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July 2021

Western Hemlock Tree – Tsuga heterophylla

What the Western Hemlock Tree Looks Like

The Western Hemlock tree is a graceful, dense and handsome evergreen belonging to the Pinaceae family. It has soft needles on its drooping branches. Since it is so dense, it casts a heavy shade and there is not much that can live beneath.

Its shape is broadly conical and it has a narrow crown. When Western Hemlock trees are mature, they grow up to 45 metres in height. They grow taller when in their native habitat, however, and grow between 50 and 70 metres tall (165 to 239 ft). In terms of girth, the trunk usually has a diameter measuring up to 2.7 metres (9 ft), making it the largest of the hemlock species. The bark of the Western Hemlock is dark brown with thin and rugged ridges.

The needles of this tree smell similar to grapefruit when they are crushed. They have rounded tips and are flat and soft. The underside of the needles has two white stripes, and they are long when they are on the sides of the twigs than when they are on the top.

The Western Hemlock’s cones don’t have stalks. They are pendulous and small and their scales are flexible, thin and papery. When they are mature they are a grey-brown colour; immature cones are green.

The scientific name for this tree is the Tsuga heterophylla.

This tree is similar to other hemlock spruce trees. It has a similar smell to the herb hemlock, hence its name but it is not related to this highly toxic plant.


History of the Western Hemlock Tree

This species is not native to the United Kingdom; it was introduced here in the 19th century.

Symbolism and mythology associated with the Western Hemlock Tree

There has been an association of the Western Hemlock tree with women among some ancient traditions of North America. The female warriors of the Kwakwaka’wakw people made western hemlock headdresses for their ceremonial dances.

In the United Kingdom, Queen Victoria was a huge fan of Western Hemlock trees. She even asked for the name to be changed to honour her husband Albert. The name Tsuga albertiana was used for a while but now its scientific name is Tsuga heterophylla.

The Western Hemlock tree can live up to 500 years.


Where Can We find Western Hemlock Trees?

As previously mentioned, the Western Hemlock is not native to the UK.  This species originates in the North West of America. The north-western limit of its growth is the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska and its south-eastern limit is in California in northern Sonoma County. The Western Hemlock is associated with more temperate rainforests and most trees grow within 62 miles (100 km) of the Pacific Ocean. There does exist a population of Western Hemlocks further inland in the south-east of British Columbia, the west of Montana, the north of Idaho and in the Columbia Mountains.

The trees grow mostly at lower altitudes right from sea level up to 2,000 ft (600 m) but they grow up to 5,900 ft (1,800 m) in the range of trees in Idaho.

It’s thanks to the botanist David Douglas that Britain now has this species here. It is so popular that it is now the species of conifer that is most common in this country. The Western Hemlock is suited best to moist climates; it regenerates well in a huge variety of upland forests and grows rapidly.

These trees are integral components of forests in the Pacific Northwest and are an important tree for timber in this region.


What is the Western Hemlock’s Value to Wildlife?

Since this tree is very dense, it casts a heavy shade. This means that when there is a lot of Western Hemlocks in a plantation, there is not a lot of wildlife or plants able to live beneath them.


Uses of Western Hemlock

In the United Kingdom, Western Hemlock is mainly grown for wood pulp and timber. It is also used as an ornamental tree in gardens and parks too. The wood of the western hemlock is used commonly for boxes and roofing as it is capable of holding nails well and doesn’t split easily.

It is an important tree for other aspects of joinery too such as furniture making and doors.

If these trees are planted along riverbanks, they can help to reduce problematic erosion there.


Nutritional Uses of Western Hemlock

There is a part of the Western Hemlock’s bark that is edible: the cambium. This can be collected when slabs of bark are scraped. The shavings produced can be eaten straight away or they can be dried out and then pressed inside bread. This is what Native Americans would have done in the south-east of Alaska.

Other parts of the Western Hemlock can also be used in food production. New needles are tender and can be made into a tea that is rich in Vitamin C but also bitter. You can also chew these needles directly.


The Largest Western Hemlock Tree

The largest known Western Hemlock tree was discovered in 2018 and was added to the American National Register of Champion Trees. It has a circumference of 343 inches (8.71 metres) and is 190 feet (57.9 metres) tall. Its crown spread is 59 feet (15.24 metres).

In the United Kingdom, the largest known Western Hemlock tree is in Doune Park in Sterling, Scotland. The girth of the tree is 7.06 metres (23 feet), and it was 43 metres (141 foot) tall when it was last measured in 2009.


