"The Treaty Oak" June, 2023
A 250 year old live oak (quercus virginiana) The tree has a trunk over 25 feet in circumference, it rises to height of 70 feet, and its crown spreads over 145 feet, with twisting branches that bow to the ground and curl back up. The oak shades a roughly circular area, about 190 feet in diameter.
Swamp Chestnut Oak April, 2022
August's tree of the month is the swamp chestnut oak, Quercus michauxii. This large majestic white oak species is a native oak that can be found in Jacksonville and throughout the southeastern United States growing in bottomland, mixed hardwood habitat. Although this oak tree naturally grows in more mesic soil conditions, the swamp chestnut oak can be an excellent choice for an urban street tree due to its ability to do well in poorly drained soils and drier conditions. It also has a tendency to grow upright to provide a mature shade species. The swamp chestnut oak gets its name from the shape of its leaves. The leaves look similar to the leaves of a chestnut tree and are large dark green in the summer with a grey, patchy bark texture. The swamp chestnut oak can get very large in size, providing excellent shade and wildlife habitat. Keep and eye out for this tree in our urban forest and see its magnificence in person.
Black Tupelo  March, 2022
March's Tree of the Month is the Black Tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica, a native tree known for its unique bark and amazing fall colors. The black tupelo tree can reach heights of up to 60 feet tall and naturally has a pyramidal shape needing little structural pruning. It can be found in native wetland/ mixed hardwoods areas around Jacksonville and can be identified by the purple leaf spot that is common on mature species. The black tupelo is an important wildlife tree, utilized by many birds and pollinators. By the name, tupelo tree flowers are favorites to honey bees and many honeys are made from bees that utilize this flower. The City of Jacksonville has been planting some trees in parks around town and have been a great way to diversity our urban forests.
Eastern Redbud February, 2022
February's tree of the month is the Eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis, a small, native tree to the United States that is known for it's dazzling early spring blooms. The pink/purple blooms give this tree it's name because they appear before the leaves on the tree bud out. The tree is easily identified during it's bloom since these flowers stick out in a array of still dormant, and still bare trees. Although this tree grows in a wide range across the country, our area in Jacksonville is the most southern range. Whereas most of these trees prefer full sun farther north, here in Jacksonville these trees thrive in partial shade. After the recognizable blooms, these trees are also easily identified by it's leaves. The leaves are chordate shaped, or heart shaped, making it an ideal tree of the month choice for Valentine's Day. This tree provides wildlife benefits as well filling a niche of small tree species that can be planted in an urban setting. Keep an eye out these next weeks and you will be able to spot these beautiful trees across our urban forest.
Bottlebrush  December, 2021
Janurary's Tree of the month is the red bottlebrush tree, Callistemon citrinus. The bottlebrush is native shrub/tree to Australia with strikingly red flower spikes that resemble a bottle brush, hence the common name. The flowers are present in spring and summer and will attract hummingbirds and butterflies. This small tree was available with the Urban Forestry's planting program; however, this tree has now been added to the invasive tree list. A tree species becomes invasive when the tree is not native to an area and has been documented to out-compete native species in the natural ecosystem. As new research into new species being planted becomes evident, the urban forest must be adaptive as well. We no longer offer this species to be planted as part of our 630-CITY planting program. When selecting and purchasing plants/trees for your landscape, it is crucial to do your own research as to determine if the choices being made are good for our local ecosystems.
Groundsel Tree December, 2021
December's Tree of the Month is Baccharis halimifolia, commonly called Groundsel tree or Salt Bush. This small tree/shrub is a very common, native plant that can be found in the coastal region of the Southeastern United States. It can be found on wetland sites around Jacksonville and is otherwise unnoticed until this time of year in winter when the showy, white clusters of flowers brilliantly bloom. The tree appears to be covered in salt or a 'Florida snow' for the holiday season. This small tree/shrub is not commonly used in landscaping and not offered in the City's planting program but does well is a variety of sites being tolerant of dry, wet, and salty soil conditions. This plant is known for being toxic to animals and should not be consumed. Keep and eye out this time of year for this tree around Jacksonville to see its amazing flowers and appreciate what beauty it brings to our landscape.
Pecan  November, 2021
November's tree of the month is the pecan, Carya illinoinensis, a large native tree that can be found all over the United States. The pecan is a part of the walnut family of trees and notably has been planted for its nut production. This large tree can grow up to heights of 100 ft and spread wide making it an excellent tree for planting in parks and even residential area. It is an excellent tree for native wildlife and the pecan nuts will become mature in early fall. You may have noticed some pecans around Jacksonville that have fallen recently. These pecan trees can be readily seen in groves or orchards where they are grown specifically for nut production. Many fall and winter holiday dishes feature this delicious nut, most famously, pecan pie. This tree can be easily identified by its leaf structure and its grey, scaly bark. Keep an eye out around our urban forest to see if you can identify one!
