August is Tree Check Month: Is your tree safe from Asian Long-horned Beetle?

Similar to undergoing an annual health physical or performing routine maintenance on your car, it’s important to carry out routine tree checks to maintain healthy trees. Trees are susceptible to pest infestation and disease, and if you neglect looking after them the result can be detrimental to the natural habitat. The latest outbreak is the Asian Long-horned Beetle, with reports from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Ohio. With August being Tree Check Month, we encourage you to check your trees for signs of Asian Long-horned Beetle (ALB).

7109590833_ac895c61e4[1]ALB was first detected in the United States in Brooklyn, New York in 1996. ALB is a large, bullet-shaped beetle with long antennae and elongated feet. Adult beetles emerge throughout the summer and early fall. Female beetles can lay up to 160 eggs in a 10-15 day time-span. When the eggs hatch the larvae tunnel into the tree and pupate. This disrupts the tree’s natural cycle of transpiration which results in the tree drying out and dying.

ALB is a serious threat to trees because once a tree is infested the only way of eliminating ALB is by destroying and removing the tree. Damage from infestations in New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts has resulted in the removal of tens of thousands of trees; not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars it has cost State and Federal governments in forestry management. This pest likes deciduous hardwood trees such as maple, birch, elm, poplar and several others. Once the beetle finds a healthy tree to nestle in it leaves its mark through dime-sized exit holes, shallow bark scars, and frass—sawdust-like material on the ground or tree branches.

A heavily infested maple tree with many exit holes.

Asian Long-horned Beetles eat through tree wood, leaving behind round exit holes.

There aren’t any effective treatments of preventing ALB, other than containment. It’s important to identify when a tree is infested because ALB spreads easily. While treatment applications or insecticides with the active ingredient imidacloprid may help protect non-infested trees and reduce ALB populations, it is not guaranteed to prevent trees from infestation. Even treated trees can fall victim to ALB.

You can help prevent the spread of ALB by burning firewood where you buy it—ALB can survive hidden in firewood— diversifying the type of trees you plant— especially if you’re in a quarantined area— conducting an annual tree check, allowing officials to survey your area, and reporting signs of tree damage or spotting beetles resembling ALB.

You might find our Help Stop Insect and Disease Invasions bulletin to be especially helpful during your August tree check. Check out this map to learn if your area is at risk of the ALB infestation.

Proper summer watering of trees

Summer has an intriguing way of luring in longer days, sunnier skies, and vibrant landscapes. For many, summer is a calming retreat after enduring what felt like an endless winter. Naturally, with heat waves we feel inclined to water our trees regularly, but it’s easy to get carried away and over-water. While we have suffered through drought conditions here in the Heartland, other areas have had to deal with heavy rainfall, even flooding. The following are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind when watering your trees.

With differing climates and varying landscapes, it’s hard to quantify how much water trees need because irrigation will vary from one species to the next. Young trees and those transplanted will call for more water because they’re burning lots of energy establishing their roots in the soil.

Hose_deepwater[1]For young trees we encourage a deep-watering by running the hose over the root zone for about 30 seconds. The idea is to reach the full root depth and keep the soil damp, not soggy. Mature trees are best left to nature; unless you’re suffering from severe drought conditions, let your rainfall do the watering. Be cautious not to overwater, as it can drown the tree roots. If a puddle remains after watering then take it as a sign of too much watering. Other signs to look for include yellow leaves, usually starting on the lower branches, wilting, brittle green leaves, or fungus growing on soil surface. If your soil is wet and you notice any of these changes, you may be overwatering your trees.

Ooze-TubeGallons_1-885[1]A soil probe is helpful in learning how dry or saturated your soil is and can set the tone for watering frequency.You can also test soil moisture by hand. If a planting site is properly hydrated you should be able to compress the soil into a ball that will crumble when gently rolled between the palms of your hands. No need to dig deep, one to two and a half inches below ground level is sufficient in testing the moisture content.

Ooze tubes—an automated drip irrigation system— are another great method for controlling water time and ensuring your trees are receiving adequate water.

