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 […]

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 […]

New leaves on a defoliated bur oak

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about a magnificent, ancient bur oak that was suddenly defoliated overnight.  We said that it would recover quickly and that we would update you. With 10 days of mild weather, the tree has leafed out very quickly.  Most trees maintain large reserves of starch and protein in […]

Showy flowers

Flowers, Pollen and Allergies

Is that tree causing your allergies?  That pretty tree with the white flowers?  That pine tree covering your car in green film?  Nope. It’s the trees you don’t see that are getting you. This is the height of allergy season. You can feel it in your sinuses and see it on your car windows. Huge […]

In Praise of Black Locust

All over Kentucky, there is an explosion of the amazing white flowers of black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia. This is a tree that is both loved and hated. While it is in flower, I thought we’d take a few moments to talk about the virtues and sins of black locust.   Here are the things we […]

sugar maple flowers

More tree sex – sugar maple

Have you seen the sugar maples in flower?  In Kentucky, they are flowering right now, but you need to look closely to see them. The flowers are not very show, their pale green blending with the green riot that is spring.  These interesting flowers will reward the careful observer.  Sex in maples is complicated. Even […]

Sycamore fruit in spring

Sycamore in Spring

American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) flowers in late spring and creates the well-known sycamore ball that kids are fond of throwing at each other (not quite as painful as sweetgum balls). The fruit is unusual because it stays on the tree all winter as a hard, dormant ball. The following spring, the ball begins to expand […]

Freshly cut grass

The smell of spring

On my walk yesterday, the world was filled with the smell of spring.  The smell of flowers and  barbecuing meat will be along soon enough, but early spring is dominated by the earthy fragrance after rain and the wonderful, evocative odor of new-mown grass.  Lawnmowers were whining away last weekend mixing the smells of new mown grass and […]

Fringetree in Flower

Fringetree is one of the most elegant small trees in our flora. Here is a slideshow about fringetree at The Lives of Trees.

Picture of serviceberry flowers

Time for Services

Serviceberry trees are blooming all over the Appalachians. Although other trees like birch and alder may flower earlier, the first showy flowers are serviceberries, coming a couple of weeks before the dogwood. The slopes of all the forested hollows in eastern Kentucky are dotted with these elegant, slender trees. In the old days, before good […]

Flowering schedules in alpine flowers are changing

A 39-year record of wildflower blooming in the Rocky Mountains  shows that climate change has altered the timing of blooming for most species in an alpine meadow.  (Link is to University of Maryland press release. Original paper published in PNAS). The blooming season now runs from late April to late September instead of late May to […]