Treelines: Week of September 15, 2014

Because urban forestry issues span a wide range of topics and are constantly a source of local, national, and international news, we think it’s important to provide you with the most up-to-date information on everything tree-related: from local and national headlines to the latest in research and technologies, to simply feel-good stories.

Look for our reoccurring Treelines every week right here on Tree Speak + updates on our social channels, Facebook and Twitter.

This week in the Treelines…

  • Smithsonian scientists discover tropical tree microbiome in Panama
    by eScience News via Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

    “Despite the fact that tropical forests are the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems on the planet, more is known about belly-button bacteria than bacteria on trees in the tropics. “

  • Sapling of Bodhi tree planted in Vietnam
    via Zee News

    “A sapling of the holy Bodhi tree from Bodh Gaya in Bihar, which was carried by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee as a gift, was planted here on Monday. President Mukherjee, who is on a four day state visit to Vietnam that began on Sunday, planted the sapling alongwith his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang in the presidential palace in Hanoi.”

  • Maine to study hemlock tree die-off
    by Jaclyn Cangro, WVII ABC 7

    “he University of Maine has spent the last few months studying how the loss of hemlock trees could impact the state. A pest is currently threatening hemlocks, causing a change in forest ecosystems up and down the east coast. The problem started in the south during the 1950s. It’s now making its way to Maine.”

  • NYC’s 9/11 ‘Survivor Tree’ Seedlings Donated
    by ABC 40 via the Associated Press

    “Seedlings from a celery pear tree recovered from the smoldering ashes at the World Trade Center are headed to sites of tragedy in Washington, Mississippi and Texas.”

  • Wood testing methods solve mystery of ‘Ground Zero ship’ 
    via ABC 17

    “Tree-ring scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory were among the experts asked to analyze the ship’s remains. Their findings recently were published in the journal Tree Ring Research. Scientists traced the vessel’s origins back to oak trees cut down in Philadelphia, probably in 1773.”

Don’t forget to check back next week for more Treelines! Any thoughts on these articles? Post your comments or questions below or via our social media channels - Facebook.. Twitter.. thanks!

Treelines: Week of September 8, 2014

Because urban forestry issues span a wide range of topics and are constantly a source of local, national, and international news, we think it’s important to provide you with the most up-to-date information on everything tree-related: from local and national headlines to the latest in research and technologies, to simply feel-good stories.

Look for our reoccurring Treelines every week right here on Tree Speak + updates on our social channels, Facebook and Twitter.

This week in the Treelines…

  • Demand for agricultural products drives ‘shock’ tree loss in tropical forests
    by Matt McGrath, BBC News

    Around five football fields of tropical forest have been illegally cleared every minute between 2000 and 2012 according to a new report. The authors say that consumer demand in Europe and the US for beef, leather and timber is driving these losses. The vast majority of this illegal deforestation for commercial agriculture took place in Brazil and Indonesia.”

  • Tomoyasu Kita, Tree surgeon aids tsunami-hit region
    by Hitose Ishizuka, the Japan News

    “Tree doctor Tomoyasu Kita is focusing his energy on Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, these days, repairing trees damaged by salt from tsunami caused by the 2011 reat East Japan Earthquake. ‘The trees are fighting on without a word. I can’t ignore them,’ said Kita, 41.

  • Shubhendu Sharma: How to grow a tiny forest anywhere
    via TED Talks

    “A forest planted by humans, then left to nature’s own devices, typically takes at least 100 years to mature. But what if we could make the process happen ten times faster? In this short talk, eco-entrepreneur (and TED Fellow) Shubhendu Sharma explains how to create a mini-forest ecosystem anywhere.”

  • How large does the blue spruce grow?
    by Robert T. Leverett, Native Tree Society via American Forests

    “How tall do blue spruces grow? There’s little agreement, but the species pays no attention to such nonsense. Blue spruces know what they’re genetically programmed to do, and in southwestern Colorado, the blues achieve their best growth. The Western Native Tree Society (WNTS), supporting the American Forests National Big Tree program, discovered a blue to break all records in the La Plata Mountains this August.”

  • First national study finds trees saving lives, reducing respiratory problems: Air pollution modeling reveals broad-scale impacts of pollution removal by trees
    via USDA Forest Service news release

    “In the first broad-scale estimate of air pollution removal by trees nationwide, U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators calculated that trees are saving more than 850 human lives a year and preventing 670,000 incidences of acute respiratory symptoms.”

Don’t forget to check back next week for more Treelines! Any thoughts on these articles? Post your comments or questions below or via our social media channels - Facebook.. Twitter.. thanks!

Tree of the Month: Fig


by Jim Woodworth, Tree Planting Director

With 800 species in the family, Ficus (or the fig tree) is by far the largest genus in the Moraceae, and is one of the largest genera of flowering plants you’ll find. Many fig species are grown for their fruits, though only Ficus carica (aka the common fig) is cultivated to any extent for this purpose, and for this reason we’ll focus mostly on this low maintenance, prolific fruit producer.

Related to the mulberry, the fig’s alternate, simple leaves have similar lobes, forming broad rounded teeth.  At maturity, it forms a 10’-15’ wide and high, broad, rounded form; it’s a very wide spread and frequently planted ornamental landscape plant. Once you train your eyes to notice their typical branching habit and form and their very uniquely lobed leaves, you may be surprised at how abundant they are planted across the District, especially in many older homes.

As mentioned previously, this is a very reliable fruit producer that’s enjoying a resurgence amongst the urban agriculture and permaculture communities. It doesn’t require fancy cross pollination to reliably produce fruit (though the genus’ evolutionary relationship with wasps is fascinating(!) -  “a constant source of inspiration and wonder to biologists.”)  Figs produce for several decades (but live upwards to 200 years) and fruit forms on only new and 1-year old branch growth.  Interestingly enough, you may be able to reap two harvests: late spring and mid-summer. Fruit is ripe on the tree when soft, but you will need to keep close watch as your figs ripen to beat the starlings to them!

Cold hardiness may be the species’ main limitation.  Fig was widely planted around older homes across the south, and does well in Zone 7 environments.  Following past harsh winters, many figs suffer substantial branch die-back.  Not a major concern, though – you can always help the fig bounce back by pruning all the deadwood off.  Check for live cambium before pruning and if possible, prune back to any live tissue (and ideally to an outward-facing bud or branch).

Ideally suited for small urban and suburban yards and tight spaces, but they especially thrive in warm, sheltered spots against buildings in full sunlight, where they can be protected from harsh winter temperatures, soak up solar radiation and enjoy a warm micro-climate.

In urban environment, it’s smartest to choose a winter hardy variety such as the “Chicago Hardy” or “Brown Turkey.” If your site is exposed, you can create a windbreak from the winter winds, or for the more ambitious, you can wrapped your tree in burlap or paper, or insulate it with leaves or other creative insulating measures.

Have a great recipe or particular story about a fig tree?  Please share!


View map in full.

For more about many other species, check out our profiles on our Tree Species resource.

Treelines: Week of September 1, 2014

Because urban forestry issues span a wide range of topics and are constantly a source of local, national, and international news, we think it’s important to provide you with the most up-to-date information on everything tree-related: from local and national headlines to the latest in research and technologies, to simply feel-good stories.

Look for our reoccurring Treelines every week right here on Tree Speak + updates on our social channels, Facebook and Twitter.

This week in the Treelines…

  • Rare outback Waddi tree gets new life in Longreach greenhouse
    by Chrissy Arthur, ABC

    “Seeds from the rare Waddi tree have been collected and germinated in a greenhouse in outback Queensland to raise awareness about the wattle species and help ensure its survival. The Waddi tree (Acacia peuce) is found in only three locations in Australia – two in south-west Queensland and another in a conservation reserve in the Northern Territory.”

  • Scientists, park officials strive to keep legendary orange tree alive
    by Suzanne Hurt, the Press Enterprise

    “‘Riverside’s parent Washington navel orange tree – mother to millions of navel orange trees the world over – has lived well into old age thanks to decades of caretakers who have saved its life more than once. Today, they protect the tree growing in a tiny plot at Magnolia and Arlington avenues by using special tools, applying insecticides to guard against deadly citrus disease, and taking leaf and stem samples for biological and molecular tests to see if the tree is infected. They’re even ready to begin applying antibiotics if it comes to that.

  • Massive bird’s nest crushes African tree
    by Xinhuanet, via CRI

    “A bird nest weighing over 2000 pounds (about 907 kilograms) — believed to be the world’s largest — has crushed a tree supporting it, the UK-based Wired Magazine reported recently. Fortunately, its main structure remained intact as it is supported by some of the tree’s branches.”

  • Fence of trees to stem human-elephant conflict
    by Siva Parameswaran, BBC News

    “An unprecedented drought in Sri Lanka is exacerbating the longstanding potential for conflict between humans an elephants, reports suggest. But a “fence” of palmyra trees is starting to yield success. With forest vegetation and water holes vanishing, hundreds of elephants are reported to have approached settlements in search of food and water.”

  • Untapping the Potential of Science-Government Partnerships to Benefit Urban Nature 
    by Chris Ives and Yvonne Lynch, the nature of things

    “This challenge calls for a close and effective interaction between science and governance. However, all too often, the potential for collaboration between local government and academic researchers to co-produce knowledge and develop policy and programs that benefit urban nature remains unexplored.”

Don’t forget to check back next week for more Treelines! Any thoughts on these articles? Post your comments or questions below or via our social media channels - Facebook.. Twitter.. thanks!

Darts team’s tree-lovin’ philanthropy hits a bull’s-eye

by Alex Gabriel, Communications & Development Intern

A blaring beat accompanied by a sultry singer in a room full of men holding strong margaritas and brandishing sharp objects is an atypical setting for a philanthropy event – the likes of which probably wouldn’t garner attendants of the Kennedy Center Honors or Robin Hood foundation benefit.  But at the Stonewall Sports League mixer, these men boast philanthropy, donating over $13,0001 to charities this season alone (and we’re grateful to them for it).

The Stonewall Sports League emerged to satisfy the niche of sports enthusiasts in the LGBT community, providing a welcoming space for people to play on any team they wish from boccie, darts, dodge ball and their most popular sport: kickball, which has expanded far beyond the borders of D.C. into Raleigh, Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  At the core of the organization exists an altruistic heart – aspiring to amend social strife. Each team chooses a charity to which they’ll donate their winnings, a generous virtue.

But among the Stonewall Darts League’s many virtues, prudence is not one, preferring innuendos and puns with names like Darty Dancing, Dart Vader, Who Darted and our sponsoring team, Prick Tease.

The group consists of six men who have been playing darts together for years and whose love for the environment propelled them towards Casey Trees.  As team member, Grant states “I heard about Casey Trees from a friend… I kept seeing your logo in green spaces around the city. My granola-loving self couldn’t get enough!” From there he volunteered at a tree planting event, and that experience led the darts team to sponsor Casey Trees.  And fortunately, Prick Tease has remained on top: winning game after game, conquering their division and amassing more funds!

But bull’s-eyes are not the only way to raise money; being good looking helps too.  In fact, the darts league raffles dates with select team members and our attractive sponsors earned second place in the date raffle! These funds will also go to support our tree planting efforts throughout the District.

To top it all off, Prick Tease recently placed fourth in the championship games, giving a total of $2,600 to Casey Trees – in addition to the oversized novelty check and a round of drinks.  So cheers to Prick Tease in their next season and for all their charity work!

We’re so grateful!

We’re hosting a WEBINAR — “DC PLUG: Burying Lines, Raising Questions”


As part of a $1 billion proposal by the city government entitled DC PLUG, the District and Pepco are looking to bury the worst-performing power lines in the city. An exciting vision, but there is one thing worth considering – if the city buries the wires in the sidewalk, approximately 8,693 neighborhood street trees will be impacted.

That’s why we’re hosting a 30 minute webinar to educate you, the average resident (community organizer, neighbor, energy consumer, concerned citizen, etc.) on the details and provide you with a few tools to speak out about this issue.

What we’ll talk about:

  • Why the city refuses to bury all of the overhead wires
  • Which lines will be buried and which will remain aboveground
  • The benefits and risks to trees of undergrounding power lines
  • What you can do to help save thousands of trees

Bring your questions and we will answer them live during the webinar! Our speakers include (from our staff): Maisie Hughes, Director of Planning + Design; Emily Oaksford, Planning Associate; Suraj K. Sazawal, Advocacy Associate.

TIME & DATE: TBD

 Info on how to access the webinar:

1. Go to: https://global.gotomeeting.com/meeting/join/439243357
2. Call in using your phone: (872) 240-3312  or use your microphone and speakers (VoIP)
3. Enter the Access Code: 439-243-357
4. Enter the Audio PIN: You will see the PIN after you join the meeting
5. You’re all set- say hello!

Suraj Sazawal tackles bucket lists, the Greek Deli and his childhood crab-apple

We’ve been growing at break-neck pace around here, and we don’t just mean adding people – we’re talking about adding capacity, and finding more expansive ways for us to aid the District’s canopy. One step has been to bulk up on the advocacy front, knowing full and well that with the rising amount of concrete being poured in D.C. that opportunities for trees are being lost. The man tasked with jump starting all this and more? Suraj Sazawal, front and center:

CT: Suraj! Give us some background: who are you and where are you from?

Born and raised near Pittsburgh, I have been living in the D.C. area since my high school graduation. In fact, I left mid-graduation ceremony after I was handed my diploma, so I could be in D.C. in time for my sister’s wedding the next day.

CT: Aww, well welcome to the CT family! What led you to join forces with our team here?

Never wanting to work with lawyers again. I mean, a desire to work with people who enjoy what they do.

CT: Ha, well played. Elaborate on your connections to the District – have you found a favorite shady spot yet?

Having worked in many District neighborhoods – Dupont, Capitol Hill, K Street, and now Brookland – I know the city offers many great hideaways to escape from the daily bustle. From Meridian Park to all the green space surrounding the Capital building, I prefer spots that don’t attract a crowd. I also like the big parks because they offer a different experience each time I visit.

CT: What about a favorite eatery?

Choosing a favorite place to eat in D.C. is not easy. But one place I never had a bad meal at is the Greek Deli. Sure, there is a long line out the door every day at lunchtime and the owner/head chef may yell at you for ordering wrong (à la the soup nazi from Seinfeld). But if you don’t mind getting berated for a tasty lamb gyro, it’s worth it.

CT: Did you have an interest in trees or the environment before joining us?

Growing up, my two older sisters and I all claimed one of the trees in the yard as our own. My oldest sister got the dogwood, the other took a maple, and I got the crab apple. They used to laugh at me and my much-maligned crab apple, but I liked it because it was the only tree with fruit. More recently, I am really into reusing. I try to buy most things used or reclaimed, including most of my furniture, plant and vegetable planters, and classic board games for my nieces and nephews.

CT: Give us one item off your Bucket List. Anything.

My advice to you? Never have a bucket list.

CT: An airline has a computing error and you find yourself with unlimited frequent flier miles. Where do you go?

There are so many places I want to travel! My first destination would be to hike along the trails leading up to the ruins of Machu Picchu. Indonesia and Alaska are other destinations high on my list.

Treelines: Week of August 18, 2014

Because urban forestry issues span a wide range of topics and are constantly a source of local, national, and international news, we think it’s important to provide you with the most up-to-date information on everything tree-related: from local and national headlines to the latest in research and technologies, to simply feel-good stories.

Look for our reoccurring Treelines every week right here on Tree Speak + updates on our social channels, Facebook and Twitter.

This week in the Treelines…

  • Call the paparazzi, it’s Wikipedia’s list of famous trees
    by Mike Vago, the A.V. Club

    “Trees across the world have risen to fame for one reason or another—some because of their size or age, some because they mark the site of some historic event—and naturally, Wikipedia is there to list them.”

  • Back-to-back world titles for Kiwi tree climber
    via ONE News

    “‘A Kiwi arborist has retained his world championship at the International Tree Climbing Competition in Milwaukee, United States. Scott Forrest, who is also the current Asia Pacific Champion, was joined by compatriots James Kilpatrick who came fourth, and Nicky Ward-Allen (current New Zealand women’s champion) who took out third place in the women’s competition.”

  • New analysis links tree height to climate
    by David Tenenbaum, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

    “Both factors — resource allocation and hydraulic limitation — might play a role, and a scientific debate has arisen as to which factor (or what combination) actually sets maximum tree height, and how their relative importance varies in different parts of the world.”

  • Study reveals effect of habitat fragmentation on forest carbon cycle
    by Phys.Org, via University of Exeter

    “Drier conditions at the edges of forest patches slow down the decay of dead wood and significantly alter the cycling of carbon and nutrients in woodland ecosystems, according to a new study.”

  • Aspen trees disappearing in eastern Idaho, elsewhere
    by the Associated Press, via Oregon Press

    “Aspen — the most widespread tree in North America — are disappearing across the western United States. Eastern Idaho’s aspen community, once estimated to cover 40 percent of eastern Idaho’s forested areas, has declined by an estimated 60 percent in the past 100 years, while Arizona has seen a 90 percent decline during that time.”

Don’t forget to check back next week for more Treelines! Any thoughts on these articles? Post your comments or questions below or via our social media channels - Facebook.. Twitter.. thanks!