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Tree Myths Explored

From Erik Muecke of the Wisconsin Grove

As tree people, we are all aware that there are many tree myths out there...  Should I put Listerine on a pruning cut? Will copper nails kill a tree?  Does beating an apple tree with a broom lead to more apples?  Well, the good news is that Linda Chalker-Scott of Washington State University has captured and compiled some of these myths.  The main website is available here.  For specific information on tree myths click here.

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Freaky Eaters & Trees

What do freaky eaters and trees have in common? They both can withstand very unhealthy conditions and still survive. As a consulting arborist, many of my clients do not manage their trees properly yet the trees survive and the clients often see no reason for changing their behavior. I recently was drawn in by the the cable series "Freaky Eaters" (on Netflix) that documents one person that drank 80 Cokes a day on average and yet another that ate only french fries. What shocked me is that on the exterior these people looked relatively healthy despite their unusual eating habits. Trees often are the same, despite horrible soil conditions or construction damage, they tend to survive. My first point is that there is a difference between surviving and optimal health. Most of us do not live perfect life styles but we understand that when we take care of ourselves it positively impacts our longevity. The same applies to trees. When considering trees we should consider their optimal longevity, not their survival in any given day or year. The second point is that when we go beyond the surface that "healthy" tree may not be as healthy as you think. Like the Coke drinker that had early onset diabetes at the age of 20 after doing a blood test, often trees will be masking decay, disease and or stress that is not readily apparent without tests or to the untrained eye. I equate many street tree installations as "freaky eater" diets for trees by planting them in 4x8 boxes with poor soil, limited water, and cramped rooting conditions. It may initially cost more to eat well, but it will positively impact health and longevity and lower costs over the long run. Don't take your trees health for granted, with proper management that tree could survive much longer and healthier.

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I wanted to share an article from the front page - above the fold - in today's "Savannah Morning News".

I just returned from meetings, presentations, and a tour of the city and county while working for the Savannah Tree Foundation. There are many reasons for the canopy loss you'll read about in the article, which will be studied and addressed as we get further into the project. Hopefully this work and media coverage can reverse some of the current trends.  

Study shows tree canopy shrinking in Chatham County

Three football fields.

That’s how much tree canopy Chatham County lost every day on average over the last 15 years, a new analysis reveals.

Most of that tree cover disappeared from Pooler, Port Wentworth, Bloomingdale and west Savannah where developers razed pine plantations as well as natural hardwood forests to make way for houses, parking lots, warehouses and businesses.

“The areas in dark red were tree cover, and they’re being moved to development,” said Ian Hanou as he displayed a map of the county that looked like its western third was bleeding.

Read the full article here ......

This link includes reader comments:
Ian S. Hanou | Plan-It Geo, LLC.
Owner & Director of Business Development
720.988-2048 (desk) | 303.503-4846 (mobile)
5690 Webster Street, Arvada, CO 80002
Sign-Up for PG News, our e-newsletter
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American Grove was created to share tree planting and urban forestry knowledge and passion online. The core of our knowledge comes from you our members and state urban forestry coordinators that are professionals that work hard in their region to proliferate and take care of urban trees. State coordinators oversee the individual state groups that make up American Grove. Most of us are nature enthusiast and hands on, so to ask you to share online is probably against your grain. That said, online communities and social networking are often where understanding and opinions are formed and we appreciate your input. Online communities are a way to share knowledge and help educate. For us at American Grove, in the end it is about the trees. So if you have anything to share about your experience or knowledge with trees, post it on American Grove. We also like questions,if we don't know the answer, we will encourage a state urban forester from your state to get in touch. The best way to share is with a picture or some words in our blog or forum in your State's grove. Let us be your hub of tree information and leave it to us to put it out in the social network. Together lets make trees relevant not just in the ground but to the many people online that might not know as much about tress.

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My friend recently returned from the Serengeti in Africa, where the Acacia Tree, a favorite food of giraffes, has developed a unique defense strategy. In response to its constant pruning via consumption, the tree produces tannins which makes the taste bitter and less palatable to the giraffe. The Acacia tree will also alert neighboring trees to produce a similar response. Giraffes have learned to go up wind where the trees have not received the notification to nosh on more of their favorite tree. Of course it is probably just a matter of time before the Giraffes adapt, similar to the way their tongue can eat the Acacia despite its large and very sharp thorns. The giraffe with its desensitized, twenty-inch long tongue is able to strip leaves from the thorny branches and crush the thorns with its molars. Thorns do not prevent tissue and foliage loss but they do lessen it by restricting bite size and retarding bite rates, in some cases slowing the rate of consumption by three times the rate of thornless branches. Ultimately, through time nature perfectly restores a balance. 

