Sugar Maple (Acer Saccharum)

trees[6]

Widely known for its unmatched splendor in fall, the Sugar Maple displays brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow, like this specimen in Holmdel Park in Holmdel, NJ. Sugar Maples can grow 50 to 80 feet tall and 40 to 70 feet wide, and depending on the cultivar, develops a columnar or oval shape.

It is a beautiful slow to medium growing shade tree, ideal for any open space off roadways. On streets they are susceptible to salt damage, soil compaction, heat and drought stress, and girdling roots.

It prefers a well-drained soil with adequate moisture and can tolerate some shade. Like most deciduous trees, it prefers winter pruning, but is susceptible to sunscald and bark cracks if pruned too heavily.

The tree has a smooth gray bark when young that becomes platy with age. Foliage is a medium green in summer with the traditional 5-lobed leaf found on the Canadian flag. They are also prized for their sweet sap used to produce maple syrup.

trees[1]

Sourwood (Oxydendrum Arboreum)

Aspen Tree Expert Co IncThe Sourwood or Sorrel Tree, takes its name from the sharp acid taste of its leaves and sap.  Native to the Appalachians, Sourwood is found from Northeastern Florida, to Southern Pennsylvania.  It can be planted, however, in USDA Zones 5 to 9 in moist well-drained acid soils.

Tiny, creamy white, urn-shaped flowers appear in late June and last into August.  Borne In compound clusters about 7 to 10 inches long, it is one of few native trees to flower in summer.   The numerous, fragrant flowers are a favorite of bees, which make a Sourwood honey, an Appalachian treat.

Fall color starts as early as late August and lasts until November. The brilliant red or scarlet leaves are made even more spectacular by the contrast of the persisting flowers.

A slow grower and generally considered a small tree at 25 to 30 feet, it can attain 50 feet or more in the wild. Full sun is preferred for best flowering and fall color, but it will grow well in partial shade.  It is sensitive to transplanting, cold injury when young, and is intolerant of pollution.  Established plants, however, endure drought well and have no serious pests or diseases.  An excellent specimen tree for patios and gardens, the Sourwood is perhaps our finest native flowering tree.

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum)

Aspen Tree Blog

The Red, Water, Swamp or Soft Maple takes its name from its early spring show of red buds and bright red flowers.  It has the greatest north-south range of any native tree in North America, being found from Newfoundland to Florida.  Although it grows best in damp lowlands soils, it can also be found with other hardwoods on rocky upland soils.

Typically thought of as a medium sized shade tree, the Red Maple grows from 50 to 80 feet but can surpass 100.  The bark is an attractive smooth silver turning dark gray and scaly with age.  Maple fruits, or winged samaras, emerge with the leaves and can be red or green.  Carried by the wind, the samaras float to the ground like tiny helicopters and readily seed themselves.

The leaves are 3to 5 lobed and 3 to 4 inches long with reddish stems.  They are a medium green in summer and cast an open-filtered shade.  When autumn arrives, few trees brighten the landscape with such dazzling colors.  Color varies from tree to tree and can be bright yellows, orange, flame red or any variation in between.

Heavily planted as a street tree, it is also great for lawns and parks, however, cultivars such as “Red Sunset” and “October Glory” are often preferred to guarantee red fall color.  Surface roots may present problems in high traffic areas and neatly groomed lawns.  Red Maples are also susceptible to sun scald, verticillium wilt, any kind of structural injuries and leaf hopper insects.

August Tree of the Month: White Oak

august-tree

White Oak

(Quercus alba)

049Pyramidal in shape as a young tree, it slowly matures into an imposing dense and broadly rounded specimen. Commonly reaching 70 to 90 feet tall, it can exceed 100 feet tall with a spread over 150 feet. Under favorable conditions, many white oaks have lived for 300 to 500 years and have been witnesses to numerous historical events.

White Oak leaves are the classic rounded lobed leaves we associate with oaks. They emerge in May, pinkish-white in color, turning a bright green in summer with a paler and pubescent underside. The flowers, although ornamentally inconsequential, appear when the leaves are about 1/3 developed. The female flowers appear on short spikes while the males occur separately as 2 to 3 inch catkins. Oak flowers are wind pollinated which can be tough on allergies, not to mention your cars finish.

