Friday, June 25, 2021

Shumard Oak / Buckley Oak - Quercus shumardii

  The Shumard Oak / Buckley Oak - Quercus shumardii, is a deciduous tree that can reach heights of up to 120 feet tall in ideal growing conditions.  It grows in an erect form with a single trunk that is sometimes fluted or buttressed near the base.  Generally the Shumard Oak is high branching with the trunk remaining branchless until the canopy.  The crown is open and spreading with ascending and broad spreading branch habit.



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

It is most easily identified by a combination of deeply cut leaves, hairless terminal buds and a shallow acorn nut that encloses less than 1/3 of the nut.  The bark is pale gray in color, smooth when young, becoming finely ridged and deeply furrowed with age.  The twigs are gray or light brown in color, slender in form and hairless.  Terminal buds are generally egg shaped and range in size from 4-8 mm long.  The leaves are alternate, simple in form, elliptic or obvate with a wide angled flattened base.  Upper leaf surface is a pale yellow-green color, lustrous, hairless, the lower surface is similar in color to the upper.  The leaves turn brownish with small purple spots in Autumn.  The leaf blades 7-20 cm long and 6-15 cm broad.  The fruit is in the form of an acorn with a cup 7-12 mm deep, enclosing 1/3 or less of the light brown nut.  



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

The Shumard Oak is among one of the largest Red Oaks in the Southeastern United States.  Under ideal conditions they are fast growing, tolerant of harsh and dry conditions and varying soils.  It is considered a poplar landscape tree in the South and is used frequently in medians, parking lots, roadsides and larger suburban lawns.  In natural settings it does not form pure stands but instead occurs individually within the forest canopy, it is often found growing alongside American Elm, Winged Elm, Green Ash, White Ash, Cherrybark Oak, Southern Red Oak, Water Oak and White Oak. 


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




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Monday, June 21, 2021

Ginkgo Tree - Ginkgo Biloba

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




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


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



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


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

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


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


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



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


Friday, June 18, 2021

Ashikaga Flower Park in Japan

 Japan’s largest wisteria located in Ashikaga Flower Park in Japan, is certainly not the largest in the world, but it still measures in at an impressive half an acre and dates back to around 1870.  Is also referred to as the most beautiful Wisteria in the World.  The blooms range in color from pale red, purple, yellow and white depending on variety.

   
Park Description from Roadtrippers.com : "Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture is famous for its wisteria blossoms. Elaborate supports to the three big wisteria trees cover an area of about 1,000㎡. The best times to visit Ashikaga Flower Park is from mid April to mid May. It is a truly unique attraction; the blossom starts with light pink blooms first in the season, followed by purple wisteria, white and then yellow. Just before you decide to visit the park, I recommend to check the official website for the latest status of the blossoms."
 
Image Citations (Photos 1 & 2): Roadtrippers.com

This is not the home of the largest Wisteria vine in the world, the record holder measures in at about 4,000 square meters, and is located in Sierra Madre, California.  Although wisterias can look like trees, they’re actually vines. Because the vines have the potential to get very heavy, these particular plants entire structures are held up on steel supports, allowing visitors to walk below their canopies and bask in the pink and purple light cast by its beautiful hanging blossoms.

Price for entry into the park depends on the season and what/how many plants are in bloom.  The Wisteria bloom in Ashikaga Flower Park from April to May annually.  The park is a popular tourist destination so be sure to plan your visit well.  For more on Ashikaga Flower Park in Japan visit the parks website (English Version)   http://www.ashikaga.co.jp/english/  or in person

Ashikaga Flower Park

329-4216 Tochigi Prefecture
Totigi [Tochigi] 329-4216 Japan
+81-284-91-4939

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Thursday, June 17, 2021

English Oak - Quercus Robur

There is a very unique English Oak tree (Quercus Robur) growing in Sherwood Forest near the small village of Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, England which is rumored to be where Robin Hood and his men would hide out, in it's hollow trunk sections. It is called the Major Oak and is estimated to be between 800 - 1000 years old. In 2014 it was even crowned "England's Tree of the Year", because of this honor it will represent England in the running for the "European Tree of the Year" against entries from both Wales and Scotland.




Major Oak was not always the name this tree was called. It has also be recorded as the Queen Oak, and the Cockpen Tree. The current name "Major Oak", originated from Major Hayman Rooke's very popular book about the ancient Oaks of Sherwood Forest from 1790.

Estimated to weigh around 23 tons, it has a diameter of over 33 feet and a crown spread of 92 feet - it is claimed ot be the largest Oak tree in all of England.  The Major Oak has been in a conservation status since the early 1900's. When visiting the tree today you will find a fence surrounding the base of the tree which serves as protection for it's roots and truck from foot traffic. During the Edwardian period there were chains used to support the branches and lead sheets around the trunk, these were replaced in the 1970's by wooden supports, which were replaced by the steel support rods that remain in place today.

From the Sherwood Forest Visitor Center you are a 10-15 minute walk from this Majestic Old Major Oak. The visitor center is open daily (the hours vary by season) and allows you to explore not just the Major Oak but the 450 acre forest that is home to an estimated 900+ veteran Oak trees. If that is not enough to draw you in there is also an Annual Robin Hood Festival in August that celebrates the Legendary Home of Robin Hood and his Men.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Silver Maple - Acer saccharinum

 Silver Maple - Acer saccharinum, is a medium to large tree that matures at 50-80 feet in height and 2-3 feet in diameter. Usually forking near the ground with two or three main trunks supporting an openly spreading crown.  The Silver Maple is most easily identified by it's sharply forked form, thin, flat edge curling bark, widely spaced branches and large often partially exposed (runner) roots.  When split the fissures in the bark often expose a pink color below the brown-gray upper bark.




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

The leaves are opposite, 6-8 inches long with prominent, pointed, coarsely toothed lobes and narrow, rounded sinuses.  The lower leaf surfaces are a silver color while the upper are a crisp green.  Silver Maple logs are harvested and sold often combined with Red Maple and other soft Maples.  The buds are often eaten by Squirrels when other foods are not available.  



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



Silver Maple can be found growing almost anywhere in the Eastern Untied States.  Preferring moist, deep, well drained soils where it can get sufficient moisture, for this reason it is often times found growing near stream or river banks.
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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Kentucky Coffeetree - Gymnocladus dioicus

 The Kentucky Coffeetree -(Gymnocladus dioicus) -  is a deciduous medium sized tree with large, coarse, wide hanging pods that are red-brown when ripe.  It is best distinguished by it's large leaflets, large flowers, scaly bark and inflated fruit.  At maturity it can reach 18-30 m tall and grows in an erect single trunked, with a low branching habit.  The crown of the Kentucky Coffeetree is usually narrow or broad, pyramidal or rounded in shape.  It is a member of the Fabaceae (Bean) Family and included in the very small Gymnoclaudus genus which only contains 2 species (the other is native to China).


The leaves are large up to  30 inches long, divided into pairs of opposite side stalks with 6-14 oval leaflets on each stalk. The flowers are greenish-white growing in large upright clusters at the ends of each twig.  The bark is a reddish brown that becomes gray and irregularly fissured with age.  The twigs are stout and reddish brown in color and hairy only when immature.  The fruit is a tough, hard, inflated, red to brown woody legume that ranges in size from 15-25 cm long and 4-5 cm broad.  Each woody legume contains 4-7 seeds that are hard coated and nearly round in shape.








The Kentucky Coffeetree grows in moist places, floodplains, riverbanks, bases of ravines and valleys.  It is found in the Central and Eastern United States from New York and Massachusetts in the North, North Dakota in the West, Georgia, Alabama and Eastern Texas in the South.  It is naturalized and planted as an ornamental further East.  It grows best in rich, light soils.  This species is unusually free of fungus, parasites and insect infestations.  It is recorded that early settlers roasted the fruit of the Coffeetree for use as a coffee substitute, this is believed to be a possible origin of it's common name.









Image Citations (photos 1, 2 & 3): Jason Sharman, Vitalitree, Bugwood.org (Node Affiliation: International Society of Arboriculture)



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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Cashew Tree - Anacardium occidentale

 The Cashew Tree  Anacardium occidentale is a tropical evergreen that produces the Cashew seed and Cashew Apple.  Reaching heights of around 45 feet it is not a large tree by any means.  The trunk is generally short and irregular in form.  The dwarf variety is considered to be more profitable having earlier production maturity and higher yields at around 20 ft tall.  Native to Brazil, Portuguese colonist were recorded to export the tree and nuts as early as 1550.  Currently there is major Cashew production occurring in Vietnam, India, Nigeria and The Ivory Coast.  During the 21st century Cashew cultivation has significantly increased to meet new demands for manufacturing of Cashew Milk a plant based alternative to Dairy Milk.  In 2017, globally the production of Cashews was measured in tonnes at 3,971,046 with the leading producer being Vietnam 22%, India 19% and the Ivory Coast 18%. Benin, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Mozambique and Tanzania are all also notable producers.



The leaves of the Cashew Tree are spirally arranged, elliptic to obvate in shape and leathery in texture.  The flowers are produced in panicle or corymb up to 10 inches in length.  Flowers begin as small and pale green in color, becoming red and slender with maturity.  The Cashew Nut, simply called Cashew is widely consumed throughout the world.  It can be eaten alone, used in baking, as a salad topping or processed into Cashew Cheese or Cashew butter.   The Cashew Apple is a light red to yellow fruit similar to a gourd in appearance, it is an accessory or false fruit.  The pulp of this false fruit can be processed and made into a astringent but sweet drink or distilled into liquor.  The actual fruit of the tree is the kidney shaped drupe that occurs at the base of each Cashew Apple. Within each true fruit is a single seed (or nut), this seed is surrounded by a double shell that contains a resin that is an allergenic phenolic, called anacardic acid.  Anacardic acid is chemically related to Urushiol which is the toxin found in Poison Ivy.  For this reason Cashews are not readily available or sold in shell direct to consumers.




