Saturday, January 23, 2016

Trees of Eaton Rapids, Part 2

Unless otherwise noted, all trees that I will discuss are "Tall" trees.

Northern White Cedar, also known as Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

This is the cedar of northern cedar swamps, the ones where Whitetailed deer bed for the winter.  This is a medium sized tree.  It likes moist soil and unlike most conifers, is very tolerant of lime.

A nice progression of different aged White Cedar from left-to-right.  Most of these are sold in containers and have been selected for narrow, upright form.  These trees are at the west end of State St, across from the Subway Sandwich shop.
Cemeteries were among the first areas that were "landscaped".  They are a fine place to scout out big trees.  This White Cedar is in Rose Hill Cemetery and it may have been dug out of the floodplains of what is now know as Hobart Drain, about 200 feet west of its current location.  Surveyor notes tell us that most of these "drains" were mixed conifer-deciduous forest.

Another "Cemetery" tree.  This one is in the graveyard of the United Methodist church on the corner of Parma Road and Pope Church Road in Jackson county.
Close-up of the trunk.  No trick photography or photoshopping, that is a full sized grave stone next to the trunk.  The literal translation of "Arborvitae" is "Tree of life".  Perhaps it is no accident that so many Christians planted "Arborvitae" in their cemeteries...what with the cross and all.

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

This is the "other" cedar.  It is also tolerant of lime.  It is the cedar that gives pencils and cedar chests their distinctive smell.  It is also a medium sized tree.  It is the bookend of the White Cedar.  The White Cedar likes moist soil, Eastern Red Cedar hates moist soil.  It wants DRY.

One issue with Eastern Red Cedar is that it is the alternate host for Cedar-apple gall, to the detriment of both species.  CAR also affects hawthorns and quince.

These three trees are at the northeast corner of the Shelly-Odell funeral home on Main Street.  These are "common" Red Cedar.
Many forms of Eastern Red Cedar have been selected by horticulturists.  This form is called 'Canaertii' and tends to the windswept, picturesque.  I am pretty much tone-deaf when it comes to aesthetics, but all Eastern Red Cedar seem to look very "at home" when floating in beds of warm-season grasses like Switch Grass and Big Bluestem.

Red Pine (Pinus resinosa)

As long as we are doing conifers and cemeteries, lets talk about Red Pine.  Red Pine is a big tree.  For reasons that are not clear to me, the horticulture industry started planting Austrian Pine in the 1950s.  The non-native Austrian Pine are dying in droves the but Red Pine keep chugging along.

There are four Red Pine in this picture from the Springport cemetery.  Springport is the town just south of Eaton Rapids.  The next picture is a close-up of the one on the left.
The blue barrel is a standard sized, 55 gallon barrel.  Just look at the massive blocks and fissures in the bark.  This is one of the "medium sized" trees in the cemetery.
This is a picture of the big Red Pine. It dwarfs the tree to the right of it.  They were undoubtedly planted at the same time.

Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)

We are at the extreme southern end of the range for Balsam Fir.  I wonder if these trees were also grubbed out of a local drain. 

No tree has better smelling needles than Balsam Fir.  Balsam Fir needles have the bonus of being soft on the skin.  These four trees are on McArthur River Drive, just south of the apartment complex.

American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)

This is not a tree I expected to run into but one of our local tree gurus pointed it out to me (Thanks, Bill!)

American Chestnut is not appropriate for a yard or street tree.  The tree is vulnerable to Chestnut blight which usually kills it dead, Dead, DEAD in short order.  The husks are covered with extraordinarily sharp needles.

The tree in the center of the frame is the American Chestnut.  The Tabernacle at the Holiness Church Camp is in the background.
God bless 10X optical zoom.  You can see a husk or a burr hanging on in the upper-right corner of the bunch of leaves.

A shot up the trunk.

Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)

Got Squirrels?  Corner of Chester and Hale streets.  This neighborhood is carpet bombed with very nice Shagbark trees.

It comes by its name honestly.

You will almost never see a nurseryman selling Hickory trees.  They tend to grow slowly and they sport a tap-root that goes down a mile.  Consequently, they tend to sulk for a few years after being transplanted.  Somebody obviously loved Shagbark Hickories enough to plant these trees as nuts and then care for them until they could fend for themselves.

I think Shagbark Hickory are GREAT yard and street trees.  According to sources, hickory trees are the most common non-oak genus in Oak Savannas.

Maybe Lucky can post his recipe for Hickory bark syrup.

Mulberry and Sweet Cherries (Morus spp. and Prunus avium)

This is a double bonus.

Of the three trees in the foreground, the tree on the left is a mulberry.  They rarely get this big because they get cut down.  This tree is a male tree, which probably saved it life.  No fruit but it does produce massive amounts of pollen.  The tree on the right, the one with the black trunk, is a Sweet Cherry.  These trees can be found at 913 Grove Street.
Sweet Cherry trees seem to do well around here.  They might not produce fruit reliably, but they can be counted on to survive the climate, especially if you plant them on the north side of a building or where their trunks can be shaded during the winter.  Example:  with bushes clustered around them.  The limiting factor for Sweet Cherries seems to be sun scald, where the sun reflects off of the snow and thaws out the south side of the trunk.  The rapid re-freeze plays havoc with the tree.


  1. I beat Lucky to the comments section...I'll go ahead and post this link to an article containing his hickory syrup recipe:

    My kids won't even accept syrup from the store anymore, we use hickory syrup exclusively.


    This book suggested walnut syrup was the best. I can't remember what they said about hickory syrup. Most tree saps can be made into syrup. The law of diminishing returns limits most, though.

    I had spruce beer over Xmas. Surprisingly good.

    1. Hickory syrup is not made from the sap of the hickory tree. It is made by extracting flavor from those strips of bark by boiling in water and then adding sugar to create syrup.

      From the link graciously posted by Alissa Sanderson:

      "Fans of this traditional American concoction, and there are now many, claim it has an incredible, unique taste. Food writer Ronni Lundy first sampled hickory syrup in 2001 and told readers of Gourmet Magazine that the flavor is "sharp and buttery", slightly smoky, and in the right setting, even flowery.

      The average, non-"foodie" reader (and I include myself in that group) has never heard of hickory syrup. Don't feel left out; the existence of this substance, and even the recipe for its creation, seemed to have eluded almost the whole of 20th century civilization until 1991.


  3. I stand corrected. It pays to read everything first.

    One wonders what other barks can be used this way.


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