Favorite Trees    Colby Rucker
   Sep 11, 2003 10:17 PDT 

Bob,

When it comes to trees, we all have our likes and dislikes. I developed
quite a dislike for flowering dogwoods because they don't smash up well.
They often got caught in the tracks of my bulldozer, and would slap you or
get jammed in the hydraulics if you didn't push them well out of the way.

I suppose it's easiest to start with one's favorite trees, and then see
what's left. In ranking the native trees of Anne Arundel County, I react
positively to trees that display a pleasing structure, interact with the
seasons, have interesting features or historical associations, and might
promote some enthusiastic comments on a field trip.

Anyway, here goes:

1. Sour gum
2. Pawpaw
3. Tuliptree
4. American beech
5. White oak
6. Black walnut
7. Persimmon
8. Downy serviceberry
9. Mockernut
10. American chestnut
11. Scarlet oak
12. Atlantic white cedar
13. American holly
14. Fringetree
15. Hercules club
16. Redbud
17. Red maple
18. Pignut
19. Saul oak
20. Sassafras
21. Chestnut oak
22. Mountain laurel
23. Eastern redcedar
24. Shortleaf pine
25. American sycamore
26. Virginia pine
27. Flowering dogwood
28. Red mulberry
29. Sweetgum
30. Winged sumac
31. Southern red oak
32. Sweetbay magnolia
33. Swamp chestnut oak
34. American hornbeam
35. Black locust
36. Loblolly pine
37. Northern red oak
38. Spicebush
39. Whorled winterberry
40. Poison sumac
41. Willow oak
42. Bigtooth aspen
43. Black oak
44. Post oak
45. Blackjack oak
46. Bitternut
47. Hackberry
48. Witch hazel
49. Blackhaw
50. Pitch pine
51. Staghorn sumac
52. Chinquapin
53. Sand hickory
54. River birch
55. Cherrybark oak
56. Slippery elm
57. American elm
58. Hazel alder
59. Black cherry
60. Smooth sumac
61. Pin oak
62. White ash
63. Silver maple
64. Black willow
65. Boxelder

Colby

Colby's List    Robert Leverett
   Sep 11, 2003 11:20 PDT 

Colby:

   Wow!!!! We really have something interesting to work with. Any
particular reason white ash is so low on the totem pole?

Bob
Re: Colby's List    Colby Rucker
   Sep 11, 2003 12:07 PDT 

Bob,

Sorry about your beloved white ash, "the queen of the forest," as I've seen
it called.

Our favorite trees should have some outstanding features - foliage, fruit,
flower, form, or an air of fantasy. Sure, I like white ash bark, but it's a
gawky tree, with no nuance of outline, and ignores the seasons, dropping its
indecisive foliage prematurely. Height, snaths and baseball bats just
aren't enough.

Colby
Colby's List Analyzed    Robert Leverett
   Sep 11, 2003 12:29 PDT 

Colby:

   Good answer. Your quick wit and devilishness is what this list is all
about.

   When Jani and I first moved to New England, I had my first real taste
of the white ash. Its initially brown to light purple fall color
changing to a pleasant shade of yellow attracted my attention. I liked
the tree, but I must confess, it seemed to make an understatement. It
didn't exude power like oaks. The variagated color reminded me just a
little of the sweetgum. I observed that forest-grown specimens were
graceful in form when viewed with comparisons in mind. When thinking
about similarly shaped species, their profiles   made them look like a
wannabe American elms. I also observed that as a field tree, the ash
usually looked awkward and very asymmetrical. Rather blah. The tree
seemed to have a dual personality. Eventually I discovered the stately
ash trees in Mohawk and become an unabashed admirer of the species.

   If you could see the white ash trees of Ash and Indian Flats in the
height of autumn on a sunny day, I bet the ash would go up at least a
few notches on the list.

   Next question. Given the silver maple's silvery leaves, which can be
quite eye-catching in wind, what pushes it down so far on the list?

   Next question. Why the American elm so far down? It has been the
classic ornamental shade tree in so many northern and mid-western towns?
Just wondering.

Bob


Re: Colby's List Analyzed    Colby Rucker
   Sep 11, 2003 13:36 PDT 

Bob,

Yes, how we see trees is a very personal experience. One sees a couple of
opposite-budded, heavy-twigged white ash with matted branches, and they look
like another "dirty" urban tree. The deep-checked light bark on a tall
trunk in the slanting rays of early autumn is something else.

Although the elms had a wonderful symmetry, and the silver maple's leaf
(like those on your lawn) is quite handsome, neither do much in the autumn.
Both, often oversized in the residential environment, are indelibly
associated with problems, either disease or structural. There's no magic in
the bark, and the wood, wet and often smelly, contibuted little beyond elm
hubs and sewer lumber. Today, both former denizens of the floodplain are
problem trees. Perhaps it's unfair, but I don't bemoan the gradual
disappearance of either species. That's quite a contrast with the lifelong
sorrow I've felt regarding the American chestnut.

Colby
Colby's List Analyzed-Part II    dbhg-@comcast.net
   Sep 11, 2003 16:38 PDT 

Colby:

To what extent do you feel we are influenced by the role a tree plays in
fulfilling a traditional role of value (lumber, food) in shaping our
perceptions of worth? The silver maple growing in a riparian zone is probably
at its most useful in its ecological role. As a shade tree or ornamental, it
has deficiencies. Would the silver maple move up your list if you thought about
it in its ecological role? I'm not trying to get you to change your mind. Just
asking.

Bob
Re: Colby's List Analyzed-Part II    Colby Rucker
   Sep 11, 2003 17:41 PDT 

Bob,

If I lived in a different state or county, my exposure to various tree
species would be in a different context, and I'd certainly feel quite
differently about some of them. If I simply ranked them according to their
economic value, usefulness as ornamentals, or contributions to wildlife, we
might end up with a somewhat standardized ranking. Although many people
might use that approach, it would be pretty boring.

As it is, I tried to avoid such an approach, and just ranked sixty-five
local species according to how I happened to feel about them after a
lifetime of personal experiences. It's interesting to explore our inner
selves later, and try to explain why we feel as we do.

So, when shall we see your list?

Colby
Re: Black ash and beyond    Don Bertolette
   Sep 11, 2003 21:35 PDT 

Colby-
Is there any better tree than the Sassafras or the Black Birch when run
through by bulldozers, for scent?
-Don
Re: Black ash and beyond    Fores-@aol.com
   Sep 12, 2003 04:59 PDT 
Don:

My vote would be for sassafras # 1 but yellow poplar would be a close second.