We recently visited Saint Lucia (one stop on a cruise) and while there we toured the Drive In Volcano / Geothermal Area near Soufrière. There at the site just on the edge of the overlook was a lone Cashew tree, the first I have ever seen in person (and not in a book) so I was quite intrigued.   The tour guide explained how the Cashew was not native to the island, but was introduced over 100 years ago and is now found throughout the island. She also explained in depth about the risks of eating or handling an "unprocessed" Cashew because of what she called the "poisonous shell".  The tree itself appeared to be mature between 35-40 ft tall and has had obvious damage from what I assume to be weather combined with tourist over the years.  Perched at the edge of the overlook it is only protected by a small rail system but otherwise is right in the flow of foot traffic.  It's trunk is irregular and gnarly in appearance and part of the canopy appears to have broken out well before our visit, though it still hangs on directly above the (Smelly) Sulphur Springs bubbling below.  Another testament to the strength and determination we so often see in nature.


Photo Credits (1, 2 & 3): Amy Gilliss, Arundel Tree Service 
Location - Sulphur Springs (geothermal area) Soufrière, Saint Lucia.
It was very hard to photograph trees in this crowded tourist area as they are not the "attractions" to others ;-) 


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Monday, June 7, 2021

Chickasaw Plum - Prunus angustifolia

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



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

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



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

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



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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

"The Tree of Tule" or "El Arbol del Tule"

 "The Tree of Tule" or "El Arbol del Tule" as it is called in the Mexican state of Oaxaca where it is located, is among one the the largest trees in the world. It is a Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum), which was once very abundant in Mexico. Montezuma Cypress are closely related to the Swamp and Bald Cypress.  It is said to be large enough to shelter upwards of 500 people and requires 30+ people with hands outstretched to circle the trunk.




Image Citation: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

The Arbol del Tule has the stoutest trunk of any known living tree in the world. The trunk when last measured in 2005 had a circumference of an astounding 137.8 feet and a diameter of 46.1 feet. The trunk is heavily bustressed which makes it very hard to get an accurate measurement. The height of the tree has been measured at 115-140 feet depending on the type of measurement used. At one point it was thought to be multiple trees that had grown together, though a DNA test proved it is only one tree.   The estimated age of the tree is somewhere between 1200 and 3000 years old.     In 1990, there was a report released that showed the tree is slowly declining because of the heavy pollution and nearby traffic that travels over the roots daily.  The Arbol del Tule is simply put a living & growing wonder of our world!


Image Citation: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

The tree was once guarded heavily by the Government and was considered a natural wonder in the early 1900's, however security for the tree is now more relaxed.  The tree is located on the Church grounds in the town center of Santa María del Tule in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.  It is a very popular tourist attraction and the fee for entrance to get a "closer' look is 10 pesos.  Young children are often used as mini tour guides to help point out the many animal shapes "seen" in the trees extremely rigid and textured trunk.  Santa Maria del Tule can be reached by car by traveling east on Highway 190 from Oaxaca, Mexico. Tour buses travel round trip from Oaxaca to Santa Maria del Tule seven days of the week. Local residents celebrate the famous Tule Tree on the second Monday in October, which was set aside as a holiday to celebrate this amazing tree, the celebration is often said to be as large as the tree itself.  Though the Arbol del Tule tree is the most famous because of it's size, there are actually 7 other large Montezuma Cypress growing in this one town that also deserve a visit (if you are in town)!  Learn more or plan you visit at: http://www.oaxaca-mio.com/



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Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Dotted Hawthorn - Crataegus punctata

 The Dotted Hawthorn (Crataegus punctata) is a small deciduous tree that grows to heights of around 30 feet at maturity.  It generally grows with a single erect trunk with branched thorns and a broad flat topped crown.  It is native to the North Eastern United States from NB to Minnesota in the North through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina in the South.  The Dotted Hawthorn generally forms large colonies and is one of the more common Hawthorns found in the Northeast.  




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

The Dotted Hawthorn is best identifed by it's dull green leaves and indented veins, pale ashy bark and spotted pommes.   The pale ashy bark is grey and has plate like scales,  The branches are a pale grey and are covered in grey thorns that are between 2-8cm long. The leaves are alternate simple and obvate or elliptic in shape, thin and firm with 7-10 pairs of lateral veins that narrow at the base.  The upper surface is a dull green and hairy when young.  The flower is 13-20 mm in diameter with white circular petals surrounding around 20 stamens.  The flowers appear in early Summer season.  The fruit is a red, burgundy or yellow pome that matures in early Fall.




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



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

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