Spring is busting out all over. This week we have jumped from the cooler temperatures right into the warmth of summer like weather. It is almost like we didn’t even have a spring after that long winter. For plants, this means a huge jump in pushing out their spring flowers and leaves quickly, denying us the weeks of leisurely enjoying the blossoms as they slowly open, instead now they are rushing to develop as the heat is hitting. The plants are as rushed as we are. This week, two of my favorite spring bloomers, Shadblow and Cornell Pink Azalea, popped open and are already starting to fade after just a few days.

amelanchier flowers Pamm's photo

Amelanchier flowers Pamm Cooper photo

Amelanchier canandensis, aka Shadblow. Photo by Pamm Cooper

Amelanchier canandensis, aka Shadblow. Photo by Pamm Cooper

Amelanchier canadensis is commonly called Serviceberry or Shadblow is a wonderful small, native tree.Other names for the shrub or small tree are Juneberry, saskatoon, and sugarplum.  The tree grows to only 20 feet and appears airy with leaves on the smaller side of 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long and one inch wide.It looks good in all seasons with its grey, striped bark and multi-stemmed habit. In the wild, colonies form into a thicket when it is left to produce suckers from the bottom. Single plants can be pruned up into a tree form. Serviceberry is hardy to zone 3 growing from Maine south to the Carolinas. It can be found in swamps, water edges and bogs as it likes wet feet and moist soil. However I have seen it grow happily, even thriving in drier situations proving its adaptability. The white spring flowers are 2 to 3 inches long with obovate petals. The flowers come out before the leaves emerge. After flower petals drop, red fruit is produce during the summer. The fruit will turn black when ripe. The fruit is tasty and edible, but difficult to harvest before the birds strip the tree clean. The leaves are a common host for several caterpillars ensuring a population of butterflies nearby.

The common name Shadblow comes from the timing of the white flowers blowing on the wind at the same time the shad fish are spawning in the Connecticut River. This might just be local folklore, but I have heard it many times from shad fishermen. Several named varieties are in cultivation and marketed under the names and description as follows.

‘Glennform’ (Rainbow Pillar®) – Has an more upright, shrubby growth habit, good for hedging. 20 feet tall.

‘Prince William’– Shrub habit, 10 feet tall, with good, multi-colored fall leaves and good fruit set.

‘Sprizam’ (Spring Glory®) – A compact shrub, 12 feet tall, 8-10 feet wide with yellow-orange fall leaves.

‘Trazam’ (Tradition®) – More of a tree variety, growing 25 feet tall with a central leader and good fall color.

Cornell Pink Azalea, Rhododendron mucronulatum, Pamm Cooper photo

Cornell Pink Azalea, Rhododendron mucronulatum, Pamm Cooper photo

Cornell Pink Azalea is an early spring bloomer bursting out in clear pink blossoms before it puts out leaves. Usually covered with flowers from bottom of stems to their tops. Their are several varieties of Rhododendron mucronulatum but Cornell Pink is most commonly found in the trade. There is also a variety sold as  ‘Storrs Pink’ but appears to be the same as ‘Cornell Pink’. Both are very reliable, hardy plants, providing bright, spring color every year. The shrub is 4 to 8 feet tall and wide making a nice mound of flowers in the spring and green foliage in the summer. Fall leaves will be yellow to orange before the drop for the winter. Summer fruit is a small capsule, not normally noticed or significant.

Rhodendron mucronulatum is native to China, Korea and Japan. It is hardy to zone 4 and prefers full sun to light shade for best flower show. Provide good drainage, acidic soil and high organic matter to keep this shrub going strong. It looks beautiful in a mass planting in a large space backed up by evergreens.

Gingko Buds, Photo by Pamm Cooper

Gingko Buds, Photo by Pamm Cooper

Another favorite tree showing its beautiful flower buds is Gingko biloba. This is a male flower on a male tree. The flowers are produced on the shortened spurwood, which are compressed, never growing long. You can see the many years of growth rings just below the bud. Lichen is growing on the stem just below the spur containing the flower, adding a bit of interest to the photo by my co-worker, Pamm Cooper. Female trees have female flowers and produce a fruit which, when ripe, smells a lot like vomit. I suggest if you are purchasing a gingko tree, chose a male.