050The Oak’s fruits or acorns are borne singly or in pairs and mature in one season. Inside the ¾ inch cup is a sweet edible kernel which is a favorite of squirrels. White Oak is considered one of the most important use trees in the East because of its high lumber value for hardwood floors, furniture, kegs, fuel wood and in colonial times, for ship building.

White Oaks are susceptible to numerous pests and diseases including anthracnose, leaf blister and gypsy moth, but they all seem to be no trouble for the mighty White Oak. Few trees are as noble or picturesque as a mature White Oak. If you are fortunate enough to have one, or patient enough to plant one, sit back and enjoy!

 

Goldenrain Tree

Aspen Tree DL(Koelreuteria Paniculata)

A beautiful medium sized ornamental tree that is great for open, sunny spaces.  It has a single stem with a rounded habit reaching approximately 30’ in height by 30’ wide.  It makes a good street tree that is fairly compatible with overhead wires.

Goldenrain Tree is a native of China and the Korean peninsula and adapts well to most well-drained soil types here in the U.S.  It has pinnately compound leaves with a feathery appearance and a yellow-green color in the summer followed by a nice yellow-orange fall color.

The main attributes for this tree are the 8-12” golden panicle flowers during June and July in the Mid-Atlantic region.  They are usually a show stopper when in bloom, and a favorite of bees.  When the blooms are finished they are followed by an attractive paper lantern style fruit that will persist until winter.

Fringe Tree

Aspen 2 New(Chionanthus virginicus)

In this time of turning back to native plants, you need look no further than this garden gem.  The Fringe Tree also called Old Man’s Beard, is named for its lacy threadlike flowers.  Few native trees give such a dependable, showy and fragrant flowering display year after year.

The Fringe tree can be grown as a single stem tree, but is more often found as a large multi-stemmed shrub.  Hardy from USDA Zones 3 to 9, it prefers full sun to partial shade with slightly acid moist soils.  Plants should be balled-and-burlapped or containerized when transplanting.

One of our most striking native trees when in bloom, both male and female plants produce flowers.  Only the females, however produce the small date-like fruits that ripen in early fall.  Both male and female plants have to be in close proximity to create the handsome dark blue fruits that are a favorite of game birds.

Slow growing and usually attaining less than 20 feet at maturity, the Fringe Tree is ideal for any patio or garden. Although they will not tolerate drought, they have traditionally had few insect or disease problems and hold up well against pollution.  This may be changing with the introduction of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).  This once trouble-free native is still a beautiful tree that you’ll be glad you turned back for.

May Tree of The Month: Dawn Redwood

Aspen Tree DL

Dawn Redwood

(Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

This tree was known and named only through fossils, as it was believed extinct for thousands of years. It was discovered alive in 1941 in Hueph, China and brought to America and distributed to arboretums and botanical gardens around the world in 1948 by the Arnold Arboretum. Since then, this beauty has grown in popularity as fast as it grows in good moist soil.

Dawn Redwood, named for its apparent resemblance to the Coast Redwood, can easily attain heights of 90 to 100 feet tall and may grow as much as 5 feet in one year. They prefer full sun and a moist, slightly acid soil in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9. Hot dry regions or areas near salty ocean winds will burn the foliage or even kill this species.

Dawn Redwood is a conifer or cone bearing tree with small round cones on long stalks. It is also one of the few deciduous conifers, meaning it loses its needles in the fall. The pale green feathery needles emerge in late spring and turn darker in summer. In autumn, they become a rusty orange or reddish brown and in early winter shed to make a thick natural mulch.

In winter-time, the bark becomes a major focal point with deeply fissured trunks and exfoliating bark in strips of red and brown. A beautiful ornamental shade tree for any season, the Dawn Redwood has few pests or diseases of any consequence and requires little pruning. This fascinating and infatuating tree is a must for open spaces.

