Sunday, April 22, 2018

Black Cherry - Prunus serotina

Rosaceae - Rose Family
"A Year With the Trees" - Tree Number 82
Black Cherry Tree
Prunus serotina


Black Cherry Tree flowers in bloom

Black Cherry

The Black Cherry tree is covered in new spring green leaves.

What I learned about the Black Cherry:
The leaves are finely serrated.
The leaves are simple and alternate.
The twigs are reddish brown. They are said to have a bitter almond taste; though, I did not taste them to find out.
This tree can grow up to 100 feet.


The Black Cherry leaves are shining in the summer sun; filled with life.  You can see the finely sawtoothed edges with their curving blunt teeth.

The Black Cherry tree provides food for many birds and small mammals.  The fruits are used in jams and syrups.  The bark has been used for many years in making medicinals for coughs.

Prunus serotina, Black Cherry


This is what I look like - always looking into the tops of the trees.


This tree is at the Asheville Botanical Gardens.

The Black Cherry can be identified by the bark that some say looks like burnt potato chips.  The bark has medicinal properties. The bark from young black cherries is used in cough medicines, tonics, and sedatives. The fruit is used for making jelly and wine.

The Champion Black Cherry Trees

The North Carolina Champion Black Cherry tree lives in Clyde, North Carolina.  It is so big for a Black Cherry.  Check out the picture, amazing!
This tree is 96 feet tall and has a circumference of 175 inches.

My favorite Black Cherry Tree

I vist a Black Cherry at the Botanical Gardens of Asheville.  I cant exactly say it is my most favorite Black Cherry.  I will be on the lookout for where my favorite Black Cherry is.  Check back.

Why Plant Native Black Cherry trees?

For the love of the trees,

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pin Cherry - Prunus pensylvanica

Rosaceae - Rose Family
"A Year With the Trees" - Tree Number 81
Pin Cherry Tree
Prunus pensylvanica

Drawing  by Brooke Priddy Conrad on Sept. 23rd in honor of my grandson, Wyatt.

By Superior National Forest (Prunus pennsylvanica 2  Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
This beautiful tree grows at the higher elevations of the southern Appalachians as well as in the northern part of the United States and Canada.  It is sometimes called Fire cherry for its ability to grow after forest fires. Many little Pin Cherrys will grow in an area that has had a fire, providing shade for seedlings of slower growing trees then it will only live 30 - 40 years.  When the end of its life is here, room is left for the new slower growing, bigger trees.


The Pin Cherry Tree - Prunus pensylvanica

The Pin Cherry Tree
The Pin Cherry tree has narrow toothed oblong green leaves with two distinctive bumps near the base of the leaf stem.  This tree has small round fruits that turn from green to red in the late summer.


Pin Cherry Tree on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Pin Cherry Tree on the Blue Ridge Parkway
In September, the Pin Cherry trees are changing leaf color. The red berries have been mostly eaten by the birds and squirrels. Some of the leaves have already fallen. The colors of the leaves that remain on the trees are breathtaking against the blue fall sky.


The Pin Cherry tree on the Blue Ridge Parkway
The Pin Cherry tree lives up high at over 5,000 feet in elevation.  I drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway to what I call the top of the world to find this tree.  This Pin Cherry lives near Richland Balsam overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway at over 6,000 feet above sea level.
There are also quite a few between graveyard fields and Black Balsam Knob Road.  The white flower blossoms are so beautiful as well as the fruit, the little red drupes that are on the trees in September.

The Champion Pin Cherry Trees

The Pin cherry tree is also called Fire Cherry for it is one of the first trees to grow back in the forests after a fire.  It Grows as a small tree, the Pin cherry usually has a straight trunk and a narrow, round-topped crown. It grows 15-50 ft. tall and 4-20 inches in diameter. Trees up to 100 ft tall have been found growing in the southern Appalachians, with the largest found on the western slopes of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Pin cherry is rather short lived, having a lifespan of only 20-40 years following a rapid maturation.

The North Carolina Champion Pin Cherry tree lives in Transylvania County.  It is 54 feet high and has a circumference of 51 inches.

The American forest Champion Pin Cherry tree lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  It is 80 feet high and has a circumference of 61".

My favorite Pin Cherry Tree

My favorite Pin Cherry trees live on the Blue Ridge Parkway just past Graveyard Fields on the way to Black Balsam Knob Road.

