Spring has Sprung! Which trees are attracting what birds to your yard?

This time of year, we experience the arrival of spring, the leafing out of our precious trees, and take comfort in the greening of our community and the joy of the songbird.  This benefit of trees – this experience – brings forth pleasurable feelings and emotions, and creates fond memories that are priceless.

Thank you for your responses to our recent post “Planting Trees to Attract Birds.

Let’s take a look at which trees are attracting what birds to your yards.Live-Oak_1-876Sargent-Crabapple_1-821Japanese-Dogwood_1-830

 

Top five responses:

1. Oak (Live Oak and Red Oak)

2. Dogwood

3. Serviceberry

4. Juniper

5. Crabapple and Mulberry

Honorable mention:

holly, American mountainash, apple, aucuba, boxwood, butterfly bush, chokeberry,  cypress, elderberry,  fir, forsythia, hazel, hemlock,   laurel, lilac, maple, Norway spruce, pear, raspberry, saucer magnolia, white pine, and wild cherry.

We also had a plethora of responses regarding the type of birds our members and followers see visiting their yards.

Cardinal photo credit Brian GudzevichChickadee photo credit Eugene BeckesBluebird photo credit Henry T McLin

 

Top five most common birds:

1. Cardinals

2. Chickadees

3. Woodpeckers

4. Bluejays

5. Hummingbirds

Other birds that folks are seeing in their yards are wrens, robins, sparrows, catbirds, owls, crows, warblers, mockingbirds, and bluebirds!

Thanks for sharing with us!

Any other trees or birds you’d like to add to the list?

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

ScotchPine[1]Number One: Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris)

The number one tree on The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees series is the Scots Pine, which is the top selling tree in the country. Scots Pines aren’t actually native to the United States; they were introduced through European settlers and have since been cultivated, especially in the eastern US. Their bright green color, excellent survival rate, and great needle retention make them the most popular Christmas tree on our countdown.  scots-pine1[1]

Scots Pines (also known as Scotch Pine) are a hardy species adaptable to a wide variety of soils. They resist drying, and even when they do dry they refuse to drop their needles. In fact, when kept in water these pines will stay fresh for 3-4 weeks.  Scots Pines grow to more than 60 ft high and 40 ft wide. They are however a slow growing tree, which means it takes 6-8 years to produce a 7 to 8 ft Christmas tree. They naturally grow in an oval shape and are annually sheared to form the Christmas tree figure.

greenscottishfir[1]Scots Pines have high economic value in Europe and throughout Asia because they produce pulpwood —timber used specifically for paper production —poles, and sawlogs used in manufacturing plywood. They’re also popular in reclamation sites because of their easy replanting capabilities, with more than 35 seed varieties commercially recognized.

Interested in buying a Scots Pine? Visit the Arbor Day tree nursery. To learn more about the Scots Pine or any other tree visit our What Tree is That tool.

Take a look at some of the nation’s tallest Christmas trees. Where does your tree rank?

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 Missed Christmas tree number two on our countdown? See it here.

 

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Holiday_Plantation_Douglas_Fir_pseudotsuga_menziesii[1]Number Two: The Douglasfir (Pseudotsuga Menziesii)

Number two on our Christmas tree countdown is the Douglasfir. Discovered in 1826 by botanist-explorer David Douglas, Douglasfirs have remained important in American history.  Their tall structure, soft needles, and sweet aroma make them one of the most popular Christmas tree choices, accounting for nearly half of all Christmas trees grown in the United States.

Did you know that Douglasfirs were also a candidate for America’s National Tree in 2001? (Check out the other candidates here.) Although they didn’t receive the title they still demonstrate how connected they are with American history.  They helped settle the West by providing railroad ties and telephone & telegraph poles. They’re the most common tree in Oregon; eight of every ten conifers west of the Cascades are Douglasfirs. In 1936, the Oregon Legislature recognized the Douglasfir as the official state tree.

These trees are quite the warriors; they’re deer-resistant and seldom severely damaged. There are two geographical varieties of Douglasfir (which aren’t real Fir trees): Coast Douglasfir, native to the Pacific coast through Nevada, and Rocky Mountain Douglasfir, native to the inland mountains of the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. The Coastal variety is faster growing, long-lived and can grow to be more than 300 ft tall. They’re versatile, growing in a variety of environments from extremely dry, low elevation sites to moist sites.  darvel-at-base-of-doerner-fir-low-resjpg-e3e4f9184ce10a50_large[1]

The national champion Douglasfir tree grows in Coos County, Oregon. It measures 329 ft tall with a crown spread of 60 ft, and diameter of 11 ½ ft ­­­­– that’s massive. According to the Oregon Encyclopedia, the largest known Douglasfir is in British Columbia on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It is 242 ft tall and 13.9 ft in diameter and the only known tree on earth—other than the Giant Sequoia and Coast Redwood— that has a diameter of 7 ft at 144 ft from the ground. What a beauty!