For more info check out:

NO PLACE TO RUN, NO PLACE TO HIDE by Kirk Andersen, Living Desert and Zoo Palm Springs, California

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With the help of technology, social ventures related to saving the environment became more accessible. The most intriguing practice is done by Tree Planet 2 from developers Tree Planet Inc. Basically, the free tree planting application’s main premise is allowing users to plant trees and save the environment by playing its mobile app game.

In this article, we’ll discuss more about the tree planting application, including but not limited to its background, the mobile operating systems that run it, and a few more extras.

A brief background

Tree Planet was conceptualized in 2010, born out of the collaborative efforts of Korean developers Jaehyun Kim, Hyung-soo Kim, and Mincheol Jeong. The main aim is for the company to be the record holder of having the most planted trees around the world.

In 2012, the company planted more than 250,000 trees, surpassing its initial goal of 100,000. In the same year, it won third place at the International Global Social Venture Competition in the United States. It’s a business plan competition for social ventures that create environmental gains, on top of monetary profits.

The Game

 Despite players criticized it for being monotonous,
HubPages lauds it for its eco-friendly initiative. After installing the app, read the tutorial for initial briefing, then determine your preferred sponsor, before selecting the place where you want to plant your tree (Republic of Sudan, Mongolia, and South Korea). The game’s premise is about planting, growing, and taking care of your tree:

· Tap the capsule to remove the seed coating.

· These are the five options: Water and fertilizer (for nourishing), Sleep (for resting), Shower (to make trees clean and neat), Training (to keep trees strong), and Potions (to keep trees from starvation).

· Move the sun towards your plant to have enough sunlight and nutrients.

· Challenges to look after: a sheep that eats your plant, a running cactus, and dark clouds. You can tap to remove them from your plant.

· After completing level 7, you’ll be given free outfits for your plant and the chance to choose an animal to go with your actual tree once it gets planted.

 Which mobile OS is it available?

Providing an excellent gameplay, the app is made available for both the iOS and Android platforms.

· iOS

iDevices such as the iPhone 5S provides an exciting gameplay for Tree Planet. Thanks to the integration of the iOS 7, the device has tools such as the Game Center, bringing support for leader board rankings. Through the Notifications Tab, the Game Center will update you on the current state of your tree, whether it needs to be watered or put outdoors in sunlight.

· Android

Android 4.4 KitKat-run devices will surely love the game’s visuals. The new HTC One M8 comes with the latest Android OS, which has with the new Immersive Mode that allows maximizes the full screen space while playing. When installed in the device, you’ll get to appreciate the vibrancy of colors, as it comes with a 5-inch Full HD display, the page on the new HTC One on O2 confirms.

Tree Planet-Double A Partnership

Last year, Nation Multimedia reported a partnership between Tree Planet and Double A to extend its bid of planting a billion trees by 2020. This is on top of the company’s existing partnerships with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

The partnership gave birth to the app’s successor – the Tree Planet Season II – Spirit of the Trees. It extends tree planting activities on Facebook, wherein players with fully-grown trees can also request their actual plant to be named after them, including its gender.

 How are the trees being planted?

Tree Planet receives funding from advertising on the app, which is deployed to its partners Hanhwa and World Vision for the actual planting. Meanwhile, the water pumps in the game are also being donated to improve the living conditions in the third world countries.

Similar to child care programs, tree owners will receive a monthly update on their planet. Also, the company designates a team that takes photos of the plant to go with the updates.

Tree Planet is an exciting mobile app, striking the right balance between technology and social and environmental care. What it takes is for us to make the small move, for the betterment of the nature. Have you tried Tree Planet 2?

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Last week, March 9-15, is the California Arbor Day; yes, the entire week in California. Today, March 20, is the first day of spring 2014; tomorrow, March 21, the day of World Forestry Day/International Day of Forests, endorsed by the UN. It is the time of the year for tree caring and forest protection & restoration, especially after a couple of major wildfires resulted from the long lasting drought in California and Southwest. As a member of the Grove, we know that trees are vital to the public infrastructure, provide numerous environmental, social and economic benefits.  In fact, trees are the one piece of the community infrastructure that actually increases in value over time.  As a member of Arcadia Beautiful Commission, I like to share our accomplishments in City of Arcadia, California. In the City Council Meeting on 18 March 2014, the Mayor proclaimed that day was the Arbor Day for our city, and that Arcadia has just been named a “Tree City USA” for the 20th year. This recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters is bestowed on more than 3, 400 communities and is a result of our commitment to effective urban forest management.  We have earned this achievement for the past 20 years by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, an Arbor Day observance and proclamation and a tree board which is our Arcadia Beautiful Commission. The Mayor introduced all Commissioners and recognized our participation and dedication to the functions of the Commission.

