of us who may be a bit impatient!).




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

With their upright nature the Lombardy Poplar tends to begin branching out close to the ground.  When mature they can reach average heights of  40-50 feet tall, but a spread of only 10-15 feet.  In the Spring and Summer their leaves are a crisp green changing to a golden yellow in the Fall. They are recommended to be planted in zones 3-9.
If you like the appearance of this tree but do not want to take on the high risk for the reward, the more pest resistant alternative is the European Aspen - Populus tremula "erecta" it has a similar appearance and growth habit.



  

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Sawtooth Oak - Quercus acutissima

 The Sawtooth Oak - Quercus acutissima is most easily recognized by it's fringed acorn cup and narrow leave with bristle tipped teeth, resembling the teeth of a saw. It is a fast growing, deciduous shade tree that can reach heights of 30- 70 feet tall. Sawtooth Oak grows in an erect fashion with a single trunk and dense rounded crown. Originally introduced from Asia, generally found in planned landscapes and is reported to be naturalized in scattered areas from Pennsylvania South to North Carolina and Georgia, South to Louisiana. Sawtooth Oak is primarily planted for wildlife cover and food due to it's abundant fruit and fast growth habit. This species is sometimes used for urban and highway beautification as it is tolerant of soil compaction, air pollution, and drought.




Image Citations (Photos 1 & 2): Richard Gardner, UMES, Bugwood.org

Named for it's unique leaf edges, the Sawtooth Oak is a beautiful tree. The green leaves are alternate, simple, oblong or obvate, 12-16 pairs of sharp bristle tipped teeth, parallel veins and a lustrous upper surface and dull pale underside. The leaves add to the visual interest by beginning a brilliant yellow to golden yellow color in the Spring, turning dark lustrous green in summer and yellow to golden brown in the fall. The bark is dark gray in color with light gray scales that become deeply furrowed with age. The fruit is in the form of an acorn, the cup encloses 1/3 - 2/3 of the 1-2.5 cm nut. The acorn rim is adorned with long spreading hairlike scales that form a distinctive fringe.


Recommended for hardiness zones 5-9, the Sawtooth Oak can be found at most larger nurseries within those zones. Sawtooth Oak is also considered to be easily transplanted and hardy making it a wise choice for any landscape with room for a large spreading shade tree. It is similar to the Chinquapin Oak Castanea pumila in appearance, distinguished primarily by the difference in fruit.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Pitch Pine - Pinus rigida

 The Pitch Pine - Pinus rigida is a 3 needle pine with random or adventitious branch habit and clustered cones.  The tree can grow either upright or with a crooked trunk, always with an irregularly shaped rounded crown.  Reaching heights upwards of 100 feet and 36 inches dbh (diameter at breast height) at maturity.  It is native to upland or lowland sites that may considered otherwise infertile, sandy dry or even boggy type soils are all suitable for the Pitch Pine.  It can be found at elevations ranging from 0-1400 m from Georgia in the South to Maine and Quebec in the North.  The Pitch Pine is the dominant tree in the Pine barren forest of New Jersey, however in the rest of it's growth region it is secondary to the Virginia (Scrub) Pine, Table Mountain Pine, Eastern White Pine, Atlantic White Cedar, and various types of Oak (depending on the region).



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

The Pitch Pine has the ability to resprout even when cut off at the base of the tree, this makes it extremely hardy and able to survive even after forest fires which can kill off anything green.  The wood of the Pitch Pine is considered to be decay resistant, this is due to the high resin content.  Pitch Pine lumber has been used in Ship Building, for Mine Props, as Railway ties and distilled to produce Pitch.  Pitch Pine is considered to be ecologically important in its native range as it is an important forest tree and the seeds are a foraging source for wildlife in the Winter.

The bark of the Pitch Pine is red-brown in color and deeply furrowed with long irregularly shaped, flat scaly ridges.  The needles are 5-10 cm long straight, stiff, sharp and a deep green to yellow green in color, occurring in bundles of 3 (rarely 5) that are held within a sheath that is 9-12 mm long.  The pollen cone in approximately 20 mm long and yellow in color, while the seed cone is often clustered 3-9 cm long and a light reddish brown color.  Cones on the Pitch Pine can remain on the tree for many years.


