Metatalktail Hour: TREES! October 6, 2018 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Good Saturday Evening, MetaFilter! It's the first weekend of the month, which means Metaeurotalktails! Eurotalktails! Eurometatalktails? Metatalkeurotails? Whatever, we talk at the European time! This week, smoke wants to know about your favorite trees: "Tell me about your favourite tree. It could be a specific tree, or a particular variety. What about it do you love and treasure?" I will also accept particularly awesome plants.

As always, these are conversation starters, not conversation limiters, and we want to hear about everything that's going on with you (other than politics). And any suggestions for future weeks, send them to me or the contact form!
posted by Eyebrows McGee to MetaFilter-Related at 7:03 AM (155 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Coriander.

End of. Next topic.
posted by pompomtom at 7:07 AM on October 6 [5 favorites]


I am fortunate to have a bunch of trees on our in-city property, including blue spruce, douglass fir, maples, birch, and some others I don't know.

One of my favorite trees is at a mosque near us, it's a laceleaf that has these red-orange leaves, and in the fall when they turn they get super bright. In the right light, it looks like it's on fire.

There's also a giant evergreen at Seattle University that has huge branches low to the ground, and you can stand near the trunk and you're surrounded by branches and needles, it's like you're inside the tree. I'm not explaining it well, but it's very cool.
posted by Gorgik at 7:16 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


I particularly like horse chestnut trees, because they give us conkers! When I was back home last month I passed by one of these on a street near where I lived growing up and picked up a whole armful. I'd picked up conkers under the very same tree on the way home from school many moons ago, and it was super fun to do it again! Alas, the parents of certain young relatives are not the kind to think playing conkers a suitable source of kid's fun (something to do with health and safety) so I didn't get to the sport part, but the collecting was still enjoyable.

In other news, the punchy article I wrote with my friend and colleague is all proofed up and ready to appear in about a month. We manage to retain some of our favourite choice words about said topic, despite protestations from what we shall call "the chino mafia". So woopy woo!
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 7:40 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


NO. 1

THE LARCH
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:43 AM on October 6 [31 favorites]


I appreciate the smell of trees - the pines, mostly, around here, since there aren't many cedars. We road-tripped down the California coast and I can still smell Big Sur if I concentrate. Cobaltspouse knows enough that I will choose a terrible trail with quality pine trees over anything else when hiking. I have been known to nap in random pine trees despite the sap.

But I also love bizarro trees. The ginkgo shouldn't persist from literal aeons ago, in almost any environment, but it does. However, this conflicts with my love of good-smelling trees, since ginkgo have their stank-ass season.
posted by cobaltnine at 7:46 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


I really like cannabis plants. I tried growing them a few years back, and was able to get big sticky buds to grow. Cloning is fun and easy! It is interesting to watch them grow!

I bought a jeweler's loupe type thing to analyze the THC crystal formation, and then when the time was right I cut the buds off, let them sit for a while in a dark and lightly aired box.

HOLY SHIT then you can cut it up and smoke it! Cannabis plants are literally made out of marijuana, you can make joints out of them!
posted by Meatbomb at 7:55 AM on October 6 [37 favorites]


We have a lovely Maidenhair tree, also known as a gingko tree, in our backyard and it's my favourite thing. It's about 10 years old now and it's growing strong and well and it makes me smile whenever I see it.
posted by Fizz at 8:03 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


On the one hand, this is the best question ever! I love trees more than I love just about anything else.

On the other hand, I don't have time to even begin to talk about my favorite trees. But my very very favorite individual is probably the Japanese maple that my parents planted by their front walk when I was 4 years old. the branches make the most perfect cave. Like a weeping willow, but only 5 feet tall.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 8:15 AM on October 6 [7 favorites]


My favorite thing about living in the Eastern US is the variety of tree species. I really missed them when I lived in Colorado for a few years.

My favorites are tulip poplar (so tall! such pretty leaves!), sassafras (I really like that there are 3 different leaf shapes), American beech (so smooooooth and silvery/coppery), and sugar maple (pretty leaves and syrup, duh).
posted by Knicke at 8:27 AM on October 6 [6 favorites]


The coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). They're gorgeous, way tall, extremely old, and have their own unique canopy ecosystem. Fucking fascinating!
posted by strelitzia at 8:43 AM on October 6 [7 favorites]


I've always liked the ginkgo. It's so elegant, it turns bright yellow in the fall, it has very pretty leaves. It's not a broad-leaved tree, it's not a coniferous tree, it's its own group. Isn't that enough reason to like it? I think it is!
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:56 AM on October 6 [5 favorites]


Eastern redbud Is covered in spring in bright pink flowers that taste like pea shoots and look beatiful in a salad. I didn't know about them until we got one in an Arbor Day Society package of mostly undesirable trees (actually sticks). Ours is now about 30 feet tall. They are a better substitute for the ailing dogwoods than the kousa dogwood which is often suggested.
posted by Botanizer at 9:00 AM on October 6 [8 favorites]


Willows. The only tree I'm good at planting: you can put a willow stick in damp dirt and it will become a willow tree that will then withstand all kinds of nasty weather. This propagation ability is because of all the rooting hormones naturally stored in the bark: those same rooting hormones are chemically similar to aspirin and so the bark will make your pain go away when chewed. Thanks for being you, willows.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:12 AM on October 6 [10 favorites]


Birch, because Birch beer is delicious.
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:26 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


My favorite thing about living in the Eastern US is the variety of tree species.

Same here, it's one of the few things I miss about living back east. though there are plenty other good things about living in the Pacific NW to counteract that loss. In fact, I'll be traveling to western NC in about a week to see the leaves change (well, and visit friends and family too).
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:28 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


I don’t know what kind of trees they were, but a few years ago I was at a wedding in the south of the Netherlands, and we had a tour of the grounds of the country house. It was at the edge of a forest, and walking between the trees felt like the sky was made of leaves and branches, and it brought me a feeling of peace. I read about Japanese forest bathing later, and whenever I need to visualise a calming place, it is this.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:31 AM on October 6 [6 favorites]


The smell of the buds and new leaves of cottonwood trees is possibly my favorite of all smells. I like seeing the bits of white cotton floating everywhere in June, too.
posted by Redstart at 10:03 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


Near the end of my street is the Cherry Tree Care Home for the elderly (their tagline: "making people feel special"). There's a sign with the name on it in front of the building which has been placed right next to a tree, but it's an Araucaria tree: every time I walk past it I see "cherry tree" and think "no it isn't."
posted by misteraitch at 10:16 AM on October 6 [6 favorites]


My single favorite tree is on my college campus. It's an enormous cherry tree as tall as the library it's next to, and when it blossoms in the spring, there is nothing like it in the state, I think. It reminded me every year of the mallorn tree.

The scent of a pine forest in the fall reminds me of the nineties in the kindest way; it reminds me of when I was young, because I could go walking in a nearby wood then. Even today, the smell of pine mulch in planters outside my apartment makes me feel a little more like a living person.

Beeches, catalpas, and (of course) magnolias remind me the most of my hometown in Mississippi. I grew up with a massive beech in my backyard, although I am sure it could not have been as big as it seemed. I carved my initials into it with a heart and the initials of another, unsuspecting fifth grader. I got in trouble for that, although the carving scabbed off and fell away. While playing in the yard, I spent a lot of time picking apart acorns that, on the inside, were exactly the color and consistency of cheddar cheese. These must have come from a black oak, although I did not know that then. It was so tempting to eat them, but I was under strict orders never to eat anything from Nature.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:29 AM on October 6 [5 favorites]


I garden for a living.
Choosing a favorite tree is impossible.
On a rainy day in fall, I like Nyssa sylvatica. On a sunny day in fall an Oxydendron. Sassafras and sugar maple are nice too. Copper beeches are pretty dandy. Parrotia is great. I miss big elms. I have a sentimental fondness for lindens. Big oaks are cool and burr oaks have the greatest acorn caps.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:31 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


My father asked what I wanted for my birthday in 2015, and I asked for a witch hazel seedling/sapling because I'd been researching and thinking of getting one. He ordered one for me online and it arrived right on time, still just a little stick with roots, and I remember texting him pictures of it sitting in the sink a while and then after I had it planted in the front yard. He died suddenly two weeks later, and even though he never even saw it in person I am very attached to that tree.

Also a couple of years ago I got a catalpa sapling and planted it in my backyard even though I really don't have space for it and it's right next to a silver maple. My neighbors will probably hate me when it gets big but catalpa tress are cool. (A friend who used to live in a place in the country with a catalpa tree said she'd come home and find strangers standing around in her yard with buckets trying to get the caterpillars for fishing, but my tree is not yet big enough for caterpillars).
posted by dilettante at 10:33 AM on October 6 [6 favorites]


Oh wow. This question is my favorite.

I love ginkgos for their fanlike foliage, their yellow fall color, and their living fossil status. Mr. Llama is supposed to be buying me one for my birthday, but we haven't been able to find a female cultivar.

I love river birches and their peeling bark and the soft elegant light that filters through their leaves.

I love my Autumn Moon Japanese maple because our yard is quite woodsy and when the sun hits it there is this beautiful blast of yellow. Mr. Llama bought me that one too.

And then there are the red maples in our yard, that turn color first and most brilliantly.