Mulching is a great practice to implement in tree care, especially if you’re dealing with drought conditions. Mulch retains water, helping to keep roots moist. DSC00575_000[1]Another tip to avoid drying out soil during times of drought is to stay away from commercial potting soils and fertilizers. Salts and other additives in fertilizers such as Miracle-Gro can cause root burn, adding additional stress to trees. Proper tree pruning improves limb stability and structure, and removes dead branches, which decreases tree tension and allows water to move where needed most in the tree.  Also, avoid digging holes in the ground as an effort to water deeply; it will only dry out the roots even more.

With your help, the season of sun can work in favor of your trees. You can read up on other great ways to save water in our How to Landscape to Save Water Tree City USA bulletin. What other tips do you practice in keeping trees appropriately watered during the summer season?

The dish on dirt: why soil is important to tree health

Have you ever planted multiple trees or shrubs at the same time and noticed one variety flourishing while the other has no progress? There are numerous factors that could be affecting your plant health, including soil. It’s not uncommon to overlook soil care while planting if you’re new to the green scene. We become so caught up with tree care above ground that we forget what’s happening below is just as important. Since trees grow from the ground up, it’s essential to understand their relationship with soil and the role soil plays on tree health. Using the wrong type of soil, or neglecting to use healthy soil altogether, can be detrimental and cost you your trees.

What works for your pink dogwood trees won’t necessarily work for your blueberry bushes. You see, each tree calls for a different soil type, the most common being sandy, silt, and clay. landsoils1[1]Soils vary from one location to the next. When high-quality soil isn’t present you can mix soils to change textures and create a soil more suitable for planting. Sandy soil has larger particles and a rough texture. Since the soil base is loose it’s harder to retain moisture, making it harder for plants to access nutrients. Silt is comprised of fine particles and has a smooth, slippery texture. Its tight compaction can serve as an advantage in retaining moisture and nutrients, or a problem if planted with the wrong tree.  Clay is the most tightly packed soil with little air space; as a result it makes it difficult for air and moisture to penetrate the soil.

Iron_Chlorosis576[1]

Signs of Chlorosis are typical of a nutrient deficiency.

Soil performs five essential functions; using the wrong type of soil or unhealthy soil can impede tree health by constricting roots from accessing the water and nutrients necessary. Soil helps regulate water, supports biodiversity, filters pollutants, provides physical support, and cycles nutrients. You can understand why attempting to plant a tree that requires less soil saturation may not thrive if it’s planted in silt or clay soil. Signs of unhealthy soil include leaf discoloration, brittle limbs, and even stunted tree growth.

roots

Exposed roots pose as a threat to tree health.

It’s also important to dig a hole deep enough for tree roots to grow. Planting in shallow soil makes tree roots more susceptible to exposure which can lead to tree stress and even toppling due to wind gusts. If you have bedrock near the surface of your soil that prevents you from digging deep you might consider mixing in top soil to add depth.

Plant growth is directly influenced by soil conditions. That’s not to say that if your plants show these signs that it’s a result of poor soil. Several varying factors go into tree health and soil care is one of them to keep in mind while planting young trees.

What tips do you have in maintaining healthy soil for planting?

References:

USDA Soil Health

University of Florida IFAS Extension

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Forests Today and Every Day

Did you know that today is the International Day of Forests, as proclaimed by the United Nations?

We may think we grasp the importance of rain forests throughout the world and temperate SONY DSCdeciduous forests in our country, but forests play a much larger role than many of us realize. Today marks the global celebration of forests. International Day of Forests sets to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests and trees outside of forests.

In the words of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “As we deliberate on the post-2015 development agenda, let us acknowledge the vital role of forests and pledge to work together to protect and sustainably manage these vital ecosystems.”

Consider these facts from the United Nations:

  • Forests cover 1/3 of the Earth’s land mass.
  • Approximately 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures –depend on forests for their livelihood. JaguarForests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest dependent communities.
  • Forests are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.
  • Forests play a key role in our attempt to adapt to and mitigating climate change. For example, they protect watersheds, which supply 75% of freshwater worldwide.

Muir Woods, Mill Valley, CAYet, despite the vital role forests play in the ecological, economic and social realms of human and planetary existence, we continue to witness global deforestation at an alarming rate. According to the United Nations, deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Learn more about what the Arbor Day Foundation is doing to protect and replant our nation’s forests as well as forests throughout the world at www.arborday.org/replanting and www.arborday.org/programs/rainforest.

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?

