Friday, October 28, 2016

The Yellowwood State Forest - Nashville Indiana (Where they have Boulders in their trees!)

In the quaint village of Nashville, Indiana near the Brown County State Park lies the Yellowwood State Forest. The Yellowwood State forest was organized in 1940 when federal lands were leased to the state of Indiana, this land was eventually deeded to the state in 1956. Over the years more then 2000 acres of abandoned and eroded lands within the Parks footprint have been planted with various Pines (jack, red, shortleaf, white and scotch), Black Locust, Black Walnut, White and Red Oaks. The Yellowwood Lake which covers 133 acres and is 30 feet deep at it's deepest point was completed in 1939, there are two other lakes within the park though much smaller in size (Bear Lake and Crooked Creek Lake). Over the years the Yellowwood State Forest has increased in size by gaining parcels of land through the Heritage Trust Program. Their are many activities to enjoy while visiting the Park including Fishing (a boat launch is located in the South end of the main lake), Hunting (Whitetail Deer, Ruffed Grouse, Turkey, Squirrel, Fox, Woodcock and Raccoon-valid Indiana Hunting license required), Primitive Camping, Horsemen's Camping (many miles of horse trails within the park), Gold Panning (must have permit), Hiking, Kayak/Canoe Rental and Picnicking. Today the Forest covers 23,326 acres, made up of 17 different areas all located within Brown County.

Yellowwood State Forest Map, Image Citation: Yellowwood State Park
The park was named for a tree common in the mid-south but rare in the area that is found growing in the park. The Yellowwood Tree - Cladrastis kentukea is a medium sized deciduous member of the legume family. With it's smooth elephant grey bark, pendulous fragrant flowers, and red/brown stems it offers beauty to any landscape year round. It is native to the Eastern United States, most notably two very small areas, one runs along the Kentucky and Tennessee border, and the other between Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. It is commonly planted in landscapes from New England south to Washington DC & Virginia. Yellowwood is hardy from zones 4a to 8b and can be purchased from most large nurseries in the Eastern US. The leaves are composed of widely spaced leaflets that are alternate not opposite one another. There are usually 9-11 leaflets per leaf. The leaves are a yellow green in Spring, bright green by Summer and then Yellow in the Fall. The wood of this tree contains a Yellow dye which stains the heartwood, hence the name Yellowwood. The flowers of the Yellowwood are very similar to Wisteria, they grow in a pendulous form and feature white fragrant flowers. The flowers are small and grow on open panicles ranging from 10-15 inches long. They are considered to be highly fragrant and appear in May. The flowers give way to long brown seed pods as the Spring Summer season changes. When mature this tree can reach heights of 30-50 feet and a spread of 40-55 feet wide. It is considered to be virtually pest free and quite hardy in it's native range. This tree is easily transplanted in B&B or bare root up to 2 inches in caliper. The Society of Municipal Arborist's named this tree the "2015 Urban Tree Of The Year", this selection was made based on it's adaptability and strong ornamental traits. Within the park there are less than 200 acres that can support the Yellowwood tree, these can be found on North facing slopes and deep ravines near Crooked Creek Lake. A specimen can also be found planted at the Forest Office on Yellowwood Lake Road.
Within the Yellowwood Forest there are some unique features. One of which is the Tecumseh Trail, named in honor of the Shawnee Chief who in the early 1800's attempted to ally several smaller tribes into one large confederacy. The trail spans the native lands of these tribes and has 5 trail heads within the forest. The trail covers various types of terrain and offers beautiful views of the Forest and Lakes. The second and most unusual is the 4 large sandstone boulders that are found not on the ground but in the canopies of Oak trees. It is said that the first boulder was originally discovered by a hunter and three more were discovered by hikers. The largest sandstone slab is 4 foot by 1 foot and thought to weigh as much as 400 lbs. Theories the boulders in trees phenomena range from natural things such as flooding or a tornado to the more extreme (or maybe unbelievable) including UFO's, Acoustic Levitation (where a rock becomes weightless), or even a good old Fraternity Prankster using heavy machinery, we may never know! No evidence of disturbance was found at any of the tree locations that would support the heavy machinery or tornado theories.


You can find the Yellowwood State Forest at:
772 South Yellowwood Road
Nashville, IN 47448
(812) 988-7945

Monday, October 24, 2016

Middlebury College - Middlebury Vermont *Tree Maps*


With a main campus near the village of Middlebury and the Bread Loaf Mountain campus, located in inside of 30,000 acres of forest land in Ripton, Vermont, Middlebury College has a beautiful campus to say the least.  Forest land covers 3/4 of the state of Vermont and the percentage of Maples recorded in the state is greater then anywhere else in the country.  The reason I have added this campus to my list of Tree Destinations is their use of a mapping system (ArcGIS) to identify and give you a tour of over 2200 trees located within the campus.  Allowing you to "visit" trees throughout the campus and easily click on each one to find out each trees unique details (genus, species, size, and even a link to the wikipedia page to learn more about that species).  This would make for a nice walking tour if ever you are in the area.

The link is below:
http://sites.middlebury.edu/middland/treemap/

There are currently three different Maps available
~Middlebury College Campus Trees
~Middlebury’s Heritage Elm Collection
~Memorial and Class Trees


Location:
Middlebury College
Middlebury, Vermont 05753
802.443.5000

And in case your interest is sparked to learn more
Environmental Programs :
Sunderland 206
14 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury, VT 05753



Now if only every school/college/university could do this.  This idea is a neat way to not only educate students and visitors about the trees that surround and benefit them on a daily basis, but I feel it could also help increase interest in Environmental programs.  Tree are awesome after all ;-)


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ashikaga Flower Park - Japan

Japan’s largest wisteria located in Ashikaga Flower Park in Japan, is certainly not the largest in the world, but it still measures in at an impressive half an acre and dates back to around 1870.  Is also referred to as the most beautiful Wisteria in the World.  The blooms range in color from pale red, purple, yellow and white depending on variety.
       
Park Description from Roadtrippers.com : "Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture is famous for its wisteria blossoms. Elaborate supports to the three big wisteria trees cover an area of about 1,000㎡. The best times to visit Ashikaga Flower Park is from mid April to mid May. It is a truly unique attraction; the blossom starts with light pink blooms first in the season, followed by purple wisteria, white and then yellow. Just before you decide to visit the park, I recommend to check the official website for the latest status of the blossoms."
 
Image Citations (Photos 1 & 2): Roadtrippers.com


This is not the home of the largest Wisteria vine in the world, the record holder measures in at about 4,000 square meters, and is located in Sierra Madre, California.  Although wisterias can look like trees, they’re actually vines. Because the vines have the potential to get very heavy, these particular plants entire structures are held up on steel supports, allowing visitors to walk below their canopies and bask in the pink and purple light cast by its beautiful hanging blossoms.

Price for entry into the park depends on the season and what/how many plants are in bloom.  The Wisteria bloom in Ashikaga Flower Park from April to May annually.  The park is a popular tourist destination so be sure to plan your visit well.  For more on Ashikaga Flower Park in Japan visit the parks website (English Version)   http://www.ashikaga.co.jp/english/  or in person

Ashikaga Flower Park

329-4216 Tochigi Prefecture
Totigi [Tochigi] 329-4216 Japan
+81-284-91-4939

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Meet the "Giant Sequoia" - Sequoiadendron giganteum - Sierra Nevada Mountains, California

The "Giant Sequoia" - Sequoiadendron giganteum - is most well known for it's sheer size. They are the largest single living thing on the planet, growing on average from 164-297 feet tall in ideal conditions. They are also among the oldest with some being recorded (based on ring measurements) at over 3500 years old. They grow in a very small native area on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Generally the Giant Sequoias grow in groves or natural stands, currently their are only 68 known groves that exist. Groves range in size from 6-20,000 trees each. Giant Sequoias have been successfully grown outside of their native range in The Pacific Northwest, Southern United States, Western & Southern Europe, British Columbia, Southeast Australia and New Zealand. There are some specimen trees planted in parks and private lands around the world that reach great heights (191 feet is record outside of the US near Ribeauvillé, France), but none nearly as grand as the Giants growing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.


Image Citation (Yosemite General): Brian Lockhart, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The sheer size of this type of tree, has lead to extensive research regarding ability to maintain and supply water within such a large living structure. Osmotic pressure can only force water a few meters then the tree's xylem must take over, still it is not possible for these capillaries to transport water hundreds of feet in the air even accounting for the sub-pressure caused by the leaves water evaporation. Sequoias have the ability to supplement their water intake from the ground or soil by using moisture in the air, generally this comes in the form of fog which frequently blankets the native growth range .

Image Citation (Cone and Foliage): Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona, Bugwood.org

Over time, the Giant Sequoias have developed a resistance to fire damage. The first way is because their extremely thick bark is almost impenetrable to fire damage. Secondly the heat from fire causes the cones to dry and then open, disbursing seeds which will go onto become new seedlings repopulating what may have been lost below. Fire damage also wipes out any small ground cover that may have competed for sunlight and nutrients the new seedlings require to thrive. On their own without help from fires the Giant Sequoias seed have trouble germinating as shade loving species tend to choke the new seeds out.

The leaves are evergreen, awl shaped 0.12-0.24 inches in length and arranged spirally on each shoot. The bark is very furrowed, thick and fibrous. The seed cones are 1.5-2.8 inches long and mature in 18-20 months, though they usually remain closed and green for upwards of twenty years. Cones are made up of 30-50 spirally arranged scales, each scale containing several seeds. Each individual cone can produce approximately 230 seeds each. Seedlings grow from seeds but do not begin to produce cones until at least their 12th year. Once mature the tree does not produce shoots on their stumps as the Coast Redwood does, they do however sprout from boles after fire damage.

Image Citation (Bark looking Up) Caleb Slemmons, National Ecological Observatory Network, Bugwood.org



Image Citation (General Sherman): Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The most well known Giant Sequoias in the United States are:
1. General Sherman (located in the Giant Forest, 274.9 feet tall)
 2. General Grant (located in General Grant Grove, 268.1 feet tall)
3. President (located in the Giant Forest, 240.9 feet tall)
4. Lincoln (located in the Giant Forest, 255.8 feet tall)
5. Stagg (located in Alder Creek Grove, 243 feet tall)
6. Boole (located in Converse Basin, 268 feet tall)
7. Genesis (located in the Mountain Home Grove, 253 feet tall)
8. Franklin (located in the Giant Forest, 223.8 feet tall)
9. King Arthur (located in Garfield Grove, 270.3 feet tall)
10. Monroe (located in the Giant Forest, 247.8 feet tall)
The Giant Forest is home to over half of the worlds Giant Sequoia Trees. Located in Sequoia National Park, The Giant Forest should be included as a top "to do" on any tree lovers list. You can visit there website directly at: http/www.visitsequoia.com/giant-sequoia-trees.aspx

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Joshua Tree National Park - California

The Joshua Tree national park is approximately 800,000 acres, the park is made up of a very diverse ecosystem and is located in Southeastern California.  The park itself did not become a National Park unitl 1994, however it has been protected as a US Monument since 1936.   Named for it's Joshua Trees Yucca brevifolia which grow in the dryer and cooler Mohave Desert areas of the park.  The Joshua trees grow in both forest type areas as well as sparce single specimens.  The Joshua Trees are the dominant tree in the open areas of the park, however the Pinyon Pine is more common in the areas where there are rock outcroppings.  Joshua trees are often described as something that should be found in a Dr. Suess story, they are often twisted or curvy, not quite symetrical, with a top heavy appearance and usually a single trunk.  Within the park the tallest tree is forty feet high, it is located within the Queen Valley Forest.  Joshua trees do not have growth rings, but instead their trunks are made up of  thousands of small fibers which makes it harder to gauge the age of each tree.  The best way to determine the age of a Joshua Tree is to estimate based on it height as they are very slow growers and only grow 1/2 - 3 inches per year.  Researchers estimate that the life span of the Joshua tree is only about 150, however there are specimens growing within this park that far exceed that age.


Image Citation:  Greg Bartman, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org



More then half of the park is considered to be wilderness area.  The park includes parts of two very unique deserts, The Mohave (higher) and the Colorado (lower) Deserts, Mountain Terrain, Oases, Rock Formations, as well as flatlands.  The characteristics of each desert area is greatly influenced by the elevations where they are located.  The Little San Bernardino Mountains also run through the Southwest portion of the Park.

Day by day and area to area the appearance of the park can greatly and rapidly change, with very quick  (yet sparce) downpours coming from what seems like out of no where, to high winds, to calm dry desert days that seem to have no end.  Sometimes the plants look dry and possibly even dead but most are just waiting for the next rain to come to bring them back to life.  Only 158 naturally occurring Palm Oases are found in North America, 5 of them are within the Joshua Tree National Parks boundaries. Generally occurring along fault lines where impermeable rocks force groundwater to the surface, a Oasis provides constant water to what would otherwise be a constantly dry and arid area.


Image Citation: Greg Bartman, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

There is so much to do here within this beautiful park, Hiking, Biking, Rock Climbing, Camping, Birding and Star Gazing just to name a few.  There are nine campgrounds established within the park.  There is a fee for camping and reservations can be made in some campgrounds October through May, while the other campgrounds are first-come, first-served.  Back-country camping, is also permitted with a few regulations in some areas, be sure to check with the park for more details on this option.  As far as hiking, riding and lookout points go there are too many to list in this amazingly beautiful National Park,  so just to name a few there are: Keys View, Indian Cove, Hidden Valley, Cholla Cactus Garden, Contact Mine, Forty Nine Palms Oasis, Lost Horse Mine, Lost Pine Oasis, California Riding and Hiking Trail (a 35 mile portion falls within the park), Rattlesnake Canyon, Barker Dam, Saltan Sea, Ryan Mountain, Warren Peak, and various Native American sites (some of which have been closed to the public over the years due to damage from vandals).


Image Citation:  "Joshua Tree National Park 2013" by Tuxyso / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - Wikimedia Images Link


Despite the landscape that may seem barren at times, many types of wildlife call Joshua Tree National Park home including various lizards, coyote, kangaroo rats, blacktailed rabbits, bighorned sheep, ground squirels and other small rodents.  There are also an estimated 250 varieties of birds that have been spotted throughout the park including many migrating species during the Winter season.  It is also estimated that the park is home to thousands of Anthropods (creatures with multiple legs, segmented bodies and hardened outer shells) the most notable residents of this variety include tarantulas, honey pot ants, fairy shrimp, giant desert scorpions and green darners.  There are at least 75 different types of butterflies and more then twice that number of moths.


Image Citation: "JoshuatreeNP" by NASA - http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=36836. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - Wikimedia Images Link

Learn more about this amazing National Park & plan your visit http://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm or http://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/hours.htm

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