Friday, March 26, 2010

Help Me ID this Tree

(This post is for Bort - my favorite tree guy...)

I was walking in the woods here around the Luck Cabin when I happened upon this big barked tree. What I noticed first was the unusual tree knot in the bark, at the bottom of the trunk. It looked like a big button that you could press, and open up a portal to another world - the kind with unicorns, glitter falling from the sky and tiny people... tinier than me... (see pic below.)The bark of this tree goes upward in large vertical caverns, creating deep shadows in the crevices. I don't know what kind of tree this is- and was wondering if anyone can help me identify the type of tree by looking at the bark? Each kind of tree has it's own thumbprint of bark, just like their individual shaped leaves... :)


Liberty said...

Tree IDing by bark is hard!
I think the only ones I know that way are shagbark hickory, birch, poplar and maybe cedar?
the hint of leaves in that pic made me think of chestnut but it was hard to tell.... and anyway that's cheating ;-)
Via the bark alone I'd be clueless!

Erik said...

That's a demon fingernail.


Gratuitous said...

My guess is it's a Black Gum Tree (nyssas sylvatica), also known as a Pepperidge tree, or Black Tupelo, or Sour gum. It looks like a very old one indeed, which is explained by its tolerance to so many adverse conditions... including harvesting by humans because it ain't desirable lumber!

Kittie Howard said...

I don't know, except that it's old. But my brother-in-law has an MA in Forestry and showed me a tree once (while driving to Miss.) that had a knot like this and said that the tree had cancer. Yipes!

Wild Canary said...

Leslie! That is a way cool tree and I love the way you photographed it. My grandpa used to have me learn to identify the trees by their bark. At first I thought it was impossible. This one is new to me. Looking forward to its name.

Lou Cheese said...

That's easy.

Coolest. Tree. Ever.

Erik said...

Lou cavorts with demons ... confirmed.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Ya'll are awesome!!

A naturalist friend of mine on facebook sent me a link to the type of tree- or "large shrub" ... that would be the biggest large shrub I eva' saw!

Sourwood or Sorrel Tree (Oxydendrum arboreum, pronounced /ˌɒksɨˈdɛndrəm ɑrˈbɔəriəm/)[1] is the sole species in the genus Oxydendrum DC, in the family Ericaceae. It is native to eastern North America, from southern Pennsylvania south to northwest Florida and west to southern Illinois; it is most common in the lower chain of the Appalachian Mountains.
* 1 Growth
* 2 Description
* 3 Cultivation and uses
* 4 In Appalachian culture
* 5 Gallery
* 6 References
* 7 External links
Sourwood is a small tree or large shrub, growing to 10-20 m tall with a trunk up to 50 cm diameter. The leaves are spirally arranged, deciduous, 8-20 cm long and 4-9 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin; they are dark green in summer but turn vivid red in fall. The flowers are white, bell-shaped, 6-9 mm long, produced on 15-25 cm long panicles. The fruit is a small woody capsule. The roots are shallow, and the tree grows best when there is little root competition; it also requires acidic soils for successful growth. The leaves can be chewed (but should not be swallowed) to help alleviate a dry feeling mouth.
Raceme of flowers
* Bark: Gray with a reddish tinge, deeply furrowed and scaly. Branchlets at first light yellow green, later reddish brown.
* Wood: Reddish brown, sapwood paler; heavy, hard, close-grained, will take a high polish. Sp. gr., 0.7458, weight of cu. ft., 46.48.
* Winter buds: Axillary, minute, dark red, partly immersed in the bark. Inner scales enlarge when spring growth begins.
* Leaves: Alternate, four to seven inches long, one and a half to two and a half inches wide, oblong to ablanceolate, wedge-shaped at base, serrate, acute or acuminate. Feather-veined, midrib conspicuous. They come out of the bud revolute, bronze green and shining, smooth, when full grown are dark green, shining above, pale and glaucous below. In autumn they turn bright scarlet. Petioles long and slender, stipules wanting. Heavily laden with acid.
* Flowers: June, July. Perfect, cream-white, borne in terminal panicles of secund racemes seven to eight inches long; rachis and short pedicels downy.
Cultivation and uses
The Sourwood is perfectly hardy at the north and a worthy ornamental tree in lawns and parks. Its late bloom makes it desirable and its autumnal coloring is particularly beautiful and brilliant. The leaves are heavily charged with acid, and to some extent have the poise of those of the peach.[2] The leaves are also a laxative.

It is renowned for nectar, and for the honey which is produced from it. Juice from its blooms is used to make sourwood jelly. The shoots were used by the Cherokee and the Catawba to make arrowshafts.
In Appalachian culture

GO Gratuitous for guessing it on here too - how do you ever find the names for everything... bugs, and now trees too !?

Bort said...

that motherfucker:)

Gratuitous said...

Master Bort! How you always put a smile upon my face! But please dude, don't use those damn punctuation-mark pictures. It's cute if you're a cute mountain-girl from New Orleans, but not so much when you're a burly moutain-boy from... hell where ya from, lad? Right here next to the rusty stills and farms and bridges of Madison County?

Leslie, it's all about the search. You just google for awhile. Descriptive key words (which you usually already provide), and switching back and forth from "web" and "images." Sometimes you eliminate a key word for more results, and sometimes you add a word to narrow it down. You then end up with a fairly educated guess, if you dare trust all of the other internet souls who contributed. We end up with a sort of reflection. You give us an image and a description of an intimate, personal experience, thereby giving us a few layers of it - but with a question, a puzzle. And we reflect back to you an added layer to your knowledge of the experience! What fun. In other words, you teach me a great deal by inspiring in me curiosity. Thanks!