European Hackberry - Celtis australis

European hackberry fruitThe European Hackberry (Celtis australis) is a tree species that also goes by the names European Nettle tree and Lote tree and is possibly the tree that the "Lotus-eaters" ate from as referenced by Homer.

The large specimen of the Celtis australis in the picture below is located in the "Concepción" historical botanical garden in Malaga, Spain at the beginning of the "Around the World in 80 trees" trail.
large Celtis australis treeThe fruit of the European hHackberry is a small berry like "drupe" that hangs on the end of a short stem connected to the base of the leaf stem. The size of the fruit is about one half inch in diameter.
Below is another view of the large tree (image above) from a different angle.

The leaf of the Celtis australis is simple in shape with serrate margins and measures about 2-3 inches long. The top side is a darker green than the bottom side which is also "fuzzier" also.

The bark is light gray and with age develops interesting shapes. One of the shapes in the picture below looks a bit like an eye.

I found another large example of the European Hackberry tree on the grounds of the Cathedral of Málaga. From the size of its trunk it looks like it has been growing there for a rather long time.
European Hackberry tree Malaga Cathedral

Western Hemlock - Tsuga heterophylla

The Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) is the State tree species of Washington State. Being originally from Eastern Washington I have to admit that I was surprised to discover that the Western Hemlock was our state tree. I would have guessed that the Western Red Ceder or the Ponderosa Pine would have been much better choices. As it turns out my feeling was not unjustified. The following quote is from official Washington State government website...
“In 1946, an Oregon newspaper teased Washington for not having a state tree. The Portland Oregonian picked out the western hemlock, Tsuga heterophylla for us, but Washington newspapers decided to choose their own and selected the popular western red cedar. State Representative George Adams of Mason County pleaded with the Legislature to adopt the western hemlock. The hemlock, he said, would become "the backbone of this state's forest industry." Adams' bill passed the Legislature and was signed into law in 1947.”

One of the distinctive features of the Western Hemlock is its "floppy" top and branches. One way to pick out the Hemlocks in the forest is to look for the trees that have the top sort of flopped over to one side as if they were too limp to stand up straight at the top. Also in the image above you can see how the end of the branch is somewhat limp.

The "needle-like" leaves of the Western Hemlock are somewhat flat and do not occur in bunches like a lot of other evergreens. They are about 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch long.

These pictures are not actually from a tree in Washington State but rather from a tree in Stanley Park in Vancouver B.C. that was conveniently labeled with the little plate below.

The Quote "Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark" comes from "The Tragedy of Macbeth" scene one spoken by the Third Witch. It is a bit strange that this quote is used in connection with the Western Hemlock because the "Hemlock" that is referred to in the quote is not a tree and has no resemblance what so ever to this tree. Rather it is a poisonous perennial herbaceous flowering plant with the species name Conium maculatum. It looks like somebody did not do their homework right.

The cones of the Western Hemlock are quite small (less than an inch long) which makes them a favorite for use in arts and crafts as well as for potpourri.

A similar tree is the Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) that is the state tree of Pennsylvania.

50 American State Trees Trivia

Did you know that there are only 39 state tree species that compromise the 50 official state trees? This is due to the fact that some of the official state trees species are shared by more than one state.

The Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) is the state tree of no less than FOUR states! New York, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin all have the Sugar Maple as their state tree.

In addition there are three more tree species that are each claimed by three different states.

- Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee have the Tulip Poplar as their state tree.
- Connecticut, Illinois and Maryland have the White Oak as their state tree.
- Missouri, New Jersey and Virginia have the Flowering Dogwood as their state tree.

Five more trees are shared claimed by two different states

- Colorado and Utah have the Blue Spruce as their state tree.
- North Dakota, Massachusettshave the American Elm as their state tree.
- Florida, South Carolina have the Cabbage Palmetto as their state tree.
- Kansas,Nebraska have the Eastern Cottonwood as their state tree.
- Maine, Michigan have the Eastern White Pine as their state tree.

Mississippi has the Southern Magnolia as its state tree and Louisiana as the State Flower.

Three states have two official state trees.

- California (Giant Sequoia and Coastal Redwood)

- Nevada (Singleleaf Pinyon and Bristlecone Pine)

- New Jersey (Red Oak is the official tree and Flowering Dogwood is the memorial tree)

19 States have Evergreen conifers as their state trees

-10 are Pine trees
-4 are Spruce trees
-2 are Hemlocks
-1 is Redwood
-1 is a Douglas Fir
-1 is a Cypress

6 States have Oak trees

5 States have Maple trees

2 States have Cottonwoods

2 States have palm trees

Only one State has a fruit tree as the state tree (Texas - Pecan)

No state has the Western Red Cedar as its official state tree

There are no true firs (genus Abies) among the state trees (Douglas Fir is not a true fir)

All 39 official state tree species...

