You hear a lot about pollinators in the news these days, mostly because of the alarming decline in the population of bees. There is no denying that bees are excellent pollinators -- they tend to spend a lot of time on one blossom and pick up a tremendous amount of pollen that way. Butterflies are another well-known pollinator and their numbers have also been in decline. Monarch butterfly populations have declined 90% in the last 20 years.
Butterflies are not as prolific as bees as their bodies don't carry the large quantity of pollen that bees do. But they do have two advantages -- one is that they often fly longer distances and the other is that the pollen they carry in their mouths stays fresher longer.
Pollen carries the tree's male genes. Trees such as birches, hazels, pines, spruces, firs, cottonwoods, oaks, elms, and walnuts rely on the wind for pollination. Insect-pollinated trees include apples, cherries, catalpas, horse chestnuts, tulip trees and willows.
How can we help the butterfly and bee populations continue their important work of pollination? There are many lists available of plants such as butterfly milkweed, goldenrod, Joe Pye and blazing stars. But TREES can also play an important role as host plants because they often provide the first available food for pollinators in the spring. The top ten trees in support of butterfly/moth species are: oak, black cherry, willow, birch, poplar, crabapple, maple, elm, pine and hickory. So next time you are thinking about supporting pollinators in your own home landscape -- don't overlook the trees!
The gallery shows I have been in have mainly consisted of me (and other artists) bringing in our works of art already matted and framed and the art is then hung on walls. That's all well and good! But right now I am working on a show called "The Enchanted Forest" that is going to be atypical to say the least. And I'm very excited about it!
For starters, Mary Dill is working on creating a giant tree that will be installed in the center of the gallery. This will not be a realistic tree in terms of its bark or leaves, but will have the recognizable shape of a tree. Surprises will be hidden in various nooks and crannies of this tree. Tree-themed jewelry, crafted by Kate Stockman, will be used to adorn the tree. And a few fanciful creatures you'd not see in real life will be clustered at its base. If you take the time to look you'll see a water wheel and millpond.
There will be plenty of my true-to-life photos of trees on the wall, as well as some of Carol Pearce Bjorlie's tree poems. Hope Rodearmar’s “fairy chairs” are sure to enchant! Art Sauder’s wood carvings, Sarah Jane Oiler’s wire-wrapped art and Eva McCray’s pottery will enhance the entire experience.
The opening for this show is Friday, August 3, from 6 - 8pm and will run until August 30. The address is: 373 Harmon Field Rd. in Tryon, North Carolina. I hope to see you in this 'enchanted forest.'
Kansas is famous for being a 'prairie' state. So I wouldn't expect to see much other than cottonwoods and grasses at an arboretum and botanical garden in Overland Park, MO -- south of Kansas City, MO and close to the Kansas border. But I was wrong! And pleased to be wrong!
These 300 acres DO have 180 acres set aside in prairie, but they also have 13 gardens, a sculpture garden, Monet garden and 6 miles of paved and wood chip trails. These wood chip trails traverse riparian woodlands and mesic oak-hickory forest. Their visitor center has available a black and white booklet about some of their trees (which are numbered and located on a map so you can easily find them) with a botanical line drawing. If you are a tree lover, you will definitely want to pick one up and use it. They are a variety of trees including: hickory, elm, ash, sycamore, walnut, chinkapin oak, pawpaws, littleleaf linden and Pekin lilacs.
I think it is wonderful, in this world of ever-dwindling freshwater resources, that they have a xeriscape garden as well. This garden showcases plants that have low water requirements. I also appreciate that leashed dogs are permitted on all the woodchip trails.
There are more than 600 conifer species in the world. The world's tallest tree, the Coast redwood, is a conifer. Its botanical name is Sequoia sempervirens. The closest relatives of the Coast redwood are the Giant sequoia and the Dawn redwood. The Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) only grows naturally now in small pockets of China. The Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron gigantea) is only found in the western Sierra Nevada. The Giant sequoia is the world's largest living organism, but not the tallest.
Even within the "Coast redwood" classification the trees are not uniform and can be further divided into "northern, central and southern." These distinctions are based on such characteristics as: frost tolerance, rate of growth, wood specific gravity and chemicals in the trees' resin. Interestingly, redwoods have SIX sets of chromosones (most organisms have only two sets). This is one way in which the redwoods are all the same!
I don't usually give the Latin botanical names for trees, but I have in this case to help underscore how tricky it is to get the nomenclature right when talking about 'redwoods' and 'sequoias.' By the way, there is an excellent book, "Coast Redwood: A Natural and Cultural History" edited by John Evarts and Marjorie Popper if you would like to learn more details about these glorious trees.