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

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Monday, October 12, 2020

American Basswood - Tilia americana

 The American Basswood - Tilia americana, is most easily recognized by the combination of alternate, two ranked, and heart shaped leaves that are asymmetric at the base and the leafy bract subtending the flowers and fruit.  It is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of 60-100 feet tall that grows in an erect form with a single trunk.  The crown of the American Basswood is ovoid or rounded with numerous slender branches.  



Image Citation: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University, Bugwood.org

The bark of the American Basswood is smooth and dark gray when young, becoming furrowed with vertical ridges.  The leaves are alternate, simple, 2 ranked, ovate, heart shaped and ovate at the base.  The upper surface of the leaves are a dark yellowish green, hairless with conspicuous veins, while the lower leaf surface is a paler green color and lightly haired.  The blades of the leaves are 12-15 cm long and 7-10 cm wide.  The flowers are yellowish white with 5 sepals, 5 petals and inflorescence.  The fruit is a rounded thick-shelled gray nut that is about 6 mm broad, maturing in Autumn.  


Image Citation: Wendy VanDyk Evans, Bugwood.org


The American Basswood is native to the rich and deciduous woods of North America, it is widespread in the East from New Brunswick and Saskatchewan in the North to Central Florida and Texas in the South.  

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Friday, October 9, 2020

Glossy Buckthorn - Frangula alnus

 The Glossy Buckthorn - Frangula alnus is a deciduous small tree or shrub that reaches heights of 20-25 feet.  Generally growing with multiple erect trunks in a shrubby form, with a stout crown.  Originally introduced from Europe about 200 years ago, Glossy Buckthorn has become established in weedy bogs, and other wetland areas.  Found as far North as Saskatchewan and Quebec South to West Virginia and Tennessee and West to Idaho and Colorado.  The Glossy Buckthorn is considered to be invasive in many areas and is treated as an invasive species in most Mid-Western wetland areas. 



Image Citation: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Named for it's lustrous or glossy upper leaf surfaces, the Glossy Buckthorn is also easily identified by it's shrubby habit and clusters of red, purple or black drupes.  The bark of the Glossy Buckthorn is smooth and gray-brown in color with visible horizontal lenticels.  Young twigs are void of thorns and slender in form.  The leaves are alternate, oblong or oval in shape, with a rounded base and sharply pointed tip, sometimes having a wavy overall appearance.  The upper leaf surface is a dark lustrous or glossy green, while the undersides are a dull paler green.  Each leaf surface contains 5-9 pairs of obvious parallel lateral veins that curve to follow the margins.  The fall foliage turns a bright yellow and tends to remain on the tree/shrub long after others have lost their leaves. The flowers are bisexual, small in size and a creamy green or yellow-green in color, occurring in clusters at leaf axils each Spring.  The fruit is a rounded drupe, usually containing 2 seeds, 5-10 mm in diameter.  The fruit is red when young becoming a purple-black with maturity in the late Summer season.  


Image Citation: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org


The Glossy Buckthorn is suited for hardiness zones 3-7 however it is not a recommended planting as it can overtake native species easily.  It's seeds are spread by various types of wildlife including birds and small mammals.  It easily adapts to not ideal growing conditions such as full sun, little sun and even high soil pH levels.  



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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Golden Dewdrops - Duranta erecta

 The Golden Dewdrops - Duranta erecta, are most easily identified by their brilliant sky blue colored flowers and bright yellow fruit.  They originated in the West Indies but have been naturalized from South Florida to East/Central Texas.  In the United States they are found primarily on disturbed sites, pine lands, and hammocks from 0-100 m.  An evergreen shrub, occasional vine or rarely a small tree they reach heights of only 20 feet.



Image Citation: Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org

The unique sky blue flowers are about 1cm in diameter, with 5 petals each, borne in an elongated raceme ranging in size from 5-15 cm long.  The flowers occur year round.  The fruit is a round yellow drupe that matures year round an averages about 1.5 cm in diameter.   The leaves are opposite, simple, elliptic or egg shaped, tapered to a short point at the tip.  The bark is simple and gray when young, becoming fissured and rough with age.

