The Woodland Pasture, or Wood Pasture, habitat is one of the rarest landscapes in the world. Here are four, in different places. See if you can identify the location. The person with the best answer will get an 8×10 print of a woodland pasture photograph (Note: we will be sending out pictures to donors and contest winners in October). Use the comments box below. The contest will be open for one week.
This week’s Friday Tree is no mystery – it is the same as last weeks Friday Tree. Do you know it? This picture reminds us that, for many trees, autumn may already have begun. What are you seeing where you live? Are there signs of autumn in the trees around you?
Over the next few weeks, we will have some updates on autumn, and how trees prepare for the cold season. Trees don’t simply cast off their leaves. Instead, there is an orderly process of withdrawing nutrients, and it is this process that results in autumn colors.
The Friday Tree for this week is an introduction to several articles about oaks coming up next week at Venerable Trees. Oaks form the foundation of the forests of eastern North America. In abundance, size, diversity and usefulness, no other eastern tree comes close. There are fifty oak species in eastern North America, and oaks are dominant species in nearly 70% of eastern forests.
Oaks can be a real challenge to identify. See if you can identify this week’s Friday Tree to species. Make a comment in the comment box below (scroll all the way down) or on our Facebook page, and tell us why you think you are correct in your answer. We will reveal the tree’s identity, and have a lot more to say about oaks next week.
This week’s Friday Tree was tricky. Some of you got it, and some of you were very close. The two reasonable guesses were Catalpa, Catalpa speciosa, or desert-willow, Chilopsis linearis. The flowers of both these trees are similar, and they are closely related, but they occupy very different habitats: catalpa is a midwestern tree of moist forest, while desert-willow is a shrub or small tree found on desert waterways in the American west.
This tree is Chitalpa, xChitalpa tashkentensis, a hybrid between to different genera of tree, Catalpa and Chilopsis. The one shown here is called “Morning Cloud” and genetic analysis shows that is Catalpa speciosa x Chilopsis linearis. Hybrids of two genera are extremely rare.
The hybrid was created by A. Russanov of the Botanic Garden of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences in Uzbekistan in 1964. However, the two parents are from the eastern US (Catalpa speciosa) and the western US (Chilopsis linearis).
The tree in these pictures is the only one I have seen in Kentucky. It has very peculiar leafing and flowering dates, leafing out in late May or early June and flowering from July to September.
Friday tree followup – Several people got this. Although the bark is unusually pale, this is a common persimmon, Diospyros virginiana. Persimmon is a common tree in Kentucky and is interesting year-round. The bark, resembling alligator hide, makes it easy to identify. In late fall, after a few cold nights, the fruit is ripe and delicious. It is one of our best native fruit trees, along with pawpaw and American plum.
Persimmon wood is dense, hard and dark. It is a close relative of ebony, the black wood famous for piano keys and other musical instruments. The finger boards and tuning pegs on my violins are ebony. There are three commercial ebony species, Diospyros ebenum (India and Sri Lanks), D. crassifolia (West Africa; endgangered) and D. celebica (Indonesia, vulnerable). All are of conservation concern.
Persimmon wood used to be important for golf club heads, but has been largely replaced by synthetic materials. It is a very important species for wildlife, and often bears a large fruit crop consumed by a variety of small mammals and turkeys.
This is a tree that deserves more of a place in urban landscapes where soil compaction and mower damage can be avoided.
Here is the first Friday Tree. Each week, we will post a picture of a tree and see who knows what it is (on our Facebook page). When you post on the Facebook Page, tell us a little bit about your own experience with the tree. Then, once we have some good choices, we’ll provide some more information about the tree.