Archive for the ‘Follow a tree’ Category

Oct. 6...A slight yellowing of the leaves can be seen.

Oct. 6…A slight yellowing of the leaves can be seen.

Closer up, you can see more yellowing of the leaves.  As I understand it, as the nights become longer, the tree senses that winter is coming and stops making chlorophyll.  chlorophyll gives the leaf the green color.  When chlorophyll decreases, the other colors come through.  In this case, yellow.

Closer up, you can see more yellowing of the leaves. As I understand it, as the nights become longer, the tree senses that winter is coming and stops making chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll gives the leaf the green color. When chlorophyll decreases, the other colors come through. In this case, yellow.

You can see how the chlorophyll is disappearing.  At this stage it is only located along the veins.

You can see how the chlorophyll is disappearing. At this stage it is only located along the veins.

Cones are ready to fall off.  I reached up to grab one and it fell apart in my hand.

Cones are ready to fall off. I reached up to grab one and it fell apart in my hand.

I reached a second cone, this time being careful not to crush it, and laid it on the side walk before cutting it open.

I reached a second cone, this time being careful not to crush it, and laid it on the side walk before cutting it open.

What's inside the River Birch cone?  Seeds, lots of them.

What’s inside the River Birch cone? Seeds, lots of them.

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Last month, Philip Strange asked me if I had seen any immature catkins yet. They were forming on the birch trees in the UK. The next day I looked carefully at the tree to find this little one (see arrow) It's about 1/2

Last month, Philip Strange asked me if I had seen any immature catkins yet. They were forming on the birch trees in the UK. The next day I looked carefully at the tree to find this little one (see arrow) It’s about 1/2″ long (1 cm) If I understand it correctly, the larger catkin will form the female flower next spring.  Uh, that’s not quite right…the larger catkin will turn brown THIS year and drop off the tree and the smaller one will grow into next year’s catkin.  Philip Strange sent me THIS LINK which explains the difference in male and female River birch catkins.  See if you can figure it out as I’ve never seen the longer female catkins.

This is how the tree looks in late August. It's still has plenty of green leaves.

This is how the tree looks in early September. It’s still has plenty of green leaves.

Sept. 20...Leaves of Betula Nigra are still green.

Sept. 20…Leaves of Betula Nigra are still green in September, but starting to show age.

Sept. 10...The mature River Birch cones are starting to fall.

Sept. 10…The mature River Birch cones are starting to fall.

Sept. 10...I see the ivy is growing back. I wonder if Ollie is going to trim it again.

Sept. 10…I see the ivy is growing back. I wonder if Ollie is going to trim it again.

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River Birch or Himalayan Birch???

8-4-15...A look at the River Birch, (Betula nigra) while the sun is out.

8-4-15…A look at the Birch, while the sun is out.

I was happy to meet Ollie who happened to be walking her dog at the same time.  I explained that I was ‘following’ this tree, but was still unsure as to which species it was.  She said that she was the one who had trimmed the ivy off the tree.  “I know it’s a birch,” she says, “try looking up Himalayan birch” (betula utilis Jacquemontii)

I looked it up, but the Himalayan birch leaf is squarer at the base, not so wedge-shaped.

This is a Himalayan birch leaf. Note the rounded base of leaf...clearly not the same as a River birch. This image is courtesy of Oregon State University.

This is a Himalayan birch leaf. Note the rounded base of leaf…clearly not the same as a River birch. This image is courtesy of Oregon State University.

Here is another Himalayan leaf furnished by oregonstate.edu. The leaf is tapered similar to the River Birch. How am I supposed to know the difference???

Here is another Himalayan leaf furnished by oregonstate.edu.
The leaf is tapered similar to the River Birch. How am I supposed to know the difference???

August 13...River birch still putting out a few new leaves.

August 13…I picked another leaf off this morning to get another look at it.

Aug. 13...I shot another leaf with a new camera. This is just to see how well the zoomed close up option works.

