Name this Tree

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This photo makes this Name this Tree installment a little bit of a trick question. As with all diagnoses, we first have to identify the species. In Mississippi, it is often a fairly small, deciduous tree with alternate branching and simple leaves. The leaves are 2″-6″ long, finely serrate, and leathery. They have a long tapered apex and acute to wedge-shaped base. The leaves are dark green above and lighter below, with dense reddish hairs on the midrib. This tree has “potato chip” bark – it curls and peels off in small pieces (often about quarter-sized) that look like dark grey potato chips. It has white, conspicuous flowers in the spring and a small dark fruit that is poisonous to horses and cattle because it contains cyanide. Is there something wrong with the tree in this photo? Yes, it is responding with epicormic branching as a result of herbicide damage. There is very little live crown on this tree and it has a low chance of survival. However, there is no reason for the owners to remove the tree immediately; therefore, they can wait until spring to observe next season’s response.

Name this Tree

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This is a classic Southern tree that often grows like a shrub. It originates from Asia and the Tea family with over 100 species and thousands of hybrids. It blooms during the winter leading to its nickname “Rose of Winter.” It has thick leathery dark green leaves with fine serrations. The leaf base is cuneate and tip is pointed. It is a common garden plant. What is this tree?

Name this Tree

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This evergreen tree is not a fir, although it is commonly known as one. The species is native to Asia where they can be large trees and are used for timber in coffins and temples. They are commonly planted in the West (zone 7-9) as a medium-sized ornamental. The leaves are leathery blue-green and needle-like, although unlike pinus, the needles are broadly flat and spiral around the stem. The female cones are somewhat small with spirally arranged scales. It prefers shade and acidic well-drained soils. It is a fairly hardy species as long as it’s not planted too far north where it doesn’t tolerate cold very well.

Name this Tree

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Asimina triloba Photo by Dogtooth77, CC BY-NC-SA – 2.0. Found at https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all

This tree is common to wet woodland areas of the Southeastern U.S. It is a native forest tree, but is found in urban areas as well. It grows in patches (clonal reproduction) as an understory tree and has alternate, spirally arranged leaves. Chemicals in the leaves make them unappealing to birds and animals, although the the larvae of the zebra swallowtail butterfly (Protographium marcellus) feeds elusively on the leaves. A dead giveaway is that its leaves smell similar to green pepper when crushed. It produces the largest native edible fruit in the United States and has been called the North American banana because the fruit’s inner texture is similar to a that of a banana. In the old days, the fruit was used for jellies and sweets. One author notes the chilled fruit was a favorite desert of the founding fathers (Craig Summers Black, 2009, The Christian Science Monitor).