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

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tree planting mistakes have consequences

Young trees that failed to thrive


A lady from my hometown in Nebraska writes a daily newsletter. Today she mentioned some trees that were planted 15 years ago in a small town about 60 miles from where she lives. It's interesting to learn that the trees failed to thrive because traditional cautions -- don't plant the tree deeper in the soil than it was in the pot; beware of trees with roots that circle the inside of the pot -- were ignored.

Back in 1994 they planted trees in the park that later became the swimming pool park. Only a few of those trees have really grown right. So two of the state foresters took an air spade and blew the dirt away from the roots of a Norway maple and an ash tree. Both were planted at least 6" too deep plus they were potted trees and had roots that were circling. One root was so large that it had girdled one side of the Norway maple. The ash tree roots had grown up and to within an inch of the surface of the soil and then went out from there. This is a very poor scaffolding for the tree when it is windy. Neither tree was over 12" tall. The maple had stunted leaves and poor top growth. The ash had limbs only on three sides and had set a huge amount of seeds indicating it was stressed and dying. They are going to try leaving only an inch of soil over the roots and then add 2" of mulch and see if the trees are happier. (Source: Email from Carolyn J. Hall, dated 11/6/09.)

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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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