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Meet A Tree - Blog

Our Blog includes many interesting tree facts, educational information, tree care tips and a "Meet A Tree" Section that features a different tree at least once a week.  We try to post daily to keep things fresh and inspire you to love trees as much as we do!


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Leyland Cypress - Cypressus x leylandii

Posted on August 24, 2018 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

The Leyland Cypress - Cypressus x leylandii is usually in tree form and can be planted as both a specimen and in mass plantings as a living fence or screen.  The Leyland Cypress originated from cultivation as a hybrid between the Alaska Yellow Cedar (C.nootkatensis D.Don) and the Monterey Cypress (C.macrocarpa Hartw.) and is a member of the Cupressaceae or Cypress family. 

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

The Leyland Cypress is one of the most popular and diverse ornamental conifers, with a huge variability in it's size, appearance and uses.  The Leyland Cypress can grow as much as 50 ft in a 15 year period and is considered to be a very fast growing speciman.


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

The bark is fibrous in texture and gray in color.  The leaves are scalelike ranging in size from 1.5-2.5 mm long, lacking conspicuous glands, waxy underneath with white X shaped marks on the stomata. The Seedcone in many cultivars is sterile, the seed cone when present are globose and 1.5-2 cm in diameter slightly waxy and composed of 4 pairs of woody scales.  


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

Cupressaceae or Cypress' in general are monoecious or diocious and either deciduous or evergreen.  Many Genera within the family contain only one single species.  The Cupressaceae or Cypress family was once more wide spread and contained many more members.

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China Fir - Cunninghamia lanceolata

Posted on July 25, 2018 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

China Fir - Cunninghamia lanceolata, is most easily identified by the long, stiff, sharply pointed leaves and oval cones of leather like sharply pointed bracts near twig tips. The China Fir was introduced to the United States and is considered a distinct ornamental. Native to Southeast Asia. In China the China Fir is considered to be an important timber tree and is referred to as the China Fir, even though it is a member of the cypress family. It is fast growing and highly resistant to pests and diseases. It is widely used for landscaping and has medicinal uses.

The China Fir is a Monoecious evergreen tree that can reach heights of 90 ft tall with and irregular cylindrical crown. The leaves are needlelike deep green, stiff, stright or slightly curved 3-6 cm and spirally inserted on each twig. It is in leaf all year, in flower from January to May, and the seeds ripen from August to September annually. The twigs are covered by dead leaves behind 2 or 3 years of living leaf growth. The cones are ovoid, reddish brown at maturity, 1 1/2 - 4 1/2 cm and made up of glossy, leathery, sharly pointed bracts, occuring at twig tips in groups of 1-4. The bark is dark gray to reddish brown in color and fissured to expose the aromatic inner bark. Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling.

China Fir has many uses outside of just being planted as an ornamental speciman. The bark is a source of tannins and the branches produce an essential oil that is used in the perfume industry. The creamy yellow to white, fragrant wood is uniform in textured, straight-grained, lightweight and durable, though it will rot if it is continually wet. It is easily worked, sometimes turned and resistant to insect and termite damage. It is also used in construction such as ship building (mainly throughout Asia where it is harvested for lumber) where great strength is required. A good quality fuel and a charcoal can also be made from the wood.


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Araucaria Family - Monkey Puzzle, Cook Pine, Norfolk Island Pine and Bunya Pine

Posted on July 25, 2018 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (1)

 

The Araucaria (Araucarias) is a genus of trees mostly native to the Southern Hemisphere and including only 19 species. Four of these species have become popular ornamental plantings here in the United States (mostly in warm Southern portions of the Eastern Seaboard, and along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains). The four species that are found here in the US are Monkey Puzzle - Araucaria araucana (Molina), Cook Pine - Araucaria columnaris, Norfolk Island Pine - Araucaria heterophylla and Bunya Pine - Araucaria bidwillii. The Araucaria is one of three genera that make up the larger Araucariaceae family.

 



Bunya Pine  -  Image Citation: Dennis Haugen, Bugwood.org




Norfolk Island Pine - Thomas Smiley, Bartlett Tree Experts, Bugwood.org

 

 

 

All of the trees making up the Araucaria genus are tall evergreens with single straight trunks covered in rough dark gray-brown bark that is horizontally ridged. The trunks are generally covered in uniform whorls of branches that emerge at almost perfect right angles. The branches are covered in very dense or tight triangular or needle shaped evergreen leaves. The evergreen leaves are multi-veined and arranged spirally on each twig, branch and sometimes even on the trunk itself. Pollen Cones are large, one of the largest of any conifer. Seed Cones are dense and heavy, quickly disintegrating before or soon after falling. The inner seeds from the seed cone are considered a tasty treat to many varieties of native wildlife.

 

 

 

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Loquat - Eriobotrya japonica

Posted on July 3, 2018 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (6)

The Loquat - Eriobotrya japonica is most easily recognized by the combination of large coarsely toothed, heavily veined, dark green leaves and large flowering panicles with yellow or orange fruit. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches heights of 9-20 feet high on average. The crown is dense, rounded and somewhat vase shaped. The Eriobotrya is a small genus of only 30 species of evergreen shrubs or trees that are native to mostly Asia.

 

 

 

 

 

The bark is brownish gray, smooth and somewhat hairy. The leaves are alternate, simply toothed, stiff, leathery, obovate or elliptical, with coarsely toothed margins and parallel veins. The upper leaf surface is lustrous, dark green, hairless, with a paler lower surface. The flowers are 10-15 mm in diameter with 5 petals in an oval or circular form. The flowers are a creamy white color with a sweet fragrance, borne in conspicuous branches and hairy terminal panicles. The flowers appear is late Autumn to early Winter. The fruit is a yellow, orange or whitish pome, that is pear shaped or oblong with 1-2 large seeds. The fruit matures in Spring to early Summer.

 

 

 

The Loquat was originally introduced from East Asia and is now found on disturbed sites from South Florida to South Louisiana, and cultivated into the southern portion of North Carolina. The Loquat is considered to be somewhat invasive in some portions of Florida.

 

 

 

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American Basswood - Tilia americana

Posted on June 18, 2018 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (4)

The American Basswood - Tilia americana, is most easily recognized by the combination of alternate, two ranked, and heart shaped leaves that are asymmetric at the base and the leafy bract subtending the flowers and fruit. It is a deciduous tree that reaches heights of 60-100 feet tall that grows in an erect form with a single trunk. The crown of the American Basswood is ovoid or rounded with numerous slender branches.

 

 

 

The bark of the American Basswood is smooth and dark gray when young, becoming furrowed with vertical ridges. The leaves are alternate, simple, two ranked, ovate, heart shaped and ovate at the base. The upper surface of the leaves are a dark yellowish green, hairless with conspicuous veins, while the lower leaf surface is a paler green color and lightly haired. The blades of the leaves are 12-15 cm long and 7-10 cm wide. The flowers are yellowish white with 5 sepals, 5 petals and inflorescence. The fruit is a rounded thick-shelled gray nut that is about 6 mm broad, maturing in Autumn.

 

 

The American Basswood is native to the rich and deciduous woods of North America, it is widespread in the East from New Brunswick and Saskatchewan in the North to Central Florida and Texas in the South.

 

 

 

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Ginkgo - Ginkgo Biloba

Posted on June 13, 2018 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (2)

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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 enviroments, 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 symptons in dementia patients, but not in preventing the onset of Alzhemiers 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 truely an amazing species of tree all on their own, surviving and adapting for hundred of millions of years.


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Kentucky Coffeetree -(Gymnocladus dioicus)

Posted on May 29, 2018 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (1)

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.


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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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