American Elm (2) Massachusetts, North Dakota

American Holly Delaware

Bald Cypress Louisiana

Blue Paloverde Arizona

Blue Spruce(2) Colorado, Utah

Bristlecone Pine Nevada

Cabbage Palmetto (2) Florida , South Carolina

Douglas Fir Oregon

Eastern Cottonwood (2) Kansas,Nebraska

Eastern Hemlock Pennsylvania

Eastern Redbud Oklahoma

Eastern White Pine (2) Maine, Michigan

Flowering Dogwood (3) Missouri, New Jersey, Virginia

Giant Sequoia California

Kukui Hawaii

Live Oak Georgia

Loblolly Pine Arkansas

Longleaf Pine North Carolina

Northern Red Oak New Jersey

Oak tree Iowa

Ohio Buckeye Ohio

Paper Birch New Hampshire

Pecan Texas

Pinyon Pine New Mexico

Plains Cottonwood Wyoming

Ponderosa Pine Montana

Redwood California

Red Maple Rhode Island

Red Pine Minnesota

Singleleaf Pinyon Nevada

Sitka Spruce Alaska

Southern Longleaf Pine Alabama

Southern Magnolia Mississippi

Sugar Maple (4) New York, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin

Tulip Poplar (3) Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee

Western Hemlock Washington

Western White Pine Idaho

White Oak (3) Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland

White Spruce South Dakota

Non-State territories official trees...

District of Columbia - scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea)

Puerto Rico - Ceiba or Kapok (Ceiba pentandra)

Guam – Ifil (Intsia bijuga)

Bonus: Did you know that the United States has a National Tree? The Oak tree (no species specified) is the national tree.

Petrified Tropical Forest in Chemnitz Germany

The petrified logs in this image are located in the Chemnitz Museum of Natural History. Researchers have been studying a number of petrified logs that have been dug up over the years in this town in Germany, some of which have been found whole and in a vertical orientation as if the trees were buried while still standing. Studies on several of the logs have lead researchers to believe that the logs are part of a petrified tropical forest that is encased in the sediment and ash layer of an ancient volcano.

One of the tree species tentatively identified at the site is "Arthropitys ezonata Goeppert", a tropical tree species that is long extinct. In fact, all of the logs found at Chemnitz are of tree species that are now extinct.

I first heard about this story from Gus at Eucalytologics who sent me a link to an article in Spiegel Online.

Common Screwpine - Pandanus utilis

The Common Screwpine (Pandanus utilis) is a tropical tree species native to Madagascar and contrary to what it´s name implies it is NOT a pine tree. It does not even remotely resemble a pine tree so why the name - I have no idea. At any rate it is an interesting tree species and one that is often grown as an ornamental tree in climates that permit. An alternate spelling for the common name is "Madagascar Screw-pine".

The younger trees in this species have very little branching but as they get older they develop long thin branches a sort of "Dr. Seus" look. It also reminds me a it of the Dragon tree. This tree also has a tendency to grow auxiliary "prop-roots" to help support the weight of the tree. There is a better image of these tube like roots below.

The image below is of a new flower forming at the base of the long, thin, spiny leaves.

The flower then opens up like you can see in the image below as a hanging, almost palm inflorescence-like structure.
When the new fruit starts to from it looks at first like a small (softball size) ball covered with molar-like teeth. At least this is what it looks like to me anyway.

This ball eventually grows to about the size of a volleyball or small indoor soccer-ball. The seeds of this tree fruit are edible but not very tasty. There is a similar Pandanus tree in Papua New Guinea that grows fruits that are about 2 feet long and 4-5 inches wide. Its seeds are quite a bit smaller than these and the mature fruit can be red or yellow. It is a favorite meal for the locals who boil it in water and then suck the juice off the seeds and then spit the seeds out.

The "bark" of this tree is somewhat abrasive although is wears smooth with time. The leaf margins have small thorn-like spines that can scrape and irritate the skin.

Other tropical trees...
Umbrella tree
False Aralia

Another strange looking tree is the Monkey Puzzle tree.

Red Maple - Acer rubrum

The Red Maple (Acer rubrum) is a relatively common tree species in Eastern North America. It also goes by the name Scarlet Maple in reference to the bright red color of its spring leaves. The images in the post come from the "Early Forest - Native and Exotic Tree Seeds" blog whose author Craig graciously gave me permission to use some of his images. If you are interested in beautiful tree seeds or cones for ornamental or craft projects I would encourage you to check out his blog.
The seeds of the Red Maple are samaras in a dual "helicopter" arrangement. Clicking on the image below will take you to a site were you can purchase these seeds in small packets like the one in the image.