I really love trees. We are surrounded by them where we live. I'm saddened by the hemlocks, which are eaten a little more by wooly adelgid every year. They are great shade conifers, and it's a great loss to lose them.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:37 AM on October 6 [5 favorites]


Also a couple of years ago I got a catalpa sapling

Catalpas are really cool. Also Sycamores.

Our house is sort of at the top of a hill, when you go up the driveway. It has a stone wall in front of it and though I love it, it seems daunting. I want to plant more trees in the front yard, so it is more a part of the rest of the woods.

This is a hard sell for Mr. Llama, and lovers of real estate sales, because Americans sure do love a pointless swath of grass.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:39 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


Birch, because never know when you need a canoe.
posted by clavdivs at 11:02 AM on October 6 [4 favorites]


I'm really fond of the Douglas Fir and young Madrona I lived under/on when I was camping/working at a state park a couple of years ago. They have since closed those campsites for regrowth and recovery, but I still visit the spot often. They held up my hammock for many, many days and months and I'm thankful for the peace and calm I found there.

So, this question is really hitting home and relevant for me. I live in the PNW and, yeah, I'm surrounded by more trees than some people have any idea even exist.

If folks remember my updates from the last month or two, I lost my job due to the non-profit closing and ceasing operations. Then the day after the "last day" party we had, I came home to find a realtor's "For Sale" sign on the rental house I've been living in with my friends for almost 2 years, and it was enough to make me crack up a little and get pretty depressed about the chain of events going on in my life.

Well, things... apparently just got a lot better. My housemate/friend lit a fire under his dad's ass to use his VA loan to buy land, roughly 10-ish acres. I'm currently in a work shed on that property surrounded by about (no kidding) hundreds and thousands of trees. There's more trees here than I could count in a week of surveying. I was trying to wrap my head around it, thinking there had to be at least two thousand trees on the property, but if I start counting saplings and normal suburban sized trees and not just the big mature ones, it has to be closer to ten thousand trees.

About 200 feet from where I'm sitting is an absolutely gorgeous cedar grove. My friend was saying he already knew where I was probably going to want to hang my hammock, and I told him to let me find it because I like that.

Well, my first visit out here last week I found it right away. When I first walked into the cedar grove I immediately started making weird animal noises, somewhere between a nervous laugh of disbelief and a choked sob of joy followed by me (actually shouting) OH MY GOD ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WHHHAAAAT!?

The cedar grove itself is about an acre. There have to be 200-300 mature cedars in it. The understory is pretty much all huge sword ferns and moss and cedar dross, so it's dry up in there. I was just up in there in heavy rain and it barely drips to the ground. I have plans to build some low impact infrastructure up in there, like some benches and maybe a meditation/yoga platform and other human creature comforts, but all organic and rustic.

My first comment to my friend when he found me up there was "You know I'm going to go full on forest witch out here, right?" and he's just like "I'm counting on it."

I'm also doing outreach to permaculture friends in town to help us come out and do the surveying and assaying. We know a lot of folks that do things like forestry classes as well as wildcrafting and foraging. I've already been going for walks to pick fresh berries for breakfast, mainly himalayan blackberries and late season salal berries. There's enough berry brambles on the land I could start canning preserves or making pies. I could make a pie every day for a month just from the berries around the immediate house! And I've only seen about 1/10th the actual property so far!

My first major project after we finish moving is to do some surveying. I have ridiculous thoughts about naming and hugging every single tree on the property.

So right now those cedars are my favorite trees. And at the very last possible moment this project my friend took on to buy this land finally crystallized and came through, and it didn't just save my butt and keep it housed, it's snapped me right out of my funk and given me a whole lot of hope for my immediate future.
posted by loquacious at 11:19 AM on October 6 [41 favorites]


My house has two red mulberry trees--the US native mulberry, as I found out when it occurred to me to check the species identification. They came with the house, and like everything to do with this house, they have been more or less allowed to run wild. (The one in the side yard has cheerfully grown into the rickety fence; the one in the front casually reaches out to spread into the walk up to the yard. Both of them reach out to stretch long, spindly branches across both our roof and the neighbor's roof.) There's an ant colony living in one--I need to deal with that, they dislike me climbing on the trees and I think they may be fire ants--and the branches shade the walkway from the blistering sun, and birds nest in both of them. I'd prune them--they do need a serious pruning and every spring I swear I'll get to it--but. But.

Every spring, they fill with mulberries, more than we could possibly eat, and the white-winged doves and pigeons and even the occasional crow eat until they burst. So do we: I walk out with a steel bowl and pluck the ripest ones, those late spring and early summer evenings, and pop them into my mouth as my bowl fills and I climb the branches I can reach effectively. Sometimes I make jam. We have a mulberry-flavored liqueur in the pantry that we ought to strain and try, and my coworker says that if I bring her some, she'll make mead next year.

I've never lived anywhere with a fruit tree that wasn't strictly ornamental before, and I find myself constantly startled by how much I enjoy having them here.
posted by sciatrix at 12:01 PM on October 6 [11 favorites]


and oh, before I forget, on a different note--I also love very much a tree from the campus of my old undergrad university, the child of an ancient oak that is itself over fifty years old now. It owns itself.

No, I mean it literally owns itself; its parent was deeded the land it lives on way back in 1890, and when the parent tree died, the child tree was planted from one of its acorns in the same spot. It's a pleasant bit of continuity, and I've always been rather fond of it.
posted by sciatrix at 12:07 PM on October 6 [7 favorites]


At one house we lived in when I was a kid, we had a weeping birch whose branches trailed all the way to the ground. It made an awesome playhouse inside. And there were a couple of apple trees back in the orchard with hollows that made great dollhouses.

When I lived in the woods, I often thought of this Robert Frost poem:
She had no saying dark enough
For the dark pine that kept
Forever trying the window latch
Of the room where they slept.

The tireless but ineffectual hands
That with every futile pass
Made the great tree seem as a little bird
Before the mystery of glass!

It never had been inside the room,
And only one of the two
Was afraid in an oft-repeated dream
Of what the tree might do.
A few years ago I had the full battery of allergy tests. When I went in to go over the results, one of the things the doctor listed was "trees."

"Trees?" I asked. "Like, all trees?"

"Oh, no, no," she replied. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then, she added, "Just the ones that grow in this state."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:15 PM on October 6 [13 favorites]


There's a beautiful ginkgo in the yard behind the apartment building where I've lived for 20 years. A big chunk of it got knocked down by the 2007 Brooklyn tornadoes, but it only smashed a few fences and picnic tables and didn't hurt anyone. Another huge piece fell down in a hurricane a few years later, again just flattening a fence or two. It still towers over my 3rd floor balcony, and this year is the first in my 20 years here that it grew close enough for me to shake hands with it. [instagram link has tiny arrows over the picture for scrolling through multiple pics]

My book came out! NYC/Providence/Boston mini book tour in a few weeks! Don't wanna shill it here tooooo directly, but I'll post about it on Projects.
posted by moonmilk at 12:31 PM on October 6 [7 favorites]


Hey, Greg_Ace, I live in Asheville. If you're coming this way, maybe we could meet up. Speaking of trees, one day i counted how many different trees we had in our backyard and it was in the 20s! I believe I read somewhere that western NC had the widest variety of trees than anywhere.

My favorite tree is the magnolia because it has huge branches that sweep low to the ground and make good hang-out spots, and the branches are nicely spaced for climbing.magnolia tree. Another tree is the water oak which has great atmosphere: water oak
posted by MovableBookLady at 12:33 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid, I would go stay with my grandparents in Coronado every summer. They had a little ranch house in an alley (well it was called a lane, but really it was a glorified alley.) Everything about their house was slightly exotic to me, coming from upstate NY as I did. They had an avocado tree in their backyard. They had this cool brick fence in the front of the house with one or two bricks missing where I could put my feet. They had a fridge in the garage that was only used for soda. It was always warm and sunny. And they had a sycamore tree in their front yard that I would climb and sit in the first big branch and read. His name was Syccy. I loved that tree.
posted by lyssabee at 12:41 PM on October 6 [7 favorites]


Syccy!
posted by moonmilk at 12:45 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


I wrote an entire blog post about a favorite tree from my childhood.

Currently sitting at a bar at Chicago Midway waiting to head home from a business trip. Got to attend a Chicago Mefi meetup while here so that was awesome.
posted by COD at 12:54 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


They're not necessarily my favourite, but lately I've come to really appreciate honey locusts. They're planted everywhere in Toronto because they're hardy enough to survive harsh urban conditions that many other species just can't handle, so sometimes they're the only greenery around for blocks and blocks. In non-terrible conditions, they can grow impressively tall and develop a beautiful, feathery canopy. Right around now their leaves are turning a bright, warm yellow, which looks lovely against the grey concrete that so often surrounds them.
posted by as_night_falls at 12:55 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


I love sycamores.

Just outside Simsbury, CT there is the Pinchot Sycamore. It looms alongside the road near a river with a view of the Heublein tower on nearby Talcott Mountain.

I drove about four hours to Simsbury once to see my mother, who was struggling in rehab after a stroke. It was a tough visit. Afterward I had to find my way to her apartment, miles away over unfamiliar terrain in darkness, relying totally on an old GPS with a shot battery. I was tired and worried and nervously watching the screen when a fuse blew in my car and the GPS went dark.

I pulled over in the Pinchot Sycamore parking lot and somehow managed to fix the fuse. Then I went to the big tree, and in spite of its size I hugged it and cried. It’s huge, and that night it seemed to hold the entire skyful of stars in its massive branches as the stream whispered nearby. It was incredibly comforting. I drove on calm and reassured.