-Carol Quish

The native persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) grows throughout much of the eastern United States from southern Connecticut south through Florida and west as far as Kansas and Texas. This medium sized, sometimes shrubby tree can be a nice addition to the landscape and produces attractive edible fruit in the fall. While it will do best in Connecticut in the milder climate near the shore, it may thrive in a protected location further inland.   It’s not picky about the site; just about any type of soil will do, it tolerates shade (but will grow more slowly), and has minimal pruning, fertilizer or irrigation. It has few important pest and disease problems.

This is a slow-growing tree, reaching a mature height of 30 to 60 feet. It sometimes has a single trunk and sometimes stems are clumped.   The leaves are deciduous, alternate, simple and entire (non-toothed edges). The native persimmon (unlike the Oriental) is dioecious meaning there are female and male trees. Both are required for pollination and fruit production, but one male can provide a sufficient pollen source for up to 20 female trees. Pollination is by insects and wind and the flowers are used by some bees for honey production. Flowers are small and not showy and are produced from March to June depending on the location. It would lean toward June in Connecticut, the northern-most edge of its range. Berry type fruits ripen in the fall.

Persimmon fruit and leaves. J. Allen photo.

Persimmon fruit and leaves. J. Allen photo.

Persimmon fruit is about an inch in diameter. Ripe fruit is yellow to orange to red in color and may have a glaucous (white) bloom. Berries may contain zero to eight flat, brown seeds about a half inch long. Before ripening is complete, the fruit has a bitter astringent flavor. Once it’s soft it has a sweet flavor and can be used to eat fresh, dried or cooked into desserts or candy. It is sometimes fermented with hops, cornmeal, or wheat bran into a type of beer. Dried and roasted seeds have been used as a coffee substitute and the leaves have been used to make tea. The fruit is high in vitamin C. Many animals feed on persimmon fruit including song birds, skunk, raccoon, opossum, squirrels, deer, turkey, crows, rabbits, hogs and cattle. It can cause livestock to become sick. One downside of the native persimmon in the landscape is that deer will browse on it.

In traditional medicine, the inner bark and unripe fruit of the persimmon have been used to treat fever, diarrhea, and hemorrhage. Fruit extract has been used to make an indelible ink. The seeds were sometimes used as buttons during the 1800s. The wood is very hard and strong and is good for turning. The heartwood is very dark and resembles ebony but one reference states that a persimmon tree must be 100 or more years old before there is enough dark heartwood to produce a useable yield.

Our native persimmon has been introduced into Europe as an ornamental because of its hardiness, adaptability, attractive leaves and abundant fruit. It is difficult to transplant once it’s a few years old because it forms a deep taproot. In some areas of the U.S., this tree is considered a woody weed when it becomes dominant in pasturelands. For landscape use, a number of cultivars have been developed from the wild type including ‘Early Golden’, ‘John Rick’, ‘Miller’ and others. Additional common names used for native persimmon include simmon, possumwood and sugar-plum.

J. Allen

Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) is native to most of the eastern United States and much of Ontario and Quebec, Canada.  It is found in a variety of sites, most often on upland sites in the north in association with oaks and other hardwoods.  Young seedlings and saplings can survive in the shady understory for many years until the older trees die, exposing them to sunlight; then they grow more rapidly.  Hickories don’t generally dominate a site; they are usually in mixtures.  

 The common name of shagbark hickory comes from the distinctive peeling bark on mature trees that gives it a shaggy appearance.  Other common names include shellbark, scalybark, and upland hickory. The bark of young trees is smooth and gray.  ‘Hickory’ comes from the Algonquian Indian word for the tree’s nutmeat, ‘pawcohiccora’.  The nuts are edible and sweet-flavored.  They can be used in place of pecans in baking.  Many wildlife species eat the nuts of shagbark hickory including squirrels, chipmunks and to a lesser degree, black bears, foxes, rabbits, and mice and birds such as mallards, wood ducks, bobwhites and wild turkeys.  

 Besides the distinctive bark of the mature trees, identification features include alternate, pinnately compound leaves, a bold and jagged branching habit, spring flowers, and nuts.  The leaves are composed of 5 (rarely 3 or 7) leaflets with the basal pair being smaller.  Leaf edges are finely serrated.  Male and female flowers are produced on the same tree (monoecious) in the spring.  The male flowers are yellow-green catkins and the female flowers are very short and in clusters at the branch tips.  Nuts are round to ovate with a thick husk.  The husk is green at first, browning as it matures.  When the husk dries it splits open along four grooves exposing the nut.  The shell of the nut is fairly thin and light brownish white. 