Russ Richardson
Black ash, sassafras, and beyond    Robert Leverett
   Sep 12, 2003 05:52 PDT 

Russ, Don, and Colby:

   Sassafras is a cool tree. I love it because of the shape of its leaf
and its aromatic root. My son makes a mean sassafras tea. But please
tell us, Russ, what are your reasons for putting sassafras at the top of
your list?

   Incidentally, the tuliptree would rank very high on any tree list I
might construct of favorites. More on Liriodendron later. I'm still
cogitating on Colby's challenge to me to come forth with my own list of
favorites. Colby's a wiley one, he is. He saw clearly that I was baiting
him into lots of input on his favorites while I stayed noncommital on
mine. He didn't let me get away with it, though. I'd have to get up
mighty early to pull one over on Colby and I suspect if I did get up
early, I'd find him sitting there with his coffee waiting and watching.

Bob
Re: Black ash and beyond    Colby Rucker
   Sep 12, 2003 07:18 PDT 
Don & Russ,

I can't top a sassafras stump for holding a pleasing aroma. Most of our native woods have a pretty nice odor, with the exception of sheepberry (Viburnum lentago). I once threw some from an old ornamental planting into a big woodpile; after a week I couldn't stand the smell anymore, and had to sort through the whole works.

Nearly as bad was sawing wet elm or weeping willow and getting your trousers soaked. I suppose they were tapping sewer water or something. My nose isn't very sensitive to any odor, but my wife would run me out of the house immediately.

Colby
Re: Black ash, sassafras, and beyond    Fores-@aol.com
   Sep 13, 2003 04:28 PDT 
Bob:

In many areas of WV, especially areas where there was past farming activity,
sassafras can be a very common pioneer species. It really isn't favored for
timber...although its lumber has a grain that makes it an excellent replacement
for American chestnut in old furniture or antique restoration projects.

Although I never encountered sassafras in MA larger than small crooked poles,
I have encountered it in the woods of WV up to 30" DBH and 100+ feet
tall....28" DBH is the biggest one at Crummies Creek.

Anyway, it seems like roads and skid trails are always being built through
patches of sassafras and the smell that exudes from the ground when a bulldozer
passes through a patch of sassafras is one of the few truly delicious smells
you are ever likely to encounter on a logging job....I would rate it along with
the farming equivalent of fresh mowed hay...the only difference is that the
sassafras smell dissipates in a few minutes while the fresh hay smell can
linger for a couple hours.

Russ
Re: Black ash, sassafras, and beyond    dbhg-@comcast.net
   Sep 13, 2003 05:31 PDT 

Russ:

   I haven't had the pleasure of enjoying the heady fragrance of sassafras
permeating the surrounding air. I guess the most heady tree fragrance I can
recall is ponderosa pine forest on a sunny day. Don Bertolette tells me that as
good as ponderosa is, it pales in comparison to the scent of Jeffrey pine.

   It is interesting how natural fragrances affect people differently,
especially city dwellers who sheild themselves as much as possible from any
thing natural. Every year I look forward to the fragrance of the black locust
bloom around the campus of Mercy Medical Center. Others including employees,
visitors, and patients may react differently, some as though the smell were of
an alien and unidentifiable origin, or whincing as though the smell was of
hideously cheap perfume. Still others react as though there were no fragrance
wafting about at all. A few show surprise and a little pleasure.

Bob
Re: Black ash, sassafras, and beyond    Colby Rucker
   Sep 13, 2003 07:11 PDT 

Bob,

Nice thoughts. Indeed, life is an ecstasy, to be spent freely, to be
squandered well. Such moments leave a longer impression, to be treasured,
and shared, when possible. Here's ten:

To be a child in a world with good mudpuddles.
A leaf of jewelweed held underwater.
Poison ivy foliage on a locust snag on an October afternoon.
Cheating the binders on a good load of poplar.
Mockernut buds about to open.
The sensual suffusion of green in a pawpaw thicket.
Walking inside the ruins of a great chestnut trunk.
Holding a corner on a big oak.
A big strawberry bush in fruit.
Basswood in bloom with honeybees.

Colby
Re: Black ash, sassafras, and beyond    Don Bertolette
   Sep 13, 2003 07:25 PDT 
Russ-
Yes, one of the treats of following our John Deere dozer into the night on way to fire was when bulldozer would pass through a sassafrass patch...reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon, when Lucy and Charlie Brown are sitting on a curb, and after the passing of a breeze that lifted their noses airily, they murmurred "...uhhm, peppermint...".
-DonB
Re: Black ash, sassafras, and beyond    Don Bertolette
   Sep 13, 2003 07:36 PDT 

Bob/Colby-
There are few who can juxtapose chain binders and jewelweed with such grace,
but I suspect many on this list who can appreciate it. Kudos, Colby!
-DonB
RE: Colby's List   Ed Frank
  Sep 16, 2003 21:09 PDT 

ENTS

Colbyís list both intrigued me and caused some consternation.   One
thing that bothered me the most was the idea that Colby had ranked 65
different species of trees/shrubs according to some personal criteria.
I was not sure I could name 65 species without some thinking, let alone
rank them. Certainly I would not recognize all of the species on his
list. Another thing that bothered me was how could you possibly rank a
list of trees in such detail? There are clearly some trees of which I
am fond. But how do you decide which is the favorite, which is number
two, and on down the list? All of the trees I like have some special
memory attached to them, or I simply admire their form. But as they are
all different and each has its own distinct features that are not
readily comparable, I donít believe I can even start making a ranking of
my favorites. So I have decided to provide a brief note about a dozen
or trees the trees of which I am fond, with no particular order.

Hemlock: Hemlocks look old. Even modest aged trees look ancient with
their rough bark and broad drooping limbs. In the winter snow piles
atop them until the limbs drag on the ground. There may be two feet of
snow on the ground, but under a good hemlock tree bare ground can still
be found. In the spring small bright green cones form on the tips of
the branches. By autumn they turn a deep brown and open to reveal
perfect miniature cones. Several surrounded my back yard as a child. I
would look out in the winter and watch the hemlock branches capture the
snow and reach for the ground. I would pull the branches back and watch
the snow fly when I let go. The fate of the hemlocks in the face of the
wooly aegelid is particularly sad for me.   

