Thursday, February 25, 2021

Swamp Chestnut Oak - Quercus michauxii

 The Swamp Chestnut Oak - Quercus michauxii, is a medium to large sized deciduous tree that reaches heights of only 40 feet on average but can grow as tall as 100 feet tall in it's ideal settings (well drained alluvial floodplains).  Regardless of the overall height and site location the crown remains compact.   



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

The leaves of this tree range in size from 4-8 inches long.  The leaf blades are leathery in textured and diamond shaped with the widest portions being located two third of the way to the tip of each leaf. Each leaf is coarsely toothed on all sides in a wavy fashion. The leaf surfaces are dark green and smooth while the bottom downy and paler in color.  The bark patterns of the Swamp Chestnut Oak vary and can be tight with shallow parallel ridges/valleys or have long peeling side strips.  The bark of the tree differs in color depending on the location, it is lighter gray in upland settings and dark gray in lowlands. The acorns of the Swamp Chestnut Oak are 1 inch long and light brown in color and sweet to the taste.


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

It is very hard to differentiate between the Swamp Chestnut Oak, Chinkapin Oak and White Oak as they share many of the same characteristics.  Swamp Chestnut Oak grows best in low lying bottomlands that periodically flood whereas the other two grow best in well drained soils.  

The lumber from the Swamp Chestnut Oak is grouped with other White Oaks during lumber production.  It can be used in almost any application from tools to furniture to baskets.  The lumber has a very nice appearance and can be left natural in many applications.

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Monday, February 22, 2021

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 (Stand): Steven Katovich, 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.
 

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 19, 2021

Tamarind - Tamarindus indica

 The Tamarind - Tamarindus indica, is most easily identified by the combination of pinnate leaves, blackened trunk areas, zig zag limbs and variable sized and colored fruit.  The Tamarind is primarily an evergreen or semi deciduous tree that can reach heights of 65-100 feet or more.  The diameter in the United States tends to only reach 5 feet while in it's native range it has been reported as large in diameter as 25 feet.  It was introduced originally from tropical portions of Africa and India and has escaped cultivation and has established itself in Southern Florida.  


Image Citation: Chua Cheng Hong, Bugwood.org

The leaf of the Tamarind is alternate, pinnate and 7.5-15 cm long.  The leaflets are in 10-20 pairs even in numbers, oblong and oblique at the base and squared at the apex.  The upper leaf surface is dark green or yellow green in color.  The flowers are bisexual about 2.5 cm in diameter, 4 sepals, 3 petals yellow in color with pinkish streaks and crinkled margins appearing in Spring to early Summer.  


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

A similar species the Wild Tamarind - Lysiloma latisiliquum, also has zig zag twigs and is similar in stature, however it's bark is a paler white-gray in color and it's plat, twisted pods do not vary in size. 

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Swamp Chestnut Oak - Quercus michauxii

 The Swamp Chestnut Oak - Quercus michauxii, is a medium to large sized deciduous tree that reaches heights of only 40 feet on average but can grow as tall as 100 feet tall in it's ideal settings (well drained alluvial floodplains).  Regardless of the overall height and site location the crown remains compact.   



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

The leaves of this tree range in size from 4-8 inches long.  The leaf blades are leathery in textured and diamond shaped with the widest portions being located two third of the way to the tip of each leaf. Each leaf is coarsely toothed on all sides in a wavy fashion. The leaf surfaces are dark green and smooth while the bottom downy and paler in color.  The bark patterns of the Swamp Chestnut Oak vary and can be tight with shallow parallel ridges/valleys or have long peeling side strips.  The bark of the tree differs in color depending on the location, it is lighter gray in upland settings and dark gray in lowlands. The acorns of the Swamp Chestnut Oak are 1 inch long and light brown in color and sweet to the taste.


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

It is very hard to differentiate between the Swamp Chestnut Oak, Chinkapin Oak and White Oak as they share many of the same characteristics.  Swamp Chestnut Oak grows best in low lying bottomlands that periodically flood whereas the other two grow best in well drained soils.  