There are flowers associated with the Coast redwood groves. These are: bleeding heart, the Western azalea, redwood lily and redwood sorrell. I saw a great deal of the sorrell and mistakenly believed they were very robust clover! And, of course, there are FERNS. Ferns are much older than redwoods, believed to have evolved over 300 million years ago. But once redwoods appeared on the scene ferns and redwoods began to grow together (about 65 to 135 million years ago).
I was lucky enough to spend two weeks camping in the redwoods recently in Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Jedidiah Smith State Park (both in California). All I can tell you for sure is that the experience was blissful. Below are some photos I took.
Trees die for a variety of reasons: they can be deliberately killed by humans wielding chain saws, axes or back hoes. They can be eaten alive by biological 'pests.' Or they can die from generally unfavorable environmental conditions. I've been travelling in the Southwest for the past few weeks and have found myself drawn many times to the beauty of a tree whose life was claimed by lack of water and/or extreme heat. A few of them are in the pictures above. Top left was taken at Natural Bridges National Monument, bottom left was taken at Canyon de Chelly.
I find these trees 'beautiful' on two levels: one, the 'nobility' I can read as their life story as they struggled to maintain their lives in the face of extreme adversity leading to death and, two, the abstract visual beauty they exhibit after their deaths. I believe Georgia O'Keeffee was drawn to skulls and bones bleached and scoured by the wind and sun of the New Mexican plains in a similar way. About her depiction of the bones in her painting, "Cow's Skull with Calico Roses," she said "To me they are as beautiful as anything I know."
Trees, so beautiful while living, retain a graceful beauty after death as well.
Live oaks are not 'true' evergreens because they do lose their leaves immediately before new ones comes out in spring. Those leaves are shiny on top and pale gray on the underside. They can live for hundreds of years. The "Angel Oak" on Johns Island (just outside Charleston, SC) is estimated to be 400-500 years old and has a 28 foot circumference. The "Cleveland Oak" on Avery Island, Louisiana is about 300 years old with a 23 foot circumference. [Pictured below is the Cleveland Oak, visited by President Cleveland in 1891.]
Live oaks are native to the Southeastern part of the United States. They can be found in the extreme southeast of Virginia, along a thin strip of coast in the Carolinas, the southern 1/4 of Georgia, all of Florida, about half of Texas and a strip along southern Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Live oaks are often hosts to Spanish moss, ball moss, mistletoe and Resurrection ferns. [Pictured below are close ups of Live Oak bark.]
When I used to drive past trees in the Spring and saw them colored so beautifully, I used to assume those colors were due to buds and flowers. Lately I have been looking more closely -- and have discovered that much of what I used to perceive as flowers are actually 'samaras.'
Samaras are technically known as 'winged achenes' which means they are composed of a bit of papery tissue attached to a dry fruit containing a seed. These samaras are dispersed by the wind. They are also known as: wingnuts, helicopters, whirlybirds and whirligigs.
In my ignorance, I also thought that the only types of trees to produce samaras were maples. They are also produced by elms, ash and bushwillow trees. Apparently the samaras of the Siberian Elms are edible, but I don't intend to try them any time soon.
On a related note, I called these winged seeds "samsaras" for years. Until today, actually. But I think it is worth sharing that the word "samsara" is used in the Hindu and Buddhist belief systems to mean the cycle of of death and rebirth. Which seems somehow fitting for these flying seeds of the trees which throw their fates to the winds in hopes of rebirth.
It has been less than a year since my book, These Trees, was published in June 2017. It has been an extremely busy time since then for promoting and distributing this book of tree photos and poems.
The first store to carry THESE TREES was A Walk In The Woods in Hendersonville, NC. Today a TENTH store, Highlands Books (Brevard, NC) began carrying the book. The other eight places in North Carolina you can buy the book in-person are: Asheville -- Malaprop's Bookstore, Mountain Made Gallery and NC Arboretum; Belmont - Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden; Pisgah Forest -- Cradle of Forestry (near Pink Beds); Morganton - Burke Arts Council; Tryon - Tryon Painters & Sculptors and Tryon School of Arts and Crafts.
The book can also be purchased on Amazon.com The bookstore on this website will be closed April 12 - July 1, but will reopen on July 2.
Many, many thanks to all of you who have helped to make this 'valentine to the arboreal world' a success.
Ruthie photographs trees because she loves them.
1 - 3pm
A Walk in the Woods
423 N. Main St.
Photographer and editor Ruthie Rosauer will be on hand to autograph copies of her book, THESE TREES. The book, a compilation of 140 trees photos paired with poems, has been described as "A gorgeous book, a heart-opening photo collection."