Almstead Tree & Shrub Care Blog

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why Leaves Really Fall Off Trees

There was a great story on NPR about leaves "falling" from trees. In the spirit of celebrating the autumn season, here's a snippet! (A link to the full story is below...) 

We call this season the "fall" because all around us right now (if you live near leaf-dropping trees in a temporal zone), leaves are turning yellow and looking a little dry and crusty. So when a stiff breeze comes along, those leaves seem to "fall" off, thus justifying the name "fall." 

Sounds reasonable, no? But the truth is much more interesting. According to Peter Raven, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden and a renowned botanist, the wind doesn't gently pull leaves off trees. Trees are more proactive than that. They throw their leaves off. Instead of calling this season "The Fall," if trees could talk they'd call this the "Get Off Me" season.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Improper Planting

We're called to sites more often than we'd like to asses the condition of trees that were recently planted and may not be in the best of condition.  The cause may not be readily apparent from the ground up, but once you explore a bit below the surface, things usually begin to make sense.  These pictures demonstrate the ill effect nylon ropes and fabric left on the root ball of a newly planted tree can have.   

Landscape trees are expensive -- justifiably so if we can watch them develop into mature trees, but hardly worth the cost if they fail during the first years.  Whether you're planting trees on your own or hiring the job out to a contractor, insist that the packing materials around the base of the tree be removed and the tree is installed at a proper depth.  Don't settle for, "Don't worry, it will rot off in a year."


- Bob Bociek

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hen of the Woods

I was at a client's property the other day and ran across the unique looking Grifola frondosa fungus - commonly called Hen of the Woods (check out the similarity).

Hen of the Woods often attaches to the roots of Oaks, which was exactly the case with the specimens I saw. Unfortunately, this cool looking fungus is a parasite that extracts nutrients from a tree's root system and tends to cause root and butt rot (decaying the tree from the bottom and rising as time progresses). In the urban forest, this can quickly lead to a hazardous tree situation. Fungi are often indicators of poor tree health, so if you see one, it's wise not to ignore it.

-Ken Almstead