Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Juniperus virginiana


Eastern Red Cedar is a common conifer found everywhere east of the Great Plains. Not a true cedar, it is one of three or so species of Juniper in Texas. In Texas you'll find it in the eastern half of the state. Once you hit the Hill Country, Ashe juniper (Juniperus asheii) replaces the Eastern Red Cedar.

The Eastern Red Cedar is a pioneer tree species and will invade pastureland unless controlled. Out in the open, it grows like dense, plump Christmas trees (in fact, it is the traditional Southern Christmas tree species). But among other trees, it grows tall with looser foliage. The leaves come in two forms. The juvenile form is spikey with the needle-like leaves held out, while in the adult form, the leaves are held flat like scales.

Like most Junipers, the Eastern Red Juniper is dioecious with "male" and "female" forms. Female trees produce blue, berry-like cones which are smaller than those of Ashe juniper. The bark is stringy and the heartwood familiarly fragrant.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Campsis radicans


Trumpet creeper is a rampant, fast-growing vine, native to the Southeast but commonly cultivated eslewhere for its big, showy flowers. Like other members of its family (such as the catalpa tree), the flowers are tube or trumpet shaped. Trumpet creeper can easily scale the height of even the tallest trees and is commonly seen covering telephone poles. The leaves are compound and up to 1 foot in length, and the vine produces large, banana-shaped seed pods in late summer. The vines are perennial and become woody over time, putting them with other lianas such as Berchemia scandens and poison ivy.

Carya cordiformis


I think it's neat to find this tree growing in Friendswood. It's a type of hickory called bitternut hickory. It ranges all the way from southern Canada to East Texas and is typically found in bottomlands and even swamps (it's also called swamp hickory). The nuts of this tree are, as the name implies, bitter and mostly inedible. They look like smallish (around 1 inch in diameter), round pecans with a thin, four-segmented husk. The pecan is actually also a hickory (Carya illinoiensis). The leaves of the bitternut hickory I found were around a foot in length. One distinctive characteristic is the bright orange buds. The specimen I found had been hacked down but I'm hoping to find a nice mature one somewhere as they are supposed to be one of the tallest hickories growing up to 100ft tall.