Tree Facts That Make You Stop and Think!

Tree Facts That Make You Stop and Think!
By: Hilary Rinaldi

Trees receive an estimated 90% of their nutrition from the atmosphere and only 10% from the soil.

Trees grow from the top, not from the bottom as is commonly believed. A branch’s location on a tree will only move up the trunk a few inches in 1000 years.

No tree dies of old age. They are generally killed by insects, disease or by people. California Bristlecone Pines and Giant Sequoias are regarded as the oldest trees and have been known to live 4,000 to 5,000 years.

There are about 20,000 tree species in the world. The United States has one of the largest tree treasuries second only to India.

The largest area of forest in the tropics remains the Amazon Basin, amounting to 81.5 million acres.

Arbor Day was first observed in Nebraska in 1872. That state is now home to one of the world’s largest forests planted by people – over 200,000 acres of trees.

Some trees can “talk” to each other. When willows are attacked by webworms and caterpillars, they emit a chemical that alerts nearby willow of the danger. The neighboring trees then respond by pumping more tannin into their leaves making it difficult for the insects to digest the leaves.

Knocking on wood for good luck originated from primitive tree worship when rapping on trees was believed to summon protective spirits in the trees.

Trees can induce rainfall by cooling the land and transpiring water into the sky from their leaves. An acre of maple trees can put as much as 20,000 gallons of water into the air each day.

The most massive living thing on earth is the Giant Sequoia in the Redwood Forest of California. It stands nearly 30 stories tall and 82.3 feet in circumference. Its weight is estimated at 2,756 tons.

In Arnold, California, a tree still stands with a legible inscription carved into it in 1849 by pioneers blazing paths to California during the Gold Rush. The inscription reads “49 Road.”

Hilary Rinaldi is a professional landscaper who has written for gardening publications such as “Seed Trade News” and “Houseplant Magazine”. She also has been a professional public speaker and educator in the gardening industry for over 20 years sharing gardening information and tips to as many people as she can.

Attracting beneficial Insects to your garden..

If you are making the switch to organic gardening, you may be concerned about losing plants to insect pests. In the short run, this is likely to occur. However, established organic gardens typically lose fewer plants to insect pests than conventional gardens.

This is because pesticides intended to kill insect pests also kill beneficial insects.

When a garden has a healthy population of beneficial insects, they keep the population of insect pests under control, reducing the chances that any one species will get out of control.

You can sit back and wait. If there are harmful insects in your garden, the beneficial insects that prey on them will turn up sooner or later to take care of them now that they are no longer being poisoned. However, you can also take measures to speed the process up (hopefully reducing plant loss during your transition to organic gardening) by choosing plants and designing your garden in a way that will attract beneficial insects.

Choosing Plants

When choosing plants, the most important thing to remember is that diversity breeds diversity. The best way to maximize insect diversity is to have a lot of different kinds of plants.

Many cultivated flowers are bred mainly to be beautiful to human eyes and have lost their attractiveness to insects. Your best bets for insect gardens are mainly wildflowers and flowering herbs.

A healthy population of pollinators can increase the productivity of your garden by 30%. Studies have shown that pollinators such as the honeybee and the many species of native bees are most attracted to gardens that have at least a few different types of flowers blooming throughout the whole growing season. Bees also like gardens with relatively large plantings that have 10 or more different attractive species planted relatively close together in large swathes or groupings.

Following a voracious larval stage, many predatory insects also live mainly on nectar and pollen as adults, including many types of lacewings, wasps,and predatory flies such as hoverflies and tachinid flies, so a diverse selection of flowering trees, shrubs, and plants is important to atract them as well. Generalized predators such as praying mantises, which eat both harmful and beneficial insects, are attracted to plants with high levels of insect activity, including many flowering plants. I recently counted no less than six big mantises waiting patiently for a snack among my mother’s masses of Russian sage and catmint.

Creating Habitat for Beneficial Insects

Just as important as choosing the right plants, is providing a place for beneficial insects to call home.