Sassafras: I remember a small sassafras tree in the woods below my
house. When I was small one spring my dad gathered some sassafras roots
and made sassafras tea. I donít know that I particularly liked it at
the time. I put in lots of sugar. What was neat about it, especially to
a small child, was I was drinking something made from tree roots, from a
tree in my own woods. I always collected leaves and pressed them.
Sassafras was a goldmine. It didnít have just one shape, but many. A
single finger, a mitten, a three fingered hand. If I looked hard at the
young shoots just out of the ground I could even find leaves with 4, 5,
even up to 7 or more fingers. Many an hour was spent looking for the
leaves with fingers.   

Shagbark Hickory: My grandfather, my motherís father, owned a farm. On
his property near the house were several large hickory trees. They were
growing in an open field. They stood tall and broad overshadowing
everything else. Magnificent specimens of trees. In my leaf
collections, it was one of the uncommon compound leaf specimens. In the
fall we would gather hickory nuts. Not a lot, but a few handfuls to
eat. I would peal off the outer husk to reveal the nut inside, and
would smash it with a hammer on the cement steps leading up to the front
porch. Eagerly I would pick up all the tiny fragments of the meat from
the nut and eat them. A lot of work for a small reward, but worth the
time.

Chestnut Oak: Around the periphery of my yard are a number of large
oaks- a chestnut oak, several white oaks, and a red oak. All of the
oaks are nice trees. The chestnut oak stands out in particular because
the girth of the tree was so much greater than the others. All of the
biggest diameter trees in the woods near my home were chestnut oaks. As
a child I would gather up the acorns, looking for the most perfect cups,
the biggest acorns, oak leaf galls. I would look at them, sometimes
save them, most often fling them into the woods. The old chestnut oak
on the corner of my yard blew down in a storm a few years ago. It was
dying and broke off at a weak spot about 20 feet up. One of the white
oak, part of a matched pair of double trunked tree, a fixture of my
childhood dreams died, and had to be cut down a couple of years ago.
Still these trees left a lasting impression in my memories.

Green Gage Plum: Purists may argue that only native trees are
appropriate for a list of favorite trees, but I would disagree. There
was an old green Gage Plum tree in the back of my grandfatherís house.
This was my other grandfather. It would have bright white blossoms in
the spring, at least I remember them as white. In the fall it would
have the juiciest plums you ever ate. I included this as a
representative of all the old fruit trees from my childhood- the pear
tree at my other grandparents house, the ancient looking and straggly
northern spy apple tree up on the hill. I am sure many of the readers
have a favorite old fruit tree in their minds.

Sugar Maple: Sugar maple is a fine tree. There are some in the woods
around my house, but the ones that come to mind when I think of sugar
maple grew outside my grandparents house along the side of the road.
Big thick trunks, broad canopy. In the spring the whirligig seeds
falling from the sky. I think of this even more than the bright fall
colors. There are the tiny red flowers of the spring. Sadly most of
these trees are gone now. A victim of age and electric line mutilation
practices.

Tulip Tree: A tulip tree grows in my lower yard aside a large rock. It
has a thick trunk and stands tall. How big a girth does the tree have
and how tall is the tree? I donít know I never measured. It seemed big
to me as a child, and still seems big. Not perhaps gigantic, but
respectably big. The leaves of the tulip tree can be quite large. I
would look for the biggest leaves and find ones too big to fit on the
notebook pages of my leaf collection. In the spring would be big
flowers yellow, green, and orange lying on the ground below the tree.
Cones of unripened green seeds. Later myriads of whirling seed would
fall, each with their little triangular seed head. In the fall the
leaves turn bright golden yellow. Yellow and brown leaves of autumn
cover the ground below the tree.

White Pine: Some people donít like white pines. I think that is a
negative reaction to the fact they are the tallest trees in the east,
people root against the favorite and for the underdog. I like white
pine. Atop the hill behind my house was always a grove of big white
pines. It formed a small clearing 60 - 70 feet across. Teenagers would
go there and camp out in the summer. It was not more than a half mile
along the trail, no more than 1/4 mile as the crow flies from my house.
But as a small child, a trip to ďThe PinesĒ was a big expedition that I
took often. You could lay on the ground and watch them stretch to the
sky it seemed. They are gone now. They were cut down a few years back
by a timbering operation- likely what everyone is calling a high-grading
operation. The same timbering took a beautiful big chestnut oak beside
some big sandstone blocks. These are a few hundred yards from my house
and were know as the ďIndian Rocks.Ē As a child I would visit them
almost everyday in the summer and probably at least once a week the rest
of the year. I donít go there often anymore, because what remains is
sad. Perhaps as the bits of dead trees that I long remember decay with
time, it will again be a place to visit, but the big trees will still be
gone.

Yellow Birch: The yellow birch around here are small trees, a few inches
in diameter. What stands out about the tree is the bright yellow leaves
of autumn with their fine serrated edge. Almost like a million yellow
hacksaw blades moving with the wind, and drifting to the ground.

Black Gum: Black gum is not a spectacular tree. Here they are one of
the first to change colors in the autumn. And What colors they are.
They turn a bright red orange, almost fluorescent in color. Bright and
bold against the green background of other trees that have not yet
turned.

Mountain Laurel: Each summer in Brookville, a small town near Cook
Forest, they have a Laurel festival in the second week of June. I
remember going to the festival as a kid with my Aunt Isabel and
Josephine. One of the highlights of the festival is a tour of the gas
company laurel fields. A natural gas company owns a piece of property a
few miles from Brookville. The patch of land is bounded by second
growth forest and old fields. The laurel field itself is contains
hundreds of large laurel bushes. Everything but a few specimen trees
have been cleared. At the height of the bloom, every bush is a mass of
pink and white flowers. There are so many flowers it is often hard to
see the shiny green leaves of the plant. Those in the brightest sun are
the most pink, those in the shade are palest white. I have returned the
past few years to see the laurel bloom. At my home cleared most of the
under brush has been cleared from the wooded area surrounding my house.
Left behind by the clearing are all the laurel bushes, rhododendron, and
wild honeysuckle. I donít have as spectacular of a show as at the
laurel fields, but it is nice in the spring.

Rhododendron: Rhododendron essentially looks like a larger leaved
version of mountain laurel. We have several specimens in the woods
around my home. In the spring it also produces b looms of flowers.
They bloom a little later than laurel, generally around the end of June.
In fact because of the wet weather this summer, in late August a few
shaded rhododendron bushes in Cook Forest still had white flowers. I
remember as a child riding down an old dirt road on the way to the local
swimming hole in Sandy lick Creek.. Rhododendron hung down over the
sides of the road, with big green leaves and white flowers in the early
summer.     

