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Arbor News - 2008

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If you received our last newsletter, you may recall we were in the process of becoming an “Accredited Tree Care Co”. We are excited to say that this past summer we received this prestigious acknowledgement. The “Tree Care Industry Association” accreditation program is a compliance program administered by America’s oldest and most respected tree care trade association. It is similar to an ISO 9001 type quality compliance, but suited specifically for tree care companies. It is a voluntary program that credentials companies that meet stringent criteria for professionalism, employee training, state and federal regulations, business ethics and customer satisfaction. Under the process, businesses undergo an extensive review and a comprehensive audit of professional and business practices aimed at safeguarding consumers. I personally have to give a great deal of thanks to our entire staff, who worked very hard as a team to produce this result. There are approximately 18,000 tree companies in the entire U.S.A. We were the 90th company nationwide and the 7th in the State of Wisconsin to be accredited. There are now only 140 accredited companies nationwide as of this writing.

Wood Decay Fungus

Mushrooms or conks growing around or on trees are signs of decay and should not be ignored. Wood decay will weaken wood and may cause tree failures. For this reason, wood decay is the most important disease of urban trees. Listed in the following paragraphs are the three most common fungi of urban trees and their unique characteristics.

The first of the three is Armillaria spp. which is a root and butt rot fungus that increases the risk of tree failure. Found on oaks, maples, and most hardwoods and shrubs, it is a pathogen that is capable of killing the cambium of roots and lower trunk on stressed trees. The mushrooms have honey colored caps with white gills, a ring around a central stem, and they grow together in loose groups attach at a similar base. Appearing late summer through fall, the mushrooms will be attached to the base of live trees and large roots. Interestingly, the fungus threads in the leaf litter give off an eerie glow that can be noticed at night.

Found on oaks, maples, honey locust, and most hardwoods, the second fungus is a very common root and butt rot fungus called Ganoderma lucidum. It can kill cambium of roots and contribute to a decline of health of urban trees. Because it is the only conk that is “varnished” red to mahogany which may or may not have a white margin, it is one of the easiest fungus to identify. The shape of the conk is half-moon and is usually directly attached to wood. Appearing summer through fall, the conks will turn black and persist through the following year. They will be located near the base at the soil line or attached to roots of living trees.

The third and most impressive is Gonoderma applanatu, also known as “the artist fungus”. It is a trunk and butt rot fungus on maples, oaks and most hardwoods and is almost always associated with ex/tensive internal decay. Growing 5 years or more, the conks may be 4” wide, 8” long, and 1” thick or larger; it is the largest perennial conk on urban trees. The conk is woody, shelf-like, zonate-brown to brown-gray top, and often with a white margin. When the conk is fresh, the underside is pure white but will turn brown immediately after it is touched; hence, artist used this characteristic to create drawings. Once the conk dried, the surface will no longer change color when touched, therefore preserving the artwork.

Fertilizers-Is There A Difference?

There are many companies offering tree and shrub fertilizing often at immensely different costs and qualities. Why the big difference? It is all about the ingredients. The typical “volume sales” company offers a simple N(nitrogen) P(phosphorus) K(potash) formula. This simple solution can produce 100 gallons of mixed product for as little as $3.50. I recall seeing an ad not long ago “any 30 trees & shrubs for $30.” But, what do you actually get? Answer: A quick green up with no increase in root support and foliage that “attracts” more insects. By contrast, Cassity Tree Service utilizes a fertilizer called “Total Tree” by Novozyme Biologicals. This product contains 75% of its nitrogen in slow release for season long feeding without the quick lush growth that attracts insects. It also contains all the expensive chelated micro nutrients that woody plants require, as well as sulfur to maintain a Ph to allow uptake in our S.E. Wisconsin alkaline clay soils, attaching to tree roots and immensely improving the tree’s ability to uptake water and nutrients. This mychorrizae has been destroyed in our highly disturbed residential soils. Lastly, tree roots need organic matter for the pore space needed to hold oxygen and allow fine root (feeder) development. Liquefied peat moss and sea kelp along with vitamins C, B & E provide this total package. You really do get what you pay for.


