Thursday, May 20, 2021

Smoketree - Cotinus coggygria

 The Smoketree - Cotinus coggygria -  is a small deciduous tree and a native of the wooded hills above the Mediterranean.  Named for it's blooms of wispy filaments in either pink or cream that look like poofs of smoke radiating from the trees branches.   In some areas the tree is nicknamed the Mist Tree, Cloud Tree or even Jupiter's Beard.  It is a relatively low maintenance shrub/small tree classified as an ornamental.   With a max height of 10-15 ' tall and a spread of 12 ', the Smoketree grows at a medium rate of just 12-24 inches per year.




In addition to it's smoky filaments this tree also produces flowers from June to September that are not very noticeable they are yellow-pink to plain pink in color and are often hidden by the wispy hairlike filaments.  The leaves are small 1 1/4 to 4 inches long and a pretty blue green in color in season, changing yellow, purple and red in the fall.  When crushed the branches and leaves have an almost citrus smell often compared to an orange.

Image Citation:(1&2) The Dow Gardens Archive, Dow Gardens, Bugwood.org 

Introduced in the America's in the mid 1600's, this tree makes for an interesting addition to any home/commercial landscape and is recommended for hardiness zones 5-8.  It is not particular when it comes to soil types and can handle both wet soil and semi drought conditions with ease.  This variety has been naturalized in ranges North of the American Smoketree from Illinois, Ohio, Maryland on North through Ontario and Vermont.  It is cultivated in the South as a specimen tree and is often found more often then the American Smoketree in this application.



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Sweet Birch or Cherry Birch - Betula lenta

 The Sweet Birch or Cherry Birch (Betula lenta) is most easily recognized by the combination of fine and sharply toothed leaf margins, winter green scent, scales on the conelike fruit and dark brown almost black bark.  It is a deciduous tree that can reach heights up to 65 feet, but usually does not exceed 3.5 feet in diameter.  The tree grows in an upright form with a generally single eract straight trunk and a rounded crown.  The Sweet or Cherry Birch is native to the United States.  It prefers rich, moist soil, cool forest areas, mountain slopes, Appalachian hardwood forests.  It can be found naturally occuring from New York and Maine in the North to Northern Georgia, Alabama and Central Mississippi in the South.  It is not often confused with the closely related Yellow Birch as the bark is significantly different in not only color but texture as well (Yellow Birch has a yellowish exfolliating bark).


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


The bark of the Sweet/Cherry Birch is a dark gray brown to brown black in color, it is smooth when young becoming furrowed with age.  The twigs exude a winter green aroma and taste when scraped or injured.  The leaves are alternate, simple, paperlike in texture, obvate and and heart shaped at the base.  The leaf margins are finely and sharply toothed.  The upper surface is a dark green while the lower surface is a more pale green.  The flowers occur in make and female catkins, the male are reddish brown and 7-10 cm long, while the female are pale green and 1.5-2.5 m long both occur in the late Spring.  The fruit is a winged samara born in a scaly erect egg shaped structure that matures in late Summer or early Fall.

               
                                                                            

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




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