MEMPHIS BOTANIC GARDEN
Educational Speaker: David Smith, Champion Tree Sponsor for Many Species in W. TN
photo above: At the October Meeting, TUFC Board Member, Joellen Dimond presented the 2020 TUFC Award of Excellence to Bill Bullock. Nominated by Eric Bridges, Bill Bullock has volunteered hundreds of hours yearly to maintain the health of Overton Park's native tree species. He has become an expert on Invasive species removal and serves as an advisor to the Memphis Tree Board.
click below for previous awards of excellence winners from our chapter & across TN
David Smith respects and appreciates trees. In addition to volunteering at LaGrange Cemetery Arboretum and Ghost River State Natural Arboretum Trail and Boardwalk, he has located and sponsored dozens of State Champion Trees in West TN. In October, several West TN members, who are laying the groundwork for a Shelby County Champion tree registry, enjoyed a first hand look at State Champion Trees Smith found in Shelby Forest including the Cedar Elm and Red Buckeye.
At our chapter's December 10 meeting, David Smith will inspire us with closer look at the Champion trees he has registered with the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council.
David Smith also contributed over 30 lbs of white oak (Quercus alba) acorns to our October White Oak Acorn Project to replenish the white oak acorn stock for the state tree nursery. Partners for this project included; Overton Park Conservancy, Memphis Botanic Garden, Memphis City Beautiful, and Shelby County 4-H Forestry team. Thanks to out volunteers and organizations for the success of this project. Eric Bridges delivered about 40 lb's of Q. alba seeds to the Pinson Mounds State Tree Nursery near Jackson, TN.
Cathy Wilson has agreed to chair the W. TN Chapter's local team. Thanks to Judi Shellagarger, Laurie Williams, Burk Renner and the Memphis Tree Board details for this team are almost finalized and the team will be looking for members to measure and record nominated trees in Shelby County.
To check out the TN's largest trees , click the link below to TUFC's Champion Tree Webpage.
Friday December 3. 9:00 a.m to 12 noon:
Register: the number of participants is limited https://serve.volunteerodyssey.com/event/199461
Saturday December 5, 9-noon tree planting and mulching
Saturday December 12 9-noon tree planting and mulching
An autumn star for color, the SWEETGUM tree punctuates our dominant yellow fall color with brilliant red, orange and accents of purple.
Height: 60-90' when mature fast growing with long life span
Form; young trees: pyramidal crown, older trees: ovoid crown
Trunk: bark becomes gray/gray-brown; irregular furrows with narrow fragmented ridge
Blooms: insignificant yellowish green April blooms—female flowers turn in to spiny fruit
Fruit: spiky 1-1½" across seed capsules develop in the summer turn brown in autumn Use the spike y fruit: for mulch – to keep animals away, in compost to provide air space, on inside plants to keep pets out, for door wreaths, ornaments, sculpture
Habitat: upland ravines, moist conditions, and fertile soil containing loam or clay-loam. in upland woodlands, bottomland, riverbanks, drier areas of swamps, & abandoned fields.
Culture: full to partial sun, moist conditions; fertile slightly acidic loam or clay-loam soil
Slender Silhouette sweet-gum (Liquidambar styraciflua 'Slender Silhouette'): A narrow, columnar form, growing 6 to 8 feet wide and 60 feet high;
an excellent cultivar to plant near power lines
· Moths: leaves are the larval host for caterpillars of the Actias luna (Luna Moth) and Paectes abrostoloides (Large Paectes)
· Songbirds: fall or winter seeds provide food for: Mourning Dove, Eastern Towhee, Carolina Chickadee, Eastern Goldfinch, Purple Finch, Common Redpoll, Slate-Colored Junco, and White-Throated Sparrow.
· Mammals: seeds are a minor source of food for the Gray Squirrel and Eastern Chipmunk. Beaver occasionally use Sweetgum wood and branches that grow near water for food and construction material
Lonicera maackii, Amur Honeysuckle, is a highly invasive woody shrub in the eastern United States and beyond. USDA MAP link below.
