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Steve Nix

Steve's Forestry Blog


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Weeping Trees in the Landscape

Wednesday April 23, 2014

Weeping Higan Cherry

An image of weeping willow (Salix babylonica) is the usual visual association when most people think of a weeping tree. In fact, there are hundreds of tree varieties that express the weeping form - conifers like spruce, hemlock, cypress, cedar and spruce; broadleaves like maple, cherry, birch and willow.

Most weeping plants are the result of grafting a weeping cultivar onto a hardier rootstock. This propagation method make these weepers available at reasonable prices and in many species. Typically weeping-formed trees will occupy a large area and adequate space is required to show it properly. These special trees need special treatment when planting and pruning.

About.com's Landscape (David Beaulieu) and Tree and Shrub (Vanessa Richins Myers) guides make some great recommendations on specific tree hybrids to plant:

Image by Steve Nix, Weeping Higan Cherry

More on Old Man's Beard (Fringetree)

Wednesday April 23, 2014

Fringetree or Old Man's Beard is a beautiful, small tree when it is in full Spring bloom. It can grow nearly anywhere in the continental United States and is native to the lower eastern U.S. and coastal states to New York. It's white flower color kicks in just as the dogwood blooms are fading.

Although fringetree does well in shade, it never attains its full potential for height and diameter growth without full sunlight. An open-grown fringetree at George Washington's Mount Vernon in Virginia has attained a near record at 32 feet tall with a trunk of 17 inches in diameter.

Wild Fringetree in Alabama - Photo by Steve Nix, Licensed to About.com

Tree Pollen, How Trees Pollinate

Wednesday April 16, 2014

Pollen Electron Microscope Imagery

Tree pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the genetic material of seed plants - including trees. Tree pollen produces male reproductive cells that have the ability to fuse with female reproductive parts and that union results in pollination.

Tree pollen grains are distributed by either wind or insects and animals.

Small, light  tree pollen is blown by wind to female parts while larger tree pollen grains are deposited by insects onto the female ovary where pollination takes place. Tree pollen grains germinate and develop a pollen tube which grows down to the ovary and deposits the sperm cell which causes the production of seed.

via Tree Pollen - Production and Transportation of Tree Pollen.

Also: Pollen Producing Trees You Can Live With, Trees You Can't

Studying and Identifying Many Common Trees You Encounter

Monday April 14, 2014

A tree is probably the most common, naturally growing or cultivated, living organism you will ever encounter on a daily basis. Most people I know have a real desire to learn more about a tree including looking at a tree in hopes to identify that tree. With this in mind, I have put together a list of tree topics that need some illumination including tree growth, tree tissues, tree identification and much more.

Treehugger - Getty Image

The Majestic Live Oak, All You Need To Know

Monday April 14, 2014

Quercus virginiana or Southern live oak is a large, sprawling, picturesque tree, usually graced with Spanish moss and strongly reminiscent of the Old South. Live oak is one of the broadest spreading of the oaks, providing large areas of deep, inviting shade. It is the state tree of Georgia. Reaching 40 to 60 feet in height with a 60 to 100 foot spread and usually possessing many sinuously curved trunks and branches, live oak is an impressive sight for any large-scale landscape.

Windsor Ruin Live Oak - Photo by Steve Nix

Introducing American Elm

Wednesday April 9, 2014

American Elm

American elm is the most popular of urban shade trees. Ulmus americana has long been planted along downtown city streets in North America. The tree is now out of favor when considered for urban tree planting because of its susceptibility to Dutch elm disease.

Here is a walk-through description and guide to identifying American elm or Ulmus americana. Find out more about the tree's habit, range, silviculture and and pest problems.

Tree Finder, Flower Finder - Plant Identification Guidebooks

Wednesday April 9, 2014

Here are two small but complete guidebooks that should be in your backpack or pickup truck if you live or play in the forests of eastern United States and Canada. Our natural world is preparing to explode with leafing and flowering plants this spring and you need to be ready by acquiring two inexpensive plant identification guides.

May T. Watts' Tree Finder is the best pocket-sized tree identification manual available for trees east of the Rocky Mountains. Fifty-eight illustrated pages are crammed full of tips that help in identifying 300 of North America's most common native trees. Great for quick tree leaf identification. Tree Finder - A Manual for the Identification of Trees by Their Leaves

I also recommend as a companion guide May Watts' Flower Finder. Based on the same identification method used in the Tree Finder, this wildflower guide helps you identify flower charcteristics that ultimately lead to a flower's family and common name. Flower Finder - A Guide for the Identification of Spring Wild Flowers

Moving a Tree - Making a Tree Transplant

Saturday April 5, 2014

Homeowners often need to move or transplant trees in a yard or within the landscape. Trees may have been planted too thickly or threaten to out-grow available space. Size is a critical factor in transplanting and the larger a tree, the more difficult it is to transplant.

If you have a small tree growing near your house, driveway, or patio, visualize it at full size and decide now if it must one day be moved. The longer you ignore it, the less likely you will be able to move and /or save the tree.

  • How to Transplant a Tree
  • All this is said to remind you to be aware of your landscape with the tree in mind. Remember that there should be a future growth factor included when making appropriate plans for a healthy tree outcome.

    Texas A&M University Photo

    You Can Kill a Tree With Fertilizer!

    Saturday April 5, 2014

    You can actually kill a tree if you apply too much fertilizer.  It can happen when you fail to read the fertilizer label for application rate and formulation ratios.  It can happen if you spill fertilizer over a tree's root zone and too much fertilizer introduces toxic "salt" levels to the root system.

    In my report, The Problem of Tree Over-fertilization, I provide you with the best tree fertilizer formulas and how much to apply them. I also recommend a treatment if you do over fertilize.

    Also, check out my report on How to Fertilize a Tree...

    An Introduction to American Hornbeam

    Tuesday April 1, 2014

    American Hornbeam

    The name ironwood was appropriately named by early North American settlers who used the indestructible wood for mallet heads and (when lacking metal) for use as plows. The tree is a native and plentiful in all eastern and southern North American provinces and states.

    The tree has thin, smooth, muscled bark and along with the leaf form can look like a small beech - hence another common name blue-beech (not a true beech). Carpinus caroliniana has also earned a reputation as a desirable small tree in smaller landscapes because of its small height and spread, excellent form and fall color.

    Its non-native larger cousin European hornbeam is larger at maturity, not so good for small yards, and widely planted in larger landscapes throughout eastern North America.

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