Aug. 13…I shot this close up with a new camera. This is just to see how well the zoomed close up option works and get a good close up look.

According to Washington State University, Himalayan birch is the most widely grown of the birch species in the Pacific Northwest and is greatly prized for its distinctive white bark which makes it a welcome addition during the darker days of winter.

Logically, since the Himalayan birch is more prevalent in the Pacific Northwest, it follows that this is a Himalayan birch…but of all the Himalayan leaves that are shown on Google images, most of them are “square” at the base, and while the River Birch is native to the southeastern United States, it is tolerant in other climates too as long as it can grow in moist acidic soils.  Since it was planted possibly over 40 years ago, this area was getting about 65 inches of rain a year then.  It would have been moist enough for a River Birch.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

Speaking of leaves…

Hmmm. I think the leaves are starting to turn already. We've been having many days of sunny weather

I think the leaves are starting to turn already. We’ve been having many days of sunny weather.

August 4...example of a leaf that has lost it's chlorophyll. Chlorophyll gives leaves their green color and absorbs light that is used in photosynthesis. You have to wonder why some leaves lose color while others don't. "Okay everyone on this list gets no more chlorophyll." I'm sure there's a good reason, but this leaf here must be on the list. :) Eventually, because of shorter days and decreasing sunlight, the tree will stop producing chlorophyll altogether and all the leaves will turn color.

August 4…example of a leaf that has lost it’s chlorophyll. Chlorophyll gives leaves their green color and absorbs light that is used in photosynthesis. You have to wonder why some leaves lose color while others don’t. “Okay everyone on this list gets no more chlorophyll.” I’m sure there’s a good reason, but this leaf here must be on the list. 🙂  Eventually, because of shorter days and decreasing sunlight, the tree will stop producing chlorophyll altogether and all the leaves will turn color.

Cinnamon bark is a-peeling. (Sorry about that, I couldn't resist)

Cinnamon bark is a-peeling.

An even closer look at the peeling bark.

An even closer look at the peeling bark.

8-4-15...Holes in the trunk...are the dreaded

8-4-15…Uh oh, holes in the trunk…Is this the result of the dreaded Bronze Birch Borer?  Not to worry, the River Birch is resistant to it, whereas it can severely damage a Himalayan Birch.

Some birch cones are 'maturing.' This one fell apart in my hand. Next month I'll take one home and try to find the seeds.

Some birch cones are ‘maturing.’ This one fell apart in my hand. Next month I’ll take one home and try to find the seeds.

According to SF Gate, “River birch also is valuable as a source of erosion control and is used to reclaim areas with high soil acid caused by mining. Wildlife, such as birds and rodents, eat its seeds, and deer eat its twigs and foliage. Ruby-throated hummingbirds drink its sap.”

Any birch tree experts out there?

 

 

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River Birch (Betula nigra)

June 9...Here is how the tree looked last month.  I know, I know, I didn't post it last month.  It wasn't because I got into a disagreement with a police officer about how long to wait for someone in the crosswalk before turning right...he was lenient on me and luckily didn't give me a citation.  Nor was it because I had to watch the first episode of Poldark on Masterpiece Theatre, or maybe it was. :) I promise to be more punctual in the future.

June 9…Here is how the tree looked last month. I know, I know, I didn’t post it last month. It wasn’t because I got into a disagreement with a police officer about how long to wait for someone in the crosswalk before turning right.  Nor was it because I wanted to watch the first episode of Poldark on Masterpiece Theatre, or maybe it was. 🙂 in any case, I promise to be more punctual in the future.

When the valley gets hot, clouds get sucked in from the ocean, resulting in cloudy weather on the coast, and less than perfect picture-taking weather.     A River birch can grow as tall as 70 ft. (21 meters) if it's a single trunk.  If the trunk branches out, the height will be limited to about 50 ft (15 m) with a 40 ft. breadth.

