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Meet A Tree - Blog

Glossy Privet (Ligustrum lucidum)

Posted on May 17, 2018 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (2)

The Glossy Privet (Ligustrum lucidum) is best recognized by it's shrubby growth habit and lustrous v shaped leaf blades, large inflorescence and clusters of blue to black drupes. The Glossy Privet is a large sized shrub or small tree that can reach heights of up to 20 feet tall. It generally has multiple trunks, a vase shape and arching or drooping branches. The Glossy Privet was introduced from Asia and established from cultivation throughout the Southeastern Coastal Plains from South Carolina to Central Florida, West through Eastern Texas.

The leaves of the Glossy Privet are opposite, simple, thick and leathery often v shaped with a narrowly elongated tapered point. The upper portions of the leaves are dark green and hairless, the lower surface is pale and slightly duller in sheen. The flower is small, white with a slightly greenish hint, tubular with four petals born in conspicuous branching panicles. The flowers are notably fragrant and are attractive to many pollinators. The fruit is a blue to black drupe 4-8 mm long that matures in late Summer to early Winter.

Privets grow at a fast rate, with height increases of more than 24" per year. They prefer full sun or partial shade, a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day. The Privet grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam and well-drained soils. The Japanese Privet is similar in appearance and is sometimes confused with the Glossy Privet. The easiest way to decipher between the two is the leaf size which is less then 10 cm on the Japanese Privet and greater then 10 cm on the Glossy Privet.

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The Golden Chain Tree - Laburnum anagyroides (Golden Rain)

Posted on May 16, 2018 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (2)

The Golden Chain Tree - Laburnum anagyroides (Golden Rain) is a small deciduous ornamental tree that reaches heights of 30-35 feet tall at maturity. The Golden Chain grows in a erect, slender form with slightly dropping limbs. It was native to Europe but has been long cultivated in the United States, common in landscapes along the East Coast especially in Massachusetts, but much more widespread in the West. Laburnum, commonly called Golden Chain, is a genus of two species of small trees in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae. 

The leaves are alternate, palmately compound with either 3 ovate or broadly lanceolate leaflets. The flowers are bright yellow in color and are generally 1.5-2 cm long each growing in long, loose, pendant shaped clusters that can range from 10-40 cm long. The fruit is a slightly hairy plump brown legume that is constricted between the seed compartments.

The wood from the Laburnum family has been used in woodworking, cabinet making, instrument production. The heartwood is often used as an alternative to ebony or rosewood because of the dark yellow-chocolate coloring. All parts of the Golden Chain are poisonous, symptoms can include sleepiness, vomiting, convulsive movements, coma, slight frothing of the mouth and unequally dilated pupils. In some cases, diarrhea can be very severe.

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Smoketree - Cotinus coggygria

Posted on May 15, 2018 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (1)

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.

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.

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Nannyberry - Viburnum lentago

Posted on May 9, 2018 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The Nannyberry is a small tree or large shrub native to the Northern United States and Southern portions of Canada. Generally found growing naturally along woods edges and within woodland settings. Nannyberry is in the Elderberry family and is also called Nannyberry viburnum or Sheepberry. This variety is best suited for zones 3-7 and grows well in alkaline, moist, dry or well drained soils. The growth habit of the Nannyberry is clumping, thicket forming, arching or multi stemmed. The Nannyberry is a fast grower and is adaptable from full sun to partial shade.


Image Citation: Missouri Botanical Gardens - https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org" target="_blank">https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org


The Nannyberry can reach heights of up to 25 feet and prefers full to partial shade. Nannyberry is known for its dark, lustrous green leaves which turn a maroon to deep red in the fall. The leaves are finely toothed, short to long pointed, hairless and somewhat egg shaped, leafstalks are winged. The leaves are 2-5 inches long. The twigs are long and flexible, with a rough granular texture on the surface. Buds are brown or gray in color, long and slender with rough-granular scales. Flowers are white in color and appear on the "old wood" portions of the tree, not new growth. The berry like fruit (drupe form) starting out yellow and red and maturing to blue or black. Birds are attracted to the fruit that ripens in the fall and often persists into December. This plant is a caterpillar and larva host to the spring azure butterfly.