Plant a Pin Cherry Tree

The Pin cherry serves as food for a large number of moths and butterflies. It also feeds birds on its beautiful red berries during the winter months. There is a beautiful video on the web I watched by John Heider of a Robin eating the berries. Go find it and enjoy.

A second common name for the Pin Cherry beside fire cherry is bird cherry because so many birds eat the fruit.

"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit." Nelson Henderson.

For the love of the trees,

American Plum - Prunus americana

Rosaceae - Rose Family
"A Year With the Trees" - Tree Number 80
American Plum

Prunus americana


The American Plum Tree
This tree is also called the Wild Plum.  This time of year the fruit is still green and growing. 

This tree can be identified by the way it grows in thickets due to the roots sprouting into twigs around the main trunk.  This is one of the first trees to bloom in the spring with beautiful white flowers.

The American Plum


American Plum tree in the summertime
This tree lives in Mountain Home, Arkansas.  There is a grove of American Plum trees there on the Crystal Willet Nature trail.  Master gardeners take care of this beautiful space.
I will find the tree for this image soon I hope.


I will find the tree for this image soon I hope.

The Champion American Plum Trees

The American forests champion American Plum tree lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.  It is 25 feet high and has a circumference of 84 inches. 
There are no listings for a state champion in North Carolina.

My favorite American Plum Tree

I do not have a favorite American Plum tree yet.  I am searching for you.  Do you know of one I can meet?

Plant a American Plum Tree

The fruit, flowers and leaves of the American Plum are important food sources for birds, insects, and mammals.  

For the love of the trees,

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Hawthorn - Crataegus, sp

Rosaceaae - Rose Family
"A Year With the Trees" - Tree Number 79

Crataegus, sp

The Hawthorn Tree - Crataegus sp.
This Hawthorn lives at the Asheville Botanical Gardens.

This time of year the Hawthorn tree has no leaves so the thorns are very visible as well a few berries still hanging on the tree.


Hawthorn Tree Flowers and Thorns on the BlueRidge Parkway.  Photo by Robert Priddy.
The champion Hawthorn Tree at the Asheville Botanical Gardens
The fruits of the Hawthorn are tart, bright red, and resemble small crabapple fruits.
The fruits can be eaten raw, cooked, or in jam.  The leaves are edible and, if picked in spring when still young, they are tender enough to be used in salads.

Hawthorns have been used in naturopathic, Chinese, herbal and traditional medicine.

This is a small tree with long thorns. Leaves are toothed, variable, and simple.

There are as many as 1000 varieties of hawthorn trees. Some botanists will debate the number as being 100 varieties of hawthorns. This is because they are almost indistinguishable as species.

The Hawthorn berries stay on the tree through the winter providing food for many small mammals and birds.


Hawthorn, sp
Oh, Hawthorn; what a tree. This tree has big thorns and beautiful fruit. This Hawthorn is what I call "on top of the world"; it lives on Mt. Pisgah on the Blueridge Parkway. There are many Hawthorns growing at this elevation.  It is over 5,000 feet above sea level at Mt. Pisgah.

The late summer ID tip is to look for the berries and the one-inch thorns, and it is probably a hawthorn.


The Hawthorn Tree
The thorns stand out in the winter to help us identify this tree when the leaves are absent.

The Champion Hawthorn Trees

I am challenged in identifying Hawthorn.   I have been calling theHawthorn trees I visit, Hawthorn, sp.  So, when I went to look up the Champions, I was getting species names of different Hawthorns.  So, I will need to research further which Hawthorn species I am visiting. 

My favorite Hawthorn Tree

My favorite Hawthorn trees live at the campground by Mt. Pisgah, the Mt. Pisgah campground.  They are strong and healthy and really beautiful.

Plant a Hawthorn Tree

Can you imagine no insects?  
Can you imagine no birds?
Like Rachel Carson called it, a silent spring.  Rachel Carson made a difference.
May we all make a difference and educate ourselves about why we must plant species native to the area in which we live.  Educate yourselves for now and for our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren.  

For the love of the trees, 

The Hawthorn tree is thorns, flowers,  berries, and leaves.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Serviceberry- Amelanchier arborea

Rosaceae - Rose Family
"A Year With the Trees" - Tree Number 78

Amelancier arborea


This is one of the first trees to bloom in the spring, beautiful white flowers.

There is a story about why this tree is called the Serviceberry tree. The story goes that when the serviceberry tree blooms in the spring, the ground has thawed enough to bury anyone that passed away during the frozen winter months. The blooming of the serviceberry tree was a sign that the circuit riding preacher would be around to do the burial service under a serviceberry tree.

