Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Trees for North Carolina" - Celebrating Earth Day 2016

"Trees for the Earth" is the theme of Earth Day, 2016.

In keeping with that theme, we're reflecting on a few of the beautiful native 
North Carolina trees we've encountered so far this spring.

Eastern Yellow Poplar; Tulip Tree
Liriodendron tulipifera

The tulip trees are at the height of their blooming in central Carolina right now, so this would be a great time to treat yourself to a walk in the woods and better acquaint yourself with this forest giant.

Black Cherry; Wild Cherry
Prunus serotina

This famous NC native is perhaps best known for its valuable reddish wood, prized for furniture-making, but we love the profusion of white blossoms in spring and sweet/tart summertime fruit of the growing trees!

Sassafras albidum

Sassafras has finished its blooming, and is putting forth its distinctive leaves, which appear in three different forms, often on the same tree.

Sassafras' fragrant roots and leaves have been famously utilized for root beer, file powder (the thickening agent most famous for its use in Cajun gumbos), and a wide range of other herbal concoctions, including the home-brewed sassafras tea of our childhood. Here at Hoot Owl Karma we also celebrate its role as the host plant for Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars. 

American Sweetgum
Liquidambar styraciflua

We recently devoted another post to this stalwart of the southern forest, and although the mature "gumballs" can be a bit irritating underfoot, we admire her majestic stature wherever she grows - in the city park, along the woodland trail, at the margin of the farmer's field or deep in along the banks of the Deep River. Her distinctive blossoms are things of beauty and her star-shaped leaves brighten the tree line spring, summer and fall.

Eastern Redbud
Cercis canadensis

This native flowering tree lends bold and welcome color to the roadside and forest understory during the early spring, and we particularly admire its unique and unorthodox habit of setting flower buds directly on the mature trunk of the tree. How cool is that?!

Black Locust
Robinia pseudoacacia

Black locust's bounty of ivory blossoms are a welcome sight in April across the width and breadth of North Carolina. Native to the mountains of our state, they have become naturalized elsewhere and now brighten roadsides and waste places throughout. Black locust wood has long been used to fashion fenceposts due to its extraordinary durability and resistance to rot. 

Like the redbud tree, black locust is a legume from the family Fabaceae, which becomes more apparent as their bean-like seed pods develop later in the year. 

Longleaf Pine
Pinus palustris

As daylight recedes on the eve of Earth Day here in the heart of North Carolina, we encounter a stand of recently planted longleaf pines, evidence of at least one landowner's commitment to ensuring North Carolina remains "The Land of the Longleaf Pine".

So Happy Earth Day from Hoot Owl Karma;
why not celebrate by planting a favorite native tree this weekend?!

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