Chestnut: Around the turn of the century the American Chestnut all but
died out. I have always been fascinated by the small sprouts of
chestnut still struggling to grow after all these years. There is even
a modest sized chestnut tree growing on the hillside behind my house.
Perhaps it is rooting for the underdog that makes me fond of the
species. I have a roofed deck on the back of my house. My dad built it
when I was a teenager. We went out into the woods and salvaged small
logs and branches from the long dead chestnuts to make a rustic railing
for out deck and as posts to support the roof.   It is amazing that so
many of these dead husks are still standing after these years, even with
the bright rust colored decayed wood and filling their centers.

Cucumber Tree: I originally liked this tree because when I was little I
thought it was neat that a tree had the same name as a vegetable. I
think of this whenever I see one, so hence its presence on this list.

Quaking Aspen: A very nice tree to just sit and watch. With every
breeze the leaves shake and quiver. Light bounces from the leaves and
shines through them in an ever changing pattern. This constant motion
gives the tree a feeling a dynamic creature, contrasting with the calm
passivity of most trees. That is as good of a reason as any to be on
this list.

This is my contribution and interpretation to the listing of favorite
trees.

Ed Frank


http://www.nature-web-network.com
RE: Colby's List   Robert Leverett
  Sep 17, 2003 06:17 PDT 

Ed:

Excellent post. In the full ENTS spirit. Thanks.

Actually, Ed, you fell into Colby's trap. He's a wiley one, he is.
I've abandoned the idea of ever pulling a fast one on Colby.

In showing us such an imposing, orderly list, Colby seeks to stimulate
our thinking about how we see trees. Can we really rank them that
precisely? Whay would we want to? Do we root for the underdogs? Do we
want to have a specific favorite because we think we should, or just
like them all in some generic sense? Are we moved more by scent cues or
vision? Does size matter (I'll stop there)?   

   I'm still thinking about my list and what appeals to me about each of
the candidates. So far, it seems like there's a revolving tray in front
of me. First this one then that one, and then, heck, I like and want'um
all.

Bob
Re: Colby's List   Colby Rucker
  Sep 18, 2003 01:41 PDT 

Ed,

Your thoughtful treatment of some favorite tree species is a fine piece of
work, and may be a hard act to follow. My simple list claims no such
insight, but, like anything in print, may lead others to suppose that it
holds some great truths worth cogitation, like splashes of paint in a modern
art gallery. Not so; I simply let the trees do the work, and some struck me
with pleasure and an air of promise, while others, to my regret, usually
disappoint me. Then I awarded bonus points to any species despised by
foresters looking for something to kill.

No, we won't let Bob wiggle out of giving us his list.

Colby
Favorite Trees   Robert Leverett
  Sep 26, 2003 13:06 PDT 

Colby, Ed, et al.:

   Rack my brain as I have, I just can't assign the tree species that I
especially like in any particular order. The tuliptree was always a
childhood favorite, but it has since been joined by others. The white
pine, sugar maple, tuliptree, cottonwood, ponderosa pine, and bur oak
are all neck and neck. They all symbolize something of importance to me
that I would sorely miss if I had to make a choice from among them.

   The bur oak bolsters to my attraction to savanna environments and my
love of large spreading trees. The bur oak stands always looks strong
and reliable. There's a permanence about an old bur oak in a field.

    The ponderosa symbolizes my love of the West. I picuture it in
rugged canyon terrain. I remember its fragrance. Its orange platy bark
makes it look like a pine is supposed to look like.

    The cottonwood symbolizes life in harsh prairie environments. It
marks the location of water and who isn't lulled by wind blowing through
its leaves. Its thick bark and imposing size give easterners a chance to
savor forests of yesteryear. I wouldn't dream of leaving out the
cottonwood.

   The tuliptree has always been the lord of its domain and is the very
symbol of the Great Smoky Mountains. Its great size, its attractive
tulip blossoms, and its cheery bright green leaves make it a perennial
favorite. I'd never give it up, but alas, neither would I give up the
preceeding species.

   Finally, the white pine is the very symbol of New England. Its lofty
crown rising well above a lesser canopy of hardwoods, its soft
green-white needles, and its status as our only confirmed 200-footer in
the East make the pride of the Northeast. I'd never give it up, but alas
neither would I give up the others. So it is back to pondering the
special appeal of each.

Bob
Re: Favorite Trees   Colby Rucker
  Sep 26, 2003 17:05 PDT 

Bob,

Your six favorite trees are a fine lot. It's interesting how such trees
evoke fond personal memories for so many years. Trees do affect us in many
ways; that's what ENTS is all about.

Incidentally, your six trees are all state trees, representing Illinois,
Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New York,
Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming. Also
Ontario.

Hmmm... Who's next? Illick listed 70 common trees native to Massachusetts;
anyone want to rank them by favorites? Joe?

Colby
Re: Favorite Trees   Rick-@aol.com
  Sep 27, 2003 12:18 PDT 

    I don't know how to pick one favorite tree but the sycamore has to be up there with its speckled smooth bark. Weeping willow is another beautiful tree that I especially enjoy in the spring. Its yellow-green leaves are one of our first forest colors. There's also nothing like a tall, straight red oak with its strong striping pattern. It's hard not to appreciate many of our rural western Massachusetts roads lined with stately sugar maples. Lastly, I wouldn't put pitch pine at the top of my list but there is one bonsai-shaped individual growing on a ridge on Mt. Tom that I particularly like.

            Rick Mc Neil     
RE: Favorite Trees   Dale J. Luthringer
  Sep 29, 2003 08:43 PDT 

Bob, Colby, et. al.,

Thought I'd try my hand at a list of some of my favorite trees.

I guess I'd have to be most partial to old growth white pine. It's one
of my most viewed and studied trees at Cook Forest. It's just an
incredible feeling to walk up to one of those tall, old, deep wrinkled
marvels of the woods. Just thinking that one of these tall giants have
weathered centuries of storms and human expansion always brings to me
the feeling of awe and wonder of the Master Designer.

Ancient E. hemlock is also another great favorite of mine. Sometimes I
just can't decide which one I like more. The gnarled twisted tops, the
crooked arm branches, and burls just seem to scream with age.

Lee's pictures of the ancient cedar are another favorite. It greatly
reminds me of the old hemlock, except it seems as if the age is even
more pronounced.

