Flowering Dogwood

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We have just a few Flowering Dogwood trees scattered through the Chert Hollow woods, and spring of 2015 was the first time we’ve seen them bloom meaningfully. In fact, we found a couple specimens that we were not previously aware of.

Box Elder

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A tree with opposite compound leaves. The three leaflets superficially resemble poison ivy.

Eastern Red Cedar

Cedars are a native invasive: a native species that can rapidly overtake an open patch of ground and form a dense monoculture. They did this here after prior attempts at farming were abandoned in the mid-1900s. We’ve spent many winters removing cedars to replant more diversity. Fortunately, we’ve found uses for essentially all parts of a cedar tree.

bio_cedar_berriesCedar berries on a female tree.

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Male cedar tree releasing pollen in spring.

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Sugar Maple

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Tap the tree in the spring to collect its sap and boil down maple syrup. Cut down small maples and rot them with shiitake mycelium for delicious mushrooms. Enjoy the color in the fall. As far as we’re concerned, this is a lovely and useful tree, in spite of MDC’s concern about maples taking over the state’s forests. On a vegetable farm, we perceive a benefit from having trees around that don’t produce acorns to attract deer, squirrels, and other pestiferous mammals. Maybe it comes from spending some time in Vermont, but maples are among our favorite trees.

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Honey Locust

Honey locusts are especially common here in former, now overgrown, pastures. The vicious thorns are the most obvious identifying characteristic of this tree, and they help to deter herbivores from nibbling on the branches or bark. Some trees have only a few, while others are armored along nearly every inch of trunk. Lower branches often die back and drop thorns onto the ground, posing a hazard for boots, tires, and goat hooves. In the fall, the trees produce long pods which have a sweet, slightly fruity smell when broken open. Goats are quite fond of the pods, which are probably reasonably nutritious given that the honey locust is a member of the legume family. Honey locust wood is dense and an excellent source of firewood if you can manage the thorns.