Posts Tagged 'trees'

Pignut and Other Colors

Your reds get talked about a lot during the fall, but let’s not forget the yellow of a pignut hickory.
Same tree, a different day, and later sunlight.
A bald cypress cultivar, I think.
Northern red oak.
Franklinia alatamaha.
Not found in the wild since the early 19th century, all specimens today are cultivated. Named after Ben Franklin by the Bartrams.
Sweetgum in the late afternoon.


The tropical storm with all the vowels in its name brought down a lots of branches in the city last week. Green-Wood Cemetery was closed for two days for clean up. Some whole trees were uprooted as well, and some weakened ones snapped.

One was this butternut, Juglans cinerea. Already a shadow of its former self — that’s the pre-storm stump there on the right — it’s definitely taken a powder now.
Just look at this leaf! My boot is about a foot long.
Elsewhere in the cemetery: this sapling, which looks like hell.
I don’t know what this crud is. Let me know if you know. The butternut canker fungal disease, which has killed approximately 80% of the butternuts in their native range (eastern North America) doesn’t, as far, as I can tell, hit the leaves. Again, correct me if I’m wrong.
Here, at least, is one fine specimen.
The nuts, which which are supposed to be delicious, mature earlier than our native black walnuts (Juglans nigra).
These aren’t very oblong, are they? The fruits are supposed to ridged, too. So could this tree mislabeled? Or is it some kind of hybrid with black walnut? (The husks have a wonderful lemony odor, btw; but watch out: it has been used as a dye and can stain your skin.)
The sound of gnawing and husk-fall could be heard before I spotted a couple of squirrels up in the branches munching away.

Beech Sproutling

This curious thing is what you get when a beechnut sprouts. Considering the number of beechnuts dropped by a mature tree, these aren’t commonly seen. Does the parent tree’s shade and/or chemistry suppresses upstarts?

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Sapsucker sap-sucking.

Previously tapped holes. And even more previously tapped ones seen further to right on this old yew.

And this yellow belly we hear tell of? Subtle, and not shown to advantage in this under-tree light. The bird was named with corpse in hand, as used to typically be the case. Sharp-shinned Hawk, anyone? Note that any invertebrates attracted to the sap flowing in these sap mines may also get slurped up by the YBSS.

Blooming Now

Red maple.
Wych elm.
Star magnolia.
Henbit deadnettle. (These are tiny, you’ll need to get down on your knees to see the detail.)

Witches’ Broom

A hackberry tree, Celtis occidentalis. Notice the clumpiness in the canopy?
A slightly closer view of one fo the clumps. (They were all out of hand’s reach.) This is witches’ broom, a gall-like growth of branches sprouting in multiples. Hackberry is particularly susceptible. In this case, it seems to be caused by a combination of a fungus and a mite. I gather the mite carries the fungus…

It is thought to be:

“attributed to two agents acting together: a powdery mildew fungus (Sphaerotheca phytoptophila) and a minute, wormlike, eriophyid mite (Eriophyes celtis, synonym Aceria snetsingeri) about 200 microns long.”

The mite’s name has recently been changed to Aceria celtis.

Evidently there are strains of hackberries that are immune to it. People think it’s unsightly. People!

This specimen is in Prospect Park. There are two young hackberries outside our window here. You may remember that the city’s street tree survey insisted they were hawthorns. We fixed that. Just the other day I noticed that one of them had some witches’ broom in it. I don’t think the tree had any there last year. I’m not positive, but I don’t feel like they were there.

Prunus serotina

There are still, after all these years, parts of Green-Wood I’ve never been. I came across this massive black cherry only recently.
It was after a big wind and bits of the scaly bark and branches were scattered about.
The mature bark is very different from the younger stuff from way up there.
Turning over the loose pieces on the ground, I found a Nabis genus damsel bug.
And a springtail! (And something even smaller I can’t tell what).


Hey, wait a minuted! It turns out I’d never seen a catalpa seed before.
The pods, sure, all the time, but always already empty.
Both the Northern and Southern catalpas are found in our region. They also hybridize. And there are a number of other species in the Catalpa genus that have gotten around as ornamentals.

Monday Galls

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres
At the tips of a young oak, small round nestled in filamenty nests. Galls (not Gauls, pace Casesar) with exit holes. Big question in the wonderful world of galls is: what emerged, the gall inducer or the inquiline (parasite)?

Not just on the bud tips.

Possibly something in the Andricus gall wasp genus. This is a large genus. As I understand it, each species makes a unique gall. These tiny wasps stimulate the tree by chemical commands and the tree grows a gall in response. The tree is being hijacked, but not really damaged (?).

But wait! I’d originally thought this tree was a red oak but could it be be a bur oak? Will have to double check this.

If it’s a bur, then Andricus quercusfrondosus sounds like a possibility. This source notes that this species creates autumnal growths for the the agamic or asexual generation. Yes, gall wasps, which were once all called gall flies, alternate an asexual generation and a sexual generation. According to the cited piece, the agamic or sexual generation isn’t known for this species.

More complications: found a similar if not same gall on a definite red oak, which will be the subject of another day.

To summarize: galls are complicated.


There’s a suggestion that this is the oldest sassafras in NYC.
The tree is still going strong.
Now we come to an issue of tense. There are two trees here, just a few feet apart. Are these two actually, essentially, the same tree, a clonal pair, the last of a sassafras colony?
There seems a good possibility that this is so.
From certain angles, they line up and merge together.
Elsewhere in Green-Wood, a sprouting of sassafras. What might this spot might become… in 150 years?
(An ancestor, presumably of somebody, at the clones.)


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