Douglasfirs are also the country’s top lumber source. Their wood is used widely in construction, laminated timbers, interior trim, boxes, ladders and flooring.

The White House features an 18 ½ ft Douglasfir Christmas tree in the Blue Room. Michelle Obama Hosts Christmas Volunteers At White HouseThe National Christmas Tree Association donates a tree for display in the Blue Room every year. Tradition calls for the tree to be decorated in honor of military families.

To learn more about the Douglasfir or any other tree visit our What Tree is That tool.

Missed Christmas tree number three on our countdown? See it here.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Three: The Balsam Fir (Abies Balsamea)

5338737_orig[1]Next on our Christmas tree countdown is the Balsam Fir. Balsam Firs (not to be confused with the Fraser Fir for their similar characteristics) are adapted to a wide variety of environments from swamps to high rocky mountain terrain, but thrive best in the cold climates of the northern United States and Canada. Its symmetrical spire-like crown, dense foliage and spicy fragrance make it another favorite among the most popular Christmas trees.

Young Balsam Firs have sticky, liquid resin blisters on the side of their bark. Fabies-balsamea-ba-mlovit[1]un facts — the benefits of the resin in these blisters are numerous. To start, it had been sold in stores as a confection prior to the advent of chewing gum, and resinous fir knots were once used as torches. The resin also features medicinal properties; during the Civil War the resin was used as a balm and applied to combat injuries.

Today, the resin is most commonly used as optical mounting cement for lenses and microscope slides, and can also be found in paints and polishes; talk about the tree that keeps on giving! If you’re ever lost in the wild and surrounded by Balsam Firs be sure to stay near them, they’ll probably be your best survival aid.

Balsam Firs grow anywhere from 45-75 ft in height at a rate of 12” or less a year. Their slender forms fit great in tight spaces. It takes about 9-10 years to grow a 6-7 ft Balsam Fir Christmas tree.

Christmas_Tree_2011_33_small[1]The Wisconsin State Capitol building boasts a 30 ft Balsam Fir Christmas tree in the center of its rotunda this year.

Missed Christmas tree number four on our countdown? Catch up on it here.

To learn more about the Balsam Fir or any other tree check out our What Tree is That online tool.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Four: The Fraser Fir (Abies Fraseri)

FraserFir1[1]Our next tree on our Christmas tree countdown is the Fraser Fir, named after the Scot botanist (John Fraser) who explored the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in the late-18th century, where these trees are naturally found. Fraser Fir’s have a unique history, according to the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension office, they’re part of a remnant forest from the last ice age. They only grow naturally at elevations of more than 4,500 feet.

The needles on Fraser Firs are dark green on top, and silver underneath, with branches that turn slightly upward. frasier_fir_tree_detail[1]Their uniform pyramid shape makes them an obvious choice as a Christmas tree. In addition to their pine scent aroma, Fraser Fir’s also have great needle retention after being cut, making them practical for families with children.

Speaking of children, a few years back a group of eighth grade students at Harris Middle School in Spruce Pine, NC started a petition requesting the Fraser Fir become North Carolina’s official Christmas tree. These bright, young minds learned that Fraser Firs were a significant part of the state’s economy. How significant? Well, 50 million Fraser Firs are grown on approximately 25,000 acres in North Carolina (that’s 90% of all of all the Christmas trees grown in the state). According to the NC Dept of Agriculture, in 2009 Christmas trees brought an estimated $100 million economic impact to the state.

As it turned out, in 2005 the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation making the Fraser Fir the official Christmas tree of North Carolina, how cool is that!

If you want to experience North Carolina’s natural treasure pay a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC during the holiday season. fraser firThe Biltmore House is known for being one of the largest holiday displays in the Southeast, and this year they have a 34 foot tall Fraser Fir illuminating their Banquet Hall.

To learn more about the Fraser Fir or any other tree check out our What Tree is That online tool.

 

Missed Christmas tree number five on our countdown? Catch up on it here.