Arbor Day

Aspen Tree Expert Co Inc collage

In 1872, a Nebraska pioneer and journalist proposed a holiday for planting trees called “Arbor Day”.  J. Sterling Morton moved from Detroit only to find that the Nebraska territory was a vast treeless plain.  Recognizing the need for windbreaks, lumber, fuel wood and shade, he immediately started planting trees.  Morton became Secretary of the Nebraska Territory and had his idea approved and a date was set for April 10, 1872.  In 1885, Arbor Day was proclaimed a legal holiday in Nebraska on Morton’s birthday, April 22.

Since the 1870’s, the other 49 states and many other nations have proclaimed an Arbor Day.  Today, we celebrate National Arbor Day on the last Friday in April, although some states do have a separate Arbor Day to coincide with the best planting season.

An important part of Arbor Day celebrations today involves our children.  Schools and civic organizations hold Arbor Day celebrations each year in an effort to not only plant trees, but to educate our youth about trees and all of the benefits we receive from them.

As a result of recent storms, many trees have been removed, but due to reduced municipal budgets tree replacement has not kept pace.  Trees anchor our landscapes and beautify our communities, but they take time to grow and provide their many benefits.  The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The next best time is now.

If you have questions about Arbor Day or tree planting, contact your local ISA member, Shade Tree commission or Forestry Service.  They can help you or your organization reach out to our youth and shape our future.  J. Sterling Morton once said, “Other holidays repose upon the past, Arbor Day proposes for the future”.  So think ahead, plant trees!

Blue Colorado Spruce

(Picea pungens glauca)

bea

These trees naturally occur only in the Rocky Mountains region at elevations of 6000 to 10,000 feet.  Since the 1860’s, however, it has become a very popular and often over used specimen plant.

Colorado Spruces come in every shade of green, gray and blue and can grow 25 feet wide by 120 feet tall in the wild.  In most landscape conditions, 20 feet by 60 feet is the norm.  They can live to exceed 100 years old, but in warm and humid climates they have an ornamental life span of around 30 years.

Colorado Spruces are easily propagated from seeds and cuttings and can be planted balled-and-burlapped or bare root with equal success.  They are grown from USDA Zones 2 to 7 in just about any soil type, provided it’s not constantly wet.  Plants need full sun to achieve their best growth and color.  Some common problems with Colorado Spruce are spruce gall adelgid, spider mites and cytospora canker, which kills the lower branches.

The stiff bluish needles are ¾ to 1 ¼ inches long and sharp to the touch.  The branching pattern is equally stiff with a narrow pyramidal shape lending itself to very formal landscape designs. Dwarf varieties such as “Globosa”, “Prostrata” and “Montgomery” are also very popular in the landscape and are more realistic around foundations as they only reach about 6 feet in height.

Eastern Red Cedar

feb-image

(Juniperus virginiana)

Although commonly called a cedar, it is actually a juniper. A native tree to every state east of the Mississippi River, it is perhaps the most adaptable of all evergreen species. They can tolerate salt, drought, heat, cold, and wind and even shed snow with little breakage. This species will grow in sand or clay soils, but avoids shady or swampy sites.

One of the first trees to invade fence lines and open fields, young trees grow fast and then slow down with age. Mature trees can reach 40 feet wide by 100 feet tall, although rarely exceed 25 feet by 60 feet tall. Red cedars self-seed, so freely pure stands often occur quickly in abandoned fields becoming dense havens for wildlife.

The foliage is needle-like on young trees to deter browsing animals and more scale-like on mature trees, but both types of foliage may occur on the same tree. The scales are usually dark green in summer and discolored to a yellow-green in winter. Females may appear reddish when flowering in spring, although these are not obvious in the landscape. They may also appear to be tinted blue in late summer or fall when 1/8 to ¼ inch diameter blue modified cones or berries ripen. The fruit is a favorite food of birds which helps the tree regenerate so prolifically. The fruits are also used to flavor gin.

Red cedars are also commonly used for fence posts, pencils, cedar chests and closets and Christmas trees. The aromatic red-colored wood is resistant to rot and pests, even repelling some such as moths.