I had an ancestor who was a circuit riding preacher; this story always make me think of him.


The Serviceberry tree.

 This tree has smooth green leaves that are have fine teeth along the edges.  The leaves are arranged alternately on the twigs and are 2-4 inches long and 1-2 inches wide.  We were fortunate to eat some of the berries about 3 weeks ago; they were delicous.  The berries may still be on the trees at the higher elevations in the Smokies and the Pisgah forest.  The berries are red to purple colored ; they resemble a very small apple with a small seed inside. The fruit can be used in pies and jams.

George Washington planted Serviceberries at Mt. Vernon.  If these trees are still there, they must be so beautiful in the early spring when the flowers are blooming and in the summer when the bright berries are on the trees.  I can imagine the beauty continues into the fall when the leaves turn to red,
and again when the snow is laying on their limbs.

Serviceberry Tree leaf in late summer.
By late summer some of the leaves are still holding on. On this tree, most of the leaves have fallen off already.

This tree gets their flowers on the branches really early in the spring and the leaves fall off before most other trees.  With this early life habit going on with tree, this tree reminds me that getting up early in the morning is really an amazing thing to do.  I am getting up really early lately,  I am getting up before the sun and am really really enjoying the bird song each morning and watching the sky lighten before the sun shows in the sky.

I hope everyone can get to know a Serviceberry tree.  May you each find one in your life.

The Serviceberry Tree in September


I will be out this coming winter to get this photo.  Please check back.

The Champion Serviceberry Trees 

The 2018 North Carolina champion Serviceberry tree lives in Haywood County.  It is 38 feet tall and has a circumference of 113 inches.

The 2018 American Forest champion Serviceberry lives in Connecticut and is 34 feet tall and has a circumference of 134 inches.

My favorite Serviceberry Tree

My favorite Serviceberry tree lives at a friend's house.  I am seeking a favorite Serviceberry tree in a public park.

Plant a Serviceberry Tree

Song birds and squirrels eat the summer berries of the Serviceberry tree; so do people, like me.  White tailed deer browse on the young leaves and twigs.

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

For the love of the trees,


Sycamore - Platanus occidentalis

Platanaceae - Sycamore Family
"A Year With the Trees" - Tree Number 77
American Sycamore Tree
Platanus occidentalis

The Sycamore Tree - Platanus occidentalis
These Sycamore trees live in Cookeville, Tennessee.  The fruits from last year are still hanging on the branches.  The leaves are still not out yet in the beginning of April.  The large trees, like the Sycamore, wait to leaf out till a bit later.  This gives the wildflowers on the ground, time to come out of the earth and bloom and complete their beautiful life cycle in the sunshine underneath the mighty and tall trees still without leaves.

The Sycamore Tree - Platanus occidentalis

The Sycamore Tree - Platanus occidentalis

The Sycamore flowers open in April in a hanging type of small flower. Both male and female flowers appear on the same tree. This is called an monoecious tree. The flowers appear with the leaves in April.


Summer Sycamore backlit leaves

The Sycamore leaves and fruit in the summertime.
The leaves are full this time of year; they are starting to wear a bit in the wind and by the insects and birds. The leaf is always a great way to ID a Sycamore Tree. The leaf shape is distinctive, maple like. The leaves are three to 5 lobed with large teeth on the edges; they are 6-10 inches, alternate and simple.

There is a tree in West Virginia that the Pringle brothers lived in during the Revolutionary war for three years. I was so large that two men lived inside the tree trunk. This tree was a true tree house.

You can still see the very large descendant of the original Pringle tree near Buckhannon, West Virginia.


The Summer is coming to a close and Fall is in the air.  Today, I went to the visit the Sycamore that lives here, at Priddy Woods.  The Sycamore has this incredible bark.  I always think the Sycamore is reminding us to let go of whatever we do not need to carry around in the life.  Thank you for reminding me of that, Sycamore!   Listen to the insects at night during the late summer/early fall, it is music!

The Sycamore Tree in October


The Sycamore Tree
This beautiful Sycamore tree lives at the Asheville Botanical Gardens.  There is a meadow there called Sycamore meadow.

This Winter Sycamore Tree image shows the fruit of the sycamore tree hanging on the branch on this cold January day. This time of year you will be able to see the fruits that cling to the branches and the beautiful bark. The Sycamore tree's bark is so interesting to look at; it is colored in patches of brown,  green, tan and gray. The patches are mottled and peeling in sections.  This tree will shed its bark as it grows. Some people call this tree the ghost tree for when the bark peels, it looks white like a ghost.