Planting Trees to Attract Birds

While birds are a joy to watch and listen to all year American-Mountainash_3-872long, it is particularly during the long winter months when their bright and cheerful presence is even more appreciated. Following an especially cold and dreary winter, the coming of spring brings thoughts of planting trees and shrubs to attract these delightful feathered friends. While they certainly enrich our lives with their presence when they grace our yards and gardens, we, too, can do much for them by providing necessary food sources and habitat.

By planting certain species of trees and shrubs, you can provide year-long natural food sources for these creatures, particularly during times of year when food is scarce. Selecting several trees or shrubs that have berries during different times of the year are great choices—and most also provide beauty in the form of spring blossoms or vibrant fall foliage. Blackhaw-Viburnum_1Great choices include Dogwood, Serviceberry, Mulberry, Viburnum, Sargent Crabapple, American Mountainash, Black Tupelo, Juniper and Winterberry Holly.

The cover trees and shrubs provide is also vital for attracting birds, as they need areas of shelter and protection for breeding, nesting, sleeping, traveling, and hiding from enemies. Many trees and shrubs can be both sources of cover and food; some good choices include Canadian Hemlock, Fir, Spruce, Eastern Redcedar, Birch, and Oak.

The Arbor Day Foundation and arborday.org are great sources of information.  White-Fir_1-839Our Tree City USA Bulletin #13: Trees for Wildlife and Conservation Trees: How to Attract Songbirds and Wildlife are excellent resources.

And please remember to provide a water source. Birds, like all wildlife, need water, and by installing a bird bath or other water feature, you will attract even more birds and provide a better habitat for them. Be sure to change the water frequently and keep it free of ice in the winter.

Ready to attract birds to your yard and garden but don’t know where to start?

Among the several free landscape designs available for download is the “Hedgerow Bird Shelter” also known as the “Bird Magnet.” Bird-MagnetBird-LayoutDesigned by registered landscape architect and president of Kersey/Wike Associates, Joel T. Parker, this landscape plan is attractive to birds by way of food and shelter as well as providing visual interest for all seasons. It includes the use of Washington Hawthorne, American Cranberrybush Viburnum, Arrowwood Viburnum and Winterberry Holly. A useful addition to any bird-lover’s property, this landscape plan is a source of beauty and enjoyment. Read more about the details of this design plan on the original arborday.org blog post.

Prairifire-Flowering-Crabapple_1-820The arborday.org tree nursery also offers a Trees for Birds Collection, a bird-friendly tree package containing one of each of the following: Purpleleaf Sand Cherry, Prairiefire Crab, American Mountainash, Canadian Hemlock and Norway Spruce.

What trees attract birds to your yard? Do you have any specific types of birds that seem to love your trees and shrubs? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

The Academy Awards—Trees in Film

Hollywood is only a few weeks away from celebrating one of the largest red carpet events of the year—the Academy Awards. The annual award ceremony will honor the achievements of actors, directors, and many others involved in creating motion pictures. With the faces of Hollywood being recognized for some of their best work, we deemed it appropriate to shine light on the supporting roles trees have played in film. Although trees may not have played a prominent role in any of the 2014 Oscar nominated films, they have appeared in scenes from a number of renowned movies. The following list notes five Oscar-nominated movies that made these trees memorable.

The Wizard of Oz

trees-wizardofoz-590x350[1]Nominated for six Academy Awards, the Wizard of Oz tells the story of Dorothy, a Kansas girl who searches her way back home after her house is uprooted by a tornado. The most notable characters Dorothy encounters on her journey are a Scarecrow, Tin Man, and a Lion. In following the yellow brick road with her new-found friends, Dorothy comes across an apple tree from which she tries to pick an apple. The tree grabs the apple and slaps her hand. “How would you like to have someone come along and pick something off of you?” asks the apple tree.  Needless to say, Dorothy didn’t eat any apples off of that apple tree.

Gone with the Wind

This American classic— adapted from ADG GWTW 087-1[1]Margaret Mitchell’s novel—received 10 Oscars out of its 13 nominations. The film features the Wilkes’ family Twelve Oaks plantation situated in Georgia. The family’s white mansion is surrounded by twelve great oak trees in a near perfect circle. Historians say the fictional estate was inspired by the real-life Boone Hall plantation near Charleston, South Carolina. Boone Hall is one of the nation’s oldest working plantations and boasts the “Avenue of Oaks,” a mile long road lined with 350 year old Oak trees.