The lumber from the Swamp Chestnut Oak is grouped with other White Oaks during lumber production.  It can be used in almost any application from tools to furniture to baskets.  The lumber has a very nice appearance and can be left natural in many applications.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Overcup Oak - Quercus lyrata

 The Overcup Oak - Quercus lyrata, (also called Swamp Post Oak, Swamp White Oak, or Water White Oak) is a medium sized southern deciduous tree that does not generally reach heights of more then 60-90 on average.  It grows in an erect form with a single trunk that is usually short in comparison to other Oaks.  The tree generally has a symmetric form with slender, most times with dropping branches, crown of open grown trees are often have lateral branches that spread perpendicular to the trunk.  



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

The name Overcup Oak comes from the fact that the "cup" of each acorn almost completely covers each nut.  The lumber from the Overcup Oak has little commercial value, primarily because of it's spiral grain, frequent knots and tendency to crack or split open during the drying process.   The leaves are alternate, 6-8 inches long and 1-4 inches wide with deep sinuses and 5-9 rounded lobes.  The leaf base usually tapers from a thin point to the widest lobes that occur around the midway point of each leaf.  


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

Most commonly found growing in flooded low land areas, river bottoms or swamps.  It grows best on wetter sites around the Coastal or Gulf Plains from Delaware in the North south from Florida to Eastern Texas and up the Mississippi River bottoms through Southeastern Missouri, Southern Illinois, Southwestern Indiana or Western Kentucky.  



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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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 (Image 2 :Spring Foliage & Image 3:Fall Foliage): 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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Monday, February 15, 2021

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 Citations (1 Summer & 2 Snow Covered): Robert Vid├ęki, 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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Friday, February 12, 2021

Waterlocust-Gleditsia aquatica

 The Waterlocust-Gleditsia 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:  John Ruter, 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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Monday, February 8, 2021

Black Willow - Salix nigra (also called Swamp Willow or Gooding Willow)

 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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Friday, February 5, 2021

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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Thursday, February 4, 2021

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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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

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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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Black Willow - Salix nigra (also called Swamp Willow or Gooding Willow)

 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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Monday, February 1, 2021

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.


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, January 29, 2021

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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Thursday, January 28, 2021

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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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Corkwood - Leiterneria floridana

 The Leitneriaceae Family currently only contains one single species, the Corkwood Leiterneria floridana.  The Corkwood is a very sporadically distributed species found only in Northern Florida, Southeastern Texas, Eastern Arkansas and the far Southeastern region of Missouri.  It is most commonly found growing in swamp areas, depressions, ponds, roadside ditches or bordering tidal marshes.  It is easily recognized in it's native regions by it's very upright form combined with elliptical leaves, catkins, and tan colored lenticels found within the red-brown bark.   The Leitneriaceae florida is included on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as a "Near Threatened/Lower Risk" species because of its very small number (limited by a very small native range), thought they do not show a significant decline in the population.  Leiterneria floridana was only first discovered in 1835, in the saline marshes of Florida where the Apalachicola River empties into the Gulf of Mexico.





Image Citations (Photos 1 & 2) : John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

The Corkwood is a small deciduous tree or shrub that only averages 15 feet in height at maturity.  Corkwoods always grow in a very upright form and generally have one single straight trunk with a narrow crown containing very few branches.  The leaves appear in alternately in simple narrow elliptical form.  The upper portions of each leaf is lustrous, leathery and medium green in color, while the lower surface is a more dull pale green.  The leaves have fine hairs on the surface when young, becoming hairless when mature.  The foliage is among the most persistent of the deciduous autumn leaves, remaining green till late November (in the more northern portions of it's range), then becoming greenish-yellow. The flowers are unisex with male and female flowers on separate plants.  The male flowers appear in upright grey-brown catkins that are 2-5 cm long,  while the female appear in reddish catkins that are 1-2 cm long.  The fruit occurs in a single seeded ellipsoid drupe that is yellow-brown in color.  The wood of the Corkwood is very fitting to it's name as it is extremely lightweight.  The wood is often compared to balsa wood and can be used in similar applications.  Corkwood is the lightest weight of all of the native Eastern North American trees.  Portions of the trunk/stems have even been used to craft fishing floats.

The Corkwood - Leiterneria floridana is not the same as the shrub also commonly known as Corkwood - Stillingia aquatica (of the Euphorbiaceae family).  The genus, Corkwood Leiterneria floridana is thought by many researchers to be related to the similarly pollenated quassia family (Simaroubaceae), though they retain very unique and identifiable features that easily separate the two.

In Italy a single compressed endocarp was collected from the Villa San Faustino site in Italy.  This single specimen shows that until the Early Pleistoncene period Leitneria venosa grew there.  Leitnera is also listed as a species found within the early Pliocene San Gimiginiano flora. Several other similar endocarps have been found on other sites in Northern Italy dating all the way up to the Cenozoic period, though rare. These fossils shows that the Leiterneria family was not always made up of this one single species but had other members with possibly a greater range then the Leiterneria floridana.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Strawberry Tree - Arbutus unedo

 The "Strawberry" Tree - Arbutus unedo, is a small tree in the Ericaceae family, that is native to the Mediterranean Region & Western Europe including Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Eastern Italy, Croatia, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Ireland, and Southern France.  It is a large evergreen shrub or small tree only reaching an average height of only 30 feet, with very few found as tall as 50 feet.  It is sometimes called the Cane Apple, Irish or Killarney Strawberry Tree due to it's numbers in Ireland.  




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

Though it's name may lead you to believe otherwise it's fruits are not the Strawberry we all enjoy eating, those come from a common or garden Strawberry; Fragaria × ananassa which grows in a vine or bush form.  The fruit of the Strawberry tree is a red berry, that is rounded and only gets to be about 1–2 cm in diameter.  The surface of the berries are rough in appearance and texture. They mature in about 12 months during the Fall at the same time as the next flowers begin to appear. This fruit is also edible and when red is at it's sweetest.  The fruit is considered to be mealy in texture and boring in flavor by many and is often compared to a fig in flavor.  It can be used to make jams, jellys and liqueurs (Brandy and Riki). The trees are often planted as a Bee Plant for Honey production.  Other wildlife such as birds enjoy eating the small fruits.



Image Citation: William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org

The leaves are finely toothed and range in size from 2-4 inches long, they are pale green in color below and a glossy dark green above.  The flowers appear in drooping panicles usually containing 10-30 individual flowers each. They are usually white, rarely a pale pink and bell shaped. The flowers are Hermaphroditic meaning they contain both sexual organs required for reproduction.  

It can be grown in hardiness zones 4-9 and requires mild winters to be successful.  It grows best in well-drained soil and is very drought tolerant (prefers dry summers) and is well suited to California's climate.  Propagation can be successfully accomplished by seeds, cuttings, or layering and it can be trained as a large shrub, but it looks much better when grown as a small tree.

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Monday, January 25, 2021

Chinkapin (Chinquapin) Oak - Quercus muehlenbergii

 The Chinkapin (Chinquapin) Oak - Quercus muehlenbergii is a medium to large deciduous tree.  The name Chinkapin originated from the strong resemblance to the Allegheny Chinquapin Castanea pumila (a relative of the American Chestnut).   At full maturity the Chinkapin can reach heights of 70 feet with a broad and rounded crown.   It is a slow to moderate grower that does best in zones 3-9.  Although native to these zones, Chinkapin Oak is sporadic within its range and is seldom a dominant species in a woodland. Its common associates include White, Bur and Black Oaks, Ironwood, Red Cedar and Hickories. Chinkapin Oak prefers well drained soils, bottom-lands, limestone ridges, or along stream edges. It is also commonly found on bluffs, ridge tops, and rocky, south facing slopes. 





Image Citation (Photos 1& 2): Jason Sharman, Vitalitree, Bugwood.org 

The leaves are alternate, oval, elliptical, or oblong in shape, 4" to 6" long and 1.5" to 2" wide.  The leaf edges are sharply toothed in almost a serrated fashion.  Male and female flowers appear separately but on the same tree in Spring.  Male flowers borne on a yellowish catkin 3" to 4" long, while the female flowers are less conspicuous and reddish in color. The bark is light gray in color, with short, narrow flakes on the main trunk and limbs, and deep furrows on older trunks.  The wood of the Chinkapin Oak is heavy, hard, strong, and durable.  It is used for making barrels, fencing, fuel, and occasionally for furniture.




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

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Friday, January 22, 2021

Black Maple - Acer nigrum (also called the Black Sugar Maple, Hard Maple, or Rock Maple)

 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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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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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