How Well Do You Know Your Trees - Quiz

1. What tree is nicknamed the “bee tree”? Liriodendron tulipifera (yellow poplar)
2. What tree has difficulty staying buoyant? Ilex spp. (holly)
3. This tree was once called the “grandfather of the forest.” Tilia heterophylla (basswood)
4. The wood of this tree is primarily used in butcher’s blocks. Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
5. The wood for this tree is ideally used for tool handles. Betula papyrifera (paper birch)
6. The wood of this tree is prized for fine furniture and gun stocks. Platanus occidentalis (sycamore)
7. This tree is known for being straight grained and shock resistant; it also holds its shape well after seasoning (a useful quality for baseball bats). Maclura pomifera (osage orange)
8. The sap of this tree makes the best syrup. Abies balsamea (balsam fir)
9. The state trees of Virginia. Pinus strobus (white pine)
10. The wood of this tree is ideal for golf-club heads. Carya spp. (hickory)
11. Because of the bending characteristics of this tree, it is used for toothpicks; its bark was once used for canoes. Ginkgo bilboa (ginkgo)
12. Ironically; this plant is toxic to humans and yet is used in cancer treatment; also, deer love to eat it. Carpinus caroliniana (ironwood)
13. In colonial times, this tree was used primarily for ship masts. Juniperus spp. (juniper)
14. One of the most important trees found in coastal or swampy areas; known to have “knees”. Inodes palmetto, or palmetto tree
15. This tree is considered the ideal Christmas tree. Quercus robur (French white oak)
16. Although this tree is very messy; it is a favorite of songbirds, turkeys, and squirrels. Frzinus spp. (ash)
17. Native Americans used the wood of this tree for making bows. Juglans nigra (black walnut)
18. Sometimes called the tulip tree. Castanea dentate (American chestnut)
19. A very popular ornamental, and its berries are an ingredient in gin. Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
20. Not a tree you would like to lose your keys in; its foliage is highly valued for Christmas decorations Morus alba (mulberry)
21. The wood of this tree is preferred by United States vintners for aging their wine. Diospyros virginiana (persimmon)
22. In the days of the American Revolution, the trunk of this tree deflected cannon balls. Taxodium distichum (baldcypress)
23. One of the oldest trees in the worked, the leaves supposedly aid in memory. Taxus spp. (yew)



Do Tree Planting Projects Give People a Feel-Good Illusion That They Are Slowing Global Warming?

The climate benefits of trees in mid-latitude cities are not an illusion, although they certainly feel good. Reductions in atmospheric carbon dioxide are achieved directly through sequestration and indirectly through emission reductions. Still, planting trees in cities should not be touted as a panacea to global warming. It is one of many complementary bridging strategies, and it is one that can be implemented immediately. Moreover, tree planting projects provide myriad other social, environmental, and economic benefits that make communities better place to live. Of course, putting the right tree in the right place remains critical to optimizing these benefits and minimizing conflicts with other aspects of the urban infrastructure. The solutions to the problem of climate change are as complicated as the mechanisms of global warming itself. It is far too early, and we have too little information, to have decided to invest only in strategies that reduce fossil fuel emissions. Certainly, we must transform the way we product and consume energy. Doing so will require the brightest minds of science, the staunchest will of politicians, and a great deal of time, effort, and money. In the meantime, we can all plant a tree.


A Couple Bits of Tree Humor

A young man who was an avid golfer had a few hours to spare. He figured that if he played quickly, he could squeeze in nine holes before heading home. Just as he was about to tee-off, an elderly gentleman asked if he could accompany him, as he too, was playing alone. The young man agreed. When they finally reached the ninth fairway, the young man had a tough shot. There was a large pine tree directly between his ball and the green. He was considering how to hit the shot, when the other man said, “When I was your age, I’d hit the ball right over that tree”. Accepting the challenge, the young man swung hard and hit the ball smack into the top of the tree trunk. It thudded back on the ground not far from where it originally lay. “Of course,” the elderly man continued, “when I was your age, that pine tree was only a meter tall.”

On a recent trip into town I observed a very peculiar thing happening via two city workers. One would dig a hole, walk a few yards, dig another hole, and then walk a few more yards…you get the point. The second man would come behind the first man and fill the hole that had just been dug, walk a few yards, fill the next hole, and so on. These actions quite puzzled me. Furthermore, these two men were working very hard! One digging a hole, the other filling it up again. Finally I couldn’t hold my confusion in any longer and had to find out what they were doing. “I appreciate how hard you’re working,” I said to the first man, “but why are you digging a hole when your partner comes behind you and just fills it up again?” “Oh yeah, I guess it must look pretty funny,” the hole digger replied, taking a break to wipe the sweat off his forehead. “But the guy who plants the trees is sick today.”


Answers To How Well Do You Know Your Trees?

18 - Liriodendron tulipifera (yellow poplar)
19 - Ilex spp. (hollhy)
1 - Tilia heterophylla (basswood)
9 - Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
11 - Betula papyrifera (paper birch)
4 - Platanus occidentalis (sycamore)
17 - Maclura pomifera (osage orange)
15 - Abies balsamea (balsam fir)
13 - Pinus strobu (white pine)
5 - Carya spp. (hickory)
23 - Ginkgo biloba (ginkgo)
2 - Carpinus caroliniana (ironwood)
19 - Junipers spp. (juniper)
22 - Inodes palmetto, or palmetto tree
21 - Quercus robus (French white oak)
7 - Fraxinus spp. (ash)
6 - Juglans nigra (black walnut)
3 - Castanea dentate (American chestnut)
8 - Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
16 - Morus alba (mulberry)
10 - Diospyros virginiana (persimmon)
14 - Taxodium distichum (baldcypress)
12 - Taxus spp.(yew)



Previous Arbor News Publications

This newsletter has adapted articles from the publications of the following organizations in addition to our original pictures and stories.




Cassity Tree Service - 9160 Charles Street - Sturtevant, WI. - 53177 - 262.886.5224



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