What a difference eight hours can make

  7:30 a.m. April 12   and eight hours later . .

A true American chestnut

When I was a young lad growing up in New Jersey, there were still a few big chestnut trees in the neighborhood. When we kids took the “long” unaccompanied one-mile trek to Finnerty’s candy store, we would take a shortcut through a neighbor’s yard with a huge specimen chestnut tree. We took great pains to […]

Surprising Appearance of a Chinese Yellowhorn

Nobody could figure out what it is. A small tree growing across the street from the Jefferson Market in Ann Arbor. Bill Dale, a tree worker employed by the City of Ann Arbor, spotted it and brought a sample back to the office. He and co-worker Steve Goebel Jr were completely flummoxed, and asked for […]

Avoid falling for tree and shrub pest control scams

The following article was released by Michigan State Extension this week. It is the result of a complaint from a certain tree-care worker who was getting tired of responding to calls from worried customers. The customers had been advised by a mega-lawn-care representative that their trees/shrubs had pest issues requiring multiple spray applications. Said tree-care […]

Why it is generally a bad idea to put gravel in the bottom of a pot and how that relates to evolutionary biology

Even experts will sometimes advise putting a layer of gravel in the bottom of a plant pot: “for drainage.” What you get in reality is a smaller pot. Think about it: if a soil is saturated such that it can hold no more water, it doesn’t matter whether the bottom of the medium is a […]

A Modest Geranium Goes Rogue

I probably first encountered the cute little Geranium robertianum on the shores of Lake Huron at Drummond Island. It’s a small-flowered cranesbill, known ‘commonly’ as herb-robert. Historically it was first collected in Michigan on Mackinac Island, and then later along the shores of the Great Lakes. It is a circumpolar species, found in parts of […]

An explosion of helicopters

I doubt anyone knows how or why this happens: all the silver and red maples in the region are laden with so much fruit it is hard to pick out any leaves. How can this phenomenon be coordinated among all the trees? One client called yesterday and asked how to spell the word ‘schizocarp.’ I […]

Birdwatching people-jam in northwest Ohio

I had no idea that the pastime of birdwatching had come to this. We scheduled our early-May visit to Maggie Marsh in northwest Ohio for a Tuesday in order to avoid any weekend crowd. It was quite cool and very windy, far from an ideal day for viewing migrating song birds. No matter. The place […]

Strange tree sightings!

I passed this tree while driving down Stein Rd off Whitmore Lake Rd.  Creepiest looking apple tree I’ve ever seen. The resident told me that she had been informed that this was “the oldest” apple tree in Michigan by another passing forester. It’s not an impossible idea: the two “bottoms” of the tree are rooted, […]

Crazy worm on its way

The ecosystems of southern Michigan were worm-free until European settlers introduced them, along with the dandelions, queen-anne’s-lace, and a host of deadly diseases. I don’t know how prevalent earthworms worm before the last ice-age, but there were none left when the final glacier retreated 12 or so thousand years ago. If you think earthworms are […]