That tree was my friend when I needed one. I smile at sycamores now and whenever possible give them hugs.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:56 PM on October 6 [12 favorites]


If you like this question you should definitely read Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. She's a biologist who writes about life in academia, and her childhood in Minnesota, and the cast of wacky characters in her lab. Our neighborhood book club read it and one of the best discussions we had was about a part of the book where she said - I'm paraphrasing - everybody has a tree in their memories that is THE tree for them, the childhood tree you climbed, the tree you saw out your bedroom window, etc. Everybody immediately knew what tree was The Tree in their life and hearing about everybody's was great.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:08 PM on October 6 [10 favorites]


Like strelitzia, I love coast redwoods. They're SO tall, and beautiful, and often clothed in cool and magical fog, and walking through a grove of them is one of my very favorite things.

loquacious, I am SO delighted to read about your cedar grove! That sounds AMAZING. Will there be photos? Please post photos!

Thanks for the question, smoke - this is a wonderful thread!
posted by kristi at 1:15 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


When I was in high school, we had a class called Maine Outdoors. Heck yeah! This was as far from algebra as I could get.

Our teacher led us through the woods, identifying bracken fern, cedar moss, white pine, and then he got to Yellow Birch, and stripped a young branch, and had us all taste the inside.

Wintergreen.

It's the only gold tree in the Northeast, that I know of. And this class stuck with me for years, just a bunch of us, tromping through the woods, looking at plants and learning about them. I later led my nieces and nephews on a similar jaunt, and showed them the same things.

Every time I walk in the woods, I look for gold bark.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:57 PM on October 6 [5 favorites]


THE LARCH

The coastal redwood

The mighty Scots pine!
posted by zamboni at 2:02 PM on October 6 [4 favorites]


The Nooksack Giant, a 465 foot Douglas Fir logged in 1907.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:18 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


As far back as I can remember, I have always loved willow trees. I love standing within their canopy. However, this time of year, I'll take whatever is pretty.
posted by 4ster at 3:10 PM on October 6 [4 favorites]


I don't know why fruitless mulberry trees exist. Mulberries are THE BEST!

Trees in our yard include: three walnuts which are owned by the squirrels, a madrone which has fungus all down into its trunk but is still chugging along, a teeny incense cedar start to replace it (and more) someday, an apricot, a birch, a very young madrone, a very young (and fast-growing!) volunteer red oak.
posted by aniola at 3:18 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


I attended Georgian Court University in NJ before its university status - GCC days. And the story was that George Gould sold his property to the church to turn into a college with a few stipulations, and one was they wouldn't cut down the tree that eventually became the soccer and softball field.

The field used to be his small private golf course, and one summer his wife in her heavy Victorian clothing and boned corset dropped from heat stroke in the middle of a game, and they managed to drag her under the tree where she died.

There were a lot of stories about that tree, and unexplained sightings during parties on the Casino back patio, dancing lights that turned out to be flying balls of fireflies in huge numbers, etc. For a time the popular thing was to dare someone to go touch it at midnight.

Last time I was on campus, there was a fancy metal fence around it for protection.

And that's the story of Edith's tree.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 3:43 PM on October 6 [4 favorites]


Where I grew up, we had five or six huge, individual old growth sugar maples on the extended property with trunk circumferences of 6-8 feet and more. They were pretty likely first growth trees rather than second growth after the clear cutting of New England, and they made excellent landmarks. My favorite one, though, we called the crazy maple. It was somewhat younger, had been split by lightening but lived on, and one branch had developed an "elbow" that came down close to the ground, making it a perfect climbing step.

Old maples aren't easy to climb after the first branch. For a time, a friend and I had a pretty terrifying rope ladder rigged up, but even before and after that, it's a bit of a wonder that I didn't die from a fall from our favorite tree.
posted by vers at 3:52 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


Richard Roundtree
posted by KazamaSmokers at 4:01 PM on October 6


The coastal redwood

The redwoods in the John Muir Woods north of San Francisco convinced me to move to the west coast, and last year I went camping in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods St. Park just south of the Oregon/California border (and apparently right near where they filmed some of the Endor scenes in Return of the Jedi). Being able to camp and hang out under those amazing trees was wonderful.

Kings Canyon and Yosemite parks are at the top of my "destinations" list - especially if I can get some MeFites to join me on a camping trip!
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:12 PM on October 6 [4 favorites]


I like gingko trees. So pretty, yet so smelly! We had a smelly gingko tree in my front yard when I was a kid, and I associate that terrible smell with childhood.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:25 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


My mistake, 1897 not 1907.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:27 PM on October 6


SMELL THOSE DOUGLAS FIRS!

Also Jeffrey pines. And incense cedars.

And I'm strangely fond of the two black locust trees in my front yard, even though they're not really suited for this area (despite having really hard wood, the branches tend to tear off in the crazy wind storms we get up here).

Also I miss the 50+ year old fruitless mulberry in the backyard of my old house. I mean I HATED that tree... the shade was so dense that grass wouldn't grow below it, the roots fucked with the plumbing, it grew like a weed and had to be pruned back massively every year - which required me to get up on the roof (TERRIFYING), and it had those horrible catkins that spit out tons of pollen and then fell onto my deck and stuck to it as they dried...

But I remember when that tree was less than a foot in diameter, and it was nearly 2 and a half feet when I sold the house. It shaded my deck and house in the worst days that Sacramento summers had to offer, and provided sturdy branches to hang swings and awnings from.

I hope the new owners treasure that tree for what it gives, rather than for its annoyances.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:29 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


I can't pick favorites as I love all trees.
But I'll try.
My lemon tree is probably my favorite tree that I see every day. It's beautiful and fragrant and ancient and still gives us lemons from around Sept-March. We're beginning to get them now and dad likes to eat them whole, rind and all. When we get some more, and they get bigger I'll probably make some candied lemon peel.
My favorite trees that I do not see every day are Redwoods natch. I also am a big fan of the ghosts of redwoods aka fairy rings. If you ever see mushrooms in a circle in the woods, its where a big tree died and decomposed. I call them redwood ghosts.
---
I am greatly enjoying my carrot bounty both big and small. The big one was eaten two days ago and it was freaking delicious. I'm going to have to cut my losses on the fava beans, but considering their purpose was to fix nitrogen to the soil for next year, that's a mission acomplished anyways. The tomato refuses to die and has gone from a scraggily plant to a giant green behemoth. Will I get anymore tomatoes? who knows! The peppers are starting to grow big enough to pick, and those are only the hot varieties, the little red bells are getting huge but they're still green so I have to wait. Swiss chard is sprouting as well as baby carrots for a few months from now, and the spinach is growing well. Just today I did a big cleanup of the herb beds and now that the summer is over, hopefully my herbs will not grow back their flowers and put their energies into leaves.

Dad is doing better, but doggie is not. Some hard questions will have to be asked soon. I am trying not to think about it.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:29 PM on October 6 [6 favorites]


Snowgums. No question. I would say seeing the snowgums is the main reason I go skiing. Here is me with a nice one I met a month or so ago. (I made a 20 minute detour, on skis, to get to it for this picture. There were many lesser specimens nearer by, but this was a very friendly looking one.)
posted by lollusc at 4:42 PM on October 6 [5 favorites]


For anyone wanting non-stinky but beautiful ginkgos (another of my favorite trees -- prehistoric! from 270 millions years ago! lost for centuries!), they are dioecious like cycads and the male trees won't produce the smelly fruits and will be odor-free. IIRC, the telltale sign for bilobas is that the fan-shaped leaves will be split at the middle in female trees, but not in males. Also, a tree nursery should be able to help with the sex of the tree in this case.
posted by vers at 4:44 PM on October 6 [4 favorites]


Second tier favourites include Japanese maples, weeping willows and silver birch.
posted by lollusc at 4:48 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone for sharing your wonderful tree feelings, this is great!

I've been a bit glum this week as my poor sick little cat finally died at age 2 from a congenital heart defect - and I've also been nursing a cold I got camping last weekend, and work is a bit blah at the moment, and, and, and... so it's great to read all this happiness.

I suppose I have favourite trees as a species, and then particular trees from places that I love.

In terms of species, I love maple trees (the only deciduous trees were I grew up, in subtropical QLD); bamboos in general and especially black bamboos (anything that makes groves is pretty awesome in my book), ferns. I like trees that make and live in the shade, the darker areas.

My favourite particular tree of all time would have to be a particular lilly pilly (syzygium smithii) that grew outside the library of my primary school. Most people know lily pillies as hedging plants however their original form is large trees with a spreading habit and small dark green foliage. They have a deliciously smooth, chocolate brown bark and horizontally spreading branches that make them a delight to climb. The dense foliage means you can "disappear" inside the tree, and the branches are so close as to form almost a ladder.

My friends and I spent many, many hours perched up in that tree like a breed of particularly sticky, squawky birds. Racing up and around it playing tiggy (chase), brandy (chase with a tennis ball) etc, listening carefully for warnings that a teacher was coming to chase us out of it, and scattering like starlings when that happened. It was the best climbing tree I've ever known.
posted by smoke at 4:49 PM on October 6 [6 favorites]


I love this question! My favorite tree as a child was a Mimosa that had branches low enough so that I could climb into it and I loved the pink silky blossoms and would twirl them on my face like makeup brushes. For the last couple of years I have lived one block over from where I work and the street that I cross every day is lined with ginkgo trees that turn yellow and drop a wonderful carpet of yellow leaves all along the sidewalk.

