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Posts Tagged ‘attractive bark’

Autumn is known for its wonderful colors, the yellows, oranges reds and maroons add a bright splash of excitement to the coming winter season. I enjoy the many native trees in the area with their amber shades. One somewhat rare tree which should become much more widely grown is  the Paperbark Maple(Acer griseum) which has bright buttery yellow to crimson coloring. It is one of the best small specimen trees for a typical urban setting.

 

Autumn color of the Paperbark Maple some of the latest in the year for the Maple family.

Autumn color of the Paperbark Maple some of the latest in the year for the Maple family.

The year was 1901 Paperbark Maple was introduced to Europe by way of Vietch’s Nursery.  Acer griseum is another fabulous find by Ernest (Chinese) Henry Wilson. He was on one of his many explorations for plants in China looking for the famous handkerchief tree(Davidia involucrata) which was known but not collected at that time. The area he was exploring was central China.

 

 I can imagine Ernest 'Chinese' Wilson finding Acer griseum in the forest looking like this, bark glowing in the light.

I can imagine Ernest 'Chinese' Wilson finding Acer griseum in the forest looking like this, bark glowing in the light.

 

Paperbark Maples come from central China from north-east Gansu  province traveling west into Hebei and south to Sichuan and south-west into Hunan.  The tree is found at fairly high altitudes of 1500-2000 m. (5000-6500ft.). It is one of the better but not the most famous find of the over 1500 named plants which ‘Chinese ‘ Wilson brought to horticulture during his incredible explorations.

 

The peeling 'paperbark' of Acer griseum is very beautiful throughout the year.

The peeling 'paperbark' of Acer griseum is very beautiful throughout the year.

 

Acer griseum does not have the typical ‘maple’ shaped leaves, instead it is trifoliate. This gives it a delicate feeling as the foliage looks fine in texture. Many people are not familiar with the other leaf forms of  Maples. One similar leaved maple is the Box Elder(Acer negundo) which is extremely hardy and produces masses of seedlings making it become somewhat of a pest in many places.

 

 The delicate looking trifoliate leaves of Acer griseum come to life in flaming fashion in the fall.

The delicate looking trifoliate leaves of Acer griseum come to life in flaming fashion in the fall.

Acer griseum is an excellent small tree for the home and should be seen more often. One issue that has become known is the difficulty germinating the seed which is said to be between 2 and 8%. It produces a good amount of  seed but most of it has proven to be parthenocarpic. Parthenocarpic is seed which developes but is sterile. THere are now plans to make new collections of wild seed to increase the gene pool of this tree and increase the likelihood of better seed viability. Another issue is that these trees are androecious with males and hermaphrodite flower structures.

 

 

Acer griseum produces a great amount of seed but little of it is viable.

Acer griseum produces a great amount of seed but little of it is viable.

 

Acer griseum has many feature which lead it be seen as a specimen tree. It is attractive throughout the year; spring gives us delicate blooms and the flush of new leaves, summer is seen with the delicate green-blue of the leaves, autumn highlight the brilliant color late in the season and winter comes when the bark is highlighted especially with backlighting. The size of the tree is also especially appealing and works well in most garden situations whether they be in a border or by itself.

 

This wintery Acer griseum is found in Finnerty Gardens along a less traveled path where the bark is highlighted.

This wintery Acer griseum is found in Finnerty Gardens along a less traveled path where the bark is highlighted.

Acer griseum grow in full sun to part shade but not deep shade. They like fertile acidic soil which is well-drained. They need average amounts of waster and are not noted to be drought tolerant. They have few pests or disease. They can be pruned but it is rarely done except for  shaping or removal of damaged limbs and this is best done in late autumn or winter. They are slow-growing trees which can grow to 10-20 m (30-60ft). They are fairly hardy and are rated taking -20c(-4f) and higher.  Paperbark Maples are easily transplanted.

 

This Acer griseum is in the back yard of a garden in Vancouver.

This Acer griseum is in the back yard of a garden in Vancouver.

 

Paperbark Maples are propagated by cuttings or by seed and are somewhat rare in nurseries. They are becoming much sought after by good landscapers and gardens are more expensive to buy than many other trees. It is a tree I recommend for the small city gardens as a specimen or accent tree.

