Purple Beech - Fagus sylvatica Purpurea

There is a Purple beech tree in Madrid with bright reddish-purple color. The color is especially beautiful when the sunlight shines through the tree giving the leaves an almost glowing effect. It is easy to see why this particular variant of beech has been given its name.

Beech trees are not native to central and southern Spain although they can be found in a wide swath across the north of Spain. This particular tree is located in the "Fuente del Berro" park just of the M-30 circular freeway.

Candler Oak - Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

The Candler Oak is a large old "Live Oak" (species: Quercus virginiana) located in Savannah, Georgia.

The newspaper image below is from Harper´s Weekly, January 14, 1865 when General Sherman captured Savannah. I´m not sure but I believe that the tree in the images is the Candler Oak.

The History of the Chandler Oak tree
  • 1730 Candler Live oak starts to grow (approx. date)
  • 1791 Georgia State Legislature grants land surrounding the mighty oak to be used for a seaman’s hospital
  • 1803 hospital constructed and and remains in use until 1818.
  • 1819 construction of the Savannah Poor House and Hospital on the land
  • 1854 Hospital converted into the headquarters for the Medical College of Georgia.
  • 1861 the hospital was used by the Confederacy during the Civil War.
  • 1864 General Sherman captures Savannah and uses the hospital to treat his own soldiers and constructed a barricade around the tree to house wounded Confederate prisoners.
  • 1930 site returned to service as the Warren A. Candler Hospital.
  • 1980 Huntingdon II, Ltd. purchased the building where community health care organizations continued to operate until 2000.
  • 1982 first preservation project of Savannah Tree Foundation initiated to save this historic tree which was under considerable stress and was not expected to survive more than another 20 years.
  • 1984 A 6,804 square foot easement was established to protect the Candler Oak, which made history by being the first conservation easement on a single tree in the nation.
  • 1985 asphalt was removed from the root area to revive the tree and a comprehensive schedule of maintenance.
  • 2001 Candler Oak designated a Georgia Landmark and Historic Tree by the Georgia Urban Forest Council.
  • 2004 Candler Oak nominated to the National Register of Historic Trees by American Forests
(information taken from http://www.savannahoffthebeatenpath.com/Tours/candler_oak.htm)

According to the sign at the site of the tree the Candler Oak is estimated to be 270 years old, have a spread of 107 feet, a circumference of 16 feet and a height of 50 feet.

New Poll about the world´s most valued tree species

I have posted a new poll in the right column about the world´s most valued tree species. In this new poll I left out some of the options from the previous poll and more importantly I added two new options that should have been included in the first poll. In case anyone is interested the initial results of the previous poll had the Olive tree with a slight lead over the rest and then a close tie between four other trees; Apple, Coffee, Oak and Cedar of Lebanon.

In this new poll I have included these five tree species and then added the Sacred fig/bodhi and the Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba).

I have based the selection of these seven trees on their historical popularity as well as their current popularity as illustrated by how much information there is about them on the internet. It stands to reason that the more information there is about any given tree on the internet the more highly valued it is by the general public. Take into consideration that my evaluation has been done in the English language and that in other languages there may be differences in which are the most valued trees. In fact I believe that the two tree species that I have added to this new poll are in fact much more valued in Asia then there are in other parts of the globe.

So, the seven options for this poll are...

Sacred Fig-Bodhi (Ficus religiosa)

Maidenhair (Ginkgo biloba)

Apple tree (Malus domestica)

Coffee tree (Caffea arabica)

Olive tree (Olea europaea)

Oak tree (Quercus robur)

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani)

What to you think is the most valued tree species in the world all factors included? Give us your opinion? -->

Olive tree tuberculosis

Olive tree tuberculosis is a disease found on Olive trees in Spain that is caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas syringae. When this bacteria is introduced into a wound on the tree caused by hail, pruning or by the beating of the branches to harvest the Olives it results in the formation of a gall like formation that starts off round and light brown and then grows into an irregular wart shaped canker that ends up with a dark brown color and very hard.

There is no cure for Olive tree tuberculosis other than careful pruning with clean tools. Most often however the condition is not treated as it does limited harm to the tree. An infected tree can often continue producing for a number of years after becoming infected. The best prevention seems to be to use clean tools to avoid spreading the bacteria in the process of pruning and to try to avoid excessive damage to younger branches during harvest.

The dark objects in the tree below are not olives but rather cankers caused by the Pseudomonas syringae bacteria.

Red-Pea Galls on Quercus pyrenaica Oaks

This is a collection of images of Red Pea Galls taken from one Quercus pyrenaica tree (In English this tree is called the Pyrenean Oak although in fact this species is not hardly found at all in the Pyrenees mountains but rather in central and southern Spain. All these images were taken on the same day and depict the galls in their stage of formation. Another name for these is Red Currant Galls. In a previous post I have blogged about the "Apple Galls" associated with the Pyrenean Oak as well.

I found these pea sized galls on a tree in the Spanish region of Extremadura in the province of Cacares near the small town of Logrosan. I was a bit puzzled at first because the galls did not look anything like the apple galls or the marble galls that I am familiar with. I knew that some galls formed on the reverse side of some Oak leaves but on these trees there were numerous galls on the tree flower. The image below is of a cluster of these galls that formed on a flower and continued to form even after the flower had released most of its polen.

Suspecting that they were galls I cut one of the larger ones open and found the larvae of what I believe is the Cynips divisa wasp inside. See image below. I also collected a few and placed them in a jar to see if I can get a look at what the wasp looks like when it emerges from the gall.

The images below are of these same galls when they form on the undersides of the leaves.

Olive branches on US seals and coins

The Olive branch has long been a symbol of peace. Incorporated into the Great Seal of the United States is an eagle holding an Olive branch in its right talon. The seal was designed shortly after the United States declared its independence from England in 1776. The seal symbolizes both power and peace. The basic design of the seal has been incorporated into the seal of the President (with a few modifications), the seal of the Supreme Court, the seal of the Senate and many more.

Olive branches are also common on coins.

The lady "Liberty" is found on many coins and in some of them she is holding an Olive branch. The image above is the "Standing Liberty Quarter".

The Kennedy Half Dollar has the Seal of the President on its reverse side with the eagle holding the Olive branch.

Department of Defense seal is similar to the commemoration seal above. " Below the eagle a wreath of laurel to dexter and olive to sinister...The laurel stands for honors received in combat defending the peace represented by the olive branch" ( in Latin sinister means 'on the left side' and dexter means 'on the right side'.)

The three tree species that are very common on United States seals and coins are the Olive, the Laurel and the Oak.

Argan soap

I recently came across a Argan (species: Argania spinosa) soap in a new line of products made by Yves Rocher called "Tradition de Hammam" . Included in the line of products are an Oriental massage elixir essential organic rose oil, an Oriental velvety skin scrub, a Nourishing argan balm with organic essential oil of orange blossom, a Moroccan clay mask for face and hair and the Oriental soap with Olive Oil. The basic ingredient in this new line is the oil of the Argan tree which grows naturaly only in a small area of Morocco.

According to the product catalog the secret resides in the organic Argan oil from Morocco...
"Argan oil has always been known for its amazing benefits for the skin. The fruits of the Argan tree are left to dry in the sun. The seeds are then collected and pressed to extract the oil. Even to this day this process is still done by hand by Moroccan women...the oil used in the Yves Rocher prodects is from the most recently collected fruits."

One of the distictives of this "oriental soap" in comparison with others is that it uses a blend of Argan and Olive oils, both of which have similar properties when used in cosmetics.