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Devil's Walking Stick -Aralia spinosa

Posted on May 7, 2018 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (3)

The Devil's Walking Stick -Aralia spinosa is best known for it's prickly trunk, umbrella form, and bi-pinnate or tri-pinnate leaves. It is a deciduous shrub or small tree that only reaches heights of only 30 feet tall. It is a member of the Ginseng family (Araliaceae). The main trunk is erect with a single trunk with little or very few ascending branches, the leaves are spreading and grouped near the top of the plant. It is considered to be invasive or annoying by many landowners and gardeners as the plant "pops" up at will and is often hard to kill without grinding out the root system. The Devil's Walking Stick propagates with a rhizomatous root system that extends just below the ground to create a cluster of plants in loose congregation. The individual stems are ramets, or clones, of the singular parent. It is often times also called Hercules Club, Prickly Ash, Angelica Tree, Toothache Tree, Prickly Elder, Pigeon Tree, Pick Tree, Mississippi Hoe Handle, or Shotbush depending on the region.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Devil's Walking Stick was also for medicinal purposes by the Native Americans and Colonial Americans. A decoction of the bark was used to break a fever by increasing perspiration and for intestinal discomfort because of its emetic and purgative properties. The roots were mashed and cooked down to make a topical treatment that was used to treat boils and other skin irritations. Colonial Americans, notably those of African descent, used a similar topical treatment after a snakebite. The water used to boil the roots to craft topical treatments was also retained to treat eye irritations. Devil's Walking Stick is mildly toxic if ingested in sufficient quantities. The toxins are concentrated in the seeds of the berries and can cause gastrointestinal disturbances both mild and severe depending on amounts ingested. There is some theory that Devil's Walking Stick has been the cause of livestock poisoning. In spite of the soft and weak properties of the wood, it has been used to craft small boxes, picture frames, pens, and rocking chairs arms. The stems if cut in the early Spring can be stripped of their thorny external skin and made into plant stakes and ironically walking sticks. It was planted as an ornamental in English gardens during the late 19th Century as a contrarious gesture to conformity as it has a natural appearance that is in no way formal. Today it is not sold or marketed as an ornamental as it is not an ideal planting for any landscape other then a natural one, if planted it is used mainly in reforestation areas.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

The Devils Walking Stick is native to woodland areas, undisturbed lands, thickets, bogs and pine margins from Maine to Central Florida in the East and Missouri to Eastern Texas in the West. It is generally found between 0-1500 meters in elevation. There are only two non-native tree sized species of Aralia that are naturalized in North America, The Japanese Angelica Tree and The Chinese Angelica Tree, both are similar in appearance but not necessarily in size. The bark of the Devils Walking Stick is brown, smooth with slightly rough sections that bear obvious prickles that are very painful when making contact with the skin. The branches are stout, prickly and often have large encircling leaf scars. The leaves are alternate, bi-pinnate or tri-pinnate, compound, with triangular blades, numerous leaflets and a short stalk. The leaves are dark green on the upper surface and pale green on the lower, in the fall the leaves change to a rust or bronze color. The flowers are made up of tiny white petals and sepals, five of each, inflorescence and a large terminal compound panicle. The flowers appear in the early Summer. The fruit is round, 5 stoned purple-black, or lavender drupe that is 5-8 mm long and matures in the Fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Silktree / Mimosa - Albizia julibrissin

Posted on April 5, 2018 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (1)

The Silktree - Albizia julibrissin is most commonly known as the Mimosa. It is most easily recognized by the combination of bipinnate leaves and pinkish inflorescence. It is a deciduous tree that can reach heights of up to 50 feet tall and generally has a single erect trunk that lead to several low large ascending branches with an umbrella like spreading crown.

 

 

 

 

 

Image Citation: Lesley Ingram, Bugwood.org

 

 

 

The bark is light grey in color and either smooth or slightly rough. The leaves are alternate, bipinnate, with 5-15 evenly paired segments with 13-35 pairs per segment. The upper surface of the leaves are a yellow green in color, with the under size is paler and lightly hairy. The flowers on the Silktree are bisexual, radially symmetric and produced in a showy head that is 4-6 cm in diameter. The center of each flower is surrounded by long filaments of pink and white which make up the showy portions of the inflorence. The fruit is a flattened legume, yellow to brown in color about 15 cm long with evident flat seeds. The fruit matures in late summer through Fall.

 

 

 

 

 

Image Citation: Lesley Ingram, Bugwood.org

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Originally from Asia, the Silktree (Mimosa) is now established across much of the Eastern United States from New York in the North through Florida in the South, West through Missouri and in portions of California. It is considered to be invasive in many areas of the United States because of it's tolerance level and ability to grow in not very ideal locations.

 

 

 

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Sugarberry - Celtis laevigata

Posted on January 2, 2018 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (4)

The Sugarberry - Celtis laevigata is a small deciduous tree that grows upwards of 95 feet, they often flower and fruit when young. The Sugarberry grows in an upright erect form with an open spreading crown. The simple bark is grey in color and smooth when young, becoming marred with cork or wart like ridges / growths. The bark marking is often caused by bird excavating the bark to access the sweet sap, this in turn attracts insects to the wounds. The leaves are simple and alternate usually thin and paper like in texture, lanceolate or ocassionally ovate with a rounded, flattened or asymmetric tip. The upper surface is pale green and hairless, smooth surfaced with visible veins.