Marveling at this Maple:

An excellent technical description of the tree: https://appserver1.kwantlen.ca/apps/plantid/plantid.nsf/lookup/2C6CC1B288E3831088256EB500662648?OpenDocument

Parenthocarpy in seeds: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthenocarpy

Ernest Henry Wilson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Henry_Wilson

……I will be looking forward to seeing you again soon here…..

 

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Big winds are starting early this year, the forecast is for a colder winter here. I n=know our winters are nothing like those from the rest of Canada and much of North America, we are wet and very slippery with ice here if it gets cold. With cold weather comes more brilliant colors in the departing leaves which are on the trees. So here we are in the blustery weather wanting to go and walk in the forests and big parks to see bright colors. Some of the best color comes from the Quercus family and without a doubt the absolute star in the family is Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea). All I can say is Blaze on and warm us up with your firey flame-like leaves!

The Scarlet Oaks enliven the Stelly's Secondary School campus in the autumn.

The Scarlet Oaks enliven the Stelly's Secondary School campus in the autumn.

Scarlet Oaks are one of the trees which people think of when they want to experience the colors of autumn in eastern North America. The colors are so fine that many people take tours through the northern United States and eastern Canadian provinces to experience it. I have never been myself but can imagine how breath-taking it must be based on the color of the same trees here.

As the leaves of Quercus coccinea breakdown anthocytins are released giving the leaves their red coloring.

As the leaves of Quercus coccinea breakdown anthocyanins are released giving the leaves their red coloring.

Part of the reason of the strong bright colors in Quercus coccinea has to do with how the leaves break down in the fall. The component which affects color is anthocyanin( giving reds and blues) which is stored in the natural sugars found in the leaves. As the leaves start to break down in the fall the anthocyanins are released and their red and blue tones effect the color of the leaf. Many leaves of other trees change into yellow and orange tones which are caused by xanthophyll and carotenoids.It is surprising we get such good color because we are not that cold in the autumn here.

The Scarlet coloring of Quercus coccinea is very intense and brilliant.

The Scarlet coloring of Quercus coccinea is very intense and brilliant.

Scarlet Oaks are widespread in the east growing from Maine to Alabama and east into Oklahoma. It is a tree which tolerates a fairly wide range of conditions but often is seen growing in upland forests, ridges and hillside where the conditions are a bit drier and the soil is often is sandy and gritty. These are trees of the upper canopy and do not like to be in the shade.

This Scarlet Oak is one of many Oaks found in the 'Mayors Grove' at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria.

This Scarlet Oak is one of many Oaks found in the 'Mayors Grove' at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria.

Quercus coccinea grow to be large trees of up to 24m(80ft). When they are young they have a more pyramidal shape and with age get a more rounded shape.  The leaves are deeply lobed which gives this tree a more lacey feeling  and more delicate look compared to others of the species. The tree here which might be mistaken for Scarlet Oak is the Pin Oak (Quercus palustris), it needs a damper site and is more likely to be seen up island or in the Vancouver area which have more rain compared to the drought here.

These young Scarlet Oaks show thier pyramidal shape which will change with age.

These young Scarlet Oaks show their pyramidal shape which will change with age.

Scarlet Oaks are considered to be the best of the species to grow because of their adaptability to soils and water, their brilliant color and their tolerance of urban conditions.  They like an average to sandy soil which is on the acidic side to keep them from getting chlorosis. They are naturally from drier sites but tolerate damper sites as long that there is good drainage. These trees require full sun to perform their best. These trees are popular with landscapers and are often seen in industrial and commercial settings, here they are seen around parking lots and in parks. These trees have attractive foliage and bark.

 

The bark of Scarlet Oak is ridged and  an overall grey color.

The bark of Scarlet Oak is ridged and an overall grey color.

 

The acorns of Scarlet Oaks can be hard to come by here with the Squirrels  which eat store them. They are 1-2.5cm(1/2-1in.) long with their cap covering half the nut from the top. Acorns are produced in large quantity every 3 to 4 years. Propagation is by seed which has to be collected before the squirrels get the best ones. Check  your harvest in a bucket of water and throw away any that float. The seed has a short period of viability and needs to be sown as soon as possible.

