Pawpaw

November 30th, 2020

Asimina triloba

This small, understory, flowering tree is native to the southeast portion of the United States, but will do well northward to hardiness zone 5. Since we are in zone 7 here in Chattanooga, this tree will do well here. This member of the custard apple family (Annonaceae) is the only member found in North America.

physical description

The pawpaw has huge leaves, 8-9 inches long, and only grows to a maximum height of 25-35 feet tall and a drip width of 20-25 feet. The large, pendulous fruit, which looks like a small green baking potato, comes from a very small flower (1/2” long) that ripens over the summer and early autumn. They are best harvested in mid to late autumn.

habitat

This plant needs either full sunlight (~6 hours of direct sun each day) or partial sunlight (~4 hours of sun per day). It grows best in moist, well-drained soils. It can tolerate poor drainage but not salt spray, drought conditions, or alkaline soils. This species is found growing in bottomland hardwood forests, along ravines, streams, and wooded slopes.

uses

The pawpaw can be used in the yard as a specimen tree or as a barrier when many are planted together.

interesting information

The interior fruit of the pawpaw beneath the skin is nearly creamy with a mango, slightly citrusy flavor.

This tree can provide ample shade in the summer.

The pawpaw is considered self-incompatible (the male portion of the flower cannot pollinate the female of that plant), therefore, for best growth more than one should be planted nearby.

Deer specifically avoid the leaves of the pawpaw; however, many animals including deer, foxes, opossums, and humans eat the fruit.

This tree is notoriously difficult to transplant, however, a pot-established pawpaw, such as those offered at the Reflection Riding nursery, is well on its way to growing in a healthy manner.

The pawpaw is resistant to many serious insect or disease problems.

The fruits are delicious and have the texture and taste of a ripe banana. First, select a slightly soft fruit, peel the skin off, and then eat all the contents except the dark seeds, of which there are usually eight.

Pawpaws are grown and available in the arboretum of the Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.

Charlie is a retired professor and Biological Oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia System for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.  

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!

Posted by Charlie Belin  | Category: native plants

Eastern Red Cedar

November 18th, 2020

Juniperus Virgiana

This evergreen tree species is native to the eastern half of the United States and southeastern Canada. Most of us have seen this tree around our neighborhoods and never thought of it, however, it is a remarkably valuable species for all it does for us.

Physical description

This species can grow to 40 to 50 feet tall with a dense, pyramidal shape and a drip zone that is 8 to 20 feet in diameter. It is found in hardiness zones 2 through 9 and, thus, does well in our environment, zone 7. It has two types of needle leaves: those that will jab your hand or finger, and those that do not. It has medium greenish foliage and needs full sunlight in order to achieve its full potential.

habitat

The eastern red cedar is quite forgiving when it comes to soil types. It can do well in just about any of them. It can withstand occasional flooding but is also rather good at withstanding drought conditions.

uses

This evergreen is often used as a property screen and as a windbreak. It is very friendly to many types of birds and other animals.

Many species of wildlife favor this tree, especially birds like cedar waxwings, cardinals, and blue jays that feast on its blue berries. In addition, many small birds roost in its branches to get out of the winter winds, especially at night. Some animals browse on the short leaves, especially in the winter when little else is available.

interesting information

The eastern red cedar is a classic example of just how foolish common names are for both plants, fungi, and animals. This plant is not just from the east, is not red, and certainly is not a cedar. It’s a juniper.

This tree should not be planted near apple trees because both will succumb to cedar-apple rust. Plant an apple tree or an eastern red cedar, but not both!

Several people have indicated to the author that they used the berries of eastern red cedar to flavor grain alcohol during prohibition times to produce “bathtub gin.”  

Eastern red cedars are grown and available in the nursery of the Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.

Charlie is a retired professor and Biological Oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia System for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.  

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!

shop for native plants!

Our nursery is open for in-person shopping! Come by Tuesday-Friday 9:30-4:00 and Saturday 8:00-1:00. Your purchase supports our mission to reconnect people with nature. Members save 10% on all plant sales.

Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.

Posted by Charlie Belin  | Category: native plants

Shagbark Hickory

November 11th, 2020

Carya ovata

The shagbark hickory is a large, deciduous tree native to the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. It grows well from hardiness zones 4 through 9 and therefore would do well in Chattanooga and environs – zone 7. It is a member of the walnut (Juglandaceae) family and its autumn nuts are edible by many animals (squirrels, deer, mice, etc.) and humans.

physical description

This tree can achieve a height of 100 feet tall with a drip zone that is more than 60 feet in diameter. It produces inconspicuous flowers in the late spring which ultimately produce nuts found in a four-sided husk in late autumn.  Its compound leaves are large – 8 to 14 inches in length with 5 to 7 leaflets.

Habitat

This species prefers moist, well-drained soil and full sun (more than 6 hours daily) to partial sun (4-6 hours daily) in order to develop to its full potential. It can stand short periods of drought but it will not do well. Extended drought periods will kill this tree. It is a slow-growing tree that is naturally found in upland woods, shaded streams and riverbanks, and floodplains.

uses

The shagbark hickory is a perfect tree to plant as a specimen for a large yard.  

This is an attractive shade tree.

interesting information

The shagbark hickory received its name from the shedding bark that peels away in large plates giving the tree an interesting, shaggy look.   

The shagbark hickory produces considerable litter each year due to its dropped bark, the deciduous leaves, and the husks of the nuts.  

This species is propagated quite easily from the collected nuts that are either sown in the early winter or sown in the spring after kept at a temperature of 33o – 40oF in the refrigerator for 30 – 90 days.  

Shagbark hickories are available in the nursery of the Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.

Charlie is a retired professor and Biological Oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia System for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.  

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!

shop for native plants!

Our nursery is open for in-person shopping! Come by Tuesday-Friday 9:30-4:00 and Saturday 8:00-1:00. Your purchase supports our mission to reconnect people with nature. Members save 10% on all plant sales.

Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.

Posted by Charlie Belin  | Category: native plants

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