Huge old Am. beech is another top runner. I remember small game hunting
from within one when I was a teenager. The trunk was quite large, and
someone had cut viewing holes through the trunk. They even put a seat
inside. If the tree was along side of the road, it would've made a
great two-kid bus stop. We had another large Am. beech back home that
was quite impressive in girth. I suspect this old beech may still be
alive and sport a girth close to 14' CBH. It was also another favorite
family deer stand over the decades.

Old cucumbertrees are wonder to behold. First glance of their deeply
furrowed bark force me to go through the old process of elimination to
identify this magnificent tree... is it an old white ash, white oak, or
slippery elm? Finally the huge leaves and awkward fruits give it away.
It's seeds are delicious, but don't eat the outer covering... it tastes
like turpentine and will leave a bad taste in your mouth for quite some
time.

Ancient black gum is another favorite. The bark on these trees just
can't seem to make up their mind. One side can be heavily furrowed,
while the other side can be fairly smooth. Their whorled leaves remind
me of a spiral staircase that only 'Tom Thumb' could climb.

American sycamore bark always plays a cruel humbling trick on me. It
seems that the closer I get to them, the bigger they are. I wonder how
many I've bypassed over the years thinking that their dimensions were
insignificant. Makes me remember that however much I think I've learned
about the woods and trees, the more I realize I know nothing at all.

Tall tuliptrees are another fascinating species. They are always a
welcome surprise to me as I scan the woods for vertical structure. I am
seldom disappointed. The large ancient ones are absolutely incredible.
I still find it hard to believe how big this hardwood tree can get in a
forest setting.

All of this rhetoric is just from a novice's point of view. I'm sure
some day I'll get a chance to observe the true monsters out West. These
are the trees that myths are made from.

Dale


Back to favorite trees   Robert Leverett
  Oct 01, 2003 05:46 PDT 

ENTS:

   More thought given to favored tree species has pushed me to add black
walnut to my list. I don't see much of it, but the ones I saw in Zoar
Valley were absolutely gorgeous. Looking aloft into those feathery
crowns induced a state of "walnut-consciousness". Maybe I'm just
becoming "nut-conscious", i.e. more conscious of myself, but I swear I
heard the walnut tree we were measuring call out "be sure to include me
in any future favorite big tree lists".

   The light green feathery foliage has a slightly tropical appearance
and is just very visually appealing. There is also the comforting
feeling that the tree bears edible nuts. Its high value as fine veneer
is a psychological booster and its symmetry is also appealing.

   Great black walnuts of the past suggest that at least in parts of its
range, it achieved great proportions. All in all, black walnut is just a
splendid tree. I am curious as to what the arborists on our list think
of black walnut. Is it an easy tree to prune? What do the artists think
of the species? Fun to draw/paint? Russ, how frequently do you encounter
black walnut in West Virginia?

   So, let's see. I now have white pine, tuliptree, sugar maple,
cottonwood, ponderosa pine, bur oak, and black walnut as co-equal
favorites. Why do I think this list is destined steadily grow?

Colby, you and Ed may have opened Pandora's box.

Bob

Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society
(413)-538-8631
Re: Back to favorite trees   Greentr-@aol.com
  Oct 01, 2003 19:22 PDT 
Howdy, Bob, Russ, Joe, JZ & all,

Orgasmic visual appeal & sentimentalities aside, I would like to add a few of
my own "practical" favorites. As alluring & endearing Castanea dentata
folklore may be I, like most baby-boomers, did not grow up among the chestnuts.
But our family did live "off the land" in northeastern Maine. Yes, living off
land frozen solid for much of the year requires the employment of "hooks &
bullets" (the kind that "prematurally" end the natural life of some individuals of
a species). No, I no longer find the need to hunt game to survive, and only
use "barbless" hooks to occasionally land brook trout.
Here are some favorites;

(1) Eastern White Pine ~ because each individual possessed distinctive
physical characteristics & would rise fifty feet above the forest canopy, Pinus
strobus served as a reference point along each mile of brook, so I never got
disoriented (or, in the words of Boone, "bewildered").

(2) American Beech ~ deer & partridge could be found foraging a good crop.
Also, easy-splitting fuelwood.

(3) Paper Birch ~ many times, in -20 weather, when down to my last match,
it's paper-like bark has kindled a life-saving fire. Again, easy-splitting
fuelwood.       

(4) Tamarack ~ it's roots could be used as a field expedient broken snowshoe
repair. Also, moose were often found communing among the larches.

(5) Red Pine ~ the distinctive & soothing whistling when a breeze blows
through it's crown would shorten ice fishing dry spells.

(6) Black Spruce ~ it's hardened resin, known as "spruce gum", would stave
off hunger pangs during extended treks.

(7) Speckled Alder ~ it's smoke enhanced baked bean flavor. When all other
wood failed to burn after a soaking shower, dead alder burned like cardboard.
"When it's leaves are the size of a mouse's ear, the trout are near (reliable
trout spring migration sign)."

(8) Eastern Hemlock ~ it's bark's tannin was useful in tanning animal hides.
Pure hemlock stands were easy to walk through (as compared to spruce and
fir). Also, at day's end of harvesting, clothes did not acquire permanent
positions like those soaked in spruce and fir resin.

(9) Common Juniper ~ it's groves were great partridge hideouts.

(10) Sugar Maple (called "Rock Maple" in northern Maine) ~ it's condensed sap
was a staple in our household. It's wood burned cleanly and quietly through
the night in our two wood stoves September thru April.     

A "Mainiac" at heart (though southern Appalachia reminds me of home),

Randy Cyr
Greenville, SC
Neil Pederson:  Back to favorite trees   Dee & Neil Pederson
  Oct 02, 2003 20:15 PDT 
Dear ENTS,

I've enjoyed this thread of favorite trees and have mulled over my own list while on the road and listening to a mix tape of songs from one of my favorite bands. While compiling this list I've kept in mind some of the comments about how our backgrounds and personalities influence our favorite tree list. I realized that while I like the hits by my favorite groups, I am drawn more to their "b-sides," unreleased songs and alternative takes of their popular songs. These songs for me adds diversity and color to their discography. These songs bring more of the group's forest to me.

Before I go on, I must be honest and note that this list is somewhat temporary. Like music and books, some of our favorites change as we change. Some of these trees reflect my most recent experiences.