When the valley gets hot, clouds get sucked in from the ocean, resulting in cloudy weather on the coast, and less than perfect picture-taking weather.
A River birch can grow as tall as 70 ft. (21 meters) if it’s a single trunk. If the trunk branches out, the height will be limited to about 50 ft (15 m) with a 40 ft. breadth.  It requires acidic soil which is consistently moist.  It grows along waterways or at the edge of  wooded areas, or in this case, on the edge of someone’s property.

Last month the leaves and catkins looked like this. I believe these are male catkins which point in a downward direction.

Last month the leaves and catkins looked like this.
I believe these are male catkins which point in a downward direction.

7-5-15...This month I don't see much difference except for the lack of contrast from overcast picture taking.

7-5-15…This month I don’t see much difference except for the lack of contrast from overcast picture taking.

6-9-15...Look at that rugged and gnarly trunk.  Does that spell "CHARACTER" or what?

6-9-15…What a rugged and gnarly trunk.  As the tree matures (40 years) the bark thickens, darkens, and becomes deeply fissured beginning at the bases of the trunks.  This tree must be over 40 years old.

July 5...another look at the trunk of the River Birch. One of its characteristics is that bark flakes off the tree revealing the multicolored layers of the inner bark. This can be seen towards the top of the trunk.  According to "The Master Gardener at University of Wisconsin," it naturally forms just a single trunk, but is sometimes sold in multiple-trunked form with two to five trunks per tree.

July 5…another look at the trunk of the River Birch. One of its characteristics is that bark exfoliates revealing the multicolored layers of the inner bark. This can be seen towards the top of this trunk. According to “The Master Gardener at University of Wisconsin,” River birch naturally forms just a single trunk, but is sometimes sold in multiple-trunked form with two to five trunks per tree.

The River birch can thrive in damp soil, but it can also take a certain amount of drought.  Birch roots, along with willow and poplar, are among the most aggressive — and destructive — tree roots.  The tree’s aggressive roots seek water, prying open cracks or joints in sewer or irrigation systems.

Note:  I’m about 85% sure this tree is a River birch.  The 15% uncertainty is because when I compare this River birch tree trunk to the River birch tree trunks on the internet, I don’t see any like this one.  Furthermore, the catkins look slightly different too.  If there are any birch tree experts out there that would like to make a correction, please feel free to do so.

The following web sites were used for River birch information…

Wisconsin Master Gardener Program

Garden Guides

Anne Carlsmith

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Many thanks to Jeff Ollerton and HB for giving me the identity of this tree.

It just so happened that at the same time I was trying to identify the tree, we walked by Barbara's house.  She grows many bonsai trees.  We asked her if she knew what the tree was.  "Clearly it's a River Birch," she says, "compare it to my little River Birch on the left."

It just so happened that at the same time I was trying to identify the tree, we walked by Barbara’s house. She grows many bonsai trees. “Clearly it’s a River Birch,” she says, “compare it to my little River Birch on the left.”

This leaf shows a wedge-shaped base typical of the River Birch.

This leaf shows a wedge-shaped base typical of the River Birch.

The weird thing about the leaf is that there are two different shapes.  This one shows a more squarish base.  That really threw me when trying to identify the type of tree.  Both leaves are from the same tree.  Does the age of the leaf determine the shape?

The weird thing about the leaf is that there are two different shapes. This one shows a more squarish base. That really threw me when trying to identify the type of tree. Both leaves are from the same tree. Does the age of the leaf determine the shape?

May 13, 2015...Looking at a bunch of leaves together, we can see various wedge shaped bases...some more acute than others.

May 13, 2015…Looking at a bunch of leaves together, we can see various wedge shaped bases…some more acute than others.

May 13, 2015...Looking upward into the umbrella, you can see the white bark limbs...

May 13, 2015…Looking upward into the umbrella, you can see the white bark limbs…

Cinnamon bark

…but looking at the trunk, you’ll see cinnamon colored bark.