The Champion Sycamore Trees

There is a North Carolina Champion tree listed in Nash County.  There are no stats for it.  Here is a link.
There is a great photo of the tree.

My favorite Sycamore Tree

Sycamore seeds accompanied the lunar orbit of Apollo 14 in 1971 and were planted across America from Philadelphia's Independence Hall to the Asheville, NC Botanical Gardens and beyond. A few years ago, I wrote a book about this Sycamore tree in Asheville for my son and his wife and their two young sons. My daughter illustrated the book and my husband photographed it. Perhaps I will put it on this blog one day.

You can see this Sycamore Tree at the Asheville Botanical Gardens in Sycamore meadow.

Plant a Sycamore Tree

Many insects, birds and small mammals find shelter and eat the fruits and leaves of the sycamore tree. Plant a sycamore tree and provide food and shelter for many important species.

I highly recommend this book about why it is so important to plant native species where we live, work, and play.

For the love of the trees,

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Carolina Hemlock - Tsuga caroliniana

Pinaceae - Pine Family
"A Year With the Trees" - Tree Number 76
Carolina Hemlock Tree
Tsuga caroliniana


The Carolina Hemlock
This tree lives at the Asheville Botanical Gardens.
The Carolina Hemlock splays her needles all around the twig; this is the way to distinguish it from the Eastern Hemlock, which lays his needles flat on top, like a blanket.

Carolina Hemlock that has the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid living on it.
New spring growth on another Carolina Hemlock that does not have the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid living in it's branches.  
The Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is living on this Carolina Hemlock.  The Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is native to Asia and came to the Southern Appalachians in the 1950's.  This adelgid lives and breeds unchecked as this species has no predator in this part of the world.  The adelgid is sucking the sap out of the hemlock trees and causing them to die.  You can tell when a Hemlock has an infestation of the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid for it has white patches of a wooly substance which is actually what the Adelgid wraps their eggs in.

There is research going on in how to stop this infestation.  There are different methods being used and studied.  You can read more at

The Carolina Hemlock
This Carolina Hemlock lives at the Asheville Botanical Gardens.

The location of this Carolina Hemlock is interesting for it is very close to a Tsuga Canadensis. Because they are so close it is easy to see the difference in the two species. The biggest difference I could see was in the size of the needles, cones, and twigs. In comparing these two trees, the Carolina Hemlock had the largest needles and cones; although there was not a great deal of difference, it was noticeable. The Eastern Hemlock twigs were slightly thicker and the sprays of needles appear to be flatter on the Eastern Hemlock and more all around the twig on the Carolina Hemlock.


This tree only lives in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. I visited this tree at the Asheville Botanical Gardens.

The Champion Carolina Hemlock Tree

The American Forest National Champion Carolina Hemlock Tree lives in Buncombe County, North Carolina.  It is 74 feet tall and has a circumference of 128 inches.

I hope to find this tree and photograph and draw it.  Check back for that soon.

My favorite Carolina Hemlock Tree

My favorite Carolina Hemlock lives at the Botanical Gardens of Asheville.

For the love of the trees,

from my journal....

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Eastern Hemlock - Tsuga canadensis

Pinaceae - Pine Family
"A Year With the Trees" - Tree Number 75
Eastern Hemlock Tree
Tsuga canadensis


Eastern Hemlock Bark
Eastern Hemlock new growth and underside of needles
This Eastern Hemlock lives in Asheville.  While it does have some Wooly Adelgid infestation, it still has new growth.


The Eastern Hemlock in July


Eastern Hemlock
This Hemlock is alive and well at the Asheville Botanical Gardens.


Eastern Hemlock

This Eastern Hemlock lives at the Asheville Botanical Gardens.

The Eastern Hemlock Tree

The Champion Eastern Hemlock Trees

The Champion Eastern Hemlock tree lives in Macon County, North Carolina.  This is also the NC Champion tree as well.  Here are a couple links to check this amazing tree out.  It is 192 inches in circumference and is 159 feet tall.

My favorite Eastern Hemock Tree

My favorite Eastern Hemlock tree lives at the Botanical Gardens of Asheville.

For the love of the trees,

from my journal...

Black Cherry - Prunus serotina

Rosaceae - Rose Family "A Year With the Trees" - Tree Number 82 Black Cherry Tree Prunus serotina Spring Black Cherry Tree...