That being said, my list, like many of your lists, I would guess, is a phenotypic expression of our personality and experiences.

chestnut oak [Quercus prinus] - i like the almost tropical appearance of its leaves when it is mixed in a northern hardwood forest. its blocky bark when young and smooth appearance when less vigorous or older adds great texture to the forest. its pickle, vinegary aroma when cored has grown on me. a recent sampling of a population in the northern Champlain valley of Vermont had a particularly spicy mix in the aroma. most of all i admire its persistence and longevity. i now know of 6 chestnut oaks more than 420 years of age. this age puts it at the top of the list for eastern north American oaks [in which ages can be proven by rings]. one individual grew ~ 2 inches in diameter over 100 years early in its life. this almost puts it in the class of hemlock and spruce in terms of suppression tolerance. I admire anything that can live this long in tough conditions.

old_chesnut_oak.jpg (41260 bytes) Old Chestnut Oak

Magnolia acuminata variety subcordata - i've been sampling cucumbertrees lately but, have to pick its subspecies with creamy yellow flowers. the ones growing in the joyce kilmer area are especially nice ones to visit. their relatively large flowers on a tree in the spring adds a lot color to the canopy.

mockernut hickory - [Carya tomentosa] - poor hickory! often lumped in many studies [i.e. Carya spp.] and overlooked by dendroclimatologists, i am tempted to put all the hickories here. the aroma they gives off when in the wood stove, great yellow fall color, and how the ends of their branches look like an old witch's arthritic fingers make them a cool tree. plus, hickory is a native american word, very, very cool. however, lumping hickory is something to avoid. so i chose mockernut for its name, stout twigs, hairiness, and bluish-gray young twig color, and bark that looks like it was once metal, partially melted and then cooled.

carya_canopy.jpg (39476 bytes)  Carya Canopy

water hickory [Carya aquatica] - its fine and numerous leaflets makes it a great yard tree and adds nice texture to southern swamps.

black tupelo - [Nyssa sylvatica] - for its 90 degree branching that gives it a TV antenna appearance when viewed from below and stunningly, vibrant red fall foliage; the ability to live >6 centuries; the only honey here that does not sugar and its a piney, spicy flavor makes this a great tree. love the contrast of blocky bark on one side with baby smooth bark on the other

blocky_nyssa2.jpg (24081 bytes)

Blocky Nyssa

smooth.nyssa.jpg (38112 bytes)

Smooth Nyssa

 

tulip-poplar - [Liriondendron tulipifera] - great height, great leaves, great flowers for a temperate tree. the spicy aroma from its flowers is a delight. its signalling of spring w/ its light green flags when breaking bud and autumn when slowly dropping bright yellow leaves at the end of summer is something i can count on.

sweet birch - [Betula lenta] - the handbook of vermont trees places this species above oaks and maples and just behind hickory as one of the heaviest woods in vermont. that is a great trait for a birch. last winter i got the chance to burn some dry, sweet birch. it filled the house with great warmth, a wonderful aroma and a deep red glow. burn some if you can! also, ed cook has a sweet birch core with nearly 400 rings on it. this age is not a fluke. our lab has a sample from a live tree w/ nearly 300 rings.

larch/eastern tamarack - [Larix laricina] - a deciduous conifer that treats locals to a second spectacular fall foliage after the leaf peepers gone home. its golden yellow needles set against the dark green of its coniferous cousins and a clear blue mid-autumnal sky is a sight to behold. great old name - hackmatack

golden.larch.jpg (18175 bytes) Golden Larch

Florida maple - [Acer barbatum] - a few consider this tree to be a subspecies of sugar maple. for those who grew up with sugar maple, it is hard to buy. it is a wonderful small tree with tannish-gray, creamy bark with hints of orange [as i recall] when old. with small maple leaves, it was great to find a stand of these in the hydrich hammocks of south Georgia.

sugar maple [Acer sacharrum] - sweet, sweet sugar maple; sweet fall foliage, sweet sap and syrup, sweet aroma when burned! what more would you want out of a tree?

sassafras - [Sassafras albidum] - the multi-shaped, broad leaves add texture and a tropical feeling to the northern woods, too. great name and a great use of the letter S - sassy! orange inner bark provides great color. sucking on a twig on a hazy, hot humid, and gnatty day in south Georgia gives one a second wind. what i like the most these days about it these days is its ability to be a sure kindling stick. it catches easily and burns hot to ensure the fire is off to a good start even though the larger wood may be greenish or damp. when a piece of sassafras comes my firewood load, i place it to the side and savor it like it is one of my last pieces of fine, dark chocolate.

carolina silver bell - [Halesia caroliniana] - small white bell shaped flowers with oily-looking, multi-colored bark on older trees. caught my attention during my first trip in the smokys.

yellow buckeye - [Aescules flava] - the patterned bark on old-growth individuals after the outer bark sloughs off is a great relief in the deep forests of the smokys.

heart-shaped leaf paper birch - [Betula papyrifera variety cordifolia] - pink tinted bark, heart shaped leaves - if you haven't seen this tree, go up whiteface mountain in new york or burke mountain in the northeast kingdom of vermont [other places, i'm sure]. it is a beautiful tree. i think its common name should be luv birch! luv this birch.

i'll stop here. i really like most eastern north american trees. these are the ones that i would like to visit again.

neil

 

Re: Back to favorite trees   dbhg-@comcast.net
  Oct 03, 2003 04:39 PDT 

Neil:

   Yours is a most memorable account and one that belongs on our website. I'm especially fascinated by your observations about form, shape, texture. Splendid contribution. Thanks.

Bob
Re: Back to favorite trees   dbhg-@comcast.net
  Oct 02, 2003 04:05 PDT 

Randy:

   Good one. The harsh realities of Maine (my sister lives there) living off the land brings the utilitarian qualities of each species into sharp focus, of which there are many that become lost over the years.

   As one would expect Native Americans had to make use of everything in the natural world until we spoiled them with artificial goods. Black ash was and still is a preferred species for Native Americans in the Northeast for basket-making. I have a friend in Vermont, Erhard Frost who encourages it to grow on his land. He's a forester with 28 years of experience who lives a simple utilitarian life.

   I once watched a great Algonquin canoe maker in Manikawi, CA building a birch bark canoe. He used spruce roots for binding. Unfortunately, decent-sized white birch were becoming very scare due to the clearcutting of big Candian and American timber companies.

   The ubiquitous appeal among the older generation is American chestnut has always fascinated me. Oldtimers can get misty eyed when talking about the species. My dad was a great lover of chestnut.

Bob
big sassafras, black walnuts, and other tree stuff..   Paul Jost
  Oct 06, 2003 11:13 PDT 
ENTS

I thought about checking the ENTS web page right after sending this.

http://www.nativetreesociety.org/bigtree/webpage_tall_tree_list.htm

At the time the list was compiled, the greatest height of sassafras was
119.1' and the greatest girth was 6.5'. The national champ is around
20' girth, probably a multiple?