The Golden Dewdrops is a member of the Vervain (Verbenaceae) family that includes roughly 35 genera and 1000 unique species found in only topical and sub tropical regions.  This family includes many colorful ornamentals and recent research shows this family is closely related to the Lamiaceae (mints & teak are in this family).

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Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Peach - Prunus persica

 The Peach - Prunus persica is most easily identified by its distinctive fruit and long narrow leaves.  It is a small deciduous tree that only reaches average heights of 10-30 feet tall.  The Peach is commercially cultivated and generally well managed in size and shape, however when found in the wild it often grows in a more shrubby habit.   The tree in generally grows in an erect form, with a single trunk and open crown.  Initially introduced from China, the Peach has been established in almost all of the Eastern United States.  Peaches were brought to the United States in the 16th century and to Europe during the 17th century.  Peach trees are often found growing wildly along fence lines, in old fields, on roadsides, and escaped from cultivation on the edges of farms.



Image Citation: Paul Bachi, University of Kentucky Research and Education Center, Bugwood.org

The bark of the Peach is reddish-brown in color with hairless twigs.  The leaves are alternate, simple in shape and elliptic or lanceolate, often folding upward from the mid rib area.  Leaves are a bright-deep green in color when mature, often slightly lighter when young.  The dark pink flowers of the Peach tree are 2-4 cm in diameter with 5 petals each, occuring in the early Spring.  The fruit is rounded, occasionally with a slight point at the base, yellowish to orange drupe with a red tinge in sections and a generally hairy surface.  The fruit has a 4-8 cm stone like pit in the center.  Commercially Peaches mature during the Summer season, with some heirloom varieties not maturing until late Summer or very early Fall.



Image Citation: Paul Bachi, University of Kentucky Research and Education Center, Bugwood.org

Peaches grown commercially are an important crop and a popular fruit.  China is currently the number one producer of Peaches worldwide.  A ripe Peach is best found by first smelling the fruit, there should be a sweet fragrance and then gently squeeze the Peach, when ripe they will never be hard.   It has been found that there are over 110 various chemical compounds within a Peach that create their unique aroma. Thought they are a fruit which many automatically assumes makes them "healthy" the average fruit has very little nutritional value.  There are currently over 2000 known varieties of peaches in the world today, many of which are suitable for growing within your own garden.


Image Citation: Peggy Greb, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org


In many cultures Peaches also have symbolic values.  In China Peach blossoms are considered to be a symbol of vitality as the blossoms appear prior to the leaves.  They are also often called Peaches of Immortality, local magistrates would cut peach wood branches and place them over their doors to protect against evils. One of Japan's most noble and semihistorical heroes, Momotaro was born from within an enormous peach floating down a stream.  

Monday, October 5, 2020

Cryptomeria - Cryptomeria japonica

 The Cryptomeria - Cryptomeria japonica is a monoecious ornamental evergreen tree that can reach heights upwards of 65-70 feet.  Growing in a slender, upright pyramidal fashion, it has unique short, sharp in-curved needles that are unique to this species and only the rare Taiwania (a similar species).  The needle-like leaves are 3-12 mm long and  spirally arranged. The bark is reddish brown to dark gray, fibrous and often peels off in strips. The cones are brown, slightly rounded with an apical point and are borne at the tips of the twigs in groups of 1-6.  The branching habit of this species is considered to be irregular and does not occur in a uniform fashion.



Image Citation (Mature Cryptomeria): Richard Webb, Bugwood.org

The Cryptomeria is native to only China and Japan, but has been successfully grown as an ornamental in the United States. In it's native range specimens are known to live more than 1700 years and reach diameters of almost 10 feet.  It is the national tree of Japan where it is often planted at temples and shrines.  In the US, the best specimens are found in regions with warm and moist summers.  The Cryptomeria is sometimes also called Sugi or Japanese Cedar.  This species prefers moist, rich, fertile, acidic, but well-drained soils in full sun and can only tolerate some light shade.  This tree is recommended for US hardiness zones 5-9 and is considered to be a low maintenance large specimen or screen tree.  


Image Citation (Young Cryptomeria): Bonsak Hammeraas - The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Bugwood.org

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Friday, October 2, 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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