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.
Friday, June 25, 2021
Monday, June 21, 2021
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.
Sunday, June 20, 2021
At this time of year most of us have made a few trips to the local nursery to find some new items to spruce up our homes landscaping. One of the last things most of us consider is if our new planting is an invasive species or something non-native to our area that could actually harm or starve out our natives. Most of the common plant species thriving in the United States came from somewhere else originally, mostly Europe or Asia. The same goes for most invasive insects that are harming our natives. While they are often considered to be beautiful and desired additions, many of these plants spread rapidly in an environment that has not evolved to keep its growth in balance naturally. If not controlled an invasive species of plant can take over and harm or prevent native species from surviving.
Below is a quick list of some of the top invasives in North America. How many can you find in your own backyard?
Kudzu - Pueraria montana
Photo Citation: Peggy Greb, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org
Commonly seen growing as a high climbing, rapidly growing vine throughout the southeastern United States, the perennial known as Kudzu originally hails from Asia and was introduced in 1876. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that kudzu spreads up to 150,000 acres annually and The Forest Service estimates that the weed spreads by 2,500 acres per year. Either way this invasive is capable of covering anything in its path, from trees, fences, and other permanent structures. When a tree or shrub is covered by Kudzu, the Kudzu usually wins and the "host" tree or shrub is often killed or significantly degraded. Flowering Kudzu is a fast-growing vine/legume with a grapelike odor and deep green leaves.
English Ivy - Hedera helix
How many of our Grandmothers had a patch of English Ivy in their yards? (Mine did for sure!) English Ivy was originally brought to America by early settlers/colonists who sought to recreate the charms of their homeland. In this new environment English Ivy quickly became invasive, destructive and covered (even toppling) trees, low growing native species and climbing (charmingly) up the walls of houses. This one can be bought as a "houseplant" still even though it is restricted in most parts of the country as highly invasive.
Wisteria - Wisteria sinensis
A native of China, Wisteria is beautiful, fragrant and waterfalls over anything it covers. The beautiful Purple curtain like flowers are one of the biggest reasons so many fall for the beauty of Wisteria. Beware of planting Wisteria on your property, it grows so vigorously that it can quickly become difficult to manage. Like English Ivy, Wisteria has the ability to overtake anything in its path even killing mature canopy trees.
Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org
This one is quite surprising as Barberry is commonly used as a shrub by many landscapers. I have some planted in various locations in my own yard but am very careful to keep them trimmed and under control. Believe it or not both common barberry and Japanese barberry are banned from sale in many areas of the United States (Not yet the Mid Atlantic region where we live). Originally introduced in the late 1800s, not only is it invasive, but it also provides an ideal hiding place for deer ticks which are a carrier of Lyme Disease.
Image Citation: Britt Slattery, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bugwood.org
Butterfly Bush - Buddleja davidii
This one is another that is surprising as this can be found at most nurseries and even some big box stores this time of year. Butterfly bush offers much-needed nectar for many pollinators like butterflies and bees, but it is also considered an invasive or noxious weed in many states. Butterfly bush is known to push out native species and spread into uncultivated areas where it is not wanted. If not trimmed frequently Butterfly Bush can overtake an area in a single growth season.
Image Citation: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
Purple Loosestrife- Lythrum salicaria
Purple loosestrife is a beautiful but aggressively invasive and hardy perennial. It is most commonly the cause of native plant growth restriction in natural and disturbed wetland areas. Once established it most often out competes and replaces native grasses, sedges and other flowering plants that would provide more nutrient rich sources of food for native wildlife. Originally introduced in the Northeast United States and Canada in the 1800's for medicinal and ornamental uses, it can now be found growing wildly in every state except Florida.
Image Citation: L.L. Berry, Bugwood.org
Norway Maple is a vigorous grower and an adaptable species loved by many homeowners. Norway Maple surprisingly are also on the invasive plant list in many states. The Norway's shallow, dense root system often competes with lawns, other landscape plants and hardscaping causing not only annoying roots that can trip you, a bumpy mowing process and even lifting sidewalks and shifted retaining walls.
Image Citation: Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org
Japanese Honeysuckle -Lonicera japonica
Honeysuckle has been used for decades along highways for effective erosion control. Japanese honeysuckle however can cause more harm than good by threatening native plants, it is famous for hoarding light, space, and nutrients in an established area suffocating out all of the native weaker plantings.