Other Maple trees that I have posted about are the Big Leaf Maple, the Vine Maple, the Boxelder Maple, Sycamore Maple and the Montpellier Maple.

Clarabelle - Brachychiton discolor x acerifolius

The "Clarabelle" is a naturally occurring hybrid tree species that is a cross between Brachychiton discolor and Brachychiton acerifolius. These trees are native to Australia but are widely planted as ornamental urban trees in the south of Spain where these pictures were taken.
The bell shaped flowers are slightly smaller than those of b.discolor but a good deal bigger than those of b.acerifolius. Like the b.discolor they have two tones of color on the exterior of the bell shape. The flower buds are similar in shape and color the the b.discolor but lack the fuzzy exterior.
The shape and size of the "Clarabelle´s" seed pods is almost identical to those of the b.discolor but the color is more similar to the b.acerifolius and here again the fuzzy exterior of the b.discolor is not present (although on some trees there is a slight hint of the fuzziness).

The image above is of a new seed pod starting to form while the image below is of fully mature seed pods with the seeds exposed. These seeds are encased with a very fine hairy substance that can leave tiny little "slivers" embedded into your fingers if you tree and extract the seeds with your bare hands. These seeds are reputed to be edible.

The leaf shape of the "Clarabelle" is quite similar to the b.acerifolius which are quite a bit larger than those of the b.discolor. The leaves are about 9-12 inches across.
Some other Brachychitons...
Brachychiton bidwillii
Brachychiton populneus

Tasmanian Blue Gum - Eucalyptus globulus

The Tasmanian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus Labil.) is a large tree species native to southern Australia. It also goes by the common names Southern Blue Gum and Blue Gum Eucalyptus. The tree in the image above is located in a botanical garden in Malaga, Spain. I measured the trunk of this tree at 1.6 meters wide at the base. This Eucalyptus tree species is one of the most common in Spain. The Tasmanian Blue Gum was "discovered" and introduced to the world by Citizen Labillardière in 1792. This was the tree species by which the Eucalyptus genus became known to the world.
The "fruits" of the Tasmanian Blue Gum are fairly large as far as Gum trees go. The tape measure in the image above is in centimeters and as you can see these woody, button shaped fruits measure about 2-3 cm across and 1-1.5 deep. The star shaped openings on the front are valves that release the seeds. In this picture you can see that the number of valves can vary (from three to six are possible). The "globulus" part of the Latin species name comes from the "small button" shape of the fruits.
One interesting aspect of this tree species is the pronounced difference between its juvenile, intermediate and adult leaves. The picture above shows a pair of new juvenile leaves that have formed on a new branch at the base of a large tree. In the image below you can see more juvenile leaves on another somewhat larger new stem.

In the next picture you can see how the secondary branches grow from the base of the juvenile leaves.
The picture below gives an idea of the difference in shape and size between the juvenile and adult leaves. you can also see that the adult leaves do not grow in pairs but rather are alternate.

The bark of the Tasmanian Blue Gum can be gray-blue or reddish and often has pronounced dimples on the larger trunks.

For more information on this tree species consult Eucalyptologics where you will find lots of information and resources on Eucalyptus cultivation around the world.

The Greatest Trees in the World

This is a list of the 12 most magnificent and famous tree species in the world and their greatest specimens. I have also posted an expanded version of this post on my Ten Thousand Trees Blog that has pictures of each tree.

Largest tree by Volume - Giant Sequoia
Tallest tree - Coastal Redwood
Largest Spread - Bengal FigOldest Individual tree - Bristlecone Pine
  • Methuselah tree
  • Pinus longaeva
  • age 4,840 years
  • (the Jomon Sugi tree has been reported to be older (7,200 years) but more conservative estimates date it at 2,200 years old)
Largest Girth - Montezuma Cypress
  • Árbol del Tule (Oaxaca, Mexico)
  • Taxodium mucronatum
  • 11.62 meters in diameter
  • circumference of 36.2 m
Greatest Baobab - Adansonia digitata
  • Sunland Baobab
  • Adansonia digitata
  • circumference of 46,8m (a Baobab´s girth expands and contracts depending on how much water it is holding . . . it is assumed that this measurement reflects the girth at its point of greatest expansion)
  • runner-up - Chapman´s Baobab
Tallest Flowering Tree - Mountain Ash
  • Icarus Dream (Andromeda, Tasmania)
  • Eucalyptus regnans
  • Height 97 metres (318 feet)
  • Alternate tree - Trident Tree (96.5 meters)
Largest and oldest clonal colony - Quacking Aspen
  • Pando tree (Utah, USA)
  • Populus tremuloides
  • 107 acres (43 hectares) and approx 47,000 stems
  • (Clonal colonies are groupings of "trees" (in reality stems) that are all part of a single living organism)
Most Revered tree - Sacred Fig (Bo, Bodhi, Pipal)
  • Sri Maha Bodhi (Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka)
  • Ficus religiosa
  • Propagated from the Bodhi tree
  • A descendant of the tree under which Buddha is thought to have received his enlightenment.
Most Resistant tree - Mesquite
  • The Tree of Life (Bahrain)
  • Located out in the desert 1.2 miles (two kilometers) from the Jebel Dukhan
  • Source of water unknown
Most Important in History - Cedar of Lebanon
  • Cedars of Lebanon
  • Cedrus libani
  • Mentioned in many ancient texts such as the Bible and the Koran
  • Important to many ancient civilizations such as the Babylonians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Arabs etc.
Greatest "Living Fossil" tree - Dragon tree
More trees of renown...
Garden of Gethsemane Olive trees
Fortingall Yew
Tane Mahuta
Te Matua Ngahere
Angel Oak Tree
Grandidier's Baobab
Giant Java Willow
Meiji Shrine Wishing tree
Alishan Sacred Tree II - Taiwan
900 year old Pine tree in Italy
Tree climbed by one million people!