And I have what I think is a particularly awesome plant story, a simple pink gerbera daisy plant that has lived for over 13 years, the first 11 years in a terracotta pot, and now it lives in the flowerbed in the parking lot of the lofts where I live. It has nothing to do with my plant skills, because I don't have any plant skills, I just happened to acquire a special plant it would seem that doesn't want to die.
posted by blacktshirtandjeans at 4:52 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


Oh also mandarins - we had a host of fruit trees in my childhood homes and the prodigious mandarin were always my favourite. The pleasure of plucking a fresh mandarin on a chilly afternoon, that sweet-sharp scent the perfect accompaniment to the clucking of the chickens. Mandarins were my childhood equivalent of elf-bread, and they sustained me on many an adventure through the paddocks and rainforest.

Lollusc, silver birch immediately put my back in Canberra at ANU during exam season. The fluff starts piling up like snowdrifts around the Manning Clarke lecture theatre, and you know that the good times are over, at least for a few weeks!
posted by smoke at 4:53 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


I have a fondness for early-succession vegetation -- the weedy plants that pop up when things are disturbed, creating the conditions for the eventual growth of the mature vegetation that we all love to admire. In riparian areas around here that usually means willows, and it never fails to amaze me how bare twigs poked into the most inhospitable-looking conditions turn into lush trees within a few years. I'm really proud of how many willows I've been responsible for getting planted, and sometimes I'll zoom in on google earth to a random project site from a few years ago and just marvel at how much the willows have grown.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:55 PM on October 6 [4 favorites]


The Big Tree. I read that book as a child and I don’t know if there’s a month that’s gone by that I haven’t thought of it. I think it was the first book to give me some sense of deep history. It’s apparently very loosely based on the actual Wawona tree. So, yeah, favorite tree there next to I dunno, Yggdrasil or something?
posted by octobersurprise at 5:01 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


I think Fremont's cottonwood is a particularly handsome tree:

Great shapes
striking fall colors
neat silhouettes
grows in photogenic locations.
posted by peeedro at 5:07 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


There’s nothing like a row of gingko trees gone blazing yellow in the fall...
posted by ersatzkat at 5:07 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


Very sorry for your loss, smoke; your kitty was fortunate to be so well-loved by you and you made a difference. I wish you two could have had more time together. Wishing peace to your heart.
posted by vers at 5:28 PM on October 6 [6 favorites]


Actually, given that my feet are freezing and I just had to light the first fire of the season in my wood stove, I currently give all of my love to the trees providing the heat in my home -- the humble Pinus contorta, the lodgepole pine, and the mighty Pinus lambertiana, the sugar pine (which John Muir - who shares my birthday - considered the king of conifers and said that its sweet resin was preferable to maple sugar).
posted by elsietheeel at 5:40 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


I'll echo Botanizer: I adore Eastern Redbud. There's a nice one on my walk to lab, and when it buds out in spring, it's the strongest sign that winter is done. We've got a 4' x 2' photo I took of it on our living room wall.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 5:59 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


I like trees that provide me with oxygen. And food. Shade is a plus, too.

Those are my favs.
posted by greermahoney at 6:03 PM on October 6


The trees I was hiking in today? No, I'm serious. I have no real idea what kind of trees they are. Pine of some sort. Aspen or birch?

We drove for a couple of hours to do a ~5 mile hike with some friends out by Lake of the Woods. It was gorgeous -- and the terrain reminds me of where I grew up. And it smelled like lake! and freshness!

Loquacious, I'm really glad things are looking up.
posted by platitudipus at 6:11 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


My parents planted a Maple in their yard when I was born. It has grown faster than me.
posted by hwyengr at 6:15 PM on October 6


I'm glad there's so much love for ginkgos in this thread! They're my favorite tree, for so many reasons, chief among them being that they're basically unkillable (my father tried to destroy the ginkgo tree in the back yard multiple times and it always came back, and they've been known to survive and thrive after nuclear holocaust). If I were ever to get a tattoo, it would likely be of ginkgo leaves on the side of at least one calf. On the other calf, perhaps I'd have katsura leaves. There was a row of a few katsura trees along our driveway on a neighbor's property, and when it rained in the fall, the heart-shaped red leaves would give the driveway the scent of brown sugar. The slick look of the blacktop, the scent of katsura, the swish of cars driving by in light rain, and the butterflies mounted in cabochon frames on my neighbor's wall will forever be part of my Halloween memories.

I also have fond memories of climbing one of the pine trees (and nailing up a really crummy platform of masonite in it, and trying to chew pine sap, per instructions in a scout handbook...), as well as climbing the mimosa tree (and using it to hop the fence and escape the yard, which we weren't supposed to do). I will always love the beauty, scent, and ephemerality of mimosa blossoms. See also: violets, which appeared every spring in the back yard, but which lasted virtually no time in a bud vase, and bright-red poppies, which would pop up only under the mimosa tree for a short time each year.

Tulip poplars and the petals from their blossoms are also awesome. I used to make pretend soup with them.
posted by limeonaire at 6:39 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


Are parkourists extremely adaptable to any environment or do they just learn their neighborhood really well?
posted by bendy at 7:42 PM on October 6


See, this is the difference between Metafilter and Reddit in a nutshell. On Metafilter, someone called "smoke" wants to talk about trees, and they actually want to talk about trees.
posted by rikschell at 7:56 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


Also, I have two Ailanthuses in my backyard (we call them "Brooklyn Trees" from the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and from the fact that when we lived in Brooklyn we were always fighting to keep them from sprouting everywhere like weeds), looming over where I park my car. They're trash trees, mostly dead. Guess I need to have Red Loop come out and cut them down. He cut down an old hollow pear tree from the front yard for me that's now been replaced by a little apple tree.

I'm afraid I can't share the ginkgo love. There are a couple on the block my store is on, females that drop stinky fruit every fall, stinkier by far than the Bradford pear across the street when it flowers in spring. I know it sounds like I have a lot of trees to complain about (like the Black Walnut of my neighbor's that poisons my garden and drops bomb-like nuts on the tin roof in the middle of the night), but I really love the towering oaks that dominate the neighborhood. They are SO BIG. No wonder we have so many squirrels around and they eat all my pears and apples before I can get to them.
posted by rikschell at 8:05 PM on October 6


I think that they might be an invasive species in California, but I miss the eucalyptus trees that grow in parts of the San Francisco Bay area. They smell amazing, and I'm not allergic to them. Not itching is nice.
posted by monopas at 8:06 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


I briefly lived a house with a backyard bounded by catalpas, blackberry bushes, and a gorgeous 50-foot black walnut tree right at the end of the driveway where I parked the car I briefly owned. I moved there during a wet summer, and as a wet fall came on and I started hearing the occasional soft whump of the walnuts hitting the muddy ground, I wondered: Huh, could one of those walnuts crack my windshield? Nah, I thought--it'd bounce right off like a tennis ball! I convinced myself that because they were round and about the size of tennis balls--and even that same fluorescent yellowish-green--they'd spring away like tennis balls too. So I am not so good at physics or car-owning or tennis and this assumption was not entirely correct. I came out after a storm one morning and found huge paint-cracking divots and dents on the hood, roof, and trunk of the car, like it had been pummeled with a bat.

I got to be much better friends with that tree after I stopped parking under it in the fall. I miss the tree more than I miss having a car, really--the smell of the walnut husks in that yard was incredible. Tangy, musky, sour, green.
posted by miles per flower at 8:41 PM on October 6 [5 favorites]


My favorite childhood tree was the maple growing in my backyard, which I had in-depth conversations with and named Nimrodel because I was a tiny nerd. I also loved my neighbor's weeping willow - nothing smells as good as the inside of willow bark - and the mimosa trees I would walk past on my way to the convenience store.

Today, I am very fond of the Douglas firs and alder that grow where I live now. I also love the hundred-year-old camperdown elm that grows outside the library where I work. In the summer, it turns into a green tent and I know I would have spent all my time inside had I known it as a child.
posted by darchildre at 8:50 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


At our lake house in Illinois, the neighbors had the most amazing maple tree. In the summer we’d collect great handfuls of its helicopters and toss them joyfully into the air, watching them whirl to the ground.

The trunk was split into four sections, almost from the ground up, as though a single tree had four massive trunks. It was easy to shimmy yourself up in the wedge between the trunks and climb high. I had a favorite thick branch that I’d stretch out along, whose knobs and bumps fit mine exactly, and from which I’d commentate my family’s endless volleyball games. The tree was so big the neighbor had installed a board swing, a single-rope swing, and a pair of gymnastic rings around it. The ultimate tree, the tree of my dreams. No other tree matches it.
posted by Liesl at 9:05 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


At my old house, my favorite trees were the ones outside my bedroom window, filtering morning sun; looking at trees is a good entry to daydreaming. Now I have woods behind me and on one side.

I do miss the tall, graceful elms that lined wide streets in the town where I grew up.
posted by theora55 at 9:18 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


We don’t have much in the way of tree variety here in Alaska- where I am it’s endless birch and spruce, with a little cottonwood and aspen for variety- so my favorite way to appreciate trees is to get above treeline and look down on them (which doesn’t take a whole lot at the right trailhead). Even more than the trees I love all the millions of little tundra plants. What can grow there is so limited in species it doesn’t take much effort over time to learn them and feel like a local expert.

