Posts Tagged 'trees'


Liquidambar formosanaI did a double-take over these. They are similar to the pods of the American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua):Liquidambar styracifluabut smaller and with much longer points; these are evidently persistent styles. (The pods look rather Goth after they have opened up and dried out.) Also, the leaves are three-lobed: Liquidambar formosanaOur Sweetgum has five to seven lobes:Liquidamber styracifluaSo at first I thought it might be a varietal; there is one that produces no fruit, for people who don’t really like to have natural — that is, messy — things in their gardens.

Now, Green-Wood has an impressive range of trees, many fine specimens, but they aren’t necessarily local or even native to North America. Bingo! This is Liquidambar formosana, the Chinese or Formosan Sweetgum. Liquidambar formosanaWikipedia says there are five species in the Liquidambar genus, but their fifth example is that fruitless version of L.styraciflua. The genus name, by the way, looking so unclassical, refers to the sweet sap, the liquid amber, of the trees; in the U.S., at least, this was once used as a chewing gum.

A trio of pods sitting on the table soon resulted in a flurry of little seeds.

Green-Wood Harvest

Regulus satrapaGolden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa).g7g6g5Three different hickories, genus Carya. Bitternut, Mockernut, Shagbark? Rana catesbeianaBulllfrog tadpoles (Rana catesbeiana) were still to be seen swimming. A single Common Green Darner was flying. There was also a bee of some kind passing by. Dendroica palmarumPalm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum).Juglans nigraA field of Black Walnuts (Juglans nigra): these were thudderdudduding down in the wind; don’t stand under the walnut tree with anybody, not even yourself.Catharus guttatusHermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus).Diospyros virginianaCommon Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). They smelled absolutely fantastic. But, alas, the very ripe ones were mostly squashed.Diospyros virginianaAlthough they say the fruits need a freeze before they’re palatable. Brooklyn is just beyond the traditional natural limit of this species, but Green-Wood is full of exotica. As in this sprite:woodland sprite

Ode to the American Chestnut

Castanea dentataCastanea dentataCastanea dentataCastanea dentata

These non-blight-resistant trees were transplanted 9 years ago. Read more about them in my earlier post.


Two kinds of woodlands seen along the Dartmoor Way: Houndtor WoodsA conifer plantation, planted mid-last century, looking rather majestic but also, well, rather — although hardly all — sterile. Houndtor Woods, a Woodlands Trust area near Manaton.hardwoodTrees of many trunks in a hardwood forest, looking deeply lush with its attendant mosses and other understory plants. A frequent scene along the Dartmoor Way. Having passed through many a coppiced wood on my recent trip, I’ve been thinking about the practice. Coppicing is a way of harvesting wood by cutting the tree near the ground and then allowing multiple shoots to grow up from the stump into stems. (Pollarding is a similar practice, but here the cuts are at the top, which thickens the tree on its sole bole.) You may have noticed unintentional examples — the natural inclination to sprout — on the streets right here in Brooklyn. Platanus × acerifoliaHere’s the stump of a mature Plane Tree on the Street of Perpetual Renovation. Although cut down, it is still rooted –grinding out the root is a serious task — “not dead yet,” and has sprouted into a three-foot tall bush-like affair. After a number of years, depending on the species, these multiple shoots off the stump, or stool, can be harvested. The process will then start again. Instead of clear-cutting, a profoundly short-sighted strategy, coppicing allows for decades, even centuries of harvesting. Since the base tree never grows up, as it were, but is fully rooted, it may indeed be many hundreds of years old, significantly older than the average single-boled of the same species. Cut trees seem to live longer, as a matter of fact. Coppicing was done to supply wood for charcoal burners, heating, construction (including wattles), and such specialized needs as hop-poles (the blessed hops that give us bitter beer grow very tall indeed) and spars for thatching. The bark of oaks could be used for tanning, a craft turned industry that, for instance, devoured the Hudson Highlands of oaks and hemlocks, to bring things back to this side of the Atlantic again. Coppicing is hardly practiced anymore, except to maintain conservation areas — coppicing opens up woodlands to plant and animal communities that wouldn’t be interested in a monotonous climax forest, increasing biodiversity — and by those few who still practice ancient arts like thatching.treesSome tree species coppice better than others. Willow, hazel, beech, ash, hawthorn, alder, and oak are some of them. There is a thought that these trees evolved such basal sproutings to survive being browsed by mega-fauna herbivores. (Elm, for instance, is evidently delicious, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

I can imagine someone felling a tree, a long time ago, and then giving up on removing the stump — check out a stump grinder some day, or imagine the (literal) horse power necessary to do so — and discovering that it was soon sending thin stems into the air. Hey! Awesome!

300 Year Old Tulip Tree

Liriodendron tulipiferaAt the northern end of Clove Lakes Park in Staten Island is a Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) said to be 300 years old. I would not say it is extraordinarily tall, but it certainly is large-boled. That head on the right is a child’s, three others are hidden behind the tree. Liriodendron tulipiferaTuliptrees can be the tallest trees on the East Coast. They often grow straight up, putting their flowers well out of reach. But the flowers will fall:Liriodendron tulipiferaAnd sometimes a younger tree will be within reach:Liriodendron tulipifera


AmelanchierThe Juneberries (Amelanchier sp.) are nearly ripe, and that means the birds are starting to devour them.Mimus polyglottosA Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Bombycilla cedrorumCedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum). Unexpected. Later I found four in a tree on the mezzanine that is Squib Park. Here’s one of these crested beauties: Bombycilla cedrorum




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