 

Broadmead Village Shopping Centre has some of the best Scarlet Oaks and other autumn color in the Victoria area.

Broadmead Village Shopping Centre has some of the best Scarlet Oaks and other autumn color in the Victoria area.

 

 

Scarlet Oaks are rated at zones 4 through 9 and take -35c(-30f). If you have a large property this tree is an excellent choice for you as it makes an easy to maintain tree which need little work. It is best to buy these trees in a container as like other Oaks they have a tap-root which is easily damaged.

Looking at the quirks of Quercus coccinea:

A visual key to compare Oaks: http://www.cas.vanderbilt.edu/bioimages/pages/compare-oaks.htm

Wiki’s page on Scarlet Oaks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quercus_coccinea

Another good site to look up plant at: http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/q/quecoc/quecoc1.html

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When I was in school I often learned one than one genus and from that point there can be many subspecies and hybrids. Often plants from a genus look very similar and other times do not. One genus we learned was Arbutus. Arbutus menziesii  is a tree and Arbutus unedo which is a shrub. Arbutus unedo or the Strawberry tree is a great shrub which is well adapted for use here it the Victoria area.

Arbutus unedo

An attractive Arbutus unedo at a driveway entrance.

Arbutus unedo come from the Mediterranean area and range from Turkey, Lebanon  through to western areas of France and Spain and Portugal. They are also found in south western Ireland and are believed to be pre-glaciation remnants of  the range where these plant originally lived. The area which Strawberry trees or more commonly bushes are found in the wild has drastically shrunk do to harvesting of the wood for manufacturing of charcoal.

A happy Arbutus unedo which is loaded with fruit.

Arbutus unedo or as they are known in Ireleand as Killarney Strawberry Trees are viewed as 4 season plants as they have beautiful evergreen foliage which looks good throughout the year, berries which are take a year to for and ripen and flowers which bloom late in the year when little else is.

Arbutus unedo blossoms

The small waxy blosoms of Arbutus unedo bloom from October through December here.

Right now there are still some flowers on many bushes and crops of fruit are coloring up in a most attractive way for the Christmas season. The shrub in the above picture is covered with fruit which suggests it is in a perfect location.  The fruit are actually aggregate drupes which have a pasty bland flavor. The fruit is now used to make jams, jellies and a strong Brandy type drink (Medronho) which is made in Portugal. Pliny the Elder felt that the fruit was not worth eating, he  wrote in 50 A.D. ‘unum edo’ – ‘I eat one’ which said to be where we get unedo. the name Arbutus is from their original Latin name.

Arbutus unedo fruit

The fruits of Arbutus unedo are brightly colored and unusual looking.

Arbutus are members of the Ericaceae family which tend to need acidic soil to grow their very best. Strawberry trees are and exception to this rule and tolerate limey soil very well and are found in France growing in sandy locations. Generally here Arbutus unedo are grown as shrubs, they can be trained as a tree which is achieved by removing the lower branches as they bud out. The bark is an attractive cinnamon color and is cracked and is said to come off in strips in larger trunks, I have not seen this.

Arbutus unedo bark

The attractive bark on this very large Arbutus unedo branch.

Although we usually see Arbutus unedo as shapely rounded shrubs, they can grow to be quite large. They grow  to 10.5m(33ft) tall by the same spread and can grow very large trunks.  In a perfect setting they have full exposure to sun and very well drained soil. They can also do very well in wetter climates as long as the soil is very well drained, they do not tolerate being in overly damps soil.  They are naturally adapted to dry summers and develop long taproots soon after they are established. The taproot mean you have to be careful about where you are planting this plant as they do not do well if they are moved later on.

These Arbutus unedo have been planted to form a hedge which can be infomal or formal with pruning.

Arbutus unedo are versatile and can be used as formal or informal  hedging, specimens or back ground shrubs. They are great in more neglected locations such as on driveways and areas which are not near water sources. The fruit will attract birds who will eat it.  There are few pests and diseases and these can be avoided with proper care of the plant. These plants are rated at zones 7 through 10 (0-10f or -7 to-12c).The leaves can be damaged by cold dry snaps such as what we had last winter, the plants I see around here where not damaged at all.  A Strawberry tree is seen on the city crest of Madrid Spain.

