Got Nature? Blog

Tree with drought stress.Many homeowners are finding their trees with dry and wilted leaves and no rain in sight. Urban Forestry Specialist Lindsey Purcell describes how homeowners can deal with these drought-stressed trees in his publication Drought? Don’t Forget the Trees!

Drought can have a major impact on tree health and survival. Water is the most limiting ecological resource for a tree, and without adequate moisture, decline and death are imminent. It reduces carbohydrate production, significantly lowering energy reserves and production of defense chemicals in the tree.

Trees in a weakened state from drought are more susceptible to pests, which can further weaken the tree, and even kill part or all of it. Although there is nothing we can do to prevent drought, it is important to know what can be done to reduce long-term effects of prolonged dry conditions.

Resources:
Trees in Times of Drought​ video, Purdue Agriculture
Drought Information, Purdue Extension
Drought Information​, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Tree Planting Part 1: Choosing a Tree video, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University


On this edition of ID That Tree, Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee introduces you to the northern white cedar, a native conifer that is used for ornamental, windbreak and reforestation purposes. This evergreen has distinct scale like foliage which is soft to the touch. He shares how to distinguish it from the eastern red cedar.

If you have any questions regarding trees, forests, wildlife, wood products or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Resources
ID That TreePlaylist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
ID That Tree: Eastern Red Cedar, Video
Thuja occidentalis, The Purdue Arboretum Explorer
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on August 10th, 2020 in Forestry, How To, Safety, Urban Forestry | No Comments »

Purdue Landscape Report: Homeowners can easily become injured – often fatally – while attempting to trim trees near overhead electrical wires. Though it is tempting to try to save money with this “do-it-yourself” approach, the potential for electrocution is not worth the risk. It is important to recognize when to call a professional arborist.

Terrible accidents can happen when a homeowner uses any type of cutting tools and/or ladders when attempting to trim backyard trees and shrubs. Overhead wires are often unnoticed and is touched by directly or indirectly, causing injury or death.

Examples include:

  • A homeowner climbed a ladder to trim a tree branch that was dropping leaves into his above ground swimming pool and causing a nuisance. A branch came in contact with the power line, shocking the man with a jolt of electricity and sending him into cardiac arrest. He fell 20 feet to the ground but was revived by medics at the scene.
  • MATTHEWS, N.C. — A man trimming trees in a neighborhood was shocked Wednesday morning after a limb fell on power lines, authorities said. Nearby resident Margie Owens knows the man and said he does odd jobs around the neighborhood. According to officials, after the limb fell from pruning, the tree continued to be energized by the power line, leaving the man stuck.
  • A Charlotte County man was electrocuted trimming trees in a backyard. The victim was part of a landscaping crew and came in direct contact with a utility line.

Preventable Accidents
Tree limbs can conduct electricity. When trees grow near overhead wires, they can contact the wires and become energized. Trees and wires are dangerous, full of electrical power that can injure or kill humans. How do we know which lines are energized?  WE DON’T! Assume all are carrying dangerous electrical current and should be avoided when working around them.

A common house switch carries 120 volts, but the electric flow is usually limited to 10, 15 or 20 amps. A common “house drop” (service wire) contains 240 volts and up to 20 amps or more. Given the right set of circumstances, even the shock a person gets from a common light switch can kill, but at the same time, it is easier to break electrical contact while standing inside a house. If a person is climbing a ladder or is in the tree, it may be more difficult to break contact with the energized wire. This means that the service line over a typical yard could easily kill a person.

Photo-3

Utility service providers can help select a tree which is compatible with nearby lines and reduce the need for excessive pruning to maintain safety and reliability

Photo2

These powerlines could be “energizing” the tree creating a potential shock hazard for anyone touching the tree. Notice the burning on the new growth.

Photo1

Trees growing into utility lines should be pruned by a qualified arborist.