 The wood of the shagbark hickory is very strong and resilient.  It was/is used for axles, axes, plows and other tool handles.   Native Americans used it for bows.  Other uses include furniture, cabinetry, flooring, and specialty products like ladder rungs, dowels, and athletic equipment.  It is a desirable firewood, having a high heat value and burning evenly.  Charcoal made from hickories can be used to give food and smoked meats a hickory-smoked flavor. 

 The bark of the shagbark hickory can be used to make a syrup.  It is much like maple syrup but with a unique flavor.  Unlike maple syrup, the extract used comes from the bark, not the sap.  Hickory syrup is only available from a few places and one of them is right here in Connecticut.  Turkeywoods Farm of Mystic, CT produces it and you can find out more on their website at www.turkeywoodsfarm.com.

 Shagbark hickory is not widely used as an ornamental but can be an attractive specimen in a large yard or park.  It is a tall tree, growing to a mature height of about 120 feet with a width of about 40 feet.  Shagbark hickory is adapted to a variety of sites and soil types.  It is an important shade tree in residential neighborhoods that are built on previously wooded sites.  Disadvantages include slow growth compared to many tree species and some mess created by a regular dropping of leaflets, twigs, immature fruits, husks and debris from squirrel activity from midsummer through late fall.   

All photos from the UConn Plant Database at www.hort.uconn.edu

J. Allen

This year the black walnut trees have produced a bumper crop of nuts. They can be seen hanging from the trees, still attached to their branches and on the ground, ready to be gathered. If you notice them on the road side, look up.

Black walnut hanging in tree. Photo Carol Quish

Black walnut hanging in tree. Photo Carol Quish

Black walnut leaves. Photo by Carol Quish

Black walnut leaves. Photo by Carol Quish

black walnut bark

Black walnut bark for identification characteristic. Photo by Carol Quish

They almost look like green apples. Black walnuts have an outer husk surrounding the nut inside. The size of the nut and husk are about 2 inches in diameter and round.

Black walnuts in husks. The green ones have not had their husk rot off as much. Photo by Carol Quish

Black walnuts in husks. The green ones have not had their husk rot off as much. Photo by Carol Quish

The husks need to be removed. Beware the juices in the husk will stain everything they touch, including your hands. I step on them while wearing old gardening boots to get at the shelled nut inside the husk. Use gloves to protect hands from staining. Once husks are removed, soak shelled nuts in a bucket of clean water, stirring occasionally. Drain and repeat. This step is best done outside, too, as the water will turn quite black. Discard any nuts that float, they could be bad or contain insects. Once water is mostly clear, the nuts will need to be cured by allowing them to dry and develop flavor. Spread them on a screen or open container, one layer deep, in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. An unheated garage is perfect for this. Leave to cure for two weeks before cracking one to see if the nutmeat inside will break crisply. If moisture level is too high inside shell, they will mold once stored.

Black walnuts, hulled of husks, but still in shell. Ready for curing. Photo by Carol Quish

Black walnuts, hulled of husks, but still in shell. Ready for curing. Photo by Carol Quish

Once cured, store unshelled nuts in a a well-ventilated space of 60 degrees F or less. Mesh bags or wire basket will keep them well aerated. Humidity should be around 70%. Nuts can also be shelled and the meats kept in the freezer until needed.

Black walnut (Juglans nigra), produces a toxin called juglone in its roots and leaves. It is toxic to a lot of other plants to keep them from growing around the black walnut tree. Nature has evolved this quality as a defense mechanism to reduce competition for the tree. Most other plants will be able to grow and take up the nutrients and water within reach of the black walnut tree. Tomatoes are especially sensitive to juglone.  Best not to locate your vegetable garden within the root zone of black walnut.

-Carol Quish

Vermont color display (commons.wikimedia.org)

Fall in New England.  Even those of us who have lived here for years or grown up here look forward to the annual brilliant display of color.   The duration and intensity of color and even the proportion of reds vs. yellows changes from one year to the next.   What are the factors that initiate and control these changes in the leaves?   Decreasing day length, temperature and moisture all play a role.

During the summer, there is a lot of chlorophyll, or green pigment in the leaves.  Chlorophyll is where energy from the sun is used by the plant to manufacture sugars using water and carbon dioxide in the process of photosynthesis.  Orange and yellow pigments, carotenes and xanthophylls respectively, are always present in the leaves but they are masked during the summer by the abundant chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll is rapidly broken down by sunlight.  During the summer, when temperatures are warm, plenty of new chlorophyll is produced to replace that which is lost.  When temperatures begin to cool, and plant hormone levels change in response to decreasing day length, chlorophyll synthesis drops off and the other pigments become visible.   Carotenes and xanthophylls are more stable than chlorophyll and remain intact as the chlorophyll is lost.