The Five Most Popular Christmas Trees

Number Five: The Noble Fir (Abies Procera Rehd)

Large-Noble-Fir-300x296[1]Each holiday season consumers hunt for just the right Christmas tree. Every year, 20-35 million living Christmas trees are sold in the US (National Christmas Tree Association). The high demand for Christmas trees has even lead to the creation of Christmas Tree Farms (15,000 in fact), whole farms devoted to growing trees used specifically for Christmas. It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of 6-7 feet. So the next time you’re decorating your tree, be sure to appreciate every needle it has to offer. We’ll dedicate the next few posts to the five most popular Christmas trees, starting with number five: the Noble Fir.

2This rich blue-green tree has short needles that turn upward, exposing its branches. As a result, the stiff branches make it a fine tree for heavy ornaments. Noble Firs come in full and bushy to open layered varieties and can grow to more than 200 feet in height. Because they love moist soil, they’re most commonly found in the Cascade Range and the Coast Ranges of the Pacific Northwest of Washington and Oregon, and southwestern Canada.

traditional-holiday-decorations[1]Noble Firs are also used to make wreaths, door swags, and garland, with a stimulating pine scent that will fill your entryway. When these trees aren’t used for Christmas they make an excellent windbreak or privacy fence.

Looking for a tree seller in your area? Check out The National Christmas Tree Association‘s tree locator tool for a Christmas tree farm in your area. http://www.realchristmastrees.org/dnn/AllAboutTrees/TreeLocator.aspx

Miss Earth 2013 Candidates Fight Climate Change in Tree Planting

Miss Earth is one of the three largest beauty pageants in the world (along with Miss Universe and Miss World), and the only pageant that promotes environmental consciousness. Crowned titleholders dedicate their year to promote specific projects, often addressing humanitarian and environmental causes.

The annual competition, organized by Carousel Productions in Manila, Philippines will showcase on December 7 this year. ms earth 2One of the advocacies of Miss Earth is to generate millions of trees for future generations to come. This year the pageant is featuring the Philippines in its Eco-Tourism Campaign. Carousel Productions hopes to use tourism as a means of alleviating poverty in the region. With the tragic typhoon that dictated the island last month, the country could really use some positive light in cherishing the natural gems the land has to offer.

resortSo Miss Earth 2013 candidates are doing just that. The latest tree planting took place at Campuestohan Highland Resort in Bacolod last week where 15 contestants planted trees in a designated area on the resort. The area will be called “Miss Earth Orchard.”

“The simple act of planting trees helps fight deforestation and makes the air we breathe fresh,” said Miss Earth Philippines Angelee De Los Reyes.

Another group of contestants visited Pontefino Hotel and Residences in Batangas City and planted Fire trees along the highway. The trees will serve as an attraction to tourists in the coming years during their flowering season, similar to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan.ms earth

Tree planting ceremonies are a popular trend among Miss Earth contestants. Last year’s crown holder, Miss Earth Czech Republic Tereza Fajksova led a tree planting activity at the Sumava National Park in Czech Republic, an area that was badly damaged by bark beetles. The Sumava Range is covered by the most extensive forest in Central Europe.

We love the great work these young ladies are doing to sustain a greener planet.

Wood Fossils Show Ancient Antarctica was home to Exotic Forests

Trees in Antarctica? The idea of forests at the South Pole may be somewhat of an unusual idea to the cold climates Antarctica boasts; but new research suggests that tropical trees once grew in the region. An article published by the Huffington Post earlier this month explained how the recent discovery of wood fossils suggests that Antarctica was once home to carpeted forests.

Let’s rewind 250 million years to the Permian and early Triassic period. The world was alot warmer than it is today, so the idea may not be that foreign. The question, said Patricia Ryberg, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute, is how plants coped with photosynthesizing constantly for part of the year and then not at all when the winter sun set. Since Antarctica was still at high latitude, the region experienced round-the-clock darkness in the winter and 24/7 light in the summer.

A fossilized tree trunk protrudes through ice near Antarctica’s Mount Achernar. | Patricia Ryberg

Ryberg and her colleagues gathered samples of leaf impressions and discovered mats of leaves, implying signs of a deciduous forest. What’s interesting about that finding is that samples of fossil wood were also taken and tree rings were examined to reveal that the trees looked evergreen.   “Now we have leaves that suggest a deciduous habit and fossil wood that is suggesting an evergreen habit, so we have a bit of a contradiction going on,” Ryberg said.

Follow-up studies analyzing carbon molecules in the fossil wood also gives both deciduous and evergreen answers, Ryberg said. The implication is that ancient Antarctic forests may have been a mix of deciduous and evergreen.

