Seeds of Hope: American Chestnut Replanting

by Catherine Howell

As the late afternoon light began to fade and frigid air penetrated gloved hands, the last of the Arlington replanted American Chestnut trees (Castanea dentata) was patted into place on a slope in Glencarlyn Park on a gray day in mid-December, 2013. There, with some serious luck, it could grow into a sturdy tree with viable fruit and possibly help reverse the bad fortune of the iconic American Chestnut––once one of the most common tree species in the northeastern United States, but now largely decimated due to a virulent fungus.

Vincent and Jerry backfill the last hole of the day on a slope in Glencarlyn Park while County Natural Resources Manager Alonso Abugattas tamps down the soil.

Arlington County Forester Vincent Verweij and ARMN volunteer Jerry Cowden backfill the last hole of the day on a slope in Glencarlyn Park, while County Natural Resources Manager Alonso Abugattas tamps down the soil.

Chestnut Blight Fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica) was introduced into North America through Japanese or Chinese Chestnuts; those species co-evolved with the fungus and are not affected by it. American Chestnuts, however, soon succumbed to the novel pathogen. More than three billion native chestnuts perished, removing a species that was a valuable source of timber and a prolific native producer of fall mast for wildlife.

American Chestnuts survive locally in a very limited fashion. Most grow as shoots from stumps of decimated trees and rarely reach 20 feet in height. December’s replanting project involved the distribution of a hundred saplings grown at the Earth Sangha nursery from viable seeds collected mainly in the northern Blue Ridge. Unlike the hybrid trees that are bred from American and Chinese Chestnuts (with an effort to back breed the American species’ characteristics while maintaining blight resistance), these saplings represent true American Chestnuts. Continue reading

ARMN Volunteers Assist in Fort Myer Tree Planting

By Monique Wong

When a service project needs volunteers in our neighborhoods, ARMN members are always ready to respond at a moment’s notice. On Friday, November 16, a bunch of ARMN volunteers joined members of Casey Trees and Tree Stewards in a community tree-planting event at Fort Myer in Arlington. More than sixty volunteers, divided into groups of 6-8 persons, each led by a group leader, planted twenty-one trees in a matter of three hours.

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Among the trees planted were the Japanese Yoshino cherry trees donated by the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

The twenty-one new trees replaced the missing and dying trees near the Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer. The Old Post Chapel serves as the memorial entrance to Arlington National Cemetery and is the setting for important national ceremonies, making this building the most significant chapel within the Department of Defense. The new trees will augment the landscape and the serenity of this venue.

The Community Tree Planting at Fort Myer is made possible by the Army Officers’ Wives’ Club of the Greater Washington Area (AUWCGWA), a non-profit organization seeking to enhance the quality of life of its members and the Military District of Washington community at large.

Calling All Tree-Loving Master Naturalists

By Nora Palmatier

Tree Canopy Fund

YOU have a great opportunity to get native canopy trees planted in your Arlington neighborhood – last year the Tree Canopy Fund got 515 trees planted, including 61 Nyssa sylvatica, 110 Quercus species, and 45 Betula nigras!  All of the information you need to start planning is on the ACE website at the link below.  It is a group application – you’ll have to recruit in your neighborhood, church or temple, or just your block.

Last year, everywhere I saw a space that cried out for a tree, I left a flyer promoting the program and my email and phone number.  This year, I am targeting all the garden apartments around Westover with the goal of getting 20 more trees planted.  Continue reading

Save My Neighbor’s Virginia Pine

By Leigh Pickering

I’d like to share a story to remind Master Naturalists how important it is to advocate for trees in our neighborhoods.

Recently, a builder began to construct a new home on a lot across the street from the Walter Reed Firehouse.  On the corner is a huge (for the species) mature Virginia Pine.

This Virginia Pine shall live!
Photo by L. Pickering.

I watched this project and one day I saw pink tape around the tree.  Fearing the worst, I took my tree ID book and a clipboard (for show) over to the site and asked to speak the the boss on the site.  I was pointed to the builder who happened to be building the house for himself.

I introduced myself as one of his future neighbors and said I noticed that he had taped the tree.  He said that he was thinking about cutting it, because he felt it was “scraggly” and uneven and had decided to take it down.  I told him that it was a Virginia Pine and that it was actually huge and well-formed for its species.  Continue reading

Tree Lovers’ Dream Project: Arlington County Street Tree Inventory

By Kathy Philpott Costa

On March 13, a group of volunteers made up of Arlington Master Naturalists, Tree Stewards and Americorps members met with Arlington County Forester Vincent Verweij for basic training on how to conduct a street tree inventory. These volunteers will soon contribute to an ambitious project to update information on more than 21,000 street trees in Arlington County–including more than 1,000 empty planting spots–in its database.

The County’s street trees are those that have been designated as County-owned and are in a County right-of-way, or along the edge of streets and sidewalks.  Trees on private, federal or state property are not Arlington “street trees.”  Volunteers were interested to learn that Arlington County’s ownership of its street trees stands in contrast to much of Virginia, where the Virginia Department of Transportation owns and maintains most spaces adjacent to streets.  Needless to say, local ownership leaves the County with an overwhelming responsibility to maintain its trees and plant new ones where old ones are removed. Continue reading

Choking Hazard – English Ivy Threatens Virginia’s Trees

By Caroline Haynes

ARMN volunteer removes English ivy off a suffocating tree. Photo by R. Olsen.

To the passing eye, English ivy seems like a lovely little green plant. But, it is actually a serious threat to the beautiful trees that give yards and neighborhoods shade and character.

Ivy strangles trees. It can accelerate tree rot by holding moisture close to the tree bark, while also stealing the trees’ nutrients and water. This aggressive little green plant can actually cause mature trees to fall down during storms by adding massive weight to overburdened branches.

“Our trees add financial value to our properties and quality to our lives. Continue reading