Image Citation- Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org
Black Locust -Robinia pseudoacacia
Black locust spreads quickly, and is also short lived. Its branches are brittle and break easily when exposed to high winds. As a result of its ability to propagate quickly, it is considered invasive and is on the do-not-plant list in many areas throughout the country. Even so, it is still commonly planted by many commercial landscape firms on roadsides and within communities.
Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org
This woody, perennial vine is native to Asia, and although it has beautiful berries in winter, it is considered an invasive species due to the way it starves out otherwise successful native plants.
Image Citation: Chris Evans - University of Illinois - Bugwood.org
Introduced to the United States from East Asia in the late 1800s, Japanese Knotweed has been considered problematic since the mid-20th century. It spreads quickly, crowding and shading out native vegetation.
Image Citation: Randy Westbrooks, Invasive Plant Control, Bugwood.org
Like so many invasive species, Common Buckthorn was introduced to this nation's gardens by well-meaning botanists in the late 19th century. Besides crowding out native shrubs, it plays host to many pests, and the decomposition of its leaf litter can change the pH of the surrounding soil, which can cause problems for other nearby plants.
Image Citation: Jan Samanek - Phytosanitary Administration - Bugwood.org
Dame’s Rocket, with its fragrant white, pink or purple flowers blooming in spring, has long been a traditional garden favorite. But it is an invasive species, and no matter how beautiful, it has the potential to damage entire natural ecosystems.
Image Citation: Leslie J. Mehrhoff - University of Connecticut - Bugwood.org
Known for its bright red, fall color, burning bush is a popular landscaping shrub throughout North America. It has many invasive traits, however, that allow it to spread aggressively. It’s not recommended for planting near uncultivated areas, and may end up on official invasive species lists in the near future.
Image Citation: Richard Webb - Bugwood.org
Giant hogweed is not only on invasive species lists, it is officially classified as a noxious weed. Though it was originally cultivated as an ornamental plant, contact with its sap can cause terribly painful burns, scarring, and even blindness.
Image Citation: Terry English - USDA APHIS PPQ
Friday, June 18, 2021
The Purpleosier Willow - Salix purpurea, is a deciduous clone forming shrub or shrubby tree that reaches heights of 4-20 feet tall. Growing in an erect, upright form or arching, usually with numerous branches and multiple trunks. Originally introduced from Europe, it has been cultivated and is now naturalized in various wetlands throughout much of the Eastern United States as far South as Georgia, west to Minnesota and Iowa and sporadic in the West.
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."
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
Totigi [Tochigi] 329-4216 Japan
Thursday, June 17, 2021
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.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
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: Steven Katovich, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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).
Friday, June 11, 2021
Ruby Falls Weeping Redbud, Cercis canadensis is a dwarf cascading Redbud variety with a huge impact on any setting. At only 6-8 ft tall and 5-6 wide at maturity this compact tree will fit in almost any garden, it even does well in containers (for those of you without a garden). Ruby Falls boosts ease of care with a high tolerance of most soil conditions with the exception of poorly drained saturated soils. It will have success in partial to full sun. Blooms area a brilliant Lavendar color and they contrast beautifully off of the red stems of the tree. The leaves are small, semi-glossy, and heart-shaped. Leaves turn yellow in fall and are maroon to dark purple in the Spring and Summer seasons. Even in the winter when the tree is bear it still offers interest with it's flowing branches and weeping habit.
The Ruby Falls Redbud is very unique and can be perfect for any space. We have three on our property, two on either side of our front porch and one in our pool yard. They are medium to moderate rate growers. This variety is both pest and disease resistant and is even drought tolerant making it extremely easy to care for. Recommended for USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9. Redbuds are native to North America
Ruby Falls can be purchased from most large online nurseries and limited local nurseries. I have not yet seen them available for purchase at the big box centers or smaller garden centers (unless they have a local grower that stocks for them). This variety has greatly increased in popularity in our area over the last few years and for very good reason....it is absolutely gorgeous!
Follow our blog to meet more trees or visit our website for more information.
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
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.
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.
Monday, June 7, 2021
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.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
"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.
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
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.