This tree is found in the montane rainforests of South America and is classified as a near threatened species by the IUCN. Trees can reach over 60 ft. high with linear-lanceolate shaped evergreen leaves arranged spirally around dark brown bark. Like all of its subgenus, the cone does not have bracts, and the seed has an apical ridge, as do its cousins in the other subgenus. The genus translates to “foot fruit” in greek. This is because at maturity, the scales are round and look like a fleshy berry which are eaten by birds to be dispersed in the forest. The species comes from one of the oldest genus of trees on Earth (along with Ginkgo), having been endemic to the continent of Gondwana.
This tree is not usually thought of as an ornamental, although it’s bark has an interesting interwoven texture with a bright red-orange hue. It’s form is almost always non-linear which makes one wonder how Native Americans made bows from it. It is dioecious and produces softball sized green-yellow fruits that have a strong citrus smell. Some say that if you cut the fruit in half and place it at the corners of the house, it might repel insects. The tree was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson and Lewis and Clark distributed it across the West; thereafter, it was important in fencing the Western landscape because of its durable wood. The tree is naturalized throughout the United States. What is it?
There’s a first time for everything! MSU Urban and Community Forestry Extension was invited by Dr. Scott Cagle (Chickasaw County Extension Coordinator) and the Chickasaw Regional Correctional Facility to give a talk about the arboriculture and tree surgeon professions to inmates at the facility. The presentation lasted around one hour and focused on what arborists and tree surgeons do, the differences between arborists and tree surgeons, certification, education, and state regulations allowing convicted felons to work in the tree care industry. We also covered some basics on pruning, tree establishment, support systems, emergency tree care, tree health care, and tree protection in construction zones. The students paid close attention and seemed to enjoy the session. We hope they are able to benefit from the information at some point in the future.
Tree topping is when the top of the tree is shaved off with no consideration for how the tree’s future growth will be impacted. Utility companies often top trees to make room for lines; however, the tree should not have been planted in that location in the first place. The home owner is responsible for removing the tree and replanting with a tree that fits the space. In other cases, home owners often feel that their trees have become too large for their property, so they aim to make them smaller. We see this a lot with crape myrtle (sometimes called crape murder in the South). Topping actually increases the potential that the tree will become a hazard in the future. Because the pruning cuts are not in the right places (i.e., not at the branch collar where the tree naturally repairs and heals itself), weak limbs are develop in response. A strong storm can cause these weak structured branches to break. A good arborist will never suggest or recommend to top
A burl is a deformed tree growth. It is commonly found in the form of a rounded outgrowth on the trunk or branch and is filled with knots from dormant buds. It is often formed by some kind of stress, such as a mechanical injury, virus, or fungus.