Hook

hookNominated for five Academy Awards, Hook is the continuation of an adult Peter Pan. The Hangman tree is an old tree with several hidden entrances that the Lost Boys used as a hideout. The name comes from its rope-like limbs that resemble nooses when hung low.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

whomping_willow_1[1]The first installment in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was nominated for three Oscars. The Whomping Willow tree in the film has a persona of its own. Situated on Hogwarts Grounds, it’s known for its violent behavior and attacks anyone who comes close to its branches. The tree was planted to guard the entrance of a secret tunnel. We get our initial introduction of the Whomping Willow’s temper when Harry and Ron accidentally crash their flying car into the tree, and the tree defends itself, critically damaging the car. In the Harry Potter sequel the Whomping Willow is shown destroying Harry’s broom when it falls into the tree’s branches.

Shawshank Redemption

shawshank-tree[1]Nominated for seven Oscars, this prison drama tells the story of two inmates who become friends while serving life sentences. Andy, who proclaimed his innocence since before his conviction, eventually escapes Shawshank State Prison, but before he flees he gives his new-found friend Red instructions to visit a specific hayfield in a nearby town, should Red ever be freed. 40 years later, Red is let out on parole and visits the hayfield to retrieve the package from Andy. The package is hidden in a rock wall beneath an Oak tree. The Oak tree portrayed at the end of the movie is located in Mansfield, Ohio and fans journey from all parts of the world to see it.

What movies can you think of with memorable appearances by trees?

All Eyes soon to be on Groundhog Celebrity Punxsutawney Phil, near forest treasure Cook Forest State Park

February 2 marks Groundhog Day, a Pennsylvania tradition to predict the arrival of spring. According to folklore, if the groundhog spots his shadow after coming out of winter hibernation, then winter will go on for another six weeks. If he comes out of his hole and doesn’t spot it, then it’s a sign that spring is on the horizon. The town of Punxsutawney, PA—where Groundhog Day originated—celebrates the tradition with an annual festival, awaiting the prediction of Punxsutawney Phil, the towns’ groundhog.

hillside_parkinfo[1]Pennsylvania boasts more than just Groundhog Day; it is also home to Cook Forest State Park—one of America’s top 50 state parks according to National Geographic Traveler. More than 8,500 acres of its breathtaking terrain stretch across northwestern Pennsylvania, sheltering some of America’s finest White Pine and Eastern Hemlock timber strands. Cook Forest State Park is also the first Pennsylvania State Park to be recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

Bordered by the Clarion River, Cook Forest State Park encompasses a mixture of natural landscapes including rivers, rolling hills, and mountains.

Nine old growth forest areas are situated within Cook Forest State Park. The most popular are Swamp, Seneca, Cathedral, and Cook Trails. The old growth forests are remnants of ancient trees that appeared after a drought and fire back in 1644. Cook Forest State Park has some of the oldest White Pine and Eastern Hemlock tree, dating back 370 years.dcnr_008364[1]

The Forest Cathedral Natural Area is one of the largest old growth forests of White Pine and Eastern Hemlock trees in Pennsylvania. Several of the pines exceed three feet in diameter and rise 200 feet. Trees that grand are nicknamed “William Penn Trees” because they’re more likely to be 300 or more years old, and date back to the era of William Penn, the first governor of “Penn’s Woods.” The name Pennsylvania, which translates roughly as “Penn’s Woods,” was created by combining the Penn surname (in honor of William’s father, Admiral Sir William Penn) with the Latin word sylvania, meaning “forest land.”  The Forest Cathedral has been designated for protection as a state park natural area.

Some other ancient tree species hidden in the forest include strands of Red and White Oaks, Red Maple, and Black Cherry trees.

Icreek-620x300[1]n addition to the remarkable trees Cook Forest State Park boasts, the forest garners another treasure. Nestled within the Seneca old growth forest area are the remains of a natural mineral spring that produced waters with white sulfur and iron. The spring was believed to possess healing powers and was so popular in the 1900s that a boardwalk encased by gaslights was lit 24 hours a day so visitors could bathe and drink from the spring.

Cook Forest State Park is one marvel worth visiting. If you should ever find yourself in northwestern Pennsylvania, go explore the towering trees that adorn the area and allow yourself to be mesmerized by the daunting beauty of this National Natural Landmark.

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.