Today for Reasons I went for a longer/harder mountain bike than I might normally on my own, all above treeline. I had the last 5+ miles up to the saddle to myself and it felt nice to look down at everything.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:30 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]


Mock cherry trees will always be the most magical for me. I used to climb the ones in my apartment complex as a kid and shake the branches whenever someone walked underneath so I could shower them with lovely smelling petals. So, so magical.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:10 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


Plane trees, or one particular plane tree I often walk beneath often that I wrote about a while ago on my wife's blog. Go to second image and assoc. text.

Cabbage trees (Cordyline australis) where-ever they are.

I have great memories walking among the "endless birch and spruce" charmedimsure, and marvelling at how the spruce tip over when they reach permafrost.

But I really love tulip trees and have many images and memories of them
posted by unearthed at 11:34 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


The strangest tree I ever saw was a jabuticaba tree. I loved eating the fruit.
posted by SyraCarol at 12:17 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Jabuticabas are super cool! We have seen them occasionally in Hawaii.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:19 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


my favourite tree is a willow which grew from some branches i had bought at a flower shop to make ann easter tree with. In Austria we make Easter trees, called Osterstrauch, which one decorates with eggs and other stuff. when my son was 3 yrs we made the first one together, creating things to hang on it together from salt dough.
as we both were proud of it we left it until the sticks rooted in the water filled vase, and in late May put it into the soil in the mothers garden which my husband has been tending for years now when she becaume wheel chair bound.

I am here visiting with her now this weekend and it is now, some 7 yers later a tree, with 2 intertwined trunks as thick as a thigh and about 5 meters tall. I love that tree.

on Friday night I attended the class of 83 meeting, seeing and meeting my class mates from then again for the first time in 35 years. Most had stayed in teh town we went to school in but I had moved away so lost touch. what was most amazing to me that i recognized them all. even the names popped back into my head.
for me it was a such a great evening, lots of people who were obviously very happy to see me again after 35 years (!) and telling me how they had loved and admired me at school... and I had thought I had gone and passed through that school unnoticed and no one liked me. They told me stories about me which i had clean forgotten but came back with the telling.
i still feel this glow two days later of realising that i had been the class pet ( i was on average 2 years younger then them) rather than the forgotten outsider I had thaught I was. we cried and laughed and only a fine thin tether of reason kept me from inviting one of them back to my hotel room. I was so giddy it is hard to describe, and still feel a rush of emotions.
posted by 15L06 at 12:39 AM on October 7 [9 favorites]


There is a huge maple in my front yard. It is so beautiful when green, and gorgeous when Autumn turns its leaves to gold. The yellow reflection paints the inside of my house. One drawback: it was planted too close to the driveway and its giant roots are breaking up the concrete. I cannot bring my self to have it cut down.

In the backyard, Douglas firs grow like an umbrella over the grill which can thus be used comfortably even when there is rain.
posted by Cranberry at 1:21 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


There was an apple tree in my backyard that I used to climb all the time. I loved spending hours in the tree. My brothers wanted my mom to take it down so they could play football. Thankfully, my mother liked the tree too. My grandmother would, some years, make pies. Don't get me wrong, I would throw/whip the apples at the fence.

Yeah fruit trees. Yeah my apple tree
posted by AugustWest at 1:54 AM on October 7 [4 favorites]


My favorite trees exist only in the memories of my extended family & those close to it. It all started with my grandparents, my dad's mom & dad. He was a Naval officer assigned to sail a desk in Hartford, CT after being stationed in places as varied as Samoa, Chefoo & Annapolis. They bought a rambling Colonial era inn & 50-odd acres of land that came with it in a small town in rural CT, a few years before WWII. After an apple orchard was decimated by a hurricane in 1938 it was replanted with pine seedlings, 1000 of them in two varieties; fairly short white spruce set close together you had to push your way through getting scratched up by the needles as you went & tall, stately red pines planted in even rows.

Together these became known as the Piney Forest, though really they were two forests side by side. Red pines have no branches on the lower trunk & shed their needles forming a dense red carpet that's highly acidic, preventing most other plants from growing through them & also dampening sounds quite effectively. Together the effect is rather like a natural cathedral with the straight columns of the trees planted in even rows growing up from the red carpet of sound absorbing needles creating a silence & stillness in the air that calls for a certain reverence.

My grandparents ashes were scattered there when they died, as were my dad's although a blight had taken the actual trees a few decades back, leaving room for a variety of trees to grow naturally in their place. The property's passed from my family's hands but we have an understanding with the current owners allowing us access whenever we come for a visit. They even hauled a massive boulder to the corner of where the Piney Forest used to stand & we had bronze plaques mounted onto it to memorialize the site. My mom's getting on & I expect to add her name below my dad's in the not too distant future. My own will be added there someday to the spot I consider the most holy & sacred place in the world.
posted by scalefree at 1:56 AM on October 7 [7 favorites]


Thanks Botanizer for posting about Eastern Redbud - there's one in the American garden in Dunedin Botanic Gardens and I've been trying to ID it - such wonderful bright spring ffIIRClowers, so thanks again.
posted by unearthed at 2:34 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Banyan trees! There's a huge one growing outside my apartment block, fortunately on the inside of a fence of a government building so it's unlikely to get pulled down. The windows along our side all look onto the branches, and we've can see birds, monkeys and lizards scrambling around inside the branches and my idiot fat cat, who goes on daily walks with my dog, likes to prowl around the base and attempt to climb it then get stuck under the fence or on a branch and have to be rescued. My oldest kid thinks the tree is haunted and spent the first month in the fat with her curtains closed against tree ghosts.

Banyan trees are brilliant, from the air roots swinging gently in the breeze and then the huge branches sprawling with life and a hundred other plants living over them and the enormous anchor roots sunk into the ground that you can tuck yourself into as little hollows. And snakes! Always a couple of good snakes.

And temperate trees and forests freaked me the hell out as a kid. Going from the thickness of tropical forests to being taken into what I was told was forest, after a childhood of western fiction, I eventually asked "where's the rest of the trees? Why doesn't anything else grow here?" They're so EMPTY. You can walk in temperate forests without a machete and it's like the trees have eaten the rest of the forest!
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:25 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


Maples of all sorts in fall. Horse chestnuts in spring. And I miss beeches, it's just too far north here for them to occur more than very occasionally.
posted by Namlit at 5:51 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


In the 1950s, Montreal lost almost all its elms to Dutch elm disease. A magnificent elm in a nearby park survived, but had to be taken down recently because it was deemed to be dangerous. It was partly hollow, but I suspect could still have been fine for many years ; city concerns about insurance liability probably doomed it. It proved to be 170 years old when the rings were counted. RIP Jarry Park elm tree.

Most of us don't remember the days when our streets were shaded by elms, but now we're facing losing our ash trees to a nasty little beetle.

I like ginkgo trees, which seem to be able to survive our winters and road salt, and the city is planting more of them – but they grow slowly and don't give a lot of shade.
posted by zadcat at 6:04 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I didn't realize how many trees I have relationships with until this question! There was a huge old fashioned lilac, big enough to walk into, like it was a small house. I played in that tree as a child. The old, bitter tasting apple tree, with an old board wedged between two branches that had grown around the board..that as my favorite reading place for years.

A tree that I love now is actually gone. A huge maple tree, growing on the property we bought in 2001. It was planted uphill of the house, roughly 40 feet away. A few years later, as I was mowing one day, I noticed little bits of sawdust piles at the base of the tree. Upon inspecting, we found carpenter ants had colonized there. My younger brother's best friend was a tree removal guy. Arrangements were made, and the guys showed up with huge saws, a flatbed with tractor and assorted other implements. There was a lengthy consultation, much walking around and finally, brother donned the climbing rig and up he went, with one of the huge chainsaws. It should be noted that the tree was enormous, and the bulk of it was centered toward the middle of our house. The plan was to limb it, taking off the giant branches piece by piece, to (hopefully) avoid damaging the house or garage.

As brother is getting ready to fire up the saw, someone sees a hornet nest hidden in the leafy branches. Proceedings screech to a halt as we ponder what to do. The solution; all extraneous
folks (a wife, girlfriend and her little boy) are put in the house. Small branches are clipped away, leaving the rather large hornet nest more accessible. I open the garage door, and have a large trash can at the ready. After much discussion, brother Dan is going to cut the branch, which, judging on the size, direction and proximity to the garage, SHOULD drop with the hornet nest ending up right in front of the open garage door. Yeah. I have trash can with lid. Saw starts. Seemingly endless screaming saw, then sudden silence, a whoosh of leaves and THUMP!! I frantically scan the foliage, and can't see the nest! Oh crap! I look at the trash can, still holding it and THE HORNET NEST IS IN THE CAN!! I smack the lid on, and the guys are yelling and much chaos ensues, and I am laughing! No one even got stung, and after dark, we sprayed a can of hornet killer into the trash can.

The rest of the day was taking down the tree, piece by piece. I was sad, but as we got to the trunk, more than a third of it by was rotten. The diseased part was the side facing our house, and was bearing the weight of the most of the tree. The potential of our house being smashed in half was staggering.

The guys cut the bigger branches and the trunk into manageable sections. We heat with wood, so the tree would make up a huge portion of the following years' firewood supply. My brother's wife asked if she could take a few of the big rounds; her father liked to make things from wood. We stacked the huge trunk rounds at the back of the tree stump. It was an amazing woodpile, the rounds were the size of tables.

