Arborheroes

Tree Watchers Chuck Young, Chad Altemose, and Jim Abbot were at work pruning oak trees in our parks on Saturday, November 20. Next time you’re walking by or through Delta Park, Triangle Park, or Springvale Park, you may have the feeling that they seem more . . . capacious. That’s because we raised the green “ceiling” by removing or sometimes shortening lower branches on several oaks.

Chuck Young
Chad Altemose

What is a tree?

Trees are a way of thinking.

Charles Darwin’s sketch of a tree of life

Trees are survivors.

camphor tree in Hiroshima, Japan (credit: Katy McCormick)

Trees are giants.

giant sequoia, Sequoia National Park, CA (photo credit: Michael Nichols/National Geographic)

Trees are ancient.

4,853-year-old bristlecone pine, Inyo County, CA (photo credit: Mike Ver Sprill)

Trees are records.

Photo credit: Peter M. Brown, Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research

Trees are wild, even in the city.

View from my back yard toward our house which faces Waverly Way

About Tipping

No, not that kind of tipping.

I’m talking about snipping off the ends of tree branches to shorten them.

In the drawing, the blue line indicates roughly where someone snipped off the ends of branches a, b, c, and d. You can see how the tree responded: a spray of profuse new growth (“shoots” or “water sprouts”) from near the ends of the tipped branches.

Why?

At the tip of a tree branch there is a so-called terminal or apical bud. This specialized bud regulates growth of the entire branch. (After all, the tree needs to grow up and out to reach that all-important sunlight!)

A hormone is involved, called auxin. Think of auxin as being like a sleep potion. All those many other buds lying under the bark along each branch? Auxin keeps those buds dormant.

But if I snip off the terminal bud, some of those dormant buds along the branch “wake up.” They send out shoots which will become twigs which will become new branches.

Tipping a branch to clear a sidewalk or street is usually counterproductive. Within a year or two, the problem will be twice or three times as bad. Look how many sprouts were growing on this tipped Bradford pear. (Located on Austin Avenue at its intersection with Euclid. Thanks to Meghan for identifying this hazard to pedestrians.)

Instead, always cut a branch just beyond a node. A node is simply where a leaf, twig, or secondary branch attaches to a larger part of the tree.

Put differently, your goal is always to leave a bud which can become the new terminal or apical bud of that branch, controlling that essential hormone auxin, so that the tree can grow up and out.

Repair work:

Happy Beech

Sometimes a tree needs a little help from friends.

On Saturday, October 16, eight friends of the beech tree pictured here gathered to liberate it from invasive English ivy, cherry laurel, and Japanese chaff flower.

Thanks go to Lee, Suzie, Steve, Marge, Chad, Andrew, Sandy, and Jim.

The next Whack, Snack, and Yak workday is Saturday, November 20. Meet on the porch at 946 Waverly Way at 9:00 a.m. No experience necessary, all ages welcome.

Total Cost: $0.00

The Front Yard Tree Program + three Inman Park volunteers = one very happy homeowner.

Boon Boonyapat is the owner of a new maple tree, courtesy of a program funded by the City of Atlanta and administered by Trees Atlanta.

Boon selected a maple from a list of species posted on Trees Atlanta’s website:

Trees Atlanta delivered the tree, and then Inman Park volunteers Steve Hays (right), Jim Abbot (left), and Jaime Kirsche (behind the camera) planted it, all free of charge to Boon.

Want a free tree for your front yard? It’s easy. You can comment on this post, or use the contact page on this website, or if you prefer, use the request form at Trees Atlanta.

Robbed!

This, I believe, is a carpenter bee (Xylocopa spp.), and I caught it collecting nectar from some salvia I have growing in my front yard (Salvia guaranitica ‘Black & Blue’). It appears to be doing exactly what I find described by Steve Buchman of The Bee Works:

From time to time carpenter bees are quite ingenious in their foraging for nectar. On flowers such as salvias, penstemons, and other long, tubular flowers the carpenter bee, due to its large size, is unable to enter the flower opening. Instead they become nectar robbers. Using their mouthparts they cut a slit at the base of corolla and steal away with the nectar without having pollinated the flower.

Linden

I was walking through Freedom Park during this rainy September, and these leaves caught my eye. Aren’t they lovely?

The shape is “cordate,” related to such words as cardiac, concord, discord, accord, and cordial. In other words, these leaves are heart-shaped.

These are the leaves of a linden tree, and more exactly, of an American linden. The scientific name is Tilia americana. (There are some 45 species of lindens around the world. Inman Park has a second, European species, Tilia cordata or littleleaf linden, in front of 100 Waverly Way.)

It’s also called basswood, where the prefix bass- refers not to music or fish but to “bast.” Bast is the inner, fibrous bark of linden trees, which Native Americans made into twine. (At some point lind- became “lime” in British English, so if you read about “lime” trees lining some road in Europe, don’t be thinking about citrus trees.)

I love American linden. Here’s a large one in Freedom Park:

It’s native to our region. It grows fast. It can reach 100 feet or more. It can live for well over a century. It is easy to transplant. And it flowers!

Photo credit: Donald Cameron

No surprise that American linden is also called bee tree.

Photo credit: Wayne Hinshaw

I also love this bit of knowledge from Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Arboretum America: A Philosophy of the Forest:

“The design of each flower is such that the nectar produced on the inside of the sepal cannot be lost by rain or dew. This is because these flowers hang upside down and act like little umbrellas. The nectar, too, hangs in solution upside down. But the sepal produces a few fine hairs that, together with the physics of surface tension, are just enough force to hold the liquid in place without splashing down onto the grass underneath the tree.”

We’ve been planting more of these American lindens in Inman Park. Good for the pollinators, good for the neighborhood! Here’s one in the yard of Bill and Ann Moore: