Last week some flatbed trucks carefully made their way through our street with some rather large trees on the back. I didn’t really take much note other than thinking that someone was getting some trees planted nearby. Well, it turns out that nearby was in the Arboretum.
I don’t know if you recall the process that was used to get the trees planted in the Arboretum. The curb lawns were measured, each treeless spot noted as well as the size of the tree that could be planted marked down. We had a few medium trees that weren’t filled in because there were none to be had. The city’s tree contractor planted those remaining 50 medium class trees in the wide curb lawns over the past several days. The species planted were Ohio buckeye and sassafras. I think we now have the highest concentration of Ohio Buckeyes per square foot in the entire city. Pete, of course, has buckeye envy because our little buckeye in the backyard didn’t flower this year while those planted by the city are in full bloom. In any case, our thanks to the City Columbus and the City Forrester for giving us such wonderful, native trees!
The Buckeye nuts will provide food for squirrels, while the flowers will provide food for hummingbirds. Pioneers carried a buckeye seed in their pockets to ward off rheumatism, something I might test out as I get older and my joints get creakier. The state champion tree (the largest specimen in Ohio) for the Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) is located in Huron County and stands 77 feet tall. That’s a photo of the tree to the left. The buckeye trees are one of the first to put out leaves in the spring and one of the first to lose their leaves in the fall. I always try to find at least one buckeye each year to keep on my desk at work for the Ohio State football season. Sometimes it brings good luck – other times it doesn’t!
The sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum) was important to Native American tribes, such as the Cherokee, who used the leaves, roots and bark for medicinal, food and construction purposes. Birds and other wildlife feed on the sassafras fruit. Butterflies are attracted to its flowers and also use the leaves as a host for caterpillars. Among the species of butterflies that are attracted to the sassafras are the spicebush butterfly and the tiger swallow-tail. And Pete assures me that the fall color will be spectacular. Along with the black gum, our little Arboretum will be quite the place to walk around in the fall.
On a sadder note, most of the ash trees around our neighborhood have fallen victim to the emerald ash borer. We have one ash tree in our yard that is fine so far (knock on wood). We are going to try our best to keep it healthy. As these trees are removed, we will plant new ones it their place.
Until next time.