The stump became a resting place for the cats, warm and fragrant. I turned the now sunny area around the stump into a rowdy herb and flower garden, one that evolves ever year, depending on what self seeds! My favorite part of this garden were the gnarly roots that were exposed, like bones. I planted spring flowers and used the roots as dividers for various areas.

It's been over a decade, and everything is fast decomposing. This growing season, I added a lot of hardy succulents, planted around and into the root areas. The stump is collapsing into itself. I spend hours weeding, moving plants and communing with the creatures that share this space with me. I surrounded the area with old tree roots dragged out of the woods. It's my place, and I love it dearly.

One last thing; the pieces of wood that SIL took to her father? One of them came home, as a beautifully turned wooden bowl! The maple tree.
posted by LaBellaStella at 6:07 AM on October 7 [8 favorites]


I love the song we are singing today, the long slow tale of trees.

My first and best friend was an oak, and I grieve her still today. As a child, my fingers fit into the grooves of her bark. I spent hours discovering the lives hidden, making their home in her. Ants on their invisible highways. Caterpillars wondrous in their strangeness, moths well camouflaged discovered as hidden treasure, and once the glorious green of a luna stunning my eyes, a gift of beauty not meant for me but that I shared in nonetheless.

But that tree’s hours were long ago, in the way we humans measure time.

So today I celebrate the bloodberry, native here in this hot wet place. It flowers and fruits long, often at the same time. It grows fast, wild, abundant. Small leaves, small flowers, small fruit. Bees of many kinds crowd its blossoms. The tiny glowing red berries are just the size to feed baby birds, so many species will attend at once. The hawks are not much of a bother here, because the thin branches will not hold their weight, and the small leaves obscure birds who might otherwise be prey. After watching the wild mockingbirds harvest and feed their young, I gathered those same berries for orphans in my care, that they could know their native foods and have a better chance of surviving. I have seen ducks standing beneath it, gobbling every berry that can reach, and I have fallen into quiet laughter watching these ducks hop - hop! - to reach the brilliant sunstruck globes above them, and sometimes succeed.

It is not a tree. It is itself, a wiry and wild shrub, but I always feel there is a knowing in it. And when its children have escaped the fliers and sprung up around it, I have lovingly rehomed them, to spread this wonder. I have moved to a new home myself, and the scion of the bloodberry grows here alongside me. And I think we will be good friends.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 6:20 AM on October 7 [9 favorites]


As far back as I can remember, I have always loved willow trees. I love standing within their canopy.

Sing all a green willow must be my garland...
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:11 AM on October 7


I didn't realize how many trees I have relationships with until this question!

There are so many specific trees and tree memories and tree species that I didn't say anything about earlier, and still so many more that I think of as I read through these.
posted by dilettante at 9:29 AM on October 7


My current favorite tree is the avocado tree in my back yard, because it provides me with delicious avocados. The only trouble is that the tree is quite tall and many avocados are too high to reach. I have a 15-foot pole with an attachment on the end that is meant to grasp light bulbs in high ceilings which helps somewhat. Last year a tiny side benefit of Hurricane Irma was that it brought down the unpicked avocados from the top of the tree so we had special bonus avocados for a while.

What I miss from previous places I have lived is not so much a tree but a forest - I have lived in two houses with large wooded areas nearby, and I love the sound of the wind rustling the leaves and the dawn chorus of the birds. And the smell of pine trees. Where I live here in Florida there's a bunch of scrubby stuff around, but mostly flat pavement and lawns of a subdivision, and the birds are squawky rather than harmonious, and the air smells like a swamp, and it's still 90-plus degrees every day. I find myself dreaming of a peaceful little cabin in the woods near a northern lake.
posted by Daily Alice at 9:29 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


My favorite Tree house is photonic.

What a great thread. Here is my personal favorite painting of all time.
posted by clavdivs at 9:36 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I love sassafras trees the most. Three leaf shapes! They smell good when you break a leaf! Very cool.

Secondly, I love fruiting trees. Because I love fruit!
posted by Stewriffic at 9:51 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


There's an enormous Scotch pine tree in my parents' backyard, which I'd climb into and sit on a branch with a book as a kid. That one remains my favorite individual tree. My kiddo knows this story, and the other day she was eyeing the wizened crabapple tree in our yard then asked if she could climb it with a book. Very proud moment.

I have too many beloved kinds of trees to count. Sweet gum because their leaves turn glorious colors in the fall and their fruits look like medieval weapons. Big shaggy cedar and fir trees because the smell of that forest with salt water is part of why I don't want to live away from the Pacific Northwest. Broadleaf maples because you could hang glide with those giant beautiful leaves and the flowers are edible. I could go on.


Tangentially related to trees, I'm having a very very hard set of times with divorce things and current events. So yesterday some friends and I went to an axe-throwing facility (!!) and threw axes at things for an hour. So cathartic. I have fantastic aim and strength but not great form, apparently. Clearly the solution is to throw axes more often. I'm only barely stopping myself from getting out the camping hatchet and hurling it around the backyard this morning. Strongly recommend doing this if you're into that kind of thing.
posted by centrifugal at 10:36 AM on October 7 [5 favorites]


The tree I am under at the time is always my favorite tree, but from memory my favorite is the tree that shaded all those conversations and cups of tea behind our old house and between the other trees. Bright summer light and shadow through the leaves and on our faces, our hair, our scalps, our arms, summer shirts, summer dresses, work clothes, bare skin after swimming. Tea cups and pot and cozy and biscuits. Mother, father, brothers, sisters, cats, dogs, aunts, uncles, birds, leaves, breeze, sun, sky.
posted by pracowity at 11:07 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


The playground at one school I went to was surrounded by huge, old pine trees. We used to play with the big, fragrant lumps of pitch we'd find on the swing sets.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:19 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Some trees for your consideration:

Sweetgum: star shaped leaves that turn every color in the fall, cool spiky balls

Shagbark Hickory: nice peely bark that bats live under

Osage orange: crazy green brain balls

Honey Locust: thorn clusters that look really cool

Persimmon: yummy but only when ripe, can predict how bad the winter will be
posted by oomny at 11:42 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


I love fig trees. They are my favourite because every part of them is beautiful and also figs! There was a huge old fig tree that grew next to my family's rental house when I was maybe 8 or 9. Some branches grew over the roof and because it was a highly climbable tree, I could climb up to the gently sloping roof, lay down on my back, and reach over for a fig from time to time as I surveyed my domain.

I was fond of the apricot tree at a different rental, where I discovered that slightly overripe apricots were tasty inside slightly stale biscuits leftover from dinner. I also liked the hardened sap balls, which looked like tiny jewels.

Once a group of coworkers and I spent a Saturday planting endangered Coastal Oak acorns in a part of California that needed more oaks. That was maybe 25 years ago, and it saddens me that the reforested area is not open to public access, because I would love to see how many trees developed and how it looks now.

There is a persimmon tree in a Berkeley front yard near a professional office that I visited from time to time and I was struck by how decorative the tree was. First the leaves turned beautiful, autumn colours. Then the leaves fell but the gorgeous fruit remained. Which was odd: Why didn't the homeowners eat the persimmons? No idea but they were lovely.

Also: Jabuticabas are amazing! I had never heard of them before. So glad I was introduced to them. Many thanks for this thread, smoke and Eyebrows.
posted by Bella Donna at 12:00 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


oomny, how can persimmons predict how bad the winter will be? Must know more, please!
posted by Bella Donna at 12:02 PM on October 7


Birch trees, and birch juice, always take me back.

And one particular old oak, which kids must have been climbing since at least the 1960s, but there's not so many kids in that neighbourhood now. One day, I'll help my son climb it.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:33 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


I grew up in San Diego, so my experience with trees was somewhat limited. We had liquidambers on the street where I grew up, which were just about the only tree you'd find in the area that turned any kind of color in the fall. Otherwise, there were a bunch of neighborhoods lined with jacaranda trees, turning the streets neon purple at times of the year, and ceanothus on the wilder hillsides producing a similar, but more subdued effect.

Up in the mountains east of town, where there actually were a bunch of trees, I was always fond of the Jeffrey pines, which made our campsites smell like butterscotch, rather than a typical pine smell. Sadly, a large part of the local population was destroyed in the fires of 2003 and 2007.

There's one oak on Woodson Mountain, located on a small rock outcropping on the south side of the mountain along the trail up from Lake Poway at just the right spot for a rest when hiking up the mountain the hard way (as opposed to going from highway 67 outside Ramona). The 2007 fire turned the top of Woodson into a blackened hellscape, but that oak tree was just below the line of airplane-dropped fire retardant and was able to survive.

It was easy being in San Diego where there were a limited amount of trees so you could generally know what things were, but now I'm in Michigan and there's so many trees all over and I have only the faintest idea of what they are beyond just a general categorization like "oak" or "maple".
posted by LionIndex at 1:10 PM on October 7 [2 favorites]


Persimmons tell the weather by cutting the seed open and seeing what kind of silverware it looks like (almanac). Tennessee persimmons are predicting a lot of snow this year!
posted by oomny at 1:17 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


When we moved away from Central Coast California, I realize I have a deep love of coast live oaks, especially paired with the golden (invasive?!) grasses, which are so common up and down California, but not much beyond that.