Sand Live Oak October, 2021
The Sand Live Oak, Quercus geminata, is an evergreen species of oak native to the southeast United States. It can be found around coastal areas, upland pine forests and in dry sandy hardwood hammocks. What you might also notice is that this is a dead sand live oak tree. This tree is one of many dead sand live oaks in Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park located in Jacksonville along one of the area beaches. Unfortunately these trees succumbed to salt water intrusion during Hurricane Matthew’s storm surge. In honor of Halloween, for this month's tree we wanted to showcase that even dead trees can have tremendous value. Dead trees are an important part of any ecosystem and bring a multitude of ecological services that no living tree can. It’s important to keep dead trees in our urban forests. Many bird species require dead and decaying wood in order make homes and are very particular about what trees they will nest in. A host of small mammals also utilize dead trees for their homes and nesting sites. Insects utilize dead and decaying wood as well and these insects make up a large portion of the diet for many species of birds and mammals. Without dead and decaying trees in our ecosystem and urban forests our wildlife populations would suffer to a much greater degree than most people realize. As urban foresters we try and keep these valuable dead trees wherever appropriate. Just because a tree is dead does not mean it does not add value to our urban forest.
Southern Red Cedar September, 2021
Septembers's Tree of the Month is the Southern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana, native evergreen seen across Jacksonville and offered as one of the trees for our 630-CITY Tree Planting Program. The red cedar is part of the cypress family and this specimen is native to Florida and the southeastern coastal ranges of North America. They can be seen pretty commonly across Jacksonville, just keep your eyes open to the color and specific bark. It keeps its small scale-like leaves year round offering a lush, green, dense canopy. It is sometimes used as screen or wind break because of the shape and form they can obtain, easily growing wider than tall if given the space. The wood is also very fragrant, giving off a strong cedar smell for the holidays and being an natural insect repellent. This native tree offers some wildlife habitat and food but be sure not to plant if you have apple or pear trees in your landscape as these are host plants to cedar-apple rust, a native fungal disease that can affect your fruit. Because of their hardiness and attractive form these can be nice landscape trees if you have the space and right soil conditions.
Crape Myrtle July, 2021
July's tree of the month is the common crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, a very popular small, deciduous tree which is abundant throughout the South. The crapemyrtle is a non-native species, originally from Asia, that was brought over in the late 1700s to the United States for its ornamental value. This small, deciduous tree has a beautiful array of showy flowers in the summer months which can be seen now in multiple different variety of colors of pinks, purples, reds, and white. It has been cultivated and bred over the years with over hundreds of different varieties that are commercially available. They are a very hardy tree that can survive and thrive in many different types of conditions which has been the reason it has been widely used as an urban tree throughout the years. With all this being said, the urban forestry team is promoting larger, native shade trees and moving away from the planting of the crape myrtles. Because of the crape myrtle's hardiness, beauty, and overpopluarity, it has been planted in very high numbers across many cities. Jacksonville in particular has around 25% of the street trees that are crape myrtles. The city of Jacksonville's urban forestry team has a goal of a healthy, diverse urban forest. the crape myrtle is a non-native species, and although it has little invasive potential, it is planting in such high numbers by humans that is it now at a very high percentage of our urban forest. Another misconception is the practice of 'topping' crape myrtles that is seen throughout the city, wherein people will cut the top off of the stems of crape myrtles. this is not a good practice and before pruning a crape myrtle, homeowner's should look up resources for proper pruning techniques. For additional information on the practice of over planting of the crape myrtle, find this paper written by our associate urban forest Todd Little here:
Fringe Tree April, 2021
March's Tree of the Month is the Fringe Tree, Chionanthus virginicus, a beautiful small tree species with abundant, small, white flowers that cover the tree in late February. The fringe tree is a native tree species that grows well in full sun and can tolerate a wide range of soil types making it a very good urban tree when planting under utilities or with limited space. During bloom, the fringe tree is covered in brilliant white clusters of flowers which can attract native wildlife and pollinators. The City of Jacksonville has planted many fringe trees as part of our 630-CITY Tree Planting Program so keep an eye out for these magnificent trees while they are still in bloom.
Flatwoods Plum March, 2021
March's tree of the month is the Flatwoods Plum, Prunus umbellata. The flatwoods plum is a small, native fruit tree that can be found in forests across the Southeastern United States. This deciduous tree reaches heights of only 20 feet but can have wild growth forms offering large canopies for their size. In late February they have a spectacular, showy display of small white flowers which attracts pollinators and other wildlife. It produces small, edible, purple fruits which have been historically made into jellies and jams. This species is very closely related to the Chickasaw plum, both of which can been seen right now by the easily identifiable blooms, keep an eye out on local trails or neighborhoods for this beautiful tree.
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