According to Wikipedia, “Betula nigra (black birch, river birch, water birch) is a species of birch native to the Eastern United States from New Hampshire west to southern Minnesota, and south to northern Florida and west to Texas.”

It grows in the East, not the West.  I guess the jury is still out on the type of birch it is.

5-13-15...Big news today:  A ginormous swarm is moving INTO my Grand Kids Log hive today!

5-13-15…Big news today: A ginormous swarm is moving INTO my Grand Kids Log hive today!  Detailed post to follow.

 

 

 

 

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April 2, 2015...The tree is getting leaves.  I'm hoping someone can ID this tree.

April 2, 2015…The tree is getting leaves. I’m hoping someone can ID it.

Does this look like an alder leaf?  I've looked at dozens of alder leaves, but they look slightly different...wider, with less exaggerated serrations.

Does this look like an alder leaf? I’ve looked at dozens of alder leaves, but they look slightly different…wider, with less exaggerated serrations.   Alder leaves are supposed to be egg-shaped.

This is what the back of the leaf looks like.

This is what the back of the leaf looks like.

Are these the female flowers?

Are these the female flowers?  I apologize for the blurriness of this photo, but it shows them as they are on the tree.  The below photo is sharper.

Are these the female flowers?  I snipped the branch and took it home to get a sharper photo.

I snipped the branch and took it home to get a sharper photo.

I don’t think this is a cottonwood even though the leaves are serrated, or a Balsam Poplar, or a Cascara Buckthorn, but I guess it still could be an Alder or even a birch.

You might think that I followed up on a decision to cut the ivy off this tree, but that's not factual.  After reading a comment by Steve Mitchell (in my last post) about the value of ivy growing on a tree, I hesitated.   The trimming was not done by myself, and at this time, I don't know 'who dun it."  The owners don't know either.

You might think that I followed up on a decision to cut the ivy off this tree, but that’s not factual. After reading a comment by Steve Mitchell (in my last post) about the value of ivy growing on a tree, I hesitated.
The trimming was not done by myself, and at this time, I don’t know ‘who dun it.” The owners don’t know either.

Just for a point of reference, these fir trees across the street from the mystery tree have ivy growing up their trunks.  They don't seem to be in any danger of dying, so what I've read on several web sites about ivy not being a parasite might be true.

Just for a point of reference, these fir trees across the street from the mystery tree have ivy growing up their trunks. They don’t seem to be in any danger of dying, so what I’ve read on several web sites about ivy not being a parasite might be true.

Gardening Know How says…Alder trees (Alnus spp.) are often used in reforestation projects and to stabilize soil in wet areas, but you seldom see them in residential landscapes.”

I suppose this tree could have been started just from a bird dropping a seed, but I would really like to know what it is.  Any ideas?

 

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The bare bones of the tree. I'm wondering if it's an alder.  I guess I'll find out when the leaves make their appearance.

The bare bones of the tree. I’m wondering if it’s an alder. I guess I’ll find out when the leaves make their appearance.

Looking up into the umbrella before the leaves form.

Looking up into the umbrella before the leaves form.

Here's a better look at the white bark.

Here’s a better look at the white bark.

A fat robin sits high in the branches.

A fat robin sits high in the branches.

These look like they could be alder cones.

These look like they could be alder cones.

My apologies to everyone in the UK, but this English Ivy has got to go...I hope by this time next month I will have removed it.  I've got to get permission from both owners first.  It happens I know both of them.  They will probably be very happy to have someone take care of it for them.

My apologies to everyone in the UK, but this English Ivy has got to go.  It will compete for food with the tree and if left to grow up the limbs, it could cause them to break by increasing their resistance to wind.  I hope by this time next month I will have removed it. I’ve got to get permission from both owners first. It happens I know both of them. I’m guessing they will be very happy to have someone take care of it for them.

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