Estonian firewood in Kentucky?

Have you noticed the  displays of packaged firewood at your local supermarket?  At Fresh Market, I was taken aback to see European white birch logs for sale, and even more surprised to see that the wood was imported from Estonia. It is hard for me to imagine that the cutting, drying and shipping birch to Kentucky […]

bur oak

Oak stories for 2014

Here is a New Year’s reading list for all our quercophile (oak-loving) friends.  These are articles at Venerable Trees published or revised in 2014. Stories and News: Riparian oak, a hybrid oak in the Bluegrass The Old Schoolhouse Oak in the news again The Old Schoolhouse Oak Has Babies Friday Tree – The Oak Conundrum […]

Oak barrels

Bourbon, Barrels and Climate

To celebrate the New Year, I have a new article at Planet Experts on the science of bourbon and barrels. The flavor of Kentucky’s most important libation is due to aging in new oak barrels. The article discusses the chemistry of bourbon flavor, the history of barrels, the sustainability of white oak forestry and the […]

Dead trees and what they can tell us

Dead trees are fascinating because they provide us with a permanent record of their lives. The annual rings that record the tree’s experience with drought, nutrients and temperature are familiar to most of us.  Somewhat less familiar, but easy to see, is the record of all the insults, accidents and stresses of life as a giant, […]

The plight of butternut

Butternut trees, Juglans cinerea, are beautiful relatives of the more common black walnut. They get the name ‘butternut’ from the rich, fatty nuts, which taste better than walnuts. Another name for the tree is ‘white walnut’ because the wood is lighter in color than black walnut wood.  You may already know butternut from eating its […]

Riparian oak, a hybrid oak in the Bluegrass

Update:  In response to some questions, we have added a description of differences between Northern red oak, Shumard oak and riparian oak at the end of this article. Near Ashland in Lexington, we found a beautiful, large riparian oak.  Riparian oak is a hybrid between Northern Red Oak, Quercus rubra, and Shumard oak, Quercus shumardii.  Its […]

The Old Schoolhouse Oak

The Old Schoolhouse Oak in the news again

Tom Eblen has a fine article in today’s Lexington Herald-Leader about the Old Schoolhouse Oak  and the commitment of Ball Homes to preserve the tree in a new housing development.  By my count, this is the 14th Herald Leader article about this splendid tree You can read the article at the Herald Leader or on […]

Going out in flame

Winged sumac, Rhus copallinum, has to be one of our most beautiful small trees.  Also known as shining sumac and flameleaf sumac,  winged sumac is a modest plant most of the year, often in the understory of dry woods or on the edges of forests. In the autumn, winged sumac goes out in a blaze […]

The Old Schoolhouse Oak Has Babies

Bur oak in the Bluegrass reproduces only rarely. Although it is a prolific seed producer, there is very little suitable habitat for young bur oak trees. While inspecting our preservation work on the Old Schoolhouse Oak with Tom Eblen of the Herald-Leader, we noticed several vigorous young bur oak seedlings. These trees are just outside […]

Good Urban Forestry For Resilient Cities, Part 1

A healthy urban forest is important as the world warms and cities become increasingly hot. The effects of climate change are exaggerated in cities due to the urban heat island effect. In a new article at Planet Experts, I begin a new series of articles on urban forestry and climate change.  The first installment is […]

Giant Cane in the Bluegrass

Giant cane, Arundinaria gigantea, was abundant in the Bluegrass before the area was settled. Bison herds maintained cane, grazing on it but then leaving for long periods, allowing the cane to recover. When bison were replaced by cattle, sheep and horses, the cane quickly disappeared. Natural stands of cane are today quite rare in the […]

A farewell to the autumn colors of ash trees

Ash trees, especially white ash, are among our most reliable and beautiful trees for fall color. White ash shows rich shades of red, purple, yellow and green, all within the same trees and the Biltmore ash variety is cloaked in yellow and orange hues. Green ash takes on an astonishingly bright yellow hue. Sadly, the […]

Leaves in a Warm Autumn

In a warm autumn, as we are having in 2016, leaf color change is slowed down. Instead of a quick display of color, we often see slow development of color, muted colors, and mottled colors within a single leaf. We had the same conditions in 2014. Trees use photoperiod, or day length, to determine when […]

Sassafras albidum in autumn

What is your favorite autumn tree?