Call me utilitarian, but I went to a 12-13' girth black walnut near my
childhood home to pick walnuts to stratify and plant on the property of
my current home. Can you believe it, but I actually did not measure it!
I did give it a hug test and it was two tight hugs plus. Now, I have
to go back and we can add to the list to bulk up the girths on our site!
The tree is on property homesteaded around 1840 and the tree appears to
have been planted in a row along with a bunch of large mixed oaks. It
is preserved on a park memorializing Jeremiah Curtin, who built the
existing log cabin in 1846. He was the first Wisconsinite to graduate
from Harvard and was fluent in 70 languages. He was the translator when
the U.S. bought Alaska from Russia during Lincoln's term. He was also
famous for preserving many native American dialects which would
otherwise have been lost.

It seemed like good local seed source to use for replanting. About 60%
of the walnuts passed the float test and will be planted in fire
scorched tin soup cans with x's cut into the top of them to prevent
squirrels from eating them but still allowing them to germinate
properly! Once the prairie plants are finished going to seed, I'll be
spending some time on my property conducting a small scale bur oak
savanna restoration. I have lot's of invasive foreign buckthorn and
some honeysuckle to remove. My chainsaw will be getting some exercise
and the Round-Up will be used in force.

Now that I'm babbling, I can talk about my favorite trees, too.

My all time favorite is the eastern white pine. The fact that they were
always the biggest trees in the Wisconsin northwoods forced an image of
greatness and brought back a hint of what might have been from bygone
eras. A large white pine in the middle of rotting 100 year old stumps
always made me sit and wonder why he was left to stand. Was he too
small then? Did they leave him out of respect? Wind whooshes through a
red pine grove but it whispers through white pine. White pine smells
better, too. There is something dry and stale about a red pine grove,
but white pine is much easier on the nose. The pale bluish tint of the
white pine needles also is very attractive. I have many memories of
returning from long hikes after sunset when the twilight is gone, but
familiar white pines in the distance always were recognizable landmarks.
There silhouettes in the moonlight are very readily visible while
driving at night. It seems that white pines in my area were always left
at important places. Small groves marked the homestead sites with log
cabins, boat landings on large lakes, and old river crossings and
bridges. Also, in the large clearcut areas, white pines were spared at
dirt road intersections sot that navigation was possible point-to-point
from tree to tree during the winter when a blanket of snow hid old
ungraded roadbeds. I have also noticed that large mammals use white
pine as landmarks, too. While deer hunting throughout my life, I became
used to deer or bear trails across large swamps nearly always leading
from or to a large white pine on an island or edge of the swamp, and
likewise, intentionally detouring to intentionally go past white pines
in the forest, if it was only a little out of the way. Bears probably
do it for the safety of themselves and their cubs, but deer may have
used them as landmarks after the clearcut era, and successive
generations continue to use the old trails out of habit and passed on to
ongoing generations from the mother doe even after the clearcuts grew
back. The white pine has so many memories of sight, sound, and smell
that nothing can pass it in my mind.

Hemlock is a close second in my mind to white pine. It is about 2/3 the
height of the pines here, but has the same girth. More remain here, but
here, the big ones were felled for their bark while their trunks were
left to rot. It always seemed a shameful waste, but at least the
remaining CWD contributed to the ecosystem. The bears seemed to use
hemlock as runner ups on their trails when pine wasn't available. The
deer preferred to hide under them, too. The dense hemlock groves
sheltered them from the harsh winter weather and brought darkness to the
forest even during a sunny day. Wind is different in the hemlocks, too.
No whooshing or whispering there. In the hemlock, the wind hushes. If
you've been there, then you know what I mean. There is nothing like
being in a blizzard in a hemlock stand. When you enter it, it feels
like all hell is breaking loose, then, you cross some imaginary line and
are shocked by the peaceful calm within the hemlock grove while the
world seems uninhabitable outside the grove. Within the grove, a few
snowflakes make their way to the earth and the wind is absent. The
thick mossy ground makes a wonderfully soft carpet to rest upon.   Their
few if any leaves to crunch. Large animals can walk silently on the
thick, mossy duff. Even though you can't hear their footsteps, you can
hear the rustling of a bear's or deer's fur against itself like the
sound of someone's sleeve rubbing against their body in a nylon-shelled
winter jacket. The hemlocks muffle distant sounds so that the
background noise is eliminated. The silence makes your ears ring.
Nearby sounds seem louder because of the lack of background noise. The
calls of a hermit or swainson's thrush at twilight have to be heard.
The songs of blackburnian warblers and winter wrens keep you entertained
during the day.   

Ahh, hemlock groves, white pines are my favorite individual trees, but
hemlock groves are my favorite groves or forests. If you give me a
mixed hemlock/white pine forest, then I am in heaven.

Alright, enough running on... now I really want to take a nap in an old
hemlock grove... oh well, I'll have to wait...

Paul Jost
Favorite groves of trees   Robert Leverett
  Oct 06, 2003 13:33 PDT 

ENTS:

Paul upped the anti with his artful description of the forest ambience
that he finds in quiet hemlock groves. More specifically, redirecting
one's attention from individual trees to groves provides us with some
interesting tests. We can go from esoteric appreciation of trees to our
distant genetic programming and then back. It can be a wild ride.

Savannas are irrestibly appealing to me. They always have been. It's
not developmental. It's just there. Mid-western bur oak forests rank
near the top. But is the appeal of such places more a manifestation of
vestigial memories called forth from a then not so naked ape? Possibly.
At least I have often thought so.

If broad-spreading trees in savannas are appealing to us because they
were once safe havens from the teeth and claws of fearsome preditors,
then a cooperative venture of sight and sound elevates groves of quaking
aspens in the Rocky Mountains to exalted heights not tied to personal
safety. Open aspen groves are where mountains and forests exquisitely
complement one another in a veritable symphony of sights and sounds.
Views through widely spaced aspen groves, sent shimmering with every
breeze, to craggy snow-capped peaks beyond make the brief subalpine
summers of the Rockies places best enjoyed in contemplation, meditation
and just experiencing the sheer joy of the beauty of such places. These
aspen groves are the place where trees blend with sky, rock, and snow to
make a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Elsewhere the trees in
groves can dominate so completely that one sees the forest for its
trees. And who has not marveled at shafts of sun light penetrating
groves of tall conifers, illuminating delicate carpets of moss on an
otherwisee dark forest floor? Such images enhance many a nature
photographer's portfolio. But why are these sights so appealing to us?
What do they trigger in us?

Sometimes it is difficult for me to predict what the impact of a
forest will be on visitors that accompany me. Yesterday was such a day
as John Knuerr and I shared a special forest in the Berkshires with 12
members of the New England Wild Flower Society. The ambience of this
forest lies in its wealth of visual images that are centered around its
beautiful oaks. But would the others be able to appreciate so many
variations on an oak theme to savor its totality as a natural work of
forest art. The answer was a resounding yes. Yesterday we were blessed
to have such an appreciative group and today we are thankful. The forest
spoke and it was heard.

Bob

Robert T. Leverett
Cofounder, Eastern Native Tree Society
(413)-538-8631
fall color   Michael Davie
  Oct 10, 2003 18:28 PDT 
Hello all-

I couldn't really weigh in with a list of favorite trees before, there's just no way I could have a favorite tree, I couldn't even narrow it down to fifty species and feel okay about it. They all just have their own unique and amazing attributes.

But I was looking at the fall colors starting here, and it got me to thinking... I still can't narrow it down to a favorite, but there's definitely some that stand out. It's amazing how much variety between species, and within species, and even within individual trees from year to year. What I find amazing also is how in the fall, even with the similarities of colors, the subtle differences can really clue you in to which species you are looking at. In combination with form and canopy texture, it's even easier to pick out species at a distance. But also if you become familiar with the subtleties, you can look far across a valley and tell the difference from the yellow of a birch and the yellow of a maple, or the reds of a blackgum and the reds of a sourwood, etc.
Anyway, this is a list, but in no particular order, and by no means complete:

Sassafras- nearly always look great. Like so many trees, they are very variable, I vividly remember a beautiful fall morning in Middle Tennessee, clear air and dew on the grass, and climbing a big and beautiful sassafras with the whole crown a brilliant red, deep blue sky behind. Often the leaves have oranges and reds together, sometimes the whole tree can be brilliant orangey yellow.

Sumac- all kinds. Smooth sumac can have red, orange, and yellow leaflets on the same leaf. Winged sumacs usually make rounded domes of dark, dark red. The flame-like spikes of fruit make it that much more beautiful.

Poison ivy- not a tree, but every year around here it's one of the showiest plants, big clumps shooting off of trunks of trees, bright reds and oranges. Another non-tree species that kicks in the fall is Virginia creeper, which can be all shades of red, from near pink to maroon. Two of the most striking things I saw today: A gnarly leaning black oak with nearly black bark and peachy red orange poison ivy spiraling up the trunk, and a big, deep dark green white pine with a shock of deep red creeper mixed in the crown.

Hickories can have the most luminous yellows and yellow-brown oranges, with the dark bark on pignuts, it's amazing.

White ash, sometimes, has this amazing purplish salmon color unlike anything else.

Of course maples, with so much variety but the classic sugar maple orange making your brain hurt, it's so beautiful. It's one of those you can look into the forest on a cloudy, dark day, and a lone one is seeming to illuminate it's surroundings with a warm glow. Red maples' leaves, like their bark, and their form, is so variable you could never describe them all.

Sourwoods, with so many shades of red, often with the fading tassels of flowers hanging in front of the leaves to give that much more texture, and the contorted forms of the branches and trunks elaborate stands for the crowns.

Elms can have this kind of dark yellow, with the dark bark it's striking.

Tuliptree, rarely, can have an overall crown glowing yellow, shimmering like a true poplar.

Fraser magnolias turn the most perfect leathery brown, like the margins of beech leaves with the veins yellowing giving the whole tree an orangey brown look.

Sweetgums are a crazy carnival of colors, with dark purple, orange, red and yellow on the same tree.

Serviceberries are such a bright red sometimes it hurts, but they can also be orange, yellow, or all- I've got one in my yard that's still deep green in the veins and bright red on the margins, like scarlet oaks sometimes are, and speaking of scarlet oaks...

Carpinus, dogwoods, blackgum, oh my god I almost forgot devil's walkingstick, I'm not even going to try to describe the colors, but growing in big clumps, with the clusters of berry-like fruit a deep purpley black, holy guacamole- and I have to stop because there's so much more, I still can't narrow it down enough, and I could never begin to do justice because there aren't adequate adjectives to describe them. Not that I'm the best writer anyway, but it's like taste: we just don't have very good words to describe the some things well enough. Sometimes words really can't describe. All I know is, fall rocks.

 

Re: fall color   Colby Rucker
  Oct 11, 2003 14:28 PDT 
Michael,

I thoroughly enjoyed your most descriptive essay on fall colors.

I've always admired the numerous sour gums hereabouts, and I happily display the first orange-red fallen leaf to the family before summer is yet over.

Still, the most memorable episode occurred a few years ago on a visit to the Gettysburg battlefield. A friend had made a contribution to the fund to erect a statue of Longstreet, and suggested we see it. It was a beautiful day in early autumn, and we drove the road that extends down through the woods on Seminary Ridge, noting the many monuments, including the massive one honoring Lee, Gutzon Borglum's fine North Carolina bronze, and others.

Like Lee's, the monuments faced out toward the valley, with Cemetery Ridge and the Copse of Trees in the distance. But the Longstreet statue was not among them. As I understand it, Longstreet had suggested that a frontal attack on the third day was unwise, but Lee had gone ahead in a massive debacle. Rather than blame their infallible Lee, many southerners had criticized Longstreet, as if his wisdom was responsible. After the war, Longstreet was a voice for conciliation and moving forward. This may have further rankled many southerners.

At any rate, it had taken well over a century for Longstreet to get a statue, and we couldn't find it. We drove all over, and finally discovered it on the back side of Seminary Ridge, at the edge of a brushy woods, well hidden in a small parking lot. It's a fine bronze, perhaps life-size, of Longstreet astride a galloping horse, set at grade, with no base, no pedestal. It's quite the opposite of Lee's great pile.

I was glad we had found the statue, but it was all rather sad, with no real message. I then noticed a small sour gum immediately behind the statue. It was perhaps thirty feet high, fully branched, nearly to the ground. In the slanting rays of early autumn perhaps one third of the leaves were a full bright red, well scattered, and the rest still green.

Immediately I was reminded of the third day, and the grassy expanse leading to the copse of trees. The little gum tree spoke, so vividly, of that scene, and the blood upon the grass.

Colby