Final Thoughts

The Western Hemlock is an impressive species. It is well recognised by its size but it also provides valuable services in joinery, paper making, erosion prevention and food sources. What is more, it provides both shelter and food for wildlife and is also critical in the ecosystem for its role in CO2 absorption from the atmosphere as it stores carbon in the wood. Finally, it is great at purifying water too.


Article was written by Conner D.

Article Source: https://www.graftingardeners.co.uk/western-hemlock/

Hawthorn Trees – Crataegus monogyna

Hawthorn trees are commonly found in scrub, woodland, and hedgerows throughout the UK where it is native. They grow in the majority of soil types but they fruit and flower best when they are positioned in full sunlight.

Hawthorns have many common names including May tree, one-seed hawthorn, whitethorn and common hawthorn. Its Latin name is Crataegus monogyna and it belongs to the Rosacea family of trees.

The common name “May tree” is used as this is the month when the Hawthorn is in full bloom and is a sign that the seasons are changing from spring to summer. The hawthorn’s light green leaves are among the first to appear in springtime and explode with pretty white or light pink blossom during May. Hawthorns are often teeming with wildlife including many birds and bugs.

In winter, hawthorns can be identified by their spines that emerge at the same place as the buds. The blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) is different as its buds are on the spines themselves.


What do Hawthorn trees look like?

Hawthorn leaves measure around 6 cm and have deeply toothed lobes that cut to halfway to the mid-rib. The leaves turn a shade of yellow in autumn before they fall. The hawthorn tree is hermaphrodite (meaning that both the female and male reproductive parts are inside the flowers). The flowers have a strong scent and are white or light pink. They grow in clusters that are flat on top and each flower has five petals.

When hawthorns are mature, they can measure up to 15 metres tall. They are often characterised by their thorny habit, which is dense but they sometimes grow with a single stem as a small tree. The bark of the hawthorn is a grey-brown colour and is full of knots and fissures.

The twigs are brown, slender, and thorny. Oftentimes, the hawthorn creates a hybrid with the Midland hawthorn which is also native in the United Kingdom (Crataegus laevigata). It can be difficult to tell the two species apart. One difference is that the Midland hawthorn has two stigmas in the flowers while the common hawthorn has only one.

Another difference is in the fruits: the common hawthorn fruit has one seed but the Midland hawthorn fruits bear two. Finally, the Midland hawthorn’s leaves are cut deeper.


Where else are Hawthorn Trees Found?

The hawthorn is not only native in this country. You can also find it in Asia and North America.


Hawthorn History

The hawthorn is a pioneer species, often forming a large area of scrub on land that is not in use or neglected. This tree is the original hedgerow and has been associated with enclosed spaces and boundaries throughout history. Hawthorn was so frequently used as a hedgerow that in Anglo Saxon times, the word ‘haga’ meant both hawthorn and hedge. Many hedges were grown to make enclosures for deer.

One reason for their popularity as a hedge is that they are fast-growing and hardy. In the one hundred years from 1750, two hundred thousand hawthorns were planted in the UK to enclose land for cattle and sheep grazing.

The hawthorn also has a history in myth, legend and folklore. It took on an important role in the Pagan rituals associated with May Day when the flowers are at their best. It is a symbol of fertility and was the Maypole’s ancestor with its flowers and leaves forming garlands for the day too.

Often, fields retain one single hawthorn tree to be kept as a ‘fairy thorn’. There are also superstitions associated with this tree with some people believing it is bad luck to bring the hawthorn’s flowers inside the home. Legend has it that if one was to bring the hawthorn blossom into the home, illness and death would follow. Also, in medieval times, it was said that hawthorn blossom had the smell of the Great Plague. This is not surprising to us nowadays however, as botanists have now discovered that hawthorn blossom contains trimethylamine, a chemical that is one of the first to form in animal tissue when it decays!


Uses of Hawthorn

Besides being used as a hedgerow there are many other uses of the hawthorn tree. The flowers, berries and leaves are all used to produce medicines and one main use is in the treatment of high blood pressure. The properties of the hawthorn widen the blood vessels and help to increase the flow of blood around the body. Another use is indigestion, stomach cramps and anxiety.

The timber of the common hawthorn has a light brown colour with a fine, hard grain. The hawthorn is used to make veneers, cabinets, tool handles, boat parts and boxes. It is also good as charcoal and firewood because it burns at a high temperature.

Finally, young hawthorn leaves, young flowers and flower buds can all be eaten. You can put them in root salads or green salads. It is also possible to eat raw haws but they can trigger mild upset stomachs. The haws are used to make kinds of ketchup, wine, and jellies.