 
 
 

Here are a few tips to avoid trees in wires:

  • Look for power lines before pruning trees and large shrubs. If lines are anywhere near the tree within 10 ft. don’t attempt any tree work. Tree care professionals have the training and equipment needed to perform these tasks safely.
  • Never climb a tree in order to prune it. Even if the wires aren’t currently touching the tree, remember that the tree’s branches will shift once you begin climbing or removing limbs.
  • Don’t move ladders or long-handled pruning tools around the yard without first looking up. Always read and heed ladder-use safety labels.

Find a professional
Be sure to always hire an insured, tree care professional, preferably and ISA Certified Arborist with the experience, expertise, and equipment to safely take down or prune trees in wires. Require proof of liability insurance to protect yourself as well.

Another easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the “Locate Your Local Tree Care Industry Association Member Companies” program.For more information refer to the publication Trees and Utilities at the Purdue Education Store.

Find a certified arborist in your area by going to www.treesaregood.org

Resources
Tree Pruning for the Landscape, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube channel
Tree Pruning Essentials, Video & Publication
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Pruning: What Do Trees Think?, The Education Store
Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment, The Education Store
Tree Installation Process and Practices, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Purdue Extension forester  Lenny Farlee introduces you to one of Indiana’s most common trees, the sugar maple. This species, which is often used to produce maple syrup, is easily identifiable by its five-lobed leaves, opposite leaf and branch arrangement, and ability to thrive in the understory.

If you have any questions regarding trees, forests, wildlife, wood products or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Resources
The Story Behind a Sugar Maple Scar, Purdue Extension
Sugar Maple, The Purdue Arboretum
Hard or Sugar Maple, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
ID That Tree, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


pub coverYour Ecosystem Listening Labs (YELLS): The Science of Soundscape Ecology Instructor’s Guide, Grades 5-8 is a 160-page publication, consisting of four chapters that focus on physics of sound, animal communication, soundscapes, and soundscape ecology.

The world around us is full of amazing sounds that are often ignored by humans. Unfortunately, many of the sources of these sounds are actually in danger of being destroyed by human activities. The activities contained in this package take students through the entire scientific method, from observations through conclusions, pairing the practice of science with the exploration of soundscape-based content.

To learn more about soundscape ecology and the sounds around us we might be missing or don’t know are there, visit Center for Global Soundscapes.

Resources
Soundscape Ecology Research Projects, Purdue University
Record the Earth, APP
Community Soundscape Planning Guide: Controlling Noise & Protecting Natural and Cultural Sonic Spaces, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center

Bryan Pijanowski, Professor of Landscape and Soundscape Ecology
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Kristen Bellisario, Post Doc Research Associate
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


HEE 2020 newsletter update

This 100 year studey, Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE), brings pertinent forest management data to many in Indiana. Extension publications continue to share topics including: Wildlife Responses to Timber Harvesting, Sustaining our Oak-Hickory Forests, Forest Birds and more.

With forest management in the eastern United States facing many modern challenges this long-term, large-scale experimental study addresses many of these challenges.

To learn more about this 100 year forest management plan and see its impacts, check out the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE) website.

You will also find on the website “The HEE Update” newsletter which is distributed to anyone interested in receiving updates on the HEE study. The newsletter includes updates of field work, media attention, committee meetings, extension events, job announcements, publications, and presentations. Anyone can receive this newsletter – you do not have to be actively involved in the project.

The new Spring/Summer 2020 issue gives a great look into the current happenings within the HEE project including: student highlights, new publications, the organization’s outreach, and some stunning photos of the 2020 field season.

If you would like to start receiving “The HEE Update,” please email Charlotte Owings, the HEE project coordinator, at freemac@purdue.edu. If you do not have an email address, you may still receive the newsletter by regular postal mail, call Charlotte Owings at 765-494-1472.

