Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Popular Poplar Tree

A tree-climbing poem

The upper branches of a cottonwood (poplar) tree -- probably
a plains cottonwood, as this photo was taken in Colorado

How would it would feel to climb high in a poplar tree, with gusts of wind swaying the branches? Oh, my, I am definitely too old for that! It gives me a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach to think about it.

The Popular Poplar Tree

When the great wind sets things whirling
And rattles the window panes,
And blows the dust in giants
and dragons tossing their manes;
When the willows have waves like water,
And children are shouting with glee;
When the pines are alive and the larches,---
Then hurrah for you and me,
In the tip o' the top' o the top o' the tip of
the popular poplar tree!

Don't talk about Jack and the Beanstalk---
He did not climb half so high!
And Alice in all her travels
Was never so near the sky!
Only the swallow, a-skimming
The storm-cloud over the lea,
Knows how it feels to be flying---
When the gusts come strong and free---
In the tip o' the top' o the top o' the tip of
the popular poplar tree!

---Blanch Willis Howard

Maybe the poet's poplar was popular because it was so easy to climb. Or maybe she just enjoyed the sound of the similar words.

I came across this little poem in Arbor Day Leaves: A Complete Programme for Arbor Day Observance, Including Readings, Recitations, Music & General Information. This booklet was compiled by N. H. Egleston of the USDA Forest Service and published in 1893 by American Book Company of New York.

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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