Each year we observe Arbor Day and this year we are giving special  recognition to  six properties in the city that have shown extraordinary efforts by either preserving existing trees or planting an abundance of trees on their properties. This was done voluntarily & very much appreciated.  I am excited to share this accomplishment with our members in the Grove as we celebrate and thank our residents for making the planting and care of trees a priority and for helping to create a healthier planet for all of us.

Edward Huang 黄铁屿, PhD, AICP, LEED AP, CGBP, CG-REP, GCP

Member & Vice-Chair, Arcadia Beautiful Commission



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Protecting Trees in New Urban Planning Areas

Clearing on South Cooper Mountain.  Photo (c) by Eric Squires 
To cut or not to cut, that is the questions.  Some property owners in the newly urbanizing area of South Cooper Mountainhave chosen to clear cut forests on their property in an attempt to avoid permits and fees when they develop their property in the future.  Navigating Beaverton's development code to find out what is required for tree protection is no easy task, so some of the clear-cutting could be motivated by fear of the unknown.

Stimulating wholesale clear-cutting of tree groves on Cooper Mountain is clearly an unintended consequence of  Beaverton's development code.  And Beaverton is not the only place where clearing to avoid perceived regulatory costs has happened.  When Metro was developing its regional Goal 5 Natural Resources Protection Plan, several landowners made the headlines by clearing their land unnecessarily to avoid what they feared was a government takeover.

Just across Scholls Ferry Road is the River Terrace planning area on the western slopes of  Bull Mountain. While trees were falling on Cooper Mountain, the City of Tigard has avoided clear-cutting by identifying significant tree groves. reaching out to property owners with significant groves and offering incentives including relaxation of some planning requirements.  Here are the key points of Tigard's effort.

  1. Property owners are not "punished" for having trees on their property.
    All residential property new development is required to be designed to achieve 40% tree canopy coverage no matter what is growing on the property now.
  2. Incentives are provided for protecting existing trees over cutting and planting new trees. When adding up the tree canopy on a site design, preservation of existing trees is given "double credit".  A property owner with existing forests on a parcel could achieve the 40% canopy requirement by preserving tree canopy covering 20% of the land.
  3. Flexibility in site design is allowed when tree groves are preserved.Housing density requirements are relaxed if a tree grove is protected to achieve canopy goals.  In River Terrace, home developers feel they can be more profitable by building upscale homes on larger lots, and tree grove protection facilitates this.  Similarly height restrictions for commercial developments are relaxed if tree groves are protected on the site.
The City of Tigard has received significant recognition for their innovate urban forestry plan, including a National Planning Excellence Award from the American Planning Association.  Their success in preventing clear cutting in River Terrace should gain the attention of other cities dealing with unintended consequences of tree protection regulation.

See also the Oregonian Article about Tigard's Urban Forestry Plan.

Originally published on Tualatin River Watershed Watch Blog.
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Cue Cards

The downloadable cue cards are designed to fit in a shirt pocket and can be printed onto 3 1/2 " x 8" card stock and laminated for field use. They are also available in Spanish. Feel free to reproduce them.

Nursery Tree Quality Guidelines Root Management Planting Young Tree Pruning
English | Spanish English | Spanish English | Spanish English | Spanish
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A Tree is a tree