Resources
Past Issues, The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment
The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment: 2006-2016, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment – Wildlife Responses to Timber Harvesting, The Education Store
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment – Sustaining Our Oak-Hickory Forests, The Education Store
Forest Birds, The Education Store

Charlotte Owings, Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment Project Coordinator
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on July 13th, 2020 in Forestry, How To, Plants, Urban Forestry | No Comments »
Callery_pear_thicket

Callery Pear

Question: We have a customer with an ornamental pear tree that is sprouting shoots throughout their entire front lawn. Do you have any recommendations regarding control, other than removing the tree?

Answer: Hello, and thanks for reaching out with your tree questions. It sounds like the seedlings from ornamental callery pear. For many years, the cultivar Bradford dominated the landscape and was not self-fruiting. But as newer, improved cultivars were introduced to landscapes, they were cross-fruitful with Bradford pears.

So now “volunteer” callery pear trees are seeding themselves in alarming numbers and from their roots as suckers even where they were not planted, helped along by birds. These seedling pears are extremely vigorous and quite precocious, coming into bloom and fruit at a very young age. The Indiana Invasive Species Council has listed this species as highly invasive in Indiana.

Remove seedling trees immediately or keep them mowed very low to prevent flowering and fruiting. Usually, the ordinary broadleaf weed sprays for turf will keep them down. If you have ornamental pear trees in your landscape, keep a close watch for fruit set. If your existing landscape specimens bore fruit this year, you can spray next spring with fruit inhibitor hormone (e.g., ethephon, Florel® fruit inhibitor) to reduce fruit set. Note that timing and thorough coverage is critical. The spray must be applied when plants are in the early stage of full bloom, before fruit sets. Typically, ornamental pear is in bloom for 10 to 14 days. It will be difficult to provide thorough coverage on larger specimens. Be sure to read and follow all label directions.

Below we have several resources that also expands upon the Callery Pear trees.

Resources
Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear, Video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Now is the Time to Identify Callery Pear, Purdue Landscape Report
A “Perfect” Nightmare, Purdue Extension’s Indiana Yard and Garden
What are invasive species and why should I care?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue FNR Extension
Invasive Species, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Purdue Landscape Report: Hot, dry summers are not that unusual in the Midwest, but 2020’s hot dry spell started considerably earlier than usual, before summer even officially began! To make it a triple whammy, the hard freeze in early May caused some landscape plants to burn up more stored carbohydrate reserves to produce a second round of foliage.

(Figure 2) July Heat Map

(Figure 2) July Heat Map

I’m sure I don’t have to point out that most of Indiana is currently experiencing abnormally hot, dry conditions. Although recent rains have brought relief to some areas, any respite is sure to be temporary. Seasonal thunderstorms may deluge some landscapes with water while other areas, even those close by, may stay fairly dry. Much of the area has experienced highs in the upper 80’s to over 90º F over the past month.

Leaf scorch on trees and shrubs, appearing as a browning along the edges of the leaves, is very common in dry summers. While minor cases of leaf scorch are not very harmful, prolonged lack of moisture can spell disaster for landscape plants.

Leaf Scorch on Lilac

Leaf Scorch on Lilac

Hydrangea wilting

Hydrangea wilting

Young and newly established plants are most susceptible to the dry conditions, but even established plants may reach a critical point during prolonged drought. If the heat and drought continue this summer, branch dieback, combined with eventual root death, will make plants more susceptible to winter injury. Plants that were already under stress from other factors may succumb to severely dry soils.

The intense heat makes it difficult for plants to keep up with water and cooling requirements, even in areas where moisture is adequate. One of the ways that plants cool themselves is through transpiration, which allows water to evaporate from the foliage. Plant leaves have pores called stomata that can open and close to allow water vapor and gas exchange with the environment. During extreme heat and/or drought, stomata will nearly close, thus reducing transpiration and exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen. The end result is seen as wilting foliage and leaf scorch. But not so obvious is that reduced water uptake and gas exchange also leads to reduced production of carbohydrates through photosynthesis and reduced uptake of soil nutrients, having longer term impact on plant health.

