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 […]


How to make beer in 1779

Imagine that you are a settler in the Bluegrass in 1779, the year Lexington was established.  There is no shortage of game, and wild plants. But what do you do if you want a good beer? West Sixth Brewing was not open yet, so what was the thirsty settler to do?  You could make your […]

Bur oak leaves

A Deep Green Autumn

A deep green autumn is rare in Kentucky. By this time of year, our trees usually look forlorn and bedraggled. Dry summers, high temperatures, insects and diseases all take their toll.  Not in 2015, though. Our frequent rainfall and cool temperatures have allowed many trees to maintain lush green leaves and to continue growing. Some […]

Going out in flame

Winged sumac, Rhus copallinum, has to be one of our most beautiful small trees.  Also known as shining sumac and flameleaf sumac,  winged sumac is a modest plant most of the year, often in the understory of dry woods or on the edges of forests. In the autumn, winged sumac goes out in a blaze […]

Leaves in a Warm Autumn

In a warm autumn, as we are having in 2016, leaf color change is slowed down. Instead of a quick display of color, we often see slow development of color, muted colors, and mottled colors within a single leaf. We had the same conditions in 2014. Trees use photoperiod, or day length, to determine when […]

Sassafras albidum in autumn

What is your favorite autumn tree?

What is your favorite autumn tree? Mine changes on a daily basis, but my current favorite has to be sassafras, Sassafras albidum. I like trees like sassafras and sweetgum that display many colors in a single tree. Sassafras is a great urban tree in fairly large spaces such as parks. It reproduces from root sprouts, […]

Picture of sugar maple leaves in fall colors

Don’t make candy trees

Autumn provides a huge opportunity for the photographer, whether amateur or professional.  The skies vary from shades of grey to brilliant blue, damp weather often makes color more vivid, and the incredible colors of autumn leaves are irresistible.  I will discuss fall colors from a tree’s point of view in a later post.  First I […]

The best year to be a tree, Part 1

Now that the Autumnal Equinox has arrived, it is a good time to look back on this year in the Lives of Trees.   For Eastern North America, this has been a great year to be a tree.  Temperatures were mild to moderate for most of the growing season, soil moisture was adequate to above […]