Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Ash--A Favorite Tree!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A strange day today with weather that changes with the wind that blows from 2 to 8 mph and then stops and starts. 32.1° now with occasional snow flakes floating around despite an earlier weather report that said we would see highs in the low forties by noon. Which noon? Not this noon for sure!

Another interesting article came through from the entomology group I subscribe to. This one is about the emerald ash borer. Ash has been one of my favorite trees since I developed a strong relationship with them as a young kid swinging a way-too-big splitting maul. We lived in a large farmhouse  with multiple wood stoves and on the good winter nights you didn't see your breath downstairs but when going upstairs to sleep, you could be assured that it would be cold. Firewood was part of my job. I loved ash because it burned hot, burned green, and split like butter. It was also lighter to handle than maple or beech, our other two predominant fire woods. Ash was also the wood from which my favorite Louisville Slugger baseball bat was made of.

Some years back it was reported that the emerald ash borer had invaded America and was heading north from Central Park NYC. The thought bothered me because the initial prognosis for trees infected with the borer was bleak. A couple years later purple box-like sticky traps could be found hanging from trees in Groton Forest and my fear of disaster grew. One day I found an emerald ash borer while on my hands and knees weeding one of my gardens. Somehow it dropped out of the ash tree and hit me enough to be noticed. I picked it up, identified it as an EAB and reported it to the state folks. They indicated they didn't need to inspect as the borers had not been verified yet. The inspectors had apparently never caught one on any sticky traps (above) and that was good enough for them.

Since that time emerald ash borers have been identified on the Vermont/Massachusetts line and in several southern counties of New Hampshire. That probably means they are moving north so if we really didn't have them, we really will. Here's the article which you might be interested in:

And in case you're wondering about the picture up top of this page, that's an ash tree with a wonderful example of the Lunge Lichen, Lobaria pulmonaria. That lichen can be found on white or black ash trees.  I took the picture at Marshfield's town forest on a January day that was warmer than today if you can believe it. Go see it!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the mourning doves are in the pine trees but the blue jays continue to work the grass under each feeder looking for leftovers from earlier month.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener

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