I also found this little bit of trivia in the product catalog...
"The secret of the beauty of Moroccan women. It is known that in the Hamams the women achieve a very soft skin thanks to the oil of Argan. The secret of their velvety textured skin and the shine in their hair resides in the Moroccan clay called "ghassoul". To calm the mind, the Moroccan women apply the perfumes of essential rose oil and essential orange blossom oil (Azahar). Yves Rocher has selected these ingredients to create the fomulas for the "Tradition de Hammam line..."
(note - I´m translating from Spanish in these quotes)

The prices in this line of products seemed to be quite affordable in comparison to other Argan products that I have come across, even those sold in Morocco.

One of the most striking images that I have seen of this tree species is of goats climbing the tree to eat its fruits.

Most Valued Tree Species

Submit Your Vote! ---->

What is the world´s most valued tree species?

Read my previous post about how trees are important to us and our environment.

Trees can be evaluated for their...
  1. ornamental value (gardens, lawns, parks etc.)
  2. environmental value (carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, pollution, etc.)
  3. commercial value (timber, essential oils, etc.)
  4. nutritional value (fruit, nuts, oil etc.)
  5. medicinal value (natural medicines, bio-chemicals, etc.)
  6. aesthetic value (aromatherapy, peaceful beauty, etc.)
  7. practical value (shade, wind block, noise barrier, etc.)
I´ve listed some of the most popular trees of value in the poll located in the right column.

All things considered what is the most valued tree species in the world. Vote -->

The Importance of Trees

There are many ways in which trees can be valuable to us and to the environment as a whole. Here are a few of them...
  • Trees provide food for us to eat. There are species of trees that provide fruit, nuts, starch, Olive oil etc.
  • Trees provide sweets for us to eat as well. Chocolate comes from the Cocoa tree. Maple syrup is from the Sugar maple tree.
  • Trees are used to make juices such as Apple, Orange, Lemon etc.
  • Trees are used to make hot drinks. Coffee and Cocoa trees are the most well known but others such as the Linden are used for herbal teas.
  • Trees provide spices to flavor our food and drinks with such as Cinnamon or Cloves.
  • Trees are used to make fragrances. Mahogany is used as a base note in a good number of perfumes. Bay leaf or Cypress are used in the middle notes while trees such as Eucalyptus or Lemon are used in the top notes.
  • Trees are the source of essential oils. Sweet Orange, Cedarwood or Blue Gum are sources of important essential oils.
  • Trees are the source of medicines. A few medicinal trees are the Benjamin, Camphor or Rauwolfia.
  • Trees are used in toothpaste. Natural XYLITOL from Birch trees is used in Squigle toothpaste.
  • Paper is made from trees. The pulp that paper is made from comes mostly from softwood trees such as Poplar, Pine, Larch etc. With this would be included cardboard, carton, etc.
  • Trees are also the source of rubber. Although the Ficus Elastica is called the rubber tree most rubber is made from the sap (called Latex) of the Para Rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis).
  • Trees are used to make soap. Olive, Argan, Coconut, Cocoa and Brazilnut oil are all used to make hand soaps. One of the earliest trees used in the making of soap was the Cassia tree.
  • Trees are also used in cosmetics make things such as exfoliators, lotions or toners.
  • Trees are used in tattooing. Henna from Lawsonia inermis has been used for body art for thousands of years.
  • Trees are used in aromatherapy. The Bergamot orange (Citrus aurantium ssp. bergamia) or Lemon scented gum (Corymbia citriodora) trees are fine examples.
  • Trees are used to make musical instruments. One of the secrets of the violin resides in the wood it is made of. Spruce and Maple are two of the key woods.
  • Trees are used to make tools. Many different hardwoods such as Oak are used to make axe and spade handles.
  • Trees are used for firewood and cooking charcoal. The harder the wood the longer and hotter it burns. Holm oak is a great example.
  • Trees are used to make homes and shelters for people and animals. Wherever trees are readily available they have been used to make homes and shelters. In the northwest United States Western Redcedar or Ponderosa Pine are used as timber for construction.
  • Trees are used to make liquor. In Spain the acorns of Oak trees are used to make Acorn liquor.
