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[ Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa) | Posted on November 23, 2017 ]

Native to much of Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. It has escaped cultivation in eastern North America in some areas and has spread along watercourses and ponds, as I have seen them in northeast Illinois, southeast Pennsylvania, and Delaware. It is sold by some larger diverse nurseries and makes a good-looking, adaptable landscape tree. Fast growing of about 2 to 2.5 feet/year.

[ Seaside Alder (Alnus maritima) | Posted on November 23, 2017 ]

A large shrub native to the eastern shore of Maryland and Delaware, to an area in northwest Georgia, and to two spots in Oklahoma. It once probably had a native area covering more than all those areas together.

[ Speckled Alder (Alnus rugosa) | Posted on November 23, 2017 ]

The Speckled Alder is native to much of Canada, New England, New York, northern and western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, northern Ohio, much of Michigan, Wisconsin, and north and east Minnesota in swamps, bottomlands, lake margins, and along water courses. It is fast growing of about 2 to 3 feet/year and lives around 40 years. It is recognized by having white lenticels on the stems and the leaves have big doubly serrate teeth. It is sold by some native plant nurseries for naturalistic landscaping in wet soils. I think it makes a nice birch-like shrub that is smooth and clean.

[ Smooth Alder (Alnus serrulata) | Posted on November 23, 2017 ]

The Smooth Alder is an abundant shrub in southeast Pennsylvania in wet soil near ponds and watercourses. It is native from Maine to northern Florida and then to east Texas and up to southern Illinois along the Mississippi . It can range from 6 feet to 30 feet high, but usually is about 10 to 20 feet high. It is very similar to the Speckled Alder, but the leaves are widest just above the middle of the leaf, the leaf margins have small, fine teeth that are regular in formation, and it does not have the white or orange wart-like lenticels on the stems. It is fast growing of about 2 to 3 feet/year and lives about 40 years. It likes moist to draining wet soil that is about pH 6 to 7. I did see the Delaware Native Plant Society selling some of this species in pots and other native plant nurseries do offer this; not in conventional nurseries. I think it is a nice native shrub that is sort of birch-like, smooth, and clean. it is listed as being high in wildlife value by Gary Highshoe in his book of "Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines."

[ Japanese Larch (Larix kaempferi) | Posted on November 22, 2017 ]

Japanese Larch is a beautiful conifer tree. Its foliage is bluish-green, with needles about 1 to 1.5 inches long and a little wider than the European's, and whorled on spurs with 40 or more needles on each spur. The 1 to 1.5 inch long cones have reflexed edges; that is, the scale edges roll back. The bark is supposed to be more interesting than the European's. A few large, diverse nurseries offer this species. I've only seen it twice, once in Illinois and once in Pennsylvania.

[ European Larch (Larix decidua) | Posted on November 22, 2017 ]

The European Larch is occasionally planted in the landscapes of the Midwest, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic of the US in parks, on estates, and in wealthy neighborhoods, and is offered at larger, diverse nurseries. It is a good, reliable tree that is more adapted to landscapes than the American species, but the latter makes a fine tree too and is native to the region. (Native species tend to be more useful to native birds, insects, and wildlife.) It is fast growing of about 2 feet/year and lives over 150 years. The European species has curved needles about 1/2 to 1.5 inches long and about 30 to 40 whorled on each spur. It has a lot of small cones about 1 to 1.5 inches long.

[ American Larch (Larix laricina) | Posted on November 22, 2017 ]

The Eastern or American Larch or Tamarack has a large native range from Newfoundland to northern Pennsylvania to some spots in northern Ohio & Indiana, and northeast Illinois through most of Wisconsin and much of Minnesota up into the Yukon and central Alaska. It grows mostly in bottomlands, bogs, swamps, and along watercourses, but it can also grow uphill in dry soil from a shallow bedrock. It grows about 1.5 to 2 feet/year and lives about 150 to 180 years. Its flat to slightly 3-angled, slightly curved needles are 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches long and are arranged in whorls on spurs of 12 to 30 needles. The cones are tiny, about 1/2 to 1" long with 15 to 20 scales. It is deciduous and the needles turn a lovely golden color before falling in autumn. It can be grown in a regular landscape and do well, including silty-clay loam soil that is slightly alkaline as typical around Chicago, IL. (It is the European Larch that is occasionally planted in Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic landscapes of parks, estates, or well-to-do neighborhoods, and sometimes the Japanese.) The American Larch is offered by some native plant and specialty nurseries.

[ American Larch (Larix laricina) | Posted on November 22, 2017 ]

The Eastern or American Larch or Tamarack has a large native range from Newfoundland to northern Pennsylvania to some spots in northern Ohio & Indiana, and northeast Illinois through most of Wisconsin and much of Minnesota up into the Yukon and central Alaska. It grows mostly in bottomlands, bogs, swamps, and along watercourses, but it can also grow uphill in dry soil from a shallow bedrock. It grows about 1.5 to 2 feet/year and lives about 150 to 180 years. Its flat to slightly 3-angled, slightly curved needles are 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches long and are arranged in whorls on spurs of 12 to 30 needles. The cones are tiny, about 1/2 to 1" long with 15 to 20 scales. It is deciduous and the needles turn a lovely golden color before falling in autumn. It can be grown in a regular landscape and do well, including silty-clay loam soil that is slightly alkaline as typical around Chicago, IL. (It is the European Larch that is occasionally planted in Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic landscapes of parks, estates, or well-to-do neighborhoods, and sometimes the Japanese.)

[ River Birch (Betula nigra Fox Valley®) | Posted on November 22, 2017 ]

'Fox Valley' is also known as 'Little King' because it was first discovered and introduced into the trade in the 1970's by Jim King who owned King Nursery in Montgomery, Illinois. That nursery was large and grew a huge variety of different woody plant species and cultivars and it has moved farther west in northeast IL. It is available at some larger nurseries. It is a compact selection that only grows about 15 to 20 feet high and dense, bushy in form. It can be easily pruned up to expose the pretty trunks.

[ River Birch (Betula nigra Dura-Heat®) | Posted on November 22, 2017 ]

I've only seen a few trees at the NHC Arboretum in Wilmington, North Carolina, in the southeast part of the state that is close to the Atlantic Ocean and can grow Cabbage Palmettos there in Zone 8a. It was discovered by Moon Nursery in Loganville, Georgia. It looks as though it bark is whiter than that of 'Heritage.'

[ River Birch (Betula nigra Heritage®) | Posted on November 22, 2017 ]

I once met the discoverer of the 'Heritage' Birch when he was substitute teaching for Dr. Michael Dirr one day in woody plant class at the University of IL. His name was Earl Cully and he found it in southwest Illinois in a homeowner's yard. He was granted permission to take buds of the tree for propagation. This new cultivar was first called 'Cully' after him. 'Heritage' is the more commercial trade name. It is just like the mother species, except that it keeps the young kind of bark with lots of cream color and some orange-brown with pinkish tints. It is probably sold more in the North than the mother species at nurseries because the bark is so outstanding. Like other birch, it is flexible and resistant to strong winds, but it does drop lots of twigs much of the year.

[ River Birch (Betula nigra) | Posted on November 22, 2017 ]

The River or Red Birch is very commonly planted in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast of the US, available at most any nursery. I have seen them wild in swampy places and bottomlands of Maryland and southern Illinois and along creeks in southern Wisconsin. Its native range is from Massachusetts down to northern Florida to east Texas up to southern Minnesota. It is fast growing of about 2 feet/year and lives about 100 to 125 years. It likes draining wet to moist soil, though it can tolerate some good drought, and it needs the soil to be at least a little bit acid. My southeast PA neighborhood has some happy River Birches in pH of about 6.7 to 6.9 as do some northern Illinois neighborhoods. However, I have seen some develop yellow foliage and die out from iron chlorosis because the pH was somewhere above pH 7.0. Overall, it is a good quality, pretty tree, but it does drop lots of twigs in late summer, fall, winter, and early spring, and it does drop a lot of seed in late spring to early summer. Young bark is papery and exfoliating with color of cream, orange-brown and pinkish; then lots of gray and brown scaly bark takes over as the major bark; and then when real old bark becomes blocky red-brown to very dark. Because it tolerates summer heat well, it is not bothered by the Bronze Birch Borer, unless very old. There are a few cultivars that keep the young creamy bark for a very long time as 'Heritage' and 'Dura Heat.'

[ Yellow Buckeye (Aesculus flava) | Posted on November 22, 2017 ]

I've seen a few of this good tree species planted at arboretums in southeast Pennsylvania. Its native range in in the Appalachian Region of southwest Pennsylvania to northern Georgia and along the Ohio River to southcentral Indiana. It is hardly different from the more common Ohio Buckeye. It also has its compound leaves with 5 leaflets that turn orange in autumn. The erect terminal flower clusters are also yellow. The husk of the fruit capsule is different in that it is smooth, while the Ohio species has little bumps and spines on it. The Yellow species also likes moist or draining wet soil that is somewhat acid to slightly alkaline. It grows about 1 foot/year and lives about 150 to 250 years. It tolerates a little more shade than the Ohio species. It also can be hit hard some years with cool, wet springs by Leaf Blotch fungus disease, so many leaves darken and fall early in late summer.

[ Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra) | Posted on November 21, 2017 ]

I've seen this species planted in a few landscapes here and there in northeast Illinois and a few in arboretums in southeast Pennsylvania. It is native to western Pennsylvania, Ohio, most of IL & IN, Kentucky, Missouri, southern Iowa, east Kansas-Oklahoma-Texas, west Arkansas, and central Tennessee. It is slow growing of about 1 foot/year and lives about 150 to 200 years. Its leaves are of 5 leaflets and it gets a good orange fall color if the foliage is not struck by Leaf Blotch fungus heavily that happens some years of cool, wet springs, so the leaves blacken and fall in late summer. It is messy with the fallen capsules with the buckeye brown nut inside, loved by squirrels. It often makes a great climbing tree for kids. It is offered by some large, diverse nurseries, specialty nurseries, and native plant nurseries.

[ American Red Pine (Pinus resinosa) | Posted on November 21, 2017 ]

I adore Pine trees! This is my favorite species that I saw so much in the north woods of Minnesota. It is native to Nova Scotia and southeast Canada, New England, New York, northern Pennsylvania, northern Michigan, most of Wisconsin, northern Minnesota, with some scattered little spots in northern IL, IN, and OH. It grows about 1.5 feet/year and lives about 350 years. Its bright green, long needles get about 6 inches long, are slender, and soft to touch in clusters of 2. Its mature scaly bark is mostly gray with pinkish-orange areas. It bears small 1 to 2.5 inch long cones that do not have prickles on the scales. It is very abundant in the wild and planted up in Wisconsin and Minnesota a lot. It is occasionally planted in the Chicago, IL region, but not a lot in that it does not grow well in heavier clay soils or ones where the reaction is not acid enough or alkaline. (The similar-looking Austrian Black Pine with dark green, broad, and very stiff, prickly needles is grown there instead because it does well in heavier , alkaline soils.) There are some Red Pines planted in southeast Pennsylvania; some doing well and others died out during powerful drought. A most lovely conifer!

[ Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata) | Posted on November 20, 2017 ]

Native broadleaf evergreen to eastern Canada, New England, New York, New Jersey, northern Pennsylvania, northeast Ohio, Michigan, northern Indiana, northeast Illinois, Wisconsin, and eastern Minnesota; and over in northern Eurasia. It grows in bogs, swamps, and wet shores in draining wet, acid soil. It is a sensitive plant and can die out in landscapes and it is supposed to be short-lived. I bought one from a native nursery near Phoenixville, PA in a 1 gallon pot. I kept it in a big pot for two years where I made the potting soil more acid with iron sulfate. I left the pot out in winter in a sheltered place, but it still died.