Paper birch leaves turn a bright yellow in the fall. (www.hort.uconn.edu).

Red pigments, or anthocyanins, are not present during the summer.  They are formed from sugars that build up in the leaf tissue and the amount of red pigment formed is dependent on the weather, tree species, and the acidity of the leaf.  Sugar is usually transported out of the leaves to other parts of the plant such as the roots or developing seeds and fruits.  Another phenomenon that occurs along with the change in leaf color is the formation of the abscission layer, the point at the base of the petiole or leaf stalk where the leaf breaks from the twig when it falls.  As this layer forms, movement of sugar out of the leaf becomes restricted, resulting in the accumulation of sugars in the leaf while there is still some photosynthesis going on in the remaining chlorophyll.

Red maple leaves can be striking.  (www.hort.uconn.edu)

Weather favorable to the formation of red pigments is sunny, cool (but not freezing) and dry.  Early frost (which we haven’t had this year!) weakens red pigment production.  Overall, the best and most showy fall color seasons result when we have dry, sunny weather during the day and cool nights.   Trees that are usually yellow in fall include birch, white ash, poplar, beech, and hickory.  Those that produce the best reds include red and sugar maple, red oak, dogwood, and mountain ash (not a true ash).

What about brown leaves?  Some trees, including many oak species, really just turn brown, and some hold onto their leaves until new ones begin to push out in the spring.  Brown color is from a build-up of tannins, a waste product of physiological processes in the leaves.

If you’re interested in a fun do-it-yourself look at the various pigments in a leaf using chromatography, follow these instructions from the website of the Buffalo Museum of Science:

You will need: Isopropyl alcohol, hot water, a coffee mug, a soup dish, a pencil, scissors, plastic wrap, and some filter paper (a coffee filter is perfect).

  1. Take 2-3 green tree leaves and cut them into small pieces with the scissors. Crush or crumble them into the coffee mug.
  2. Use very hot tap water to fill the soup dish half full.  Place the coffee mug containing the leaves into the hot water in the dish.
  3. Add isopropyl alcohol to the coffee mug to just cover the leaf pieces.  Soak the leaves in the alcohol for an hour or more.  Put plastic wrap over the mug to reduce evaporation.  When the hot water cools, replace it with fresh hot water to keep the alcohol warm.  Watch for the alcohol to turn a dark color as pigments dissolve into it.
  4. Using scissors, cut the filter paper into 1 or 2 strips about 4 inches long by 1-2 inches wide. Using the pencil resting atop the coffee mug, drape the filter paper strips over the pencil so that one end is touching the bottom of the mug through the liquid.   Secure the filter paper to the pencil with a small piece of tape if needed. Replace the plastic wrap over the top of the mug, pencil and filter paper strips.
  5. The alcohol will move up the filter paper bringing pigments from the leaf with it.  The pigments will move up the paper at different rates and after 30-45 minutes you will see them separate.
  6. Try this experiment with ink too!  Make a mark with a black ball point pen on the filter paper, just above the level of the alcohol and see what colors combine to form black ink.

Take time to enjoy the fall colors while they last!

J. Allen

Most of us know the normal tree fruits we commonly eat this time of year; apple, peaches, plums, even the more unusual quince and pawpaw. Most trees produce seeds to reproduce. Some seeds are housed in unusual wrappings. Take a photo trip through this blog to view uncommon and perhaps under appreciated seed vessels of Connecticut trees.

Cornus kousa fruit 8-26-13, Pamm Cooper photo

Cornus kousa fruit 8-26-13, Pamm Cooper photo

Baldcypress cone. Taxodium distichum. Photo by Carol Quish

Baldcypress cone. Taxodium distichum. Photo by Carol Quish

Horse Chestnut, Pamm Cooper photo

Horse Chestnut, Pamm Cooper photo

Turkey Oak Acorn, Pamm Cooper Photo

Magnolia Seed Pod, photo by Carol Quish

Magnolia Seed Pod, photo by Carol Quish

-Carol Quish

I recently went to Bushnell Park for the first time in my life and was glad I tagged along. My favorite plants since childhood are trees, especially the kinds you can climb up into and take a seat on a limb broad enough to provide a comfortable seat so you can view the world around you from a different prospective. It was while quietly sitting im trees that I first encountered many birds at close range, such as cedar waxwings, that don’t seem to mind being close to you if you are still and seem to be a part of the tree.

Bushnell Park, the oldest publicly funded park in the United States, was named for the Reverend Horace Bushnell, who conceived the idea of an open space in Hartford that would be available for people to enjoy free of charge. His good friend was the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who was involved in the designs for both Central Park in New York City and Forest Park in Massachusetts at the time but recommended Horace consult his Swiss- born counterpart, Jacob Weidenmann, who was also a botanist. Weidenmann became the first superintendent of parks in Hartford, and not only designed Bushnell Park, but also Cedar Hill Cemetery on Fairfield Avenue. Both of these parks are dotted with many notable trees, including those considered state champions.

Bushnell Park has many rare and native trees and originally contained more than 150 varieties of trees. Some have been lost, but many are specimen trees worthy of a walk and a look. You can stop by the League of Women Voters desk at the Legislative Office Building entrance on Capital Avenue and get a free “ Tree Walk “ brochure before heading out. This brochure is highly recommended as, although some trees have labels, many do not. You could also bring a good illustrated tree field guide that includes trees that are from a more southern climate.

Sweet gum looking up the trunk toward the canopy. Photo copyright 2013 Pamm Cooper

Sweet gum looking up the trunk toward the canopy. Photo copyright 2013 Pamm Cooper

The view looking upward along the trunk and into the canopy of mature trees is often just as exhilarating as viewing a tree from a little distance away and getting the the whole thing at once. The bark of old trees is often very different from that of younger trees. Patterns in the ridges and fissures add to the overall appeal of tress, at least for me. One tree in particular, the Sweetgum, has particularly interseting bark ridge patterns. The effect of this patterning in large limbs and trunks, the star- shaped leaves and the pyramidal form of growth makes this a favorite native specimen tree for Connecticut landscapes. An added bonus is the deep burgundy/ yellow/ or orange leaf color in the fall.

American Beech at Bushnell Park, Hartford, Ct photo by Pamm Cooper

American Beech at Bushnell Park, Hartford, Ct photo by Pamm Cooper

The Turkey Oak , Quercus cerris, is native to Europe and is a fast- growing tree that may reach a height of 130 feet when mature. Trunks can grow to a diameter of three to four feet. The park’s state champion specimen has a trunk with a circumference of 17 feet. This tree can tolerate strong winds, but not in a maritime exposure There are four Turkey Oaks in the park, which supply resident squirrels with large numbers  wooly capped acorns which mature in October. Leaves are long and narrow, and are a deep green. The bark of mature trees is attractive, ridged and furrowed with an orange color within the fissures.

Champion Turkey Oak trunk, 17 feet in circumference. Photo copyright Pamm Cooper 2013

Champion Turkey Oak trunk, 17 feet in circumference. Photo copyright Pamm Cooper 2013

Champion Turkey Oak looking up. Photo Pamm Cooper

Champion Turkey Oak looking up. Photo Pamm Cooper

There are many more trees of interest in Bushnell Park, including an incredible Cucumbertree Magnolia and a double- trunked gingko. all within a comfortable walking distance of each other. It can be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon at any season of the year. So go and sit in the shade of one of these on a hot summer day and return in the fall to enjoy the foliage. And if you need a little extra reason to smile, for one dollar, you can go for a ride on the historic Stein and Goldstein carousel. It is hard to be in a bad mood in Bushnell Park, with its magnificent trees, historic monuments, carousel, and surrounding skyscrapers to boot.

Base of an old Magnolia.. Copyright 2013 Pamm Cooper

Base of an old Magnolia.. Copyright 2013 Pamm Cooper

Pamm Cooper

Trees and other woody plants often have large or interesting swellings on their trunks or branches.   The cause is often difficult or impossible to determine.  Possible causes include fungi, bacteria, insects, mechanical or environmental injury, or genetic mutation.  The terms gall, tumor and burl are commonly applied to describe these abnormal swellings. 

Galls and tumors can be any size or shape and may occur on both woody and herbaceous plants and plant parts.  The swelling occurs as cells divide more rapidly than normal (hyperplasia) and/or due to excessive cell enlargement (hypertrophy).  Burls are generally considered to be large woody swellings that are basically hemispherical in shape.  They often bear many buds and sometimes sprouts.   The burls of black walnut, coast redwood, sugar maple and black cherry are highly prized by woodworkers for their beautiful swirling or ‘bird’s eye’ grain.   This relatively small burl from an apple tree (cause unknown) has an interesting surface pattern and interior grain showing bud traces.