Imported from east Asia for the nursery trade, it seemed a gardener’s dream: fragrant honeysuckle flowers, early and long-lasting leaves untouched by chewing insects, glossy bright red berries to attract birds, prolific arching stems… and therein lies the problem. This rapidly spreading shrub has become a nightmare. (The USDA lists L.maackii on its Federal and State Noxious Weeds List.)
Lonicera maackii has growth and reproductive traits that allow it to out-compete native plants in our deciduous forests on many levels: It has large ‘fruiting events’ in late summer with juicy red berries attractive to migrating birds but offering little nutritional value. To survive the arduous migration journey, birds need the high lipids and antioxidants of native plant berries such as dogwood, viburnum, holly, hackberry, elderberry.
Unfortunately, many birds, migrating or over-wintering, eat Amur Honeysuckle berries which offer inferior nutrition. Sugar-rich, they are the gumdrops of the plant world. The seeds remain viable after passing through bird digestive systems, so we end up with wide-spread maackii populations. White-tailed deer and many rodents eat these berries, furthering the spread.
Thickets of Amur Honeysuckle make poor nesting habitat. By providing quite dense, low shrubbery, they encourage birds who would otherwise nest higher to, instead, select locations more easily accessible to predatory snakes and wood rats.
The berries are washed into streams and rivers and remain viable for long periods under water and wherever they land. Opportunistic Lonicera maackii germinates and sprouts with ease, able to adapt to whatever sunlight and space it is given. When young, maackii seedlings can shoot upwards quickly if in a crowded location, then showing ‘environmental plasticity’, they begin to spread out their branches to overshadow the native competition.
In spring, Amur Honeysuckle is one of the earliest shrubs to leaf out. In autumn, the leaves turn a clear yellow and persist long after most woodland leaves have fallen. This invasive honeysuckle will often create dense thickets along riparian banks. When maackii leaves wash into streams, they can alter the microbial community. Different microbes are needed to break down Amur Honeysuckle leaves than those for our native streamside plants, leading to changes in decomposition and nutrient cycling in the waterway. This alters amphibian habitat, leading to behavior that makes them more susceptible to predators.
(ID tips: Note opposite branching; pointed entire leaves with parallel veins; grayish tan ‘fake-suede’ twigs with light tan axillary buds. Larger stems develop a ‘deer antler’ look and are hollow.)
Amur Honeysuckle crowds out native flowering plants that have evolved with specialist pollinators. For example, when Amur honeysuckle shades out Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) seedlings, the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly will have fewer hosts and its population will decline. Many of our native plants serve as larval hosts of butterflies, moths, and other beneficial insects which in turn serve as food for birds and other animals. Reducing the variety of native plants that provide sustenance for native insects and animals makes them all more vulnerable to predators and pathogens.
Besides shading out native seedlings, Amur Honeysuckle has another weapon against native plants. Lonicera maackii has alleopathic effects on surrounding vegetation. Root, shoot, leaf, and fruit extracts reduce germination and growth of many native plants, harming entire plant communities from herbaceous plants to woody shrubs and our magnificent trees. With its strong resistance to our native insect and animal predators, this alien honeysuckle can spread unchecked while reducing the total leafy biomass of our forests.
If all of the above hasn’t been enough to inspire you to dig out Amur Honeysuckle, be advised that dense Lonicera maackii thickets are a preferred egg-laying site for mosquitos and may also increase the number of Lone Star ticks infected with the Ehrlichia pathogen from increased White-tail Deer visitation.
Suggestions for what to plant instead:
Native Cornus species: florida, racemosa, amomum, asperifolia,… (Dogwoods)
Aronia arbutifolia (Red Chokeberry)
Amelanchier species (Serviceberry)
Ilex verticillata (Inkberry)
Lindera benzoin (Spicebush)
Native Viburnum species: dentatum, prunifolium, rufidulum, lentago, nudum
Myrica pensylvanica (Bayberry)
Linnea West 2020
Sources: McNeigh & McEwan, Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 143(4) 2016; Callaway & Ridenour 2004; Hartman & McCarthy 2007; Ingold & Craycraft 1983; Castellano & Gorchov 2013