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Box Elder

          Scientific name: Acer Negundo

          Description: Box elder is a deciduous tree (loses leaves seasonally). It has a broadly rounded or dome-shaped head, a short trunk, and wide-spreading branches. It sometimes grows to 70 feet tall with a four-foot thick trunk and a crown that is broader than tall. The compound leaves have 3-11 leaflets and are deeply 3-lobed. The leaves are broad, light green on top and paler and sometimes hairy underneath. The flowers appear just before or with the leaves. The female flowers are in drooping spikes and the male flowers in close clusters. The fruits are winged-keys that hang in drooping clusters. The bark is light brown or pale gray and furrowed. Box elder is native to Eastern and Midwestern North America. It is found chiefly on the banks of the slow-moving Midwest rivers.

          Other: Box elder is commonly planted for ornamental purposes. The sap of the box elder has been used to make sugar, but is not as sweet as true maple tree sap.

 

Cottonwood

          Scientific name: Populus Deltoides

          Description: The Eastern cottonwood is most prevalent along streams of Midwestern and Eastern states. The balsam poplar and aspen are prevalent in Canada, the Rockies and Alaska. These mildly allergenic trees bloom in April and May. Many of the ornamental poplars are sterile hybrids with showy catkins, which produce no pollen, and these trees are ideal to grow for people suffering from allergies.

 

American Elm

          Scientific name: Ulmus Americana

          Description: American elm is a tall, deciduous tree (loses leaves seasonally). It has a slender trunk that, when grown in open areas, divides near the ground into large limbs, giving a unique vase-shaped form. It grows to heights of 80-100 feet. The green leaves are double-toothed, with feather-like veins and uneven or heart shaped bases. The flowers occur before the leaf buds open and are small and inconspicuous on clusters of slender, drooping stalks about one inch long. The clusters of winged fruit ripen as the leaves open. The American elm is distributed throughout the Eastern states to the Midwest.

          Other: This tree is a characteristic New England tree and is used for landscaping in community parks and greens. The American elm is also called white or water elm. Wild trees are becoming rare due to Dutch elm disease, a fungus spread by a beetle.

 

Western Juniper

          Scientific name: Juniperus Occidentalis

          Description: Junipers are small, slow-growing, evergreen trees (foliage remains green). Western Juniper grows to 10-25 feet high in dry, rocky soils. Young juniper leaves are needle-shaped, whereas older trees have scale-like needles that cling close to the twig resembling a braided cord. The male tree has flowers that are small cones at the branch tip. The pollen will appear as smoke in the air if the branch is disturbed. Junipers can be recognized by their berry-like fruits that are blue when young and blue or reddish brown when mature. The bark is red brown and sheddy. The Western Juniper is distributed in the western United States in the high country of Sierras and Cascades. This tree can be found at elevations of 10,000 feet and is also local in southwest Idaho and northwest and south California.

          Other: Junipers grow slowly, but the Western juniper is thought to occasionally live to over 3000 years. Juniper wood is durable and used for fence posts and with larger trees, cedar chests. The name, Juniper, is an ancient word meaning forever young.

 

Mesquite

          Scientific name: Prosopis Spp

          Description: Mesquite is a thorny shrub or small tree. The tree grows to a height of 30 feet. The drooping, green leaves are 6-8 inches long and are doubly compound with 10-20 pairs of narrow leaflets. The flowers are small, greenish yellow and in elongate spikes. The mesquite fruits are 4-10 inch beans. Varieties include honey, velvet and screwbean. Mesquite grows in rangelands in the southwestern United States.

          Other: The beans can be fermented and made into a beverage. The gum, exuded from the branches, is used as candy and to mend pottery. The wood is used for fence posts, charcoal and firewood.

 

Mountain Cedar

          Scientific name: Juniperus Sabinoides

          Description: Mountain cedar is a small evergreen tree (foliage remains green). It is typically a shrub-like tree that varies from a broad and round-topped shape to narrow and pyramidal shape. It usually grows to 30 feet in height, but some trees have grown to 100 feet. The green leaves are blunt needles. The male tree has flowers that are small cones at the branch tip. The pollen will appear as smoke in the air if the branch is distributed. The female trees produce berry-like fruits. In Texas, the mountain cedar grows like a weed in overgrazed grasslands. It can be found as far north as southern Kansas, Missiouri and western Arkansas.

          Other: Mountain Cedar trees are used for borders in landscaping. In peak season cedar trees may cause severe allergic condition known as cedar fever.

 

Virginia Live Oak

          Scientific name: Quercus Virginiana

          Description: Virginia live oak is a wide-spreading, evergreen tree (foliage remains green). This oak grows to heights of 60 feet and is found mostly in lowlands. It has evergreen, glossy, leathery leaves that are elliptical and not lobed. The undersides of the leaves are gray or white. The flowers are bowl-shaped acorns. The bark is dark and somewhat broken into squares. It is distributed from west to central and south Texas and northeastern Mexico.

          Other: Virginia live oak is used as a shade tree and was once used in producing curved timbers for ships.

 

Pecan Tree

          Scientific name: Carya Illinoensis

          Description: Pecan is a spreading, deciduous tree (loses leaves seasonally). It is the largest of all hickory trees and grows to 100-120 feet in height. The green, compound leaves have 11-17 lance-shaped leaflets that are 4-7 inches long and short stalked. The flowers are in elongated clusters 2-5 inches long. The fruit develops in clusters or spikes. The fruits of orchard varieties have thinner husks than the nuts of wild trees. The bark is grayish brown and deeply furrowed with age. It is found in the flood plains of the East and Southeast. There are natural groves of trees in Texas and also extensive orchards.

          Other: The nut is edible and is one of the few food plants that are strictly American in origin. About 100 varieties are cultivated in the Southeast for nuts. Oil from the nuts is used in processed foods, cosmetics, soaps and paints. The fruit rarely matures in the North, where the trees are planted for ornamental purposes. The wood is of value for furniture and house construction.

 

Privet (Common Ligustrum)

          Scientific name: Ligustrum Vulgare

          Description: Privet is the common name for ligustrum and is a member of the olive family. The privet tree is an evergreen tree (foliage remains green) with slender, spreading branches. It grows to 15 feet in height. It has glossy, green leaves and spiked clusters of white flowers that have an odor of fresh fish. This plant produces black or bluish-black berries.

          Other: Privet is used for hedges, screening purposes and general ornamental planting.

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