Cottonwood trees are part of the Willow family and part of the Poplar Genus. The female trees are easy to recognize in the spring when they release fluffy, cotton-like covered seeds (the males release pollen). They typically grow near water, although they can do well in dry soils, too, if they’re grown there from the beginning. If you see a grove of cottonwoods, you can be almost sure there is a source of water nearby. Since these trees are so dependent on water, they will sometimes drop their leaves during an extended dry spell.
As you can see from these pictures, Cottonwood trees require a lot of space because they grow to be large trees. Their roots will lift the surrounding soil (known as “root flair”) as the tree matures, so homeowners should give plenty of space between their trees and sidewalks, patios and other landscape features.
These trees have a soft trunk and limbs, and so they tend to be prone to wood decay, leaf blight and pests such as epidermal miners. Because of their weak wood, they will drop branches occasionally, especially during windy seasons. Cottonwoods are beautiful trees but do present some challenges. They should always be treated and maintained by an arborcare professional.
The tree shown in this slideshow is called a Bald Cypress. This particular tree that you see in most of the pictures (unless otherwise labeled) is located at the Achduth Vesholom Synagogue on Old Mill Road. When you look up into this tree, you can see the amazing architecture of the branches, which would make it a fantastic climbing tree! The Bald Cypress is a conifer tree; it grows cones just like a pine or a spruce, but it has one major difference from those evergreens: Though the Bald Cypress LOOKS like an evergreen, it is actually a deciduous tree! That makes it one of the few conifers to drop its needles in the fall.
The Bald Cypress tends to grow naturally in the southeastern part of the US, and it loves to grow in the water… in swamps and bogs. When it grows in water, its roots will branch out above the water line (creating “knees”), but here, in Fort Wayne, they just grow underground like what we’re accustomed to seeing.
Because the Bald Cypress is designed to live in water, its wood doesn’t rot! It is resistant to termites as well as decay (and it’s sometimes called “the wood eternal”!). That’s why many people use cypress mulch in their gardens.
We measured this tree and it had a circumference of 7.5 feet, or about 90 inches, however, the largest Bald Cypress in the US is about 54 feet around. That tree is located in Louisiana.
A pivotal part of our mission here at TreeMasters is the evaluation of trees “in trouble”. It’s our job to assist the tree’s owners as they come to decisions about a tree’s future and any investments that need to be made to improve its health or longterm viablity. Hundreds of times each season, we inspect trees and render opinions as to the future of a tree and the potential costs associated with the tree’s preservation (or removal).
Trees are “bimodal” organisms: they are botanical and they are structural. And so that means that there are two avenues for tree evaluation.
The botanical aspects of the tree are the ‘living’ components of the organism; they are its future. Leaves, sapwood, bark and roots of all sizes are both conductive of the tree’s life and descriptive of its experience. Trees can be “read” just like a book… what we see tells us its story.
For most people, the “green” part of the tree is desired and most easily observed. We pay attention to the leaves; we monitor their colors, and notice them when they change or drop off. But there is so much more we can learn and interpret from the leaves. If a branch or section of the plant loses leaves, it may be a warning, a sign of negative actions on or in the tree.
Trees are first and foremost energy systems. They function as energy collectors, manufacturing centers, and carbon storage units. Here is where the “green” functions. Limits in any form compromise the manufacture of sugars and hormones and thus the vigor and future of the tree.
The structure of a tree is the historical record of its growth and its vitality (as evidenced by its manufacture of wood). The wood is engineered both by its genetics and its site dynamics. The wood of a tree is the result of the tree’s botanical actions: it records the history of the tree and the site’s effects upon it. The formation of wood also sets the foundation for the future of the tree.
As trees grow they create a “body language”. A tree grows in response to its environment and things happening to the tree. Effects on a tree are frozen in the wood – here a trained eye can read the past and project the future.
Failure of the wood structure can have grave consequences, given that most trees have tons of wood in the air. We often assume risks for trees “breaking up” without thought. We see the wood but it doesn’t register until something breaks off.
A tree’s failure is an engineering failure, the same as any structure. The failure may be induced by weather or trauma, but it is based upon the building of the tree in the past and the attacks it has received from insects, disease and environmental impacts.
It’s obvious that taking care of our trees today will result in strong and healthy trees in the years to come.
Yes, it's true! We've started a TreeMasters, Inc. BLOG! We thought this would be a fun way to keep you up to date and to showcase some interesting things around the Fort. Jeff is a GREAT teacher, so keep your eyes on this blog to learn some interesting stuff!
Jeff Ling is a Registered Consulting Arborist and Co-Founder of TreeMasters, Inc., a full service arbor-care company, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. TreeMasters provides tree owners with scientific tree management services throughout Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.