 

 

 

 

 

Image Citation: Brian Lockhart, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

 

 

 

The Sugarberry is a member of the Cannabaeceae (Hemp) family. Sugarberry is usually found growing in sandy loam or rocky soils along streams, bottom lands, and in woodlands. The Cannabaceae Family is made up of 11 genera and 180 species of shrubs, trees, herbs and vines - 14 species are found in North America only 9 are native others are naturalized. The woody members of this family are most easily identified by their alternate simple leaves with 3 primary veins from the base and inconspicuous flowers, and were originally classified as members of the Elm family (Ulmaceae) but recent studies suggest they should actually be included with the Cannabaeceae family.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Sugarberry has long been used for many purposes by a variety of Native American tribes. The Houma used a concentrate made from the bark to treat sore throats and ground up shells to treat venereal diseases. The Comanche would beat the fruits to a pulp and then mixed with animal fat, rolled into balls, and roasted in the fire as food. The Acoma, Navajo, and Tewa all consumed raw Sugarberries for food. The leaves and branches were boiled by the Navajo to make dark brown and red dye for wool.

 

 

 

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Arborvitae - Thuja occidentalis

Posted on December 20, 2017 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (1)

Arborvitae - Thuja occidentalis is monoecious evergreen tree that generally reaches heights of 40-50 feet tall, although it has the potential to grow much taller. It is a native northern Cypress with scale like leaves, flattened twigs that are grouped in fan shaped sprays with bilaterally symmetric cones. Found mostly on limestone - derived soils, in swamp areas, riparian areas on cliff and talus from 0-900 m. It is common from Ontario and New Brunswick in the north, south through the Appalachians of North Carolina and Tennessee. It is also commonly called Northern White Cedar, American Arborvitae, Eastern Arborvitae, or Cedar Blanc.



Image Citation: Richard Webb, Bugwood.org

 

The bark of the Arborvitae is Red-Brown in color and becomes gray with age. The bark is thin and fibrous becoming fissured and forming long strips with age. The pollen cones are 1-2 mm long reddish in color. The seed cones are ovoid 9-14 mm long, green maturing to brown with 2 pairs of woody, fertile scales, each one is longer then it is wide. The leaves are scale like, flattened 1-4 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, pointed and dull yellow-green on the upper and lower surface with visible glands and lateral leaves near twig tips.


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


It is written that in 1536 an extract from the foliage of the Arborvitae saved the lives of Jacques Cartier and his crew who were suffering from scurvy during their second discovery voyage to Canada, they in turn named the tree Arborvitae which is Latin for "tree of life". They brought the tree home with them to Europe, making it the first North American tree to be introduced to Europe. Since that time, there have been more then 120 cultivars discovered and named. This sheer number makes it one of the most popular trees in horticulture today. Arborvitae is one of the longest lived trees in Eastern North America, it can live up to 1890 years.


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


Arborvitae is a very common planting in both residential and commercial settings. It is recommended for hardiness zones 3-7 and holds it foliage year round. This tree adapts very well to both shearing and shaping and naturally grows in a pyramidal shape.


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"Southern Magnolia" - Magnolia grandiflora

Posted on November 27, 2017 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (1)

The "Southern Magnolia" - Magnolia grandiflora - is a medium sized evergreen tree. It is also called the Bull Bay, Big Laurel, Evergreen Magnolia or Large Flower Magnolia. The native range of the Southern Magnolia goes from North Carolina south down the Atlantic Coast and through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Central Texas. Averaging 60-80 feet tall in ideal locations, they usually reach maturity at 80-120 years. It typically grows in an oval pyramidal shape.

 

Featuring leathery leaves 5–10" in length, with a lustrous dark green top and soft, rusty underside. The large White fragrant flowers appear April-June and are almost perfect in form. The fleshy cone shaped fruit mature in late fall. The fruit are 5-8 inches long and attract a wide range of wildlife including Squirrels, Rabbits and Birds.

 

Recommended for zones 6-10 this variety can be grown as far North as Maine and is found planted over most of the country with the exception of the North-Central Region. Air-layering, stem cuttings and grafting are all sucessful means of propagation. It can be found at most nurseries in it's growth range. It is best planted as a landscape tree versus a street tree as the leaf, flower and fruit debris are often considered messy.

 

The name Magnolia honors French Botanist Pierre Magnol, who was so impressed with the tree he transplanted one near his home in Europe over 300 years ago. One of these trees grows on the White House grounds, it was transplanted by President Andrew Jackson from his home in Nashville, Tennessee. This tree was transplanted to honor his late wife Rachel's memory.

 

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