In both my jobs as an tree risk assessor and a online tree community manager I continuously am having to outline the benefits of trees. I understand this process and am appreciative of having the opportunity to do so, but another part of me just wants people to enjoy a tree for being a tree without all the "benefit" language. Many of us just like looking at them and being around them without thinking about all they provide for us. Trees are our connection with nature, we evolved from trees and they are a part of our DNA. Our hands fit perfectly around branches, a coincidence, perhaps, but perhaps not. Like us, to our knowledge, trees are unique to earth and have not been found elsewhere in the Universe. Most people I work with understand this innate beauty of trees and their connection with us as humans, yet many of us are left discussing their benefits to rationalize our jobs or the very presence of trees around us. Luckily for us, trees do provide many benefits and in the economic world of heuristics and measurements, they mostly come out as gold or near to it. The work we do is important, as many will choose to only extract the benefits of trees without doing it sustainably unless reminded of their full value. Still, I wonder what we loose by having to constantly translate tree benefits into modern society. Do we forget that trees are breathing beings?  The largest living organism on Earth? That being near a tree can change your mood and help you feel better? That our relationship with trees has the possibility of being reciprocal? These are benefits that are easily forgotten but not easily explained. So as always, next time you are near a tree, breathe with it, forget the benefits, don't think, just be with the tree and see what you discover. You might find that the tree enjoys being with you as much as you enjoy being with the tree. 

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I recently attended the the first Tree Risk Assessment Qualification Course (TRAQ) in the country. It was hosted at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawerenceville, GA. The class was limited to 20 people but they were from across the country. We had representation from local governments, tree companies, consulting arborists, state extension service, and universities. The course was taught by Terrence Flanagan, ISA president-elect, and Scott Prophett of North American Training Solutions. Class members contained a wealth of knowledge and most would be qualified to teach the course, with the average age in attendance to be around 45 years old.  

TRAQ is a new program rolled out by the ISA to replace TRACE to create a standardization of Tree Assessment around the world. The course is based on the ANSI A300 Tree Risk Assessment best management practices. The program is a qualification program and the program 2.5 days long. The Qualification is good for five years. This makes sense as the information in this field is changing so rapidly.  The qualification costs $625 (more if not ISA member), however, if you are interested only in the content and not the qualification you buy the TRAQ manual (included in the qualification) for $60.  

At the end of the program attendees are tested both with a written exam of 100 questions and a practicum where one goes out and assesses a tree using the TRAQ form (in the manaul). The two page form carefully guides you through the tree and its parts in addition to aspects of the target, leading to a final risk rating of Extreme, High, Moderate, or Low. The form requires practice and the manual to understand how the rating is derived, but the system is rock solid and I have found it very useful with clients. The TRAQ method also divides the type of work into three levels, a walk by, basic, and advanced. The form is geared towards the basic, with advance techniques (drilling, aerial, sonar, etc.) only being referenced in the form if the basic is not sufficient. 

The TRAQ format clearly delineates between the Tree Assessor and Tree Manager (home owner, property owner, etc.).  While the assessor assess the tree and gives it a risk ranking and possible mitigation or recommend advanced techniques it is up to the manager to choose the level of risk they want to live with and which mitigation they want to employ to reduce that risk. This clear division of duties also helps relieve the assessor of unnecessary liability. 

I predict this program to change the way assessments are completed. It is a comprehensive view of Tree Risk Assessment and ISA has done an excellent job rolling it out. While expensive, there is no question that ISA has invested substantial resources to make the program comprehensive, incorporating the latest technology and research. 

More information about the program and qualification can be found here.

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Plant a tree, post your spot, grow a movement!

Plan-It Geo would like to invite all those doing the good work this season to Show the World by posting your planting project On Line!

The PG Online 2013 Earth Day/Arbor Day Tree Planting Tracker is FREE for a limited time and open to anyone with an internet connection or mobile device.

  • View other planting projects in your state or region,
  • Enter your own planting locations and tree information
  • Download tree planting sites to your desktop applications.

Everyone loves a Giveaway: A lucky winner will be drawn at the end of the webinar receiving a 1-year subscription for the Tree Tracker inventory app for use in your community ($850 value)! All you have to do is (1) attend the webinar, and (2) share this post with additional colleagues who would be interested.

The winner will be randomly picked from all webinar attendees who recruit at least 3 others to attend (preferably from outside your city or organization).

Register for our Kick-off Informational and Demo webinar being held on Tuesday, April 9th at 2pm Eastern time. (click to register).

For more information, about Plan-It Geo, PG Online, or the Tree Planting Tracker Webmap, visit the PG Online website, and our American Grove Page.

The only thing better than planting a tree, is encouraging others to help by showing off your hard work!