I'm visiting Santa Barbara this weekend, and I'm realizing how much I miss them. This pang of nostalgia isn't as bad as a few years ago, when flying into San Diego a few years back, and seeing those rolling, golden hills with oak trees made me realize I really liked that landscape, and that there wasn't much that is similar in New Mexico. And flying out of Albuquerque gets pretty barren pretty fast, at least when seen from above.

Still, I love the high desert landscape when I'm actually walking and driving in it. It's more of an up-close experience, I realize.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:32 PM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I love this question and I love all your answers. This thread is a balm.

Favorite species: Redbud for the spring joy. Sycamore for the paint-by-numbers bark. Catalpa because they look like Super Mario trees. Weeping anything, especially mulberry. Cottonwood for their imposing elegance and their sussurations, and for the way they can bring snow to a June sky. And all the evergreens of the north, that in their narrowness make a snowy forest into a cathedral.

I am actually not sure what “my tree” is. I planted a white pine by the driveway of my childhood home so perhaps that one. But the tree shaped tree of my memory is a silver maple in the backyard of that house. I am also partial to some specific trees in my neighborhood - especially the neighbor’s weeping mulberry, and the weirdly climbable pine by the river, and the big oak that the hippies dance in every August.
posted by eirias at 1:45 PM on October 7 [5 favorites]


After an entire adulthood spent in NYC we moved to Florida in 2015 and promptly bought a little house with a little yard and started going buckwild with tree planting. So far we've put in a red grapefruit, two seagrapes, a redbud, a Chickasaw plum, a red Maple, a Meyer lemon, two figs, a loquat, a sweetgum, a Pakistan mulberry, a Gros Michel banana, a Simpson's stopper, and a peach. They're all my babies and I love them so much.
posted by saladin at 2:20 PM on October 7 [5 favorites]


I miss almost everything about living in San Francisco and Northern California in general. I miss the smell of eucalyptus and the scent of night-blooming jasmine in the city.

I learned about and loved bamboo and cypress knees and buckeyes and honeysuckle and "styrofoam sticks" as a kid in Arkansas. There are buckeyes all over my neighborhood now and I always have to pick up a few when I'm out and about.

I love fuschias more than any other flower even though I can't spell the word.

My grandparents built their house in 1977 and the apple tree in the front yard has always been where my cousins and I posed for photos when we met up at granny and grandad's. Usually the youngest cousin would perch in the tree and the rest would stand in front. There are decades of photographs of us growing up in front of that tree and the yard was always littered with half-rotting apples.

The tree is not in good shape any more - it may even be dead - but my uncle took a hollow part of it and mounted it on a tall pole and now it's an owl house with an owl and its family living in it.
posted by bendy at 2:27 PM on October 7 [6 favorites]


I am working in the yard today, burning some scrap wood, moving kindling to the deck, it's warm but overcast and damp. I just took a moment to stretch and appreciate the trees and a big owl flew up into the tree above me. Big wingspan, owl face. I sat for a minute and watched her, then she took off, probably after some prey. I feel blessed.
posted by theora55 at 2:57 PM on October 7 [6 favorites]


Ok, ten thousand trees aren't enough. There might actually be more than 400 cedars out there, too.

And I'll never be able to hug all of them because some of them are in thickets of undergrowth and bramble so thick it'd take a month of machete-driven bushwhacking to get to the tree.

OMG I COULD DO A TREE ZIPLINE OMG AND TREEHOUSES

PLEASE DON'T SEND HELP... DROWNING IN TREES
posted by loquacious at 3:32 PM on October 7 [8 favorites]


The planned community where I grew up (North County represent) was seeded with young eucalyptus trees in the 80s. So I have lots of fond memories of live oaks, chaparral, and eucalyptus trees.

My favorite tree right now is the Meyer lemon tree growing on my balcony. It's my first tree and uh, I was going for something easier and more apartment-friendly, but I got to the tree sale a bit late and a lemon tree was what was left. So I'm proud that it's still alive and thriving--well enough to determinedly keep trying to flower even though it's not supposed to fruit yet because it's too young. I can't wait to sit on my balcony and smell lemon flowers blossoming.
posted by librarylis at 5:44 PM on October 7 [3 favorites]


I've loved many trees in my life but the one I'm thankful for everyday was an ancient oak tree in the back yard of our previous house. Its trunk was 42 inches in diameter and we worried about it coming down, for it was clearly dying and prone to dropping big limbs. Eventually the tree surgeon told us that we really needed to have it taken down since if it dropped in a storm and landed on our house it would be catastrophic.

Meanwhile, Mr. Carmicha was designing a new house for us. Long story short, we had the tree taken down and delivered to a lumber mill. They cut and cured the wood--including big slabs of it two inches thick, two feet deep and twenty feet long--and the house became designed around how to use the wood. It made long window seats, counters, a table, and cabinets; it's everywhere in our home. We still have some left; here's a photo of Mr. Carmicha sculpting a chunk of that tree.
posted by carmicha at 6:02 PM on October 7 [11 favorites]


The canonical Tree of my youth was a Bradford pear. I have always liked ginkgo leaves and now I have ginkgo trees on my block; they do smell terrible but the leaves are still best leaves.

I got to see a dove tree in full bloom once. My memory has it (I'm not sure it's right though) that it was in Ann Arbor when I lived there, and this tree bloomed so rarely that it was in the news, so I made a special trip to visit it.

Best imaginary tree is Tanglewood Tree, and for this reason my imaginary full back tattoo is a big tree all in black with tangly bare branches. (My brother's got a fantastic actual tattoo of dogwood and cherry blossoms, I presume for Virginia and DC where we're from and he's lived.)
posted by clavicle at 7:17 PM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I don't think I can pick a favorite. I think my favorite ornamental is Prunus serrulata, the ridiculously profuse pink-blossomed variety of flowering cherries. Chinese elm is my favorite landscaping tree--from the lacy bark to the dainty leaves to the fall color--it's just got a lot going on. Bald cypress are quite unlike most of their neighbors. I always like trees that are not common in my familiar home territories of the Midwest/mid-Atlantic--Spanish moss covered live oak, palm trees in general, towering stands of western hemlock and Douglas fir...
Right now I'm pleased with my Dunstan chestnut (a Chinese/American hybrid), which last year didn't do much but which this year is spitting out a good number of burrs that actually got fertilized (the owners who planted it about 10 years ago planted it with a mate that has since been lost). My peach trees are my favorite fruit trees.
posted by drlith at 8:09 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


One of those questions that I would have an answer to if I weren’t being asked.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:32 PM on October 7


I can't believe I said that I like fuschias more than any other flower even though I have a tattoo of a California poppy.
posted by bendy at 9:16 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Not-broken link to photo.
posted by bendy at 9:23 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


I love Dracaena cinnabari — Dragon Blood tree.
Along with other plants on Socotra, D. cinnabari is thought to have derived from the Tethyan flora. It is considered a remnant of the Mio-Pliocene Laurasian subtropical forests that are now almost extinct due to the extensive desertification of North Africa
I really want to visit Socotra. Can nations stop using Yemen as a place for their proxy wars.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:27 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Shout out to ponderosa pines, whose (super-awesome and weird looking) bark smells like vanilla or butterscotch on a warm sunny day.
posted by compartment at 10:48 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]


zengargoyle + trees == monkey-boy. Terrifying to modern mentality, I'd be up 150 feet on branches an inch in diameter and swaying in the wind. ook! ook! ook!

Of the trees there are a couple. The Dogwood at maternal grandparents place. Access to the roof of the shed. Rebar turned into ninja grappling hooks. Best branch for swinging And for some reason once upon a time I had socks on my hands (I think I was a bunny or something) and I jumped to the swinging branch, promptly lost my grip and landed from 8 feet up flat on my back and laid on the ground gasping for air like a fish out of water. Made it to my grandfather's truck before I passed out and started breathing again. Didn't do that twice.

My paternal grandparent's place had this huge Pine tree. That's where I'd be unless playing on the railroad tracks. Flattening pennies (trains make flatter pennies than the largest steel press west of the Mississippi), or looking for loose railroad spikes.

Really, too many trees to count. I livied near/in woods and ook ook ook monkey.

+++

coincidentally I've been dealing with paternal ancestors literally "selling the farm" of which I have few to none actual factual memories about... but it's a bit weird.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:09 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


I love the trees in my city so much, but right now I'm worried about them crashing down and knocking out power for a week if Tropical Storm Michael becomes Hurricane Michael before making landfall tomorrow.
posted by PearlRose at 5:33 AM on October 8


My favorite tree growing up was the big Norway maple (I know) outside my childhood bedroom. On cool nights, we'd open the window, and I'd hear it rustling and sighing to itself. It came to the end of its natural lifespan about a decade ago, and my mom wanted a prettier lawn, so they cut it down and didn't replace it with anything. But that was my No. 1.

Number 2 is the sole remaining apple tree in the back yard -- when my parents bought the house, it came with a locust tree, a plum tree, a peach tree, and two apple trees. One by one, through neglect and just old age, they've died and been removed. The one left is the red apple tree, which has basically stopped setting flowers and fruiting a five or six years ago, but this is probably for the best, because my parents are getting older and aren't really up to the autumn ritual of picking up nasty wasp-filled apples. It's also been cramped by the new sunroom they put on.