Place names linked to the Hawthorn in the United Kingdom

There are many place names in the UK that are linked to the hawthorn tree. These include:

  • Hathern in Leicestershire (meaning ‘hawthorn’)
  • Hatherdene in Hampshire (meaning ‘hawthorn valley’)
  • Appleton Thorn in Cheshire
  • Woodmansterne in Surrey (meaning ‘thorn of the edge of a wood’)


Hawthorn Trees and Wildlife

The hawthorn is a great wildlife tree. It provides food for lots of different species including yellow-tail moths, Duke of Burgundy butterflies and hawthorn shield bugs. Lackey moths and magpies also use the hawthorn for food. Additionally, Small Eggar moth larvae develop webs on the hawthorn leaves and grow into caterpillars. The flowers’ sweet smell is attractive to flies too, which is notable during the spring. Finally, small animals like wood mice as well as many birds like thrushes will eat the hawthorn fruit during the winter. Small birds also like the safety of the protective thorny branches for their nests.


Good Points About Hawthorn Trees

  • Hawthorns are one of the few to tolerate being exposed.
  • A hawthorn hedge is impenetrable.
  • Hawthorns grow in well-drained soil and also even in a large tub.
  • As well as being a hedge, hawthorn can be grown into a standard tree.
  • The flowers are beautiful.


Negatives About Hawthorn Trees

If you have to say something bad about a hawthorn it would be that its spines are really sharp. Even when twigs are dead they keep hold of their thorns and they are strong enough to puncture car tyres.

In terms of conservation and threats, hawthorns are prone to the bacterial disease fireblight, gall mites and aphid attacks.


Article was written by Conner D.

Article Source: https://www.graftingardeners.co.uk/hawthorn-trees-crataegus-monogyna/

Gift of Beautiful Trees 2020 Complete!

2020 sure threw us for a loop, and we were hoping 2021 would cut us some slack. When it came to completing our 2020 Gift of Beautiful Trees projects after the holidays, the weather just wasn’t cooperating. At some point, it got to be so late in the spring that we decided to wait to take “after” photos so we could at least get some leaves on the trees for the full effect. We’re glad we did! So, we’re a little late sharing this – but better late than never!

Story continues below…

We were again overwhelmed with nominations for our Gift of Beautiful Trees program for 2020, and no doubt, the pandemic contributed to hard times for so many families in our community. We were both heartbroken and touched to hear about how many were struggling last year, and just how many people were looking out for their friends, families and neighbors. Even perfect strangers submitted nominations for people they’d never met, but knew they could use a helping hand.

When Jeff and I review nominations, we use a loose scoring matrix to help us narrow down the projects based on the personal story that is submitted, how dire the need is in terms of safety, and whether or not our company is well-suited for the project with the resources and equipment we have. 

When we came across this struggling Cottonwood, we knew immediately that we HAD to do something. This tree was full of dead limbs over the street, sidewalk, driveway and house where the nominee and her daughter frequented. The result is beautiful and the tree is now an incredible historical feature and anchor point of the neighborhood – not an eyesore or hazard. The nominee was so grateful to not have to worry anymore.

Our second selected nomination was an anonymous submission, tipping us off to a family who had weathered extensive and very unexpected health challenges in 2020. The husband, Nick, showed up for his family in big ways and worked long, hard hours to provide for them during this time. When we saw just how many trees were in their backyard that needed attention, we were anxious to help. We visited a couple of months later to grab a photo after the trees had leafed-out and were so thrilled with the results of their beautiful, park-like backyard. 

As always, these projects are always about so much more than trimming and removing trees. We’re showing up and serving our community (one of our company values!) and fulfilling our mission of Creating Connections through Trees. We’re sharing our gifts however we can, and we are thankful to our community for supporting our business so that we can support our community in return.

15 Years of Beautiful Trees

Dear Jeff,

It’s been 15 years since you started Arbor Aesthetics with a handsaw, a ladder, and a borrowed pickup truck. With incredible courage, you followed a spark in your soul and abandoned the safety of your college education in pursuit of something more meaningful. The journey has not always been easy, and the growth has not always been linear, but your grit and determination have remained steadfast, and that is how your business became a “15-year overnight success.”

You’ve proven that the American Dream is a real thing: turning passion into enterprise and creating opportunity with your own two hands. Aside from building a successful business, I am in awe of the personal growth that I’ve witnessed since joining Arbor Aesthetics six years ago. Day after day, you step outside of your comfort zone (and sometimes we have to push each other there), seek truth and understanding in the way you lead and show up for your people, and best of all – you drag every single one of us along with you to become a better version of ourselves. You are wise, passionate and inspiring. We are all better because of Arbor Aesthetics. Our company vision says it best: We’re Better Together.

Thank you for trusting me and having me along on this journey and for going along with my crazy ideas. Thank you for being the captain of our ship.

Your wife and business partner,

Did you miss our previous article…