Two of the fastest-growing native trees in the Northeast are duking it out on Paul Gore Street in Jamaica Plain. An eastern white pine and a silver maple arch over the street, meeting in the middle.
Update on June 2, 2016: The white pine has won the battle. The silver maple was cut down today. It had dropped some large limbs during recent storms and was probably deemed a public hazard. Still, it’s sad to see an urban giant go.
I found this white-dotted prominent caterpillar (Nadata gibbosa) crawling across Meadow Road yesterday. A green caterpillar with an opaque, lighter green face, it is covered with white dots. This one had two brown patches on it, perhaps some sort of infection?
I like to call Ailanthus altissima the tree of good or evil. Depending on your perspective, it is either the “ghetto palm,” an invasive pest, or the “tree of heaven,” a tough, hardy street tree once planted for its beauty.
Introduced into the United States from China in 1748, it was being planted as a street tree by the 1820s. Pollution-resistant, salt-tolerant, quick-growing, and with tropical-like foliage, what was not to love about this tree?
Peter Del Tredici, senior research scientist at the Arnold Arboretum, held a tree mob on July 22 on a specimen of this tree (accession #695-80-B). Before eventually turning brown, most ailanthus trees have fruit that go from green to yellow. The tree that Del Tredici collected goes from green to red, hence the form “erythrocarpa,” which means red fruit. Del Tredici described the red on the tree as a spontaneous mutaton that appears sporadically. Continue reading →
Can Southern magnolia trees survive in Boston? I thought not. Even the Arboretum’s own Bulletin of Popular Information, didn’t think so, saying in May of 1911 that Magnolia grandiflora is “not hardy at the north.” That changed in 1983, when a tree was planted behind the Visitor Center. More accessible, however, is a tree just off Meadow Road behind a red maple. Planted in 1998, this cultivar — Bracken’s Brown Beauty — is doing very well.
We came across two large black beetles yesterday just off the path around Jamaica Pond. The beetles were possibly engaged in the act of mating. If so, the female beetle was much larger than the male and her orange belly was showing.
On Sunday, Jef led a small group of us on an urban nature walk. We started at the Bussey Brook Meadow and moved on to the Arnold Arboretum, ending at the Forest Hills gate. Mosquitoes hounded us, especially in the Meadow.
Jef called the meadow a European wildflower garden. We saw some periwinkle-colored chicory flowers (Cichorium intybus) and bird’s-foot trefoil flowers (Lotus corniculatus) with orange streaks on bright yellow. These were among the many wildflowers native to Europe.
I took photos of a wealth of natural life at the Arnold Arboretum yesterday. Among the birds, dragonflies, frogs, and plants, only one of the subjects was accessioned: Wilson’s spiraea (Spiraea wilsonii).
This afternoon, a living memorial to one of the more famous victims of the Holocaust was planted on Boston Common. Anne Frank, author of The Diary of a Young Girl, which chronicles her time in hiding from the Nazis, mentioned a horse chestnut tree that grew just outside the window of the Secret Annex where she was hiding.
“Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs. From my favorite spot on the floor, I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind…”
“The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere they can be alone, alone with the sky, nature and God. For then and only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature’s beauty and simplicity. As long as this exists, and that should be forever, I know there will be solace for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances. I firmly believe that nature can bring comfort to all who suffer.”
This black locust tree is part of a large stand southwest of the Prospect Hill Monument in Somerville’s Prospect Hill Park. The Boston skyline, including the Prudential building, can be seen in the background.