Our most successful tree?

Reforest the Bluegrass is one of the oldest and most successful community forestry programs in the US. Every year in April, thousands of volunteers turn out to plant trees from the Kentucky Division of Forestry nursery. The purpose of the program is to establish forests along riparian zones to protect water quality. There is no […]

Bleeding sap in sugar maple

Sap flow in spring

Have you noticed any cut branches lately?  Freshly pruned or broken branches at this time of year often ‘bleed’ sap, and that sap may taste very sweet. Just before trees leaf out, they convert a large amount of starch to sugar.  The high concentration of sugar in the xylem sap causes a flow of water […]

The Ghetto Palm?

Scroll down below slideshow for the story [soliloquy id=”1586″] Tree-of-heaven, Ailanthus altissima, is a very common tree in large eastern cities. A native of Asia, Ailanthus was introduced as an ornamental and quickly escaped cultivation.  It has a remarkable ability to grow successfully in cracks in sidewalks, abandoned lots, even from the gutters of old […]

Winter Sex: The Puzzling Case of Witchhazel

This is part of our ongoing series on tree sex.  Witchhazel is one of the most beautiful shrubs or small trees in forests throughout the temperate zone.  It is easy to overlook in the summer, mixed in with lots of other shrubs and trees along creek banks and moist lower slopes of forests.It is in […]

More Tree Sex at Under Main

The nice people at Under Main worked with me to put together a tree sex video and story.  See the whole thing at Under Main, or go straight to the YouTube video.  More to come!    

Male and female catkins of black alder

Tree Sex Part 3

Some trees are pollinated entirely by wind.  Many wind-pollinated hardwood trees make complex slender compound flower structures called catkins. Later this spring, we will see catkins in all our oak trees, mulberries, walnuts and chestnuts, and further north on true poplars. Now, in early spring, you will notice catkins on alders, willows and birches. Male […]

Tree Sex, Part 2

Many early spring trees are pollinated both by wind and insects.  For insects, these early spring trees can be critically important.  At a time when few plants are flowering, bees and other insects rely on trees for pollen.  Most early spring trees produce little or no nectar, and are much more important as a pollen […]

Flowering schedules in alpine flowers are changing

A 39-year record of wildflower blooming in the Rocky Mountains  shows that climate change has altered the timing of blooming for most species in an alpine meadow.  (Link is to University of Maryland press release. Original paper published in PNAS). The blooming season now runs from late April to late September instead of late May to […]

Tree Sex

It’s Spring and time for trees to start their amazing sexual displays.  Tree flowers are often small and subtle, but will reward your close attention.  This is a  silver maple flower with the female parts fully expressed – the stigma is a sticky surface ready to receive pollen from another tree.  The male parts in […]

Mistletoe Part 2

We talked about the mistletoes of the Bluegrass a while ago.  There are actually two broad groups of mistletoes in North America, the true mistletoes, which are found on hardwoods, and the dwarf mistletoes, which are only found on conifers.  We only have true mistletoe in the Bluegrass.  True mistletoe is fairly easy on its […]

The City Built from Bur Oak

  There are few cities for which we can say exactly what trees built the city, but we can for the city where I live. Lexington, KY, was founded in 1775, but the first permanent structures were not built until 1779.  On April 17, 1779, Josiah Collins and others cut down a huge bur oak. […]

Woodland Pasture in Woodford County

Venerable Trees of Woodford County March 12, 6:00pm

Tom Kimmerer, Chief Scientist at Venerable Trees, will be giving a presentation “Venerable Trees of  Woodford County”  on Wednesday, March 12 beginning at 6:00 pm.  The presentation will be at Versailles Presbyterian Church, 130 North Main Street, Versailles KY (Map). Scroll down for more information. Woodford County is home to woodland pastures of open-grown, old […]


It’s the season not only to bring trees and other greens indoors, but also to kiss under the mistletoe.  The origins of this tradition are ancient,  rooted in Celtic and Old Germanic traditions.  In Europe, mistletoe is mostly found in oaks, and was thought to be found only in lightning-struck oaks.  So mistletoe was imbued […]

Picture of American basswood, Tilia americana

Field Course: Venerable Trees of the Lexington Cemetery, November 23, 2013

What:  A tour of Lexington Cemetery to look at Venerable Trees. Instructors:  Tom Kimmerer, PhD, Chief Scientist at Venerable Trees Inc. Special Guest:  Miles Penn, Horticulturist of Lexington Cemetery When:  Saturday, November 23, 10 am to noon, Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, KY  (map). We will meet just inside the cemetery entrance and will walk the grounds […]

Picture of sugar maple leaves in fall colors

Don’t make candy trees

Autumn provides a huge opportunity for the photographer, whether amateur or professional.  The skies vary from shades of grey to brilliant blue, damp weather often makes color more vivid, and the incredible colors of autumn leaves are irresistible.  I will discuss fall colors from a tree’s point of view in a later post.  First I […]

kingnut, Carya laciniosa

Herald-Leader Article

Tom Eblen, a fine reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader, has written a really good article about our work at Venerable Trees. Tom Eblen: Effort takes root to protect Central Kentucky’s most majestic old trees

Blue ash, Fraxinus quadrangulata

Equine Photographer – Just for fun

This is just for fun.  While out photographing trees, my equipment was taken over by some beautiful mares and one of them, Violet Lady, figured out how to work the shutter.

The best year to be a tree, Part 2

Part 1 described the unusual shoot growth pattern of trees this year.  Here we discuss why this happened. Everyone realizes that this was an usual summer in eastern North America.  We had a mild summer and a remarkable amount of precipitation.  This graph (click for full size) is from the NOAA Climate At A Glance […]

The best year to be a tree, Part 1

Now that the Autumnal Equinox has arrived, it is a good time to look back on this year in the Lives of Trees.   For Eastern North America, this has been a great year to be a tree.  Temperatures were mild to moderate for most of the growing season, soil moisture was adequate to above […]

The Barrel

Since The Bourbon Review is our launch sponsor (Thanks!), here is a short piece about the bourbon barrel. By law, Bourbon has to be aged in new oak barrels.  What kind of wood is used?  Any white oak wood will work, but red oak will not. In Kentucky, white oak, Quercus alba,  is used almost […]

Picture of blue ash tree

Don’t Miss the Workshop!

  When:  Saturday, October 12, 2013 Where: Floracliff State Nature Preserve and locations in Fayette and Scott Counties The workshop is filling up and can only accommodate 20 people.  Read more about the Workshop, and call Floracliff to register.   Please note that clicking Going on our Facebook page does not register you for the […]

Remembering Moosewood Bill Harlow

Cross-posted at Native Tree Society. Many of us are familiar with the books by William Harlow, including the classic Textbook of Dendrology (Harlow and Harrar), Fruit Key and Twig Key and other forestry books. This reminiscence is sparked by several pictures from one of Harlow’s books posted on Facebook by Chris Budesa. When I was […]