Tropical trees growing in the Arctic? Not so unusual after all.

Street Trees Boost Home Sales Price

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal wrote about the value of street trees — those planted between the sidewalk and the road — in increasing the sales price of a home.

In the study featured — “Trees in the city: Valuing street trees in Portland, Ore.” — 2,608 single family home sales in Portland, Oregon, from July 1, 2006 to April 26, 2007 were analyzed.

Key findings from the research:

  • Homes with street trees sold for $7,130 more, on average, and 1.7 days more quickly
  • Neighboring houses within 100 feet of street trees sold for $1,688 more each, on average
  • The sale premium of having street trees was the same as adding 129 square feet of finished space

 

Trees for Bees

Photo credit: Flickr, Emilian Robert Vicol

Photo credit: Flickr, Emilian Robert Vicol

You’ve probably heard more buzz about bees than usual lately—from unexplained deaths en masse to faltering fruit crops in their absence. One thing you’ve probably learned is that bees are important (if not essential) components to multitudes of ecosystems around the world: particularly ones that produce much of our food.

Why are bees so important?

When we think of bees, we typically think of their use in the production of honey and beeswax. Perhaps you’ve heard of the medicinal uses for bee venom—which has been used for treating arthritis, multiple sclerosis and even fibromyalgia, and more recently to treat cancer, epilepsy and depression.

While these are incredibly important functions, bees, and honeybees in particular, have a much more wide-reaching impact than many of us realize. “Typically, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these under-appreciated workers pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops which constitute 1/3 of everything we eat. Losing them could affect not only dietary staples such as apples, broccoli, strawberries, nuts, asparagus, blueberries and cucumbers, but may threaten our beef and dairy industries if alfalfa is not available for feed,” says Maria Boland, of Mother Nature Network. One Cornell University study estimated that honeybees annually pollinate $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the U.S. The University of Arizona has determined more than 100 different agricultural crops in the U.S. are pollinated by bees.

While the root causes of the problem of the great bee disappearance are still being determined (experts suggest harmful pesticides or harmful pesticide exposure, viruses and poor nutrition play large roles, in addition to ever-decreasing habitat/food sources), the issue of what proactive measures to take remains. Outside of donning a beekeeper mask/gear and cultivating hives of one’s own (which is certainly an option, though it’s not for everyone), what can a person do to help these productive members of our planet?

Luckily, there are many things.

  • Avoid spraying plants in bloom and apply chemicals after bees have returned to their colonies at night. The best way to conserve pollinators, according to the Xerces Society, is to avoid pesticides altogether.
  • Where possible, plant or maintain regionally native plant species—in general, they are able to support a larger number of species than non-native plants and often have a higher habitat or food value…especially for bees. Some native bee species are “specialists” and forage only a few specific native plants. Also, single-flowered plants (which are closer to their natural form) are better for bees than double-or triple-flowered ornamental and fruit trees.
  • Provide nesting sites for our native bees in your landscape by leaving areas of your yard or garden undisturbed and uncultivated. These bees are solitary or nest in very small numbers with different nesting requirements from the large hives created by European honeybees.
  • Plant a mix of trees and shrubs that are rich sources of both nectar and pollen, as bees need both for proper nutrition. (Don’t have space for any more trees? Planting crocus, anise hyssop, bee balm and asters in your perennial garden can be of great service to bees, too).
  • When creating the plan for or adding to your garden/yard, use a diversity of plant species with a succession of blooms from early spring through fall…this provides foraging bees with steady sources of nutrition. Clumping plants of the same species into a small area attracts more bees than individual or widely scattered plants.

Bee-friendly spring blossoms:

(Very early bloom time): Maple, Willow, Elm, Hybrid Hazelnut, Almond, and Oak

(Early to later bloom time): Crabapple , Apple, Cherry, Plum (and most other fruit trees), Hickory, Redbud, Sassafras, Tupelo, and Native Mesquite

Bee-friendly summer blossoms:

(Very early bloom time): American Mountainash, Catalpa, Viburnum, Blackberry, Blueberry, Raspberry

(Early to later bloom time): Sourwood, Baswood, Littleleaf Linden, Elderberry, Rose and Native Mesquite (second bloom period)

Bee-friendly fall/winter blossoms:

Franklin Tree, California Laurel, Potentilla, Blue Mist Shrub, Bodnant Viburnum, Seven-Son Flower, Sunflower and Aster

What are you doing to help out our pollinator friends or what would you like to do? Leave your comments below.

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