Saturday, June 13, 2020

Naming Trees

all the trees have names,
both family and genus
on small brass plaques at the base of each …
looking once like any other
burlapped ball of roots
when it was lowered to earth
those decades after the war. (1)

Tree-following sometimes becomes a struggle in identification (2). If we don’t know a tree’s name, don’t know its kind and all the information that goes with that, may we follow it? Sure, why not? But of course we feel a little guilty, and still hope to learn its name.

The tree I chose for 2020 has partially revealed its identity. With its elongate clusters of flowers and small fruit, it looks like a chokecherry. But the leaves differ from our native ones (Prunus virginiana). Is this a landscaping cultivar? I will check with the City arborist, whom I recently met (more below).
Leaves on sucker shoots are more chokecherry-like.
In the photo below, do you see that the left side of the crown is a bit droopy? A large limb broke with the heavy wet snow we had about a week ago. Unfortunately, all our trees had leafed out, so now the town is quite a mess with downed branches, especially from cottonwoods. Cleanup is underway.
Broken limb.
Cones and truck signal cleanup underway (note branches under cottonwood/poplar).

Next I visited the puzzling tree with maple-like samaras at the Art Museum, which I considered following earlier this year. It's now leafed out, in flower, and filled with busy insects.
Flowers not unlike maple flowers ... but leaves?
These sure look like maple samaras!
It’s puzzling because the leaves don’t look like maple leaves. Or so I thought.

But then two trees with names showed up in my yard. Please meet Winter King Hawthorne, Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’.
And … FANFARE!! … here's the dazzling Hot Wings Tartarian Maple, Acer tataricum 'GarAnn' PP 15023. Note the leaves on this maple!
These young trees reside in my yard courtesy of Rooted in Laramie. Laramie's arborist helped select locations. Tiger Tree did the planting, complete with stakes, mulch, slow-release water bags and trunk protectors. Through the fall, there will be in-person health-checks and e-mail reminders about caring for my new trees. All this for just $50 US per tree! I'm grateful to all the local businesses and organizations that contributed.
Two pros had the trees in the ground in no time.


(1) “Naming the Trees” by Bruce Guernsey was inspired by the national cemetery at Gettysburg. Read the entire poem at Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry (thanks to Tom Rea of for sending it).

(2) We tree-followers pick a tree to follow each year. We report on it monthly, in virtual meetings kindly hosted by The Squirrel Basket. Read the latest news here. Consider joining us! Jump in any time.