Insects prefer a slightly sloppy garden to a perfectly manicured one. Many beneficial insects overwinter in leaf litter or rotting wood, so creating a small brush pile in one corner of your yard will give them a hand.

Mulches of wood chips or other organic matter are another way to give many beneficial insects a home, and they also protect soil against early frosts that can kill earthworms before they have time to dig down for the winter. Be careful not to pile mulch too thickly under trees or too close to their trunks – this can harm the tree. Leaving some bare ground will also benefit ground-dwelling native bees and wasps, while sandy soil protected from rain is favored by the ferocious larvae of the ant lion.

Dense plantings are attractive to many insect species because they protect against wind and rain. Hedgerows containing a diverse mix of shrubs, flowers, grasses, and the occasional tree have long been popular with farmers in Europe and New England, and are experiencing a revival in other parts of America as well, especially among organic farmers and practicers of permaculture and biointensive integrated pest management techniques such as farmscaping. Ground covers can help maintain proper temperatures and humidity levels for some species, such as aphid midges and predatory decollate snails.

Other beneficial insects, including predatory ground beetles, like to hide under stones, bricks, or fallen logs, or in compost piles.

A few beneficial insects, especially damselflies and dragonflies, are semi-aquatic. A small water garden will attract them, and also provide a good source of water for other insects and birds.
– Article by Kerry Q. via Hubpages.

Have questions about the right plants for your yard? Give Arbor Hills Trees and Landscaping a call at: 402.895-3635 for more information!

Trees, more then just beauty! The function of trees and how they can help neutralize our Nebraska weather.

Trees can be more then just ornamental, they can also be a solid solution to Nebraska’s harsh weather conditions. When deciding on the right trees for your yard, take into account what function the trees will be serving.

Windbreaks – Plant evergreen trees, which can serve as protection from the wind, on the west or north sides of the house, approximately 50 feet or more from the house.

Temperature – Plant deciduous (leaf dropping) trees on the south and/or west side of house to cool in the summer and allow sun to enter the house in the winter.

Call the experts at Arbor Hills for more information on which trees will work best for your yard. 402-895.3635

The Impact of early blooms! The effects of Omaha’s March 2012 weather on plants, insects and more…

This is an interview from National Public Radio that caught our attention. We found the transcript and thought we would share it with you!

The weather has been unseasonably warm in the Northeast and plains states — so warm that some plants are blooming early. Melissa Block talks with Jake Weltzin with the U.S. Phenology Network about what that means.

So whatever happened to March coming in like a lion? It’s been downright lamb-like lately, more like May or June temperatures than March. The colors tell the story on the weather map, a huge swath of orange and yellow across much of the country.

It was 81 degrees in Omaha and Chicago earlier this week. And it’s been so warm here in Washington, D.C., that the famed cherry blossoms will be at peak bloom weeks earlier than normal. Which got us wondering – how does an early bloom affect plants? And what does it mean for bugs?

Jake Weltzin has some of the answers. He’s an ecologist and the executive director of the USA National Phenology Network.

Jake, welcome to the program.

DR. JAKE WELTZIN: Thank you very much, Melissa.

BLOCK: And let’s define phenology. Just a bit here: The shorthand, I gather, is nature’s calendar. You’re looking at the effect of climate on the lifecycles of plants and animals.

WELTZIN: Sure, phenology is sort an old-fashioned term for the study of when things appear. And what we’re interested in here is the timing of spring blooms and migrations and hibernations. So we have to think about the entire season, not just when things wake up in the spring but when things go to sleep in the fall, if you will.

BLOCK: OK. And you’ve been collecting data from people all over the country. What examples have you gotten so far this spring about when things have appeared?

WELTZIN: Well, it’s a weird spring this year, that’s for sure. Sap is flowing early in Vermont and New Hampshire in the maple trees, and so we have to think about the timing of maple syrup production. Lilacs are coming out very early. In the Milwaukee area, we’ve got flowering fruit trees that have been out and done already and are producing fruits in Georgia. So we have all hosts of odd things happening this spring.