Arbutus unedo foliage.

The foliage of Arbutus unedo is clean and attractive.

There are several attractive forms which can be found in nurseries; ‘Elfin King’ is often sold as ‘Compacta’ and has white flowers and ‘Rubra’ is pink blooming.

More on Arbutus unedo:

Surprisingly I find Wiki a good source of information relating to plants: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strawberry_Tree

Great Plant Picks for the Northwest: http://www.greatplantpicks.org/display?id=2246

Paghat agrees with me: http://www.paghat.com/strawberrytree.html

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When I was little my mother would talk about how beautiful certain trees and shrubs looked in the snow.  She would speak of how beautiful the Birch looked with their stark black twiggy branches would show up so well against the white background. She also talked about the golden Willow branches which poked through the snow banks. Probably the most showy shrub which grew at the bottom of the lane near our house was the Red Twig Dogwood with it’s wine colored stems. Cornus (sericea)stolonifera is one of 3 similar species grow here and through the northern areas right around the globe.

Red Osier Dogwood growing along roadsides is a common sight here.

There are several species of Red Twig Dogwoods which are so similar that you can’t really tell them apart at a glance. They all grow in shrub form, have almost identical flowers and reddish colored stems. Cornus stolonifera(sericea) which is the most vigorous grower extends from Alaska south to northern California and across North America through to Virginia. it has creamy berries with a bluish tinge.  In Europe Cornus sanguinea is found which has black berries. Moving farther east we come to the final type; Cornus alba which is found from Siberia through Manchuria into to Korea and also has the creamy berries.

Cornus stolonifera 'Flavirimea'

Cornus stolonifera 'Flavirimea' is one of the brightest bark forms of shrubby Dogwoods.

These three Red Twig Dogwood have some of the most attractive barks in the plant world. Many colors ranging from golden through peach and scarlet and then into maroons to almost black are represented in forms which can be found in nurseries. the deeply veined leaves have smooth edges and can be variegated in shades of cream, gold and even flashes of peach. Fall brings another show of color ranging from deep maroons through to peach and gold.

Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'

The fall and winter color of Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' in all it's glory.

All three species  of Red Twig Dogwood have flat cymes made up of tiny cream colored flowers, this flower structure is also seen in other Cornus species. In the right location the flowers will turn into bountiful crops of attractive berries which the birds like to eat later in the winter.

The many tiny Cornus stolonifera flowers have a slightly soapy scent.

The berries that follow the bloom can be copious and attractive. Birds like to eat them, but we would find them too bitter. Cornus alba has black berries which I have never seen. Here the local cornus stolonifera produces good crops year after year. The seeds of these plants are amazingly hardy. Tests have been done on them taking them to -320 f  in a lab, and then these same seeds have been germinated!

The attractive berries of Cornus stolonifera each contain a large flat seed.

Red Twig Dogwood are easy to grow and adaptable to many conditions. they need require a site in full sun with plenty of water. They like rich soil but are tolerant of poorer soils. Often these plants grow in wet area and can be found along lake sides and in ditches.  To produce the best stem color it is necessary to prune every 2 to 3 years and remove the older stems. Although these plants can grow to heights of 12ft(3m) and width of similar proportions you rarely see this unless it is in a wilder area. Normally these plants are easily controlled by pruning to 3 or 4ft (1-1.5m) heights.

Cornus stolonifera 'Arctic Fire'

Cornus stolonifera 'Arctic Fire' has some of the best red stem color.

As mentioned these are extremely hardy plant which grow in zones 3(-40c or f) through 8(-1c or 10 f). Because of there hardieness this is a good shrub to use in colder areas where choice is limited. It can be used in many ways such as mass planting, formal or informal hedges, foundation planting or as an accent. Various color forms make an excellent winter color feature when this plant will really stand out. Cut branches make a beautiful addition by giving bright color and height to bouquets and winter arrangements. The red branches are great for festive decoration.

To learn more about colorful Red Twig Dogwoods:

Great website with beautiful pictures: http://www.gardenseeker.com/cornus_pruning.htm

Another good read about Red Twig Dogwood: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1060/

Until we meet again….

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