Burl from an apple tree trunk.

 

Tiny brown lines are bud traces.

An individual tree may have one or many swellings.  On this maple tree, the many swellings are of unknown origin.  Often, a tree with large or numerous galls will decline earlier than a tree without them. 

The most common bacterial gall disease is crown gall caused by the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens.   This soil-borne bacterium enters the roots of the host plant through wounds caused by planting, cultivation, frost heaving, insects or nematodes.  The bacteria, upon attaching to the plant cell walls, send DNA that causes production of plant growth hormones into the plant cell where it is incorporated into the plant cell chromosome.  Affected cells begin to multiply at an uncontrolled rate, resulting in visible tumors within 2-4 weeks.   More than 600 plants are susceptible to crown gall.  One of the most common, where galls occur on both roots and stems, is Euonymus, shown in the photo. 

Crown gall of Euonymus.

 

Examples of galls caused by fungi include azalea gall (Exobasidium vaccinii), black knot of plum and cherry (Apiosporina morbosa), and Fusiform rust of pine (Cronartium quercuum).    More information on these diseases is available by clicking on the name of the disease. 

Click to view the larger image A close up of a leaf gall on azalea . (Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic, Cornell University)

Black knot of plum and cherry.

 

 Fusiform rust (USDA Forest Service – Region 8 – Southern Archive, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org)

Insects and mites cause some very interesting galls on leaves as shown in the photo.  These usually cause little damage to the host plant or tree and control measures are not normally recommended.  A new theory is being explored by scientists that the swellings associated with these arthropods may in fact be caused by bacteria transferred to the plant tissue during feeding.   Fascinating! 

Hickory gall phylloxera.

 

Galls can be caused by cultural, mechanical and environmental factors including graft incompatibility, wounding, and freeze injury.   Galls on some conifers that vary from small to huge (several times wider than the trunk) are thought to originate when the trees are young seedlings from a single cell and enlarge for many years.  Low temperature injury is suspected, but not proven, as the cause. 

J Allen

Ladybug Blog Winter Salt Damage on Woody Plants February 10, 2009

Last week on February 2, 2009 Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. This date for winter weather prognostication has its origin in both European folkloric traditions and the Christian celebration of Candlemas. Six more weeks of winter was to be expected if Candlemas day was sunny. The same weather pattern was predicted if a hibernating animal, initially a hedgehog, was frightened by its shadow. This belief was brought to this country by German settlers during the 18th Century. They adopted the groundhog for their predictions as there are no native hedgehogs.

Be it startled ground hogs or terrified hedgehogs, New Englanders can usually expect at least six more weeks of winter.

 

This winter has been especially trying, bringing us freezing temperatures and weekly snow storms since mid December. With the storms come the snow plows and deicers. Starting in the winter of 2006-2007, the State of Connecticut implemented a new snow and ice control program, an all-salt regime using sodium chloride in solid and liquid form, in combination with liquid calcium chloride. Unfortunately the de-icing salts used during the cleanup efforts to maintain ice-free roadways, driveways, and sidewalks can cause severe damage to woody trees and shrubs.

 

Woody plants growing along roadways or side walks may be impacted by direct contact of deicing salt spray and by chemical changes in the soil due to a build up of salt ions that accumulate in the soil and are eventually absorbed by the plant roots. Salt ions can injure plants at any time, but late winter applications may accumulate and be more damaging since there is less time for winter snow and precipitation to leach away the salts.

 

Salt damage increases with the plant’s proximity to the road and is more severe on the side of the tree or shrub facing the road. The chlorides ions in these salts can be absorbed by roots and leaves resulting in the accumulation of toxic levels. Salt damage symptoms include marginal scorch of leaves, tip burn and dieback of buds and stems, foliar browning or the death of entire leaves, needles or twigs. In addition plants weakened by excessive salt exposure can be more susceptible to disease and pest problems.

 

These are some methods that can be employed to remedy the impact of deicing salts on trees and shrubs:

Wash salt spray off plants with fresh water as soon as possible after salt exposure.

Flush out excess salts from the root zones. This can be done as soon as the ground is no longer frozen. Repeated applications may be necessary.

Construct a physical barrier made of plastic, burlap, or snow fencing , or a berm of soil between the pavement and the plants

Plant salt tolerant plants in high risk areas.

Maintain vigorous growth in plants.

 

 

LA

Leaf scorch on maple

Leaf scorch on maple

Winter salt damage on white pine

Winter salt damage on white pine

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