BLOCK: You know, I remember thinking when I saw my daffodils coming up super early this year that I just sort of wanted to push them back under the ground.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: Go back in there where it’s safe. If a plant or tree does bloom or leaf out early, does that affect its seasonal cycle for the rest of the year?

WELTZIN: We don’t really know for a lot of plants. And we’re just starting to get that information organized. Some plans do, indeed, have a deterministic lifecycle, which means that if they come up early they will shut down early. Others are indeterministic and they’ll grow and grow and grow all season long.

BLOCK: You know, when you think about this you inevitably think about possible role of climate change. Does this pattern to you seem like a fluke, just a one-time thing, or a reflection that you that you’ve been seeing of a trend over a number of years?

WELTZIN: We are seeing strong trends almost wherever we look. In the last decade, we’re actually now starting to be able to say OK, well, we see patterns of plants and animals coming earlier. And we have better and better climatological records, temperature records, and we can start to link those together. And there’s a paper coming out it seems every week now that’s saying OK, here’s a trend in bees coming out 10 days earlier over the last 130 years, and we can attribute that to warming temperatures.

BLOCK: Since we’re seeing these were temperatures so early, what does that mean for insects? Are we going to be seeing a really big swarm this year?

WELTZIN: That’s an excellent question and we are worried about that, because some bugs are good and some bugs are bad. Some bugs do pollination services for us and they pollinate plants so we can have fruits and crops. Others carry diseases. And there’re so many different kinds of bugs, it’s hard to know exactly what all those patterns might be. But we sure don’t want to have West Nile virus coming earlier in the year when the bugs come earlier.

So, generally yes, you would find a strong relationship between the timing of flowering and insect activity. They’re both driven by temperatures. In fact, we’re seeing some cases where insects like bees are tracking plant flowering.

Nebraska Tree Buying! Do your homework to make a sound decision.

Arbor Hills Tree services, based in Omaha, Nebraska can help with your decision when it comes to buying the perfect tree for your yard. If you need to consult with an expert, give Arbor Hills a call today! 402.895.3635

Here is a great article we found for selecting a perfect tree from Better Homes & Gardens online publication:

When it comes to trees, a decision in haste can lead to a lifetime of regret. Many trees grow more beautiful generation after generation. Others have the potential to create decades of trouble, dropping messy fruit or bothersome sticks. So take your time and select the tree that offers the best combination of qualities you will enjoy.

Begin your selection process by asking: Why do I want a tree? For shade? Privacy? Something to look pretty? Or to block the view of the neighbor’s less-than-lovely backyard?

A tree’s growth rate also may have a bearing on your choice. The slower growers are hardwoods and tend to live longer. If it’s important to establish shade or have flowers relatively quickly, choose a fast-growing tree. Typically, they’re smaller, have soft wood, and don’t live as long. Scale trees to their surroundings. Use small- or medium-size varieties for smaller houses and yards. On any site, put smaller trees near the house and taller ones farther out in the yard or near its edge.

Trees and shrubs are either deciduous or evergreen. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and are bare all winter, though the leaves often give a final show of beautiful colors before they drop. Evergreen trees and shrubs retain their foliage year-round. Some, such as southern magnolia, feature broad leaves. Others, such as pines, have needled foliage.
A small tree is not always a young tree. If it’s small from lack of vigor, the condition of its bark will give it away. A weak one will have thicker bark that’s textured with ridges, furrows, or flakes, rather than the smooth, tender bark of youth.
Certain trees are more tolerant of typical urban conditions, such as atmospheric pollutants from industry and cars, compacted soil, poor drainage, night lighting, and salt spray from snow plows. Typically, city trees have much shorter lifespans than their suburban or country counterparts.

Great tips for nurturing your native Nebraska yard including – trees, landscaping and plant life.