[ American yew (Taxus canadensis) | Posted on November 20, 2017 ]

The Canadian or American Yew has not been used in gardens or landscapes because it grows more irregular in form. It is only available from some native or specialty nurseries. I think it is great in a naturalistic landscape, not for shearing. It is the cold hardiest Yew species. It is native to Newfoundland and southeast Canada, New England, New York, Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, much of Ohio, Michigan, Northwest Illinois, west central Indiana, Wisconsin, northern Minnesota, and some spots in the Appalachians of West Virginia and Virginia. It is slow growing of a little less than 1 foot/year and lives hundreds of years. There are several cultivars; one is 'Compacta' that is more dense, but I have not yet seen them. It is subject to winter feeding by deer like Eurasian Yews.

[ Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) | Posted on November 20, 2017 ]

The Atlantic Whitecedar (Falsecypress) is a wonderful conifer native along the Atlantic Coast from Maine down to northern Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico Coast to Louisiana. The foliage is made of small bluish-green scales. The tiny cones are made of 4 to 5 woody scales and are about 1/4 to 0.3 inches in diameter. It usually gets about 40 to 50 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide, but can get to about 80 feet high by 40 feet wide. It grows about 1.5 to 2 feet/year and lives a several hundred years. In nature it is found growing in draining wet soils of bogs, swamps, and along watercourses because it can't compete with other trees in higher ground. It does do fine in regular landscapes. It is not common in horticulture at all so far, but some native plant nurseries and specialty nurseries sell some. Redbud Native Nursery in southeast PA was selling several in 10 gallon containers last spring. Dr. Michael Dirr in his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants has a list of about 40 cultivars, though I have never seen any. (The large Falsecypress that is occasionally seen planted in landscapes in the Northeast and Midwest is the Sawara Falsecypress from Japan that has cones with 6 to 8 scales.)

[ Black spruce (Picea mariana) | Posted on November 19, 2017 ]

This species is mostly found in much of Alaska and most of Canada where it is a major species in bogs, lowlands, swamps, and along watercourses, then also in northern New England, areas in New York, spots in Pennsylvania, northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Its short, bluish-green needles are 0,3 to 0.5 inches long and it has tiny rounded cones about 1/2 to 1 inch long. They often hang on the branches for many years. Mature trees grow into a narrow, upright, pyramidal form. Slow growing of about 2/3 feet/year and lives about 200 years. It needs draining wet or moist, acid soils. There are some cultivars that are of compact or very dwarf forms listed in landscape plant books. I don't know of any nurseries growing this species. Perhaps a few native plant nurseries in the north woods regions or forestry nurseries.

[ Eastern Spruce (Picea rubens) | Posted on November 19, 2017 ]

Red Spruce is native to Nova Scotia and that region of Canada, New England, New York, central Pennsylvania then down the Appalachians through North Carolina. it often grows along watercourses and in bogs, and also grows way uphill and in the mountain heights. Its needles are 0.5 to 0.7 inches long. its cones are round and 1.3 to 2 inches long and fall soon after maturity. The cones are soft with thin scales with rounded margins. The bark is dark gray to brown. It is very similar to the much more widespread Black Spruce, but it grows wider and its cones are about 2 to 3 times as big. Slow growing of about 2/3 feet/year and lives over 200 years. I think it is the prettiest spruce that I have ever seen. Morton Arboretum in northeast Illinois has three specimens about 15 to 20 feet high doing alright in silty-clay soil of about 6.5 pH, but they are not thriving. It can be grown in landscapes, as I saw several (from wild origin) in the yard of a motel near White Haven, PA, but I don't know of nurseries growing this species. There are several cultivars listed in landscape plant manuals.

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