What is your favorite autumn tree? Mine changes on a daily basis, but my current favorite has to be sassafras, Sassafras albidum. I like trees like sassafras and sweetgum that display many colors in a single tree. Sassafras is a great urban tree in fairly large spaces such as parks. It reproduces from root sprouts, […]

Ginkgo Trees Are Lovely – Let’s Stop Planting Them

Cities are heating up because of a combination of climate change, the urban heat island effect, and a loss of urban tree canopy cover. We can mitigate some of these effects and increase the resilience of urban environments  if we plant more trees. The wrong choice of trees, though, can reduce urban biodiversity and may […]

thousand canker disease

Death by a Thousand Cankers

We have posted a new article at Planet Experts, Death by a Thousand Cankers, about the tragedy of a new disease of black walnut.  Although not yet in Kentucky, is it present in surrounding states.  The disease is new and began in the western United States, where black walnuts have been introduced as ornamentals.  Since […]

bur oak

The Trees of Horse Country

The Inner Bluegrass has long claimed the title of Horse Capital of the World.  Early farmers found that our water and soil produced the ideal conditions for raising horses. Today, there are over 400 horse farms in the area. Many of the most distinguished farms have been in the same families for generations.  For these […]

Fixing Our Urban Tree Management Problems

At a workshop at Bell Place Park in Lexington last Saturday, we made considerable progress on improving urban tree management in  Lexington.  Although the weather was poor and the turnout small, some key people were there.  In addition to several citizens from the neighborhood, we were joined by LFUCG Council Member Steve Kay,  LFUCG Deputy […]

Measuring large oak tree

October Tour of Large Bluegrass Trees

A group of tree enthusiasts from Iowa and Ohio came to Lexington to see some of our largest trees.  The group, Matt Markworth, Landon Smith, and Mark and Rita Rouw are members of the Native Tree Society who love to measure and record very large trees. We took them on a brief tour of some […]

Mower damage, old (O) and new (N)

Reminder – Urban Tree Walk This Saturday, Oct. 11

What: A walk around Bell Court to look at the condition of trees on city land (Bell Place Park). Dave Leonard and Tom Kimmerer will show you what has happened to the trees in this park as a result of poor management practices, and will talk about solutions. When: Saturday, October 11, 10am – 11:30am […]

Blue ash at Runnymede Farm

A Visit to Runnymede Farm

Runnymede Farm in Bourbon County is the oldest continuously-operated thoroughbred farm in Kentucky. Founded in 1867 by Colonel Ezekiel Clay, it is today operated by his grandson, Catesby W. Clay, and great-grandson  Brutus J. Clay III.  As you might expect for such a long-running family farm, the Clay family has taken great care of their […]

Keep Growing Until We Have to Quit – The Yellow-Poplar Strategy

Trees are generally very conservative in their growth habits. They often go to extremes to avoid rare events such as an early frost or severe drought. This is especially true of shoot growth. Although we think of trees as growing all summer, most trees only grow in height for a few weeks. Flowering dogwood sets […]

Ginkgo tree killed by stem damage

Walking Tour of Trees at Bell Court

Many people have expressed concern about the poor condition of trees in Lexington parks.  To help concerned citizens understand the nature of the problem and see some solutions, we are holding a walking tour of trees and tree condition at Bell Place Park in Bell Court, Lexington.   The tour is from 10 to 12 […]

Castlewood Park Blue Ash

Castlewood Park – Home of the Big Blues

While Big Blue Nation awaits another exciting college basketball season, another Kentucky icon quietly stands in relative obscurity – the ancient, big blue ash trees of Castlewood Park and other Lexington urban parks. Successfully avoiding the encroaching development that has threatened ancient blue ash trees in other areas of the Bluegrass, these centuries-old trees inspire […]

Mower damage, old (O) and new (N)

Street tree abuse – Part II

Street tree abuse is our term for management of street trees that results in their death, or in severe damage that shortens their lives. We have previously shown examples of this throughout the Lexington area. Now, we show an egregious example of street tree abuse while it is happening.The scene is the Legacy Trail, a […]