There is still plenty of summer yet to get through to see the further challenges ahead. Meanwhile, we can mitigate some of the stress by watering landscape plants as needed where feasible.

Resources
US Drought Monitor
Indiana – Purdue Rural Emergency Preparedness, Purdue Extension website
In Times of Drought, Indiana Yard and Garden, Purdue Consumer Horticulture
Drought? Don’t Forget the Trees, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Turfgrass Disease Profiles: Summer Patch, The Education Store
Iron Chlorosis of Trees and Shrubs, The Education Store

, Extension Consumer Horticulturist
Purdue University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture


Figure 1. White oak slime flux

Figure 1. White oak slime flux

Purdue Landscape Report: Slime flux (also known as wet wood) is a dark, foul-smelling and unsightly seepage of sap from tree trunks (fig. 1). The disease is not usually a serious problem but the appearance can be alarming. Slime flux is caused by common surface-inhabiting bacteria or yeast fungi that enter the trunk through wounds associated with improper pruning, stem breakage, injections, cracks from freeze injury or weak limb crotches. The bacteria and yeast may live on sap nutrients within injured trees for many years without any outward evidence.

Symptoms
The main symptom is the appearance of the dark sap oozing on the trunk exterior which happens when gasses produced by growth of the bacteria and yeast cause the internal pressure of the sap to become high enough to force the sap out through cracks in the bark. The dark streaks usually turn light gray or white upon drying. Oozing sap may be frothy and white at the point of exit. Airborne bacteria, yeasts, and fungi often colonize the wet oozing material, which ferments and releases a foul odor. Slime flux may delay wound healing (callus formation).

Slime flux is extremely common on mature elms (fig 2), oak (fig 3) and mulberry; and is seen less frequently on maples (fig 4), paper birch, sycamore, and walnut.

Figure 4. Silver Maple

Figure 4. Silver Maple

Figure 3. White Oak

Figure 3. White Oak

Figure 2. American Elm

Figure 2. American Elm

Prevention
There is no control or treatment for slime flux. Inserting a drain tube into the tree to relieve pressure and drain infected sap was once an accepted treatment, but is no longer recommended and may do more harm than good. Boring holes in affected trees causes internal spread of the bacteria within the tree and may allow entry of wood decay fungi.

To reduce the chances of susceptible trees developing wet wood avoid unnecessary wounding of the trunk and branches. Proper pruning techniques, HO-4-W, will allow branches to heal more rapidly. Make sure susceptible trees receive good general care; including irrigation when needed and mulch to conserve moisture and keep mowers away from the trunk. Avoid excess traffic in tree root zone to prevent soil compaction and root injury.

The first and most important step for managing a tree disease is to accurately diagnose the problem. The best approach to diagnosis of tree problems is to start by submitting photos of the tree via the digital upload tool on the Purdue Pest & Diagnostic Lab (PPDL) website. In the case of slime flux it is impractical to collect the type of physical sample needed for confirmation so photos are the best alternative.

References
Sinclair, W. A. and H. H. Lyon. 2005. Diseases of trees and shrubs. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. 660 pp.
Stipes, R. J. and Campana, R. J. (eds.) 1981. Compendium of Elm Diseases. APS Press, St. Paul, MN.

Resources
Diseases in Hardwood Tree Plantings , The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Iron Chlorosis of Trees and Shrubs, The Education Store
Surface Root Syndrome, The Education Store

Tom C Creswell, Clinical Engagement Professor – Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory
Purdue University Department of Botany and Plant Pathology

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forest Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on July 10th, 2020 in Forestry, How To, Land Use, Plants, Urban Forestry | No Comments »

Purdue extension forester Lenny Farlee introduces the red maple, a native tree to Indiana, known for its red to maroon foliage.

If you have any questions regarding trees, forests, wildlife, wood products or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Resources
ID That Tree, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Got Nature?

Archives