Boxelder Maple - Acer Negundo

The Boxelder Maple (Acer negundo) is a maple tree species native to a broad area that stretches from south central Canada down to Texas and parts of Mexico and as far east as New York and Florida. It is a small to medium sized tree with gray bark that forms ridges that grow more pronounced with age. One distinctive feature of this tree species is its pinnately compound leaves that usually have five leaflets but can also have three or seven as well. Some of the leaflets have a tendency to be asymmetrical as can be seen in the image below.

The seeds of the Boxelder maple grow in long racemes of "Samaras" (winged seeds). These clusters of paired seeds are green while they grow turning light brown when mature. This is one of the characteristics that makes this tree an interesting ornamental tree for urban environments.

Detail of the paired samaras. You can see that they are slightly offset.
The picture below illustrates how the racemes of samaras grow along the undersides of the branches.
Of special interest for ornamental uses is the variegated version of this tree species. As can be seen in the picture below the variegated trees have very interesting patterns of greens and light creamy white colors on both the leaves and the samaras.
This maple tree species is widely used in Spain as an urban tree for parks and avenues. Maple tree species that are native to Spain is the Montpellier Maple and the Sycamore Maple.

A common Maple tree species in Eastern North America is the Red Maple - Acer rubrum.

Another interesting tree with variegated leaves is the Schefflera arboricola.

Another tree with pinnately compound leaves is the Coral tree.

Bunya pine - Araucaria bidwillii

The Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii) is a tree species native to Queensland, Australia and a member of the Araucaria genus. Some of its close relatives in this genus are the Monkey Puzzle tree, the Norfolk Island pine and the Cook pine. The Bunya pine is considered a "living fossil" as it is a tree species that is found in the fossil record in South America and Europe dating to the Jurassic period.

The first picture of this post shows the light green juvenile leaves shortly after they have formed in the spring on a young tree. The image above is of the mature adult leaves that form on older trees. This one is from a whorled leaf stem that I found on the ground under a large tree. The leaflets on these mature trees are shorter, wider and stiffer than their juvenile counterparts.

The seed cones of the Bunya pine closely resemble pineapples and in fact can grow to be larger than pineapples! The seeds that these cones produce are edible and have been used as a food source by aboriginal peoples. In the picture below you can see the pollen cones of the Bunya pine which are about 1.5 cm wide and 10-15 cm long. If you find one of these on the ground and shake it a large quantity of yellow pollen will fall out.

The image below shows how the leaflets grow on the stem year around but vary in length depending on which season they grew in. Araucaria "pines" have a rather unique leaf system. The "branches" seen below are more like leaf stems than branches. The individual leaflets grow on the full length of the stem in a whorled pattern with approximately 150 leaflets on each. After about three years (my estimate) the stems turn brown and fall off the tree. They are about 3 feet (85cm) long at full length. For this reason the ground under these trees is usually covered with these dry leaf stems which are VERY sharp and prickly. Some of the stems don´t snap off but rather become to continuation of the main branch to which the rest of the stems are connected.

While this tree is native to Australia these pictures where taken in the South of Spain where they were planted in botanical gardens over a hundred years ago. The tall Bunya pine below is located in near the center of Malaga in what the locals call the "paseo del parque". I estimate the height of this tree to be about 40 meters (120-130 feet).

The bark of the mature Bunya pines trees reminds me of chocolate with crunchy nuts. It is light brown, somewhat glossy and has a bumpy texture.

Below is an image of the juvenile bark on a young tree.

For more interesting Australian trees check out these...
Australian silver-oak
Bush Kurrajong
Coral Gum
Illawara Flame tree