Wisconsin State Tree

The Sugar Maple

Every state has designated motifs that represent its unique background. One of Wisconsin’s well-known, and appreciated, state symbols is the sugar maple tree. The title of state tree was made official in 1949. The sugar maple was so popular; it won two statewide votes, one in 1893 and another in 1948. School children from all over Wisconsin voted, and the sugar maple won both times, despite substantial advocating by lovers of the white pine. Legislature named the sugar maple the official state tree by establishing Chapter 218, Laws of 1949.

 

About the Sugar Maple

Wisconsin is not the only state to have made the sugar maple their official symbol. New York, West Virginia, and Vermont have also had the pleasure of calling this beautiful tree their own. This spectacular arbor grows at a slow to medium rate and reaches up to 60 to 75 feet high, as well as 40 to 50 feet wide. The sugar maple doesn’t often bloom until they are at least 22 years old, but they live up to 400 years, so in sugar maple years, 22 is relatively early.

 

Making Maple Syrup

The sugar maple has many names, among them hard maple or rock maple. The sap that comes from the trunks of this amazingly versatile tree is used to make maple syrup, one of the main reasons school children most likely voted for it. The sap of the sugar maple needs to be tapped early in the spring in order make syrup. The process involves boiling all of the extra fluid out of the sap. To produce 1 gallon of maple syrup, one must start with a total of 34 gallons of sap! On average, a tapped sugar maple can produce between 10 and twenty gallons per tap.

 

Other Uses of the Sugar Maple

Native Americans, according to John Smith, had many uses for the Sugar Maple. They used the syrup to barter for other sources, but also used the inner bark of the tree to make dye and tea that helped to treat coughs and diarrhea. The tree’s ash was used to make soap, and the syrup helped with kidney and liver problems. The wood from the tree is dense, hard, and close-grained which makes it a useful timber tree. One can make furniture, flooring, veneer, musical instruments, and a wide variety of woodenware.

 

What Makes the Sugar Maple Beautiful

In the fall, the leaves of the sugar maple turn to a vast array of colors, including yellow, burnt orange, and red. If you catch it at the right time, the tree can have all of those colors as well as green. The sugar maple grows in a round or oval shape, giving you plenty of pretty shade to enjoy. Another reason the school children of Wisconsin must have voted for this tree is its seeds. They come in pairs and are winged, looking similar to helicopter blades. The seeds mature in September and October and spin in circles as they gently fall to the ground, giving them the moniker “helicopter seeds.”

Blooming Trees and How to Care for Them

Nothing brightens a yard and frames a home with natural beauty quite like the delicate blossoms of blooming tree. Imagine relaxing in the shade with petals floating swirling around you in a gentle breeze. Flowering trees add visual interest to the outside of the home year after year but, like any landscaping, require the proper care and attention to ensure longevity. Especially when it comes to trees which will hopefully last decades on your property, putting in consistent effort can safeguard your trees from needing intensive, professional attention later.

Start at the Very Beginning

Before purchasing and planting the first beautiful blossoms that catch your eye, take some time to educate yourself. Before even browsing, take a purposeful stroll around your yard! Homeowners often overlook factors that are, for the most part, unchangeable: the amount of sunlight, type of soil, and available locations for a new tree. Once you have a grasp of the conditions of your tree’s intended home, you finally get to see some blossoms! Using your newfound knowledge, research types of flowering trees that will thrive in the desired area and what maintenance your favorites require. A helpful and fun way to gain this information would be to visit your local nursery! The employees will be knowledgeable in the conditions of your particular region and have a functional knowledge of what might work best in your space. In a pinch, internet searches can be helpful; just remember to “think local” when scanning information and keep in mind that some sources are more reliable than others. However you come by it, you now have the know-how to pick your favorite blooming tree and get it to its new home!

Early Days

After purchasing your new tree, allow it to acclimate to the new area for 7-10 days before planting by gradually moving the potted tree from a shaded area towards its intended location keeping it watered as directed. When it comes time to plant, make sure to wet the hole and root ball thoroughly before covering with soil and fertilizer (preferably specialized for flowering trees). In the first weeks, be vigilant for signs that something might be amiss with your new sapling, in which case call a local tree service to advise on your next steps. Typically though, you should be well on your way to a happy, healthy blooming tree!

As Time Goes By

Pruning young flowering trees will help shape them for the future—literally. So think carefully about the ideal direction of growth and size of your grown-up tree then diligently prune according to when they bloom: If they bloom early in the year, prune after the flowering, and if later, prune before (late-winter or early-spring). Research your tree’s particular needs and follow the recommended pruning regimen for best long-lasting results! A concern with all trees is bugs and disease, but thankfully, keeping up with necessary maintenance will address most bug and disease issues. So, water, fertilize, prune, and never forget fall clean-up!

Remember to use your resources and consult with experts along the way, and you will be on your way to many years for blooming beauty!

How to Tell if You Have a Sick and Sad Tree

Trees don’t get runny noses or run fevers when they are sick. So it can be hard to tell when your tree needs to see a doctor. I also don’t recommend uprooting your tree and bringing it into a clinic. Instead, the tree doctor will need to come to you. But how do you know if your tree is sick? For this, you need to consider the whole tree as a system.

Look at the leaves. First and foremost, it’s normal for most trees to shed. Some trees drop their leaves every year, while others, such as pines, drop a few here and there. If your tree is losing leaves in an off-season, it could be sick. Also, take a closer look at the leaves themselves. If the leaves are blotchy, appear to be growing mold, or are withering and curling, that’s a sign of a problem. Call your tree doctor.

Look out below! Trees do drop branches sometimes. Take it from the pro’s at Tree Service Oshkosh WI, storms often sacrifice the weak limbs to your shrubs or your neighbor’s yards. These limbs are not signs of illness though. The critical difference between a healthy limb and a weak limb is if you have leaf growth or other typical markers of tree life on them, such as a bud or a pinecone. If your tree is dropping branches, with no external cause, such as the wind, pay attention. It could be an act of critter violence, or if the limb is bare of all leaves and no signs of growth, you’ll want to eyeball the branch before throwing it in the compost box. Symptoms of illness would include dry and brittle exterior or insect infestation. After you recover from doing the creepy crawly dance, call a tree doctor.

Hug a tree. Ok, well I have not researched hugging a tree and how it correlates to tree health, but that part you’re hugging? That’s the trunk. It goes from the base where the roots are up to where the branches start. Give that a proper inspection. There should be no caves in your tree. If there is a depression anywhere big enough for a critter to burrow, you’ll want to call the tree doctor.

Trees are not snakes. They don’t shed their bark and re-grow larger. A tree with dry, brittle bark or bark that is flaking off the tree is not healthy. Need a different perspective? Think about the playgrounds with mulch. Why is the mulch there? Kids are clumsy and need a soft place to land. Healthy bark is bouncy, pliable and makes a soft landing pad when your kid slips off the monkey bars for the 15th time. If the bark on your tree is not acting the same way, call the tree doctor.

Trouble down below. It’s easy to ignore the roots because you don’t see them. However, if the roots fail, the whole system of your tree is going to experience repercussions, which means you may have a tree fall over on your shed. If you have roots that are near the surface of the ground, you’ll want to be sure you are not going over them with the lawnmower or other heavy machinery or vehicles, as this puts stress on that root. Also, standing water is not suitable for trees. Trees need water, but too much makes them sick. Lastly, look for signs of unusual growth. Faerie rings are cool, and all, but mushrooms should not be growing near the base of your tree. If they are, it’s time to call the tree doctor.

As a licensed tree doctor, I’ll be able to tell you just what’s going on with your tree, how to treat the symptoms and prevent the spread of disease to the rest of the tree, or to surrounding trees that could be vulnerable. If the prognosis is fatal, we will determine the best way to remove your tree without risking further life or limb. After all, we got to protect that shed.

Tree’s – we Need Them

Trees are an integral part of human existence.  They do essential jobs like filter our air so that we can breathe clean oxygen and not all that gross carbon we are so good at putting into the atmosphere.  On almost every continent, there is an important and historic tree.

 

The Cotton Tree in Sierra Leone is one such famous tree in Africa.  It stands near historic Freetown.  Freetown was once the stage for war against slavery; Black Loyalists and British troops fought here, over the right to claim slaves from this African land.  In 1792, Britain lost, and the Loyalists prevailed.  The Cotton Tree is a symbol of this freedom.  Rising around it, is the Supreme Court building, a music club, and a museum; all testaments to Sierra Leone’s past, present, and future.

 

Moving over to Asia, you will find Thimmamma Marrimanu, in India.  Recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest tree in the world in 1989.  Its historical significance goes much farther back than that.  According to local history, a woman committed suicide on top of her husband’s funeral pyre.  Suicide, or Sati, was a common practice for widows and held religious and cultural significance.  From the ashes, grew Thimmamma Marrimanu.  Every year a festival is held in honor of this tree.  Many believe that if a childless couple comes and honor the tree, they will give birth within the next year.

 

Unless you live under a rock, you likely are familiar with Robin Hood and his Merry Men.  Sherwood Forest does exist.  In Nottinghamshire of England, Sherwood Forest is home to the Mighty Oak.  An English Oak tree that is said to be where Robin Hood and his Merry Men held camp.  Mighty oak is physically striking, with a trunk that appears twisted. While there are several theories about how Mighty Oak became so big and oddly shaped, researchers cannot conclusively agree on its progression.

 

Driving the coast of California, you’ll want to swing through Leggett, and drive through Chandelier Tree.  Chandelier Tree, a giant redwood, is named because its limbs closely resemble a chandelier.  You read that first sentence correctly.  I did say “drive through.”  Chandelier Tree features a tunnel that you can drive your car through.

 

The World’s Largest Cashew Tree is in Brazil and also featured in The Guinness Book of World Records.  The tree may have been planted in 1888, but others believe this tree is over a thousand years old.  It still produces cashews to the tune of over 60,000 per year.

 

Australia, now a prime tourist destination, was once an island to send those who broke the law.  1500 years old, the Boab Prison tree in Derby is now a tourist attraction.  Although it did not appear ever to house prisoners, the myth still prevails.  What makes the tree a handy prison could be in large part to its bulbous trunk that is large enough to hold a human.  Human remains found inside other trees of this variety belonging to Aboriginal tribes who used these trees as huts and as burial places for their deceased.  The Boab Prison Tree is now a tourist attraction.

 

What do all of these old trees have in common?  All of these trees are very much still living and standing.  While this might not always be the case, their historical presence that will live on even when their bodies return to the earth.

We Love Tree’s and Books and Wisconsin

I learned to read when I was four. Since then, I have a love affair with books. I am a reluctant user of my electronic reading device, as I have a visceral relationship with the smell and feel of books, along with the words on the pages. I also love trees, so I understand that publishing books in an electronic format save paper, which saves trees. I know I am not the only one who loves trees. In fact, if you look in works of fiction, you’ll find many writers paying homage to trees as characters and devices in their stories.

I am Groot! Ok, no I am not. Groot is the most relevant example I can think of from current popular culture. While Groot is most known for being an essential character in Guardians of the Galaxy, this sentient tree creature first appeared in Marvel comics. He was first introduced as an alien invader, looking to kidnap humans for experimentation. Groot was later reintroduced as the superhero we all enjoy watching on the big screen.

Yggdrasil. If you can pronounce it, you may know something about Norse mythology. Yggdrasil is a tree of Life, interconnecting heaven, the mortal realm, and afterlife in fantasy genres. In old poetry, Yggdrasil translates to “Odin’s Gallows,” and is where Odin sacrificed himself during a war by hanging himself from a giant Ash tree. Several Norse mythologies used Yggdrasil to represent different events in culture and history and were likely a carryover from days when tales were told orally and not written down.

“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein created quite a controversy on first publication. Critics of the book thought the subject matter was everything from too simplistic, to abusive. The plot centers on a tree and a boy. The tree gives to the boy selflessly and watches the boy grow. At the end of the boy’s life, when he is an elderly man, he returns to the tree to rest. The tree feels fulfilled. If you need a good cry, this book is for you. Most choose to interpret the text as the importance of giving.

Many Native American cultures hold trees to be sacred beings. As a result, trees exist in many of their stories and act as parables of peace, wisdom, and even teaching the applications of trees throughout their world. The trees don’t always talk, but sometimes they do. In these stories, the use of symbolism, tree or otherwise, often relates to how connected we are all to each other.

I cannot end this blog without talking about Treebeard. The eldest of the Ents, Treebeard is a distinguished leader amongst fictional trees. I am of course talking about J. R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth. While there is a lot to love about Middle Earth, Tolkien’s use of trees is an interesting one. Trees are seen as wise, if not frustratingly slow when a decision needs to be made. Compare this to the growth of real trees, and you may never look at a real tree the same way again. I know I often wished Treebeard lived in my backyard as a child.

There are more examples of trees in fiction and literature. These are just a smattering. Feel free to let me know what other trees have played an important part of your love for reading too.