Chinkapin oak

Here are a few of my favorite trees

Lexington is home to an astonishing number of very large, very old trees. Many of these trees were here before the city was settled and represent the original vegetation of the Bluegrass. As the city grew, the native woodland pastures were cleared for development, but the finest trees were often kept in yards, parks and […]

Oak leaf

Leaves Are Wearing Out

Have a look at the leaves of trees around you. Chances are pretty good that they don’t look healthy. Fading leaves with holes and other insect signs, mold and other fungi and a generally bedraggled look are normal at this time of year.  What is wrong with the tree? Probably nothing. Leaves look bad at […]

Photo by Flickr user Torbakhopper

Trees in the Eclipse

The total eclipse of August 21 is rightfully attracting huge attention. Towns along the totality band will be flooded with people anxious to experience this rare event. Most of us, wearing our eclipse-safe glasses, will be looking upward to watch the complex but short-lived changes in the sun as the moon passes over.  But you […]

Lexington’s amazing trees

I have lived in and near Lexington for about 35 years. As a careful observer of trees, I have always been amazed at the number of very large trees. This became the subject of my first book, Venerable Trees – History, Biology and Conservation in the Bluegrass.  Since 2005, we have been working with landowners […]

The Sensory World of Trees

Spring is the time when trees compel our attention. With buds opening, leaves growing, flowers emerging, trees seem to call out to us, even if we ignored them all winter. Trees have also been very much in the news in the last few years for three main reasons: 1) the continued loss of forests in […]

Photo by Katherine Williams Shaw

Blue Ash and the Emerald Ash Borer

Until recently, we have been telling you that blue ash, Fraxinus quadrangulata, appears to be resistant to emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis. This is important because blue ash is the most abundant ancient tree in our woodland pastures. The emerald ash borer is devastating our white and green ash trees. See our previous story about […]

Chinkapin oak

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters Griffith Woods Wildlife Management Area is a magical place of huge, ancient trees. Some of our favorites are the chinkapin oaks that we call the Three Sisters. Katherine Shaw took this nice picture of the Three Sisters. These are very large, very old trees. However, unlike the kingnut trees that surround them, these […]

Black Vultures in Trees

Vultures are a daily site throughout the Bluegrass. The majority are turkey vultures, but in recent years there has been a gradual increase in the population of black vultures, Coragyps atratus. This is significant because, while turkey vultures are strictly scavengers, black vultures are both scavengers and predators. Although tales of them attacking grown livestock […]

Bur oak

Flying Over the Bur Oak

Today, the Venerable Trees staff worked with Beard House Media to get our first drone inspection of a huge bur oak.  It is very difficult to estimate the volume of a big tree, or to inspect it for potential problems.  Aerial or satellite photos often lack detail.  Today, our friend Jeremiah Oschwald from Beard House […]

Aerial photo

Losing woodland pastures

The Lexington Herald-Leader published this aerial photograph of the future Fayette Mall in 1967. The photo clearly shows and extensive woodland pasture, with a mix of large, old trees and smaller hedgerow trees. Today, only a single tree, the Tiverton Oak, remains of this woodland pasture. Fayette County has lost a tremendous number of trees […]

Ancient Trees at the Urban Boundary

  The margin between urban and rural areas is an area of constant change. In most cities, development rapidly gobbles up rural land, including its forests. In Lexington, Kentucky, strict land use regulations have slowed this trend.  It is at the edge of the city that we can most closely watch and learn from the […]

Persimmon fruit

Gender identity and the mystery of the persimmon fruit

What does gender mean? We know that human gender is a broad and fluid landscape within which people choose to identify themselves. This is increasingly recognized as a healthy and welcoming way to think about who we are. Gender fluidity is true in many animal species, perhaps the majority.  But what about plants? The photograph above […]

Rethinking Urban Forestry in Lexington

The urban forest of Lexington includes a remarkably large number of very large, very old trees, may of them predating the existence of the cities. These trees are now in trouble. Many of them are unhealthy because of neglect, poor management decisions, and old age. We need to change the way we view and manage these […]

Field Course – Ancient Trees of Fayette County

Fayette County, Saturday October 1, 9am-12pm.  This course will focus on urban remnants of the original woodland pastures of the Bluegrass. We will begin at Veteran’s Park, a fascinating mix of very old woodland pasture trees and woodlands that have since become established.  Our walk will include the famous Veteran’s Oak, and we will examine the […]

Gosnold on Cuttyhunk

America’s First Export

In 1602, Captain Bartholemew Gosnold set sail from Falmouth, England on the barque Concord, making land on the Maine coast and searching southward along the coast to the island of Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts. A year later, Captain Martin Pring set out on a similar voyage aboard the pinnace Speedwell, sailing down the Maine and Massachusetts coast to Martha’s Vineyard.   […]

A Pine for Independence Day

The Appeal to Heaven flag of 1770 As we celebrate Independence Day and the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 we should pay homage to the magnificent tree that was an importance cause of our conflict with Britain – eastern white pine, Pinus strobus. In 1605, a British ship captained by George Waymouth* sailed […]

Tree with Treegator bag

Water your young trees!

We are having a spell of beautiful weather – not too hot and with low humidity.  This weather may be fine for people, but it can be stressful to trees.  Trees lose more water from their leaves when humidity is low. I If the soil is dry, the trees may soon wilt or die back. […]

Dying street trees

A declining urban forest

It is that time of year when our urban forest seems to be lush, vibrant, and green.  Trees have finished leafing out, many have flowered and, with recent heavy rains, many are growing well.  To the casual observer, the urban forest looks like it is thriving.  People are planting trees all over town and nurseries are […]

The second flush of growth

We think of summer as the “growing season” and we are used to our garden plants growing all summer. For most trees, though, growth takes place mostly in the early spring. Most trees in temperate regions produce a single flush of growth – the bud opens, leaves that were formed the previous year expand to […]

Lightning struck tree

Death of an Oak

This beautiful old oak tree was struck by lightning last September. Within 2 days, it had completely wilted and showed no signs of life. Sudden death due to lightning is uncommon in trees, especially after the end of the growing season. Several experts recommended leaving the tree until spring to see if it showed any […]

The green terror emerges

The emerald ash borer, a shiny green beetle, is emerging from ash trees all over the eastern US and Canada.  The beautiful little beetle, part of a group called “metallic wood boring beetle” was introduced in packing material from China around 1990.  Carried throughout the region by people moving firewood, the beetle threatens to eliminate white, […]

Holly leaf

A Question of Timing

Leaf exchange in holly We know that trees usually lose their leaves in autumn, which is why we sometimes call the season fall. A few trees do things differently, though. One of those is American holly, Ilex opaca. Holly is a tree that we usually call evergreen because it stays green year-round. But if you […]

Norway Spruce

How old is Old Tjikko?

Old Tjikko is one of the internet’s favorite trees. A Norway spruce growing near the treeline in Sweden, it is said to be the oldest tree in the world at 9,558 years. Over 26,000 web pages tell us about Old Tjikko, including the usually reliable National Geographic. As is common for such stories on the internet, […]

Field Course – Airdrie Stud

Venerable Trees, Inc. offers frequent Field Courses to introduce people to the amazing woodland pasture ecosystem of the Bluegrass and Nashville Basin.  Recently, we were able to visit the amazing Airdrie Stud Farm at the gracious invitation of Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, the Owner. Airdrie Stud is one of the premier horse farms in the Bluegrass. […]

flowering dogwood inflorescence

When is a flower not a flower?

Many trees are full of showy flowers at this time of year. A close look at these flowers can be quite rewarding. Flowering dogwood is one of our most popular flowering trees, but those beautiful white blossoms hide a secret. Take a close look at a dogwood tree and you will see that the showy […]