Climate Change, Weather Extremes, and Oak Decline

By Leslie A. Cameron, Extension Master Gardener

Oak decline in the North Ridge neighborhood, Alexandria, VA, 2019.

In 2014, Jane Seward and Lynn Gas began noticing a lot of trees dying in their North Ridge neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia. By 2019, it seemed the losses had accelerated dramatically. On a walk through about 20 blocks of their neighborhood, they counted approximately 90 dead and 90 seriously declining trees, mostly Quercus alba (white oak) and Quercus montana (chestnut oak), and they noticed that many of the chestnut oaks along a ridge line were dying. Some of the trees had infestations of ambrosia beetles as well.

In September 2019, the University of Maryland Extension’s Total Pest Management/Integrated Pest Management (TPM/IPM) Weekly Report for commercial horticulturalists included information about large numbers of white oaks dying in Takoma Park, a heavily tree-lined community in Maryland. Extension Specialist Stanton Gill asked readers if they were seeing similar problems. Over the next two weeks, Gill was inundated with reports of trees in the white oak group declining and dying all over the area. Continue reading

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Invasive Plants in Northern Virginia

By Elaine Mills, Extension Master Gardener

With increased interest in native plants of the Mid-Atlantic has come a growing awareness of the invasive plants that can threaten natives’ survival in natural areas within our region. The alien species, some of which were introduced to the United States as much as 200 years ago, cause environmental harm through their prolific spread by suppressing native vegetation, reducing biodiversity, and destroying habitat for wildlife. Continue reading

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Identifying Trees by Their Bark

By Elaine Mills, Extension Master Gardener
Photos by Elaine Mills and Virginia Tech

 The shapes and sizes of leaves, or colors and arrangements of flowers, are plant features people often use to identify trees and shrubs, but woody plants can also be identified upon close examination of their bark. Variations in color and texture of bark, as well as other characteristics, provide helpful clues to a plant’s identity. Winter can be the perfect time to begin a study of bark, when it stands out against fallen leaves or snow. Read on to learn more about bark and then test your own tree identification skills with the Bark Quiz, which will appear each Sunday in 2020 on our Facebook page: Virginia Cooperative Extension – Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Continue reading

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TREE: Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Redcedar)

MGNV - Native Plants Logo2020 Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Welcome to the 2020 Tried & True Native Plant Selections weekly series. Every Friday we will post an introduction to one of our original factsheets on native plants. We continue to update the factsheets and introduce new one; in 2019, we introduced 10 new factsheets. Keep an eye out for the 17 new factsheets in 2020! 

Eastern Redcedar’s dense foliage provides excellent roosting and nesting cover for birds. Besides being a favorite wildlife food, the fruit gives gin its characteristic flavor. This long-lived juniper, which is native to eastern North America, was prized by Virginia colonists for its wood. Today, its wood is favored as a closet/chest lining and oils are distilled for use in fragrances.
Read more . . .

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