  • Trees are used to make clothing. In primitive tribal societies in Papua New Guinea the bark of several tree species was pounded into a thin semi-flexible cloth and made into skits and capes. Large leaves are also used to cover certain body parts by tucking the leaves into a belt.
  • Baskets can be made from trees. One example is small baskets made from pine needles.
  • Trees are used to make furniture. Pine and Fir wood is favored by the Northern Europeans while Oak, Beech or Walnut is used in countries such as Germany and Switzerland.
  • Trees are an important source of shade. Some Ficus species provide an almost total blockage of the sunlight while others such as the Persian Lilac or Blue Jacaranda provide a more pleasant shade.
  • Trees are used to make rafts, canoes and other small boats. Birch bark was used by native Americans on their canoes. The bark was stretched over a wood frame that was sometimes made of cedar.
  • Trees are used in hunting. Yew trees have long been used for making hunting bows. Trees have also been used bow hunters who stand in elevated platforms to wait for their prey to pass. Young trees have also been used to make traps.
  • Trees are used to make fences. Apart from fence post in Europe some tree species such as Holm oak or Ash are planted long fence lines to support and form part of the fence as living fence posts.
  • Trees are used to as ornamental trees to beautify gardens, avenues and parks. The London plane is the arch-typical urban tree while trees such as the common cypress have been used to make tree "sculptures".
  • Trees are important because they clean the air we breath. Many people don´t realize that the substance that trees are mostly made of (the carbon) comes not from the ground but from the air. Trees convert CO2 into oxygen that we need to breath.
  • Trees stabilize hillsides and keep top soil from being washed away.
  • Trees scrub carbon from the air and help store it.
  • Trees help keep river courses from eroding into banks.
  • Trees provide food and shelter to many species of birds and animals.
  • Trees have important roles in many religious belief systems. Buddha is associated with the Sacred Fig tree.
  • Trees are important national, state and local symbols. The Oak of Guernica is a very important symbol for the Basque people for example.
  • Trees are historical landmarks.
  • Trees stabilize the environment.
  • Trees are used to make paper for books, magazines and newspapers.
  • Trees are used to make artifacts and carvings. Carvings of masks, figurines, animals, idols, etc are common in most native cultures.
  • Trees are used to make shoes. In Northern Europe wooden shoes called "Clogs" are made from Willow, Poplar, Birch, Beech and Alderwood.
  • Trees have been used to make airplanes. The famous "Spruce Goose" giant airplane that is now on display at the Evergreen Aviation and Space museum in Oregon is made almost entirely of wood.
  • The ground shells of the Black Walnut tree are used as a polishing abrasive and as an additive in well-drilling mud.
  • There are trees that improve soil quality and can be used as natural crop boosters two examples are Cajanus cajan or Gliricidia sepium.
Submit your vote for the world´s most valued tree species at the top of the right column.

Sandarac - tetraclinis articulata

The Sandarac tree (species: Tetraclinis articulata) is a small to medium size evergreen tree native to the western Mediterranean with a notable presence in the Atlas mountains of Morocco. It is the national tree of Malta. The leaves of the Sandarac are scale like and similar to those of the Thuja although the two are not related. The Sandarac is the only tree in it´s genus (tetraclinis).

The Sandarac "cones" are small green ball like in shape and measure less than one centemeter across. When they mature they turn brown and open with four petal like sides.

From a distance this tree species can look a lot like a pine tree but when examined up close it is easily distinguished apart by its thin scale like leaves that do not grow as needles but rather branch out from one another as in the image below.

There are several commercial uses for the Sandrac. The Arabs are said to have used the resin from this tree as a incense. Today it is the source of a resin that is also called Sandarac that is used to make varnish. Sandarac gum resin can be purchased on Ebay. In the Atlas mountains this tree is cut down in search of burr wood for wood carving. Often this is done by repeatedy cuting the tree back every number of years for coppice regrowth. One problem with this, however is that the presence of livestock feeding on the coppice regrowth can kill the tree altogether. It is also used to make liquor.

The image below is a 19th century illustration by Koehler in his work Medicinal Plants 1887. This image is now in the public domain.