But I do have a memory of lying out underneath that tree the spring before I took the bar, when I was home for the first time since leaving for college. It was a heavy bloom year for the apples, and both the red and golden were just a-froth with white and pink. And on that particular day, the old-fashioned lilacs on the other side of the house were in full bloom, too.

I've never smelled anything like that, and probably never will again. I wish somebody made a good apple blossom perfume.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:47 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


smoke wants to know about your favorite trees

I see what u did there.

The first tree of my youth was probably black walnut. I could find out for sure since these trees still exist for the most part in the park by my mom's house, but 40 years ago they were different, less cultivated. We called the section they were in "the forest," which is about 1/8 of a two-acre grass park.

All of us kids in the neighborhood would climb these trees as much as we could, based on skill and risk tolerance, though there was also a rope/tire swing there occasionally, though it was usually removed pretty quickly by park maintenance or parents (still a mystery). The best part of this area was where two of the larger trees on different sides of an open area on the ground reached together at the top, kind of canopy. These two trees started touching each other about 30 feet above the ground, and there was one branch on each that crossed the other, almost touching. At the thin end these branches were probably 3-4", enough to bend scarily under a 10 year old's weight. You would climb one tree, inch out on what I remember was probably 10-15ft of branches (there were other branches around you could hold onto), until you reached the thin end of the same kind of branch from the other tree, and step across this quite-bendy gap, then climb down the other tree. When Raiders of the Lost Ark was released some years later, I had a reference all ready to go. "I know that dude!"

These were the frontiers of suburban life.

Later on when I started skateboarding, seed pods from sycamore trees were the bane of the neighborhood. I think I still have scars on my left elbow, knee, and hip from skating down a sidewalk, a wheel stopping on one instantly, throwing me onto my left (leading) side. You had to be vigilant to find a clean line down the street without problematic vegetation.

Most recently, my mom got sick of having gardeners coming all the time, so she decided to get artificial grass. Part of this plan was also to get rid of the magnolia tree that was given to my parents by my mom's aunt and uncle when they moved into the house. It was 40-45 years old and probably 50ft tall, and then one day it was gone. The yard is great without it, even having the attachment of growing up there with the (unclimbable) tree lording over the yard, though one day after reading about Tree Law elsewhere I asked my mom how it was taken out, whether it was cut down or removed with roots or what, because a tree like that was probably worth at least tens of thousands of dollars, if not a hundred. She didn't know, she just wanted it gone. I'd have to think they would have had to have a crane to take it out if it was removed alive, the side yard is just not that big.
posted by rhizome at 9:34 AM on October 8 [2 favorites]


This is such a great prompt, it made me think of all the happy tree related memories and experiences I have. No way to list them all, so here are a few (unranked, incomplete) thoughts:

I loved the tree in our back yard in Berkeley, it had a beautiful canopy and sometimes hosted arboreal salamanders and hummingbird nests.

Last weekend I met a man from the UK who didn't know what maple helicopters were, and wasn't sure I was correct in saying what his son was playing with. As a Canadian I would like to claim some little authority on knowing wtf a maple tree looks like buddy.

My neighbor brought over a bag of pawpaws yesterday, another new world original. I hadn't eaten them before our central Ohio sojourn. We have lots of tree variety around here and they host lots of different birds - I have seen six different kinds of woodpecker on our street, from little Hairy to giant Pileated, all knocking happily away at the chestnuts, black walnuts, oaks, and more I can't ID. My kid loves the Upside Down Tree (some kind of willow) which is a landmark for all the local kids but also I am pretty sure the Kenyon students smoke weed in there.

When I lived in New Orleans I loved the seasonal sequence of Japanese magnolia>sweet olive>magnolia. Sweet olive is the smell of my early twenties when all I owned was a bike and a toaster oven.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 11:10 AM on October 8 [5 favorites]


Trees! I have known and loved so many good old trees. (My Dad, also a tree enthusiast, grows a small number of saplings from seeds he collects each year.)

Here in the UK, I've made friends with many trees. A particular plane tree in the far corner of my old college gardens taught me to distingush a magic tree from an ordinary one. (How to tell if a tree is magic: lean your back against the trunk and look straight up at its crown. A magic tree will give you a slight dizziness.)

Recently I climbed Box Hill in Surrey-- a good walk on National Trust land, easily reachable by train. Box Hill was named for the box trees that have grown and been cultivated there since the medieval era; there are some handsome ancient ones, as well as some lovely venerable yews. Norbury Park-- the other way from the same train station-- has a place called the Druids' Grove, full of massive ancient yew trees.

Australian trees are best for hugging-- the cool, smooth bark of a eucalyptus or a gum tree feels lovely beneath one's cheek. Eucalyptus leaves, when dried and burnt, produce a pleasant-smelling smoke. (I found this out by accidentally setting a flower arrangement on fire one time)

When I'm about to leave a tree I've stopped to admire, I've taken to placing my hand on its trunk, sending it good thoughts and quietly saying "From my short quick life to your long slow one."
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:03 PM on October 8 [6 favorites]


This is such a great prompt, it made me think of all the happy tree related memories and experiences I have.
--Lawn Beaver

HAVE YOU EVER STOPPED TO THINK THAT MAYBE IT WASN'T SO HAPPY FOR THE TREES?
posted by drlith at 1:33 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


. . . .just want you all to know I just wrote 2000 words going on and on about my favorite *teas*.

Anyway I really like cottonwoods. Also aspens because a whole forest could be only one organism and as a result they all turn color at the same time and also one particular aspen forest is the heaviest living thing on earth and his name is PANDO.

Also do yourself a favor and buy a herb called the curry plant thought it has not thing to do with curry - it smells SO GOOD.

MEGAFLORA 4EVA
posted by barchan at 1:42 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


I love the lilac in my backyard, though it has one interesting low hanging branch that for some reason everyone wants me to cut off. I sometimes think I should hide the saw when my mother visits, lest she be tempted. I have spent many happy hours lying on the deck and staring up at these trees at my parent's cottage. The green against a blue sky is just magical. Lastly, there is a tree I walk past on my way to work that is particularly lovely, there's just something about it's shape that I find really pleasing.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:09 PM on October 8


drlith when we moved to Ohio with its plethora of hedgehogs, my partner and I reasoned that they could just as well be called lawn beavers, since they are all just huge rodents. Hence my username.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 2:37 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


I have such an affinity for Eastern hemlocks, which are abundant in the Daniel Boone National Forest where I hiked 200+ miles in 2016. I liked to hang my hammock off hemlocks the most - they often had handy little "pegs" (former branch starts, I guess??) that were unbelievably useful for hanging things like my hat or smelly bandannas from. They have soft and almost cute-needles, and are such large wonderful presences.

They are indeed dying off slowly. Some people are trying to visit the polar bears before they die off. I think everyone needs to visit Eastern hemlocks.
posted by mostly vowels at 7:15 PM on October 8


One more. This tree crotch outside my living room window that is both a tree and a crotch.
posted by bendy at 7:26 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Welp, I just made wild blackberry buckwheat pancakes, collected a bunch of rain water, filtered it and made tea with it. The water and tea tastes amazing and might be some of the cleanest water I've ever had. I even went on a little mushroom hunt looking for maybe some lion's mane or chicken of the woods, but it's real late in the season for that. (I'm frankly surprised I managed a bowl of not-fermented berries this late!)

Apparently, yes, I'm running away to My Side of The Mountain.

I also did a whole lot of bramble pruning, a bit of trail maintenance, tool-shed sorting, and explored the property a bit more. It's large enough, dense enough and hilly enough I have to make sure I pack water, a machete or bush knife and maybe even tell someone where I'm going. There's a lot of nooks and crannies and varied terrain and flora, like aspen and cottonwoods in the small ravines, cedars and moss and ferns on the higher dry land and waaaay too much blackberry bramble. I think I've seen about five different kinds of berry vine.

I'm already going around with a compass and notebook trying to map the place to identify resources and problems. By resources I mean stuff like existing lumber, tools or supplies on the ground or stuff that can be recycled, but also stuff like good berry patches and foraging stuff. By problems, I mean stuff like, oh, the giant cedar behind the house that's tilting a bit too much, erosion areas and such.

I kind of wish I had a surveyor's transit!

I also found a BB gun. Did you know I'm a crack shot with a rifle and a natural marksman? I haven't shot anything in ages but when I was plinking this afternoon I was dropping cans from about 120 feet away, nearly every shot. This is pretty dang good for an old clapped out Crossman pump BB gun and shooting BBs instead of pellets.
posted by loquacious at 7:46 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


Also, for the cottonwood fans:

The biggest cottonwood I've ever seen exists on south side of the east end of the bridge at the Dungeness Audubon park near Sequim on the Olympic peninsula.

It's bigger than most Douglas firs, nearly sequoia sized. Had to be at least 8-10 feet in diameter at the base and maybe 200 feet tall. I actually stood there gaping at it for five minutes trying to figure out why the shaggy overgrown broadleaf maple looked so funny until someone walked by and chuckled and said "Yep, it's a cottonwood" to which I responded "No f'ing way!"
posted by loquacious at 7:53 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Later on when I started skateboarding, seed pods from sycamore trees were the bane of the neighborhood.

That seed you linked is in fact a gumball from a sweetgum or gumball tree, rhizome. Did you mean one of these dealies from a sycamore?

It's OK, today I learned there is hemlock, and then there is poison hemlock, and they're different things. Excellent.
posted by limeonaire at 7:59 PