Mulberry Memories

Mulberry Memories

Tree of the Month
Mulberry • Morus alba

A memory shared my Mike Kaniok, a compassionate and caring financial planner with Edward Jones  • mike.kaniok@edwardjones.com

When I was a little kid, all the way up to about 13 years of age, we lived across the street from my grandparents' house. In their back yard was a large Mulberry tree.
 
I loved that tree. We spent all summer every year climbing that tree. We would eat mulberries until we were sick. My grandmother would place a large sheet under the tree and we would shake the branches so mulberries would fall and she could use them to bake us a pie.

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Ants and Trees

Ants and Trees

Backyard Wisdom
By: Gilbert A Smith, ISA Certified Master Arborist

Like the parable of the mouse and the lion, teeny tiny Ants can protect mighty trees. The lowly worm gets all the credit for tilling the soil and feeding the trees but the ant does as much good for trees and what does it get?  Stepped on! Ants do all the wonderful worm jobs, they aerate the soil, they open up air pockets so the roots can breathe and water can reach them. They excavate 30,000 lbs of top soil in an acre of land every year which is roughly 10 times as fast as those worms. They eat insects and poop out nutrients that give the trees their vitamins. They even alter the soil PH making it more friendly for tree roots.

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Trees That We Remember

Trees That We Remember

Mother Nature’s Moment
by: Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA certified arborist

As your arborist, you may remember me asking you if you have “any special concerns or things you want me to take note of” when we first reviewed your property together.  What I am really asking, or the question behind the question, is “Do you have a favorite tree? or “What are your stories with your trees?”  I often hear about an Arbor Day tree that was carted home by a small child, who is now grown and gone, and the tree stands as a living reminder of many good memories of family and loved ones. We have prepared many home landscapes for weddings that have used a tree as the altar or as a special photo opportunity for the bride and groom, or heard the story of a tree planted in someone’s memory.

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Tree of the Month

Tree of the Month

Crabapple, malus

by: Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA Certified Arborist

Photos by Lesley Bruce Smith

Crab trees are to the Chicago area what Southern Magnolias are to the State of Georgia, one of our most ubiquitous flowering trees. The amazing show of spring color that the Crab trees in the midwest display are among our most treasured garden treats. The Crabapple trees and all species of the rose family, of which they are a part, are the most cultivated tree species in the horticulturist’s palette. We have over 500 different varieties of Crab trees and that doesn’t even include all the Malus species that include the eating apples we have cultivated. But who can blame us, for the riotous spring explosion after our long hard winters and the long history of their use as food.

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Trees Need Birds

Trees Need Birds

Backyard Wisdom
by Gilbert A Smith, ISA Certified Master Arborist

Every one knows that the birds need trees for protection, perches, for hunting grounds and to nest and raise families in. Did you know that trees need birds? Of course they do. This symbiosis or mutualism doesn’t just apply to worms, ants, people and trees it also is the case for birds. When you hear the knock knock knock of a woodpecker you’re hearing a bird mining a tree for insects that may be harming the tree. Some experts estimate that 17% of the Emerald Ash Borer are eaten by wood peckers. Unfortunately that’s not enough to keep the Borer from killing our Ash trees. Because it was introduced without its natural controlling insects and diseases the borer has gone wild and with it the population of wood peckers has soared.

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April is Arbor Day Month

April is Arbor Day Month

Mother Nature’s Moment

by Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA Certified Arborist

Did you know that Arbor Day was first instituted by Julius Sterling Morton, in April of 1872, in the state of Nebraska. Mr. Morton, who was then a recent pioneer to the state of Nebraska from his home in Michigan, missed the beautiful green of trees. Nebraska was a prairie state and devoid of trees in the 1800’s. On that first Arbor Day in Nebraska, over a million trees were planted, many by the school children of the state. During the later 1870‘s other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day and the tradition to observe it in schools nation wide began in 1882.

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Tree of the Month

Tree of the Month

Tuliptree • Liriodendrum tulipifera

photos and text by: Lesley Bruce Smith

The Liriodendrum tulipifera was named by Linnaeus, the father of our binomial naming system, and it is a lovely name that means “lily tree bearing tulips”. It is a name that fits it perfectly. The Tuliptree is one of those trees that has many common names, Yellow Poplar, Tulip Poplar and was called Canoe Wood Tree by the native people of Eastern America where this tree originates. All these names point to some characteristic of the tree that was appreciated. The tulip references the beautiful pale yellow flowers that come out in our area in about June.

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The Remarkable Lifting Power of Trees

The Remarkable Lifting Power of Trees

Backyard Wisdom

by: Gilbert A Smith, ISA B. Certified Master Arborist

Did you know that trees are weight lifters, and that they use that super human strength to get water to their leaves which are sometimes hundreds of feet above their roots?

Simply put, trees are like giant straws and the sun energy sucks the water up from the roots hundreds of feet to the leaves, just like we use a straw to suck water from the bottom of a glass.

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Landscaping for Wildlife

Landscaping for Wildlife

Mother Nature’s Moment

text and photos by: Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA Certified Arborist

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the management of our landscapes for wildlife. When we think of wildlife in “our habitat” areas we often think of raccoons, chipmunks, deer, squirrels, rabbits, maybe even coyotes. You may be surprised to know that we have 159 species of mammals in Illinois, mostly rodents, but almost three times the number of bird species.  By my count, we have 448 bird species that have been found in Illinois.

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Tree of the Month • Weeping Willow, Salix babylonica

Tree of the Month • Weeping Willow, Salix babylonica

by: Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA Certified Arborist

Weeping Willows are one of those tree species that have captured the imagination of artists down through the centuries. This is a tree native to China, yet Linnaeus named the Weeping Willow, Salix babylonica to honor the willows mentioned in the Bible. The Hebrews, exiled to Babylon:  “wept when we remembered Zion (and) we hanged our harps upon the willow in the midst thereof”.

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Traveling South with the Arborsmiths - Part 3

Traveling South with the Arborsmiths - Part 3

Backyard Wisdom

by Master, ISA certified arborists  Gilbert A. Smith

Driving south in October the fall color was in its early stages. In Wisconsin the colors were dramatic but the Tennessee trees had time to dawdle.  However, just south of Birmingham Alabama the fall color stopped altogether and we crossed over into the land of eternal summer.

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The Good that Trees Do

The Good that Trees Do

Mother Nature’s Moment

by: Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA certified arborist

All of us know that trees and plants are important for our survival. We remember our grade school science lessons about photosynthesis and the gift of clean fresh air (O2) that trees provide.  But trees quietly perform so many important functions for us that often go unappreciated and unrecognized.

Just three to four strategically located shade trees around a house can cut summer cooling costs by 30%-50%.

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2015 Winter Snowfall Alert!

2015 Winter Snowfall Alert!

The significant snowfall we are experiencing can create real problems for our homes.  Ice dams that accumulate on the edge of the roof can cause water back ups that do interior damage creating the need for expensive repairs.

This can easily be prevented by getting the snow off the overhanging eaves of the roof as quickly as possible.  The ice dams form at the eaves because snow melts on the area of the roof where heat is escaping and then freezes in the cold when it gets out over the unheated eaves.  

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January Wisdom from the Trees • Tree of the Month

January Wisdom from the Trees • Tree of the Month

Red Oak, Quercus rubra

text and photos by:
Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA certified arborist

The Red Oak is one of our more common and beautiful native trees in the Oak family. Although susceptible to Oak wilt, a fungal pathogen that is potentially fatal, the Red Oak species are an important part of our urban forests. I love their fall color especially. Yet they have much to commend them all through the year. They have a long history of ethnobotany, the scientific study of the relationship between the use of plants by people. The Iroquois people had an interesting use of Red Oaks for healing ruptured navels. Callus bark or the rounded healing growth that appears when a tree is wounded would be scraped off the tree. This was then dried and powdered into a fine dust and then probably made into a paste and applied to the navel to assist in healing.

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Traveling South with the Arborsmiths, Part 2

Traveling South with the Arborsmiths, Part 2

Backyard Wisdom by Gilbert A. Smith, ISA Board Certified Master Arborist
all photo credits: Lesley Bruce Smith

In Northern Illinois the dominant species, the king of the prairie, remains the giant Burr Oak. Standing strong where most trees fail. You can see it on hill tops and out crops from Chicago to Rockford and all the way through Iowa. Burr Oak still grows down south but it becomes far less prominent, while the Red and Shingle Oak, Sweet Gum, Red Maple and of course Sycamore are the trees we notice at 60 MPH.

The Flowering Dogwood, in October, was in burgundy fall color taking over the understory. In May before the big trees foliate, when the Dogwoods and Redbuds dress the forest in white and pink lace it is wonderful to behold the Tennessee and Kentucky woods. Though it is one of the best known flowering trees in the country I’d never even seen a flowering Dogwood until I was 17, when I left Illinois.    

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Can You Tell if a Tree is Alive in the Dead of Winter?

Can You Tell if a Tree is Alive in the Dead of Winter?

Mother Nature’s Moment January 2015

photos and copy by: Lesley Bruce Smith
ISA Certified Master Arborist

This is one of the most common questions we get asked this time of year as arborists.  We know that the buds for next spring’s flush of new growth got formed last summer when the sun’s energy was really strong. It takes a lot of energy to push out all those lovely flowers and fresh green leaves each spring and trees are smart!  They take advantage of the sun’s energy when it’s hot.  Any branch on a tree, or an entire tree, that does not have live buds right now is obviously dead, and those that do have plump juicy buds waiting for spring’s longer warmer days, is alive.

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December Wisdom from the Trees 2014

December Wisdom from the Trees 2014

Live Oak

The Live Oak is so named because it is a tree that is native to the southern climates of the United States and is actually “evergreen”.  We encountered this tree, up close and personal, for the first time, while on our bike ride through Louisiana this fall. Often graced with the softening effects of the spanish moss that hung from its branch tips and the ferns that would grow along its massive horizontal branches, it is without question a quintessential example of enduring arboreal beauty.  While riding one day I stopped and photographed the tree shown here and paced off its size.  It has a 125 foot branch spread and its trunk was 10 feet in diameter!  It made me reflect on the fact that it was alive and probably quite large at the birth of our nation.  A conservative estimate of its age would be between 350 and 450 years old and I felt quite humbled standing below its massive canopy.

The Live Oak was used for ship building and starting in 1799 large stands of southern land covered in Live Oak were purchased by the federal government for naval purposes. The Oak, it has been said, can be compared to our dog friends in its place as man’s companion. Throughout Europe and North America the Oak has a long history of deep religious and magical significance.

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September Wisdom from the Trees 2014

September Wisdom from the Trees 2014

Mother Nature’s Moment
by: Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA certified arborist

Team Tyler Rides

From time to time it is good to come to you not just as your arborists but as fellow human beings.  Eleven years ago this December we lost our 15 year old niece, Tyler Rebekah Byrd Smith to a rare form of germ cell cancer.  Sadly the funding for cancer research for pediatric cancers is only 4% of the national Federal totals.  This is the case even today, in spite of the fact that more children die of cancer in this country than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital abnormalities and diabetes combined.  

Gil’s brother, Jon, and his wife Kim, Tyler’s parents, are riding their bikes across the USA, over 3000 miles, from San Diego, CA to St. Augustine, FL.

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July and August Wisdom from the Trees 2014

July and August Wisdom from the Trees 2014

Tree of the month
Cucumbertree Magnolia  • Magnolia acuminata

Gilbert A Smith, ISA Certified Master Arborist

It’s a funny sounding name that doesn’t really capture this tree unless, of course, you’re just looking at the flowers and fruit, which must have been what the botanist that named it was looking at.  The hardiest of all the Magnolias the flower isn’t showy, white or pink the way you’d expect.  Flowers born on the upper parts of the tree, which grows 60 to 80 feet, you generally don’t know that you are looking at a magnolia at all.  If you look real hard the fruit does look a little like a cucumber.  I recommend it as a replacement for Ash trees and it’s among the best.

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June Wisdom from the Trees 2014

June Wisdom from the Trees 2014

Tree of the Month
Hawthorne • Crataegus sp.

by Gilbert A Smith
ISA Certified Master Arborist

Thirty five years ago this month Lesley, my pretty young bride, stepped out from behind a Hawthorn and right there we were married in the middle of a grove of Downey Hawthorns in full flower. Every year when the Downeys dress up in their creamy, white clusters of daisy like flowers, we remember that happy day. If you were to pin me down I might say that the Downey Hawthorn is my favorite tree.

Here are the other reasons I like it...

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