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Have you recently purchased a tree, but not sure where to plant?  Use this great tool, which utilizes google earth, and the i-tree tools to digitally place your tree in diffent locations around your property, and see how the benefits increase or decrease.  You may measure the tree benefits for 1 to 99 years. Click on the following link to get started:

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Sweet Gum Trees, More than Meets the Eye

Sweet gum trees (Liquidambar Styracifulua) are notorious for the spiny seed balls they drop.  They are often confused for maple trees for their five pointed leaves.  Many people cut them down because of the seed balls.  Joan Maloof in Teaching from the Trees shares unusual and unique qualities about the sweetgum that may encourage us to better tolerate them.  Sweet gums are often the first volunteers after a forest has been cleared and create shade for more dominant hardwoods like the white oak.  It turns out, most young sweet gum trees sprout from the roots of previous trees that were cut.  Up to forty young trees can sprout from a single large tree.  They also provide wonderful fall color and are an important part of the life cycle for the magical luna moth, the largest moth in the southeast.  I once witnessed this moth near a Sweet gum tree in my yard and it took my breath away.  Joan Maloof describes the luna moth with: " Picture Tinkerbell or some other garden diva fairy fluttering around the flowers on a moonlit night, and you will be close to imagining the wonder of sighting a luna moth."  Species of sweet gum exist across the world.  Among the Cherokee in the Southeast the sweet gum tree was highly prized not just as important part of the forest but also for its amber colored gum, or balsam, which gives the sweet gum tree its flavor and its common name.  The sap was used in the preparation of balsam to treat fevers and wounds.  The Aztecs utilized the aromatic sap in smoking mixtures, perfumes, and incense.  Perhaps we need to rediscover what the sweet gum is capable of providing!

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Happy independence day!  I am sure many of you are familiar with heroes of the revolutionary war like Paul Revere and George Washington, but have heard of the Dongan Oak at Prospect Park.  The Bowery Boys blog writes, "The Dongan Oak was a tree of terrific size at least a hundred years old by the time Washington's army took this area, now known as Battle Pass. By cutting down this tree, the Americans were able to hold off the British until they were cut off from behind and had to flee. This monument was installed in 1922 with a noble eagle atop it."  Prospect Park is located in Brooklyn and the tree was cut down during the Battle of Long Island on August 27, 1776.  The tree was a large white oak mentioned in 1685 in the patent of Governor Thomas Dongan (1634–1715).

View Full Bowery Boy Blog about Here

The monument, which commemorates the contribution of this important tree was commissioned at a cost of $2,000 by the St. Nicholas Society, and was dedicated on November 25, 1922. It consists of a bronze eagle mounted on a granite pedestal inscribed with dedicatory text. The sculptor of the original eagle was Frederick W. Ruckstull (1853–1942), whose public commissions also include the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial in Major John Mark Park in Jamaica, Queens.

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What is your favorite shade tree for your yard and why? 

Check out Brad's opinion below.  He share some good reasons for planting a deciduous tree, not to mention some mistakes to avoid. Don't forget to share your favorite.

The other day I asked my friend who has his own lawn care business about the best trees to plant in your yard. He’s also an expert on trees. In fact, my trees look better than all the trees in my neighbors’ yards thanks to Brad.

I mentioned to him that my favorite tree is the giant tree, a Camphor tree, in the front yard of the corner house. I explained that I like it most as it has a wonderful canopy that stays green all year. Think of that – no raking leaves.

He quickly pointed out the flaw in my reasoning.

My singular goal for any yard tree is providing shade in the hot summers. Not raking leaves in the fall is a bonus.

Brad quickly informed me that a tree with leaves in the winter keeps the warm sun from providing heat on those cold winter days. He told me the best trees for your yard keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter – at least on sunny days.

It was so obvious that I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought of this myself over all these years.

Of course, there are always exceptions to Brad’s insight.

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American Grove "Like Me" Contest

Post a video, photograph, or blog and get your friends to like it and win a $50 Home Depot gift card from the American Grove.  Modesty is a great trait, but to win you will need to share your tree passion by getting friends to like your post.  A great way to promote your post is by cutting and pasting the URL (the domain address in the address bar on browser) of the post and asking friends to "like" your post via email, Twitter and/or Facebook.   All posts in this 3 week period will be "featured" which will allow me to monitor the number of likes you get.  Both a "Facebook like" and a "thumbs up like" count. The last day for "likes" is June 1st.  Now get out there and share your tree passion!

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Our Village Council recently approved a sidewalk replacement project for spring 2012.  The contractor was asked to include root barriers in the bid.  The information I have found on root barriers is at best conflicting.

In your experience, what root pruning / barrier techniques have had the most positive outcomes?  Can you provide any specifications for your methods &/or materials used?

As a Tree City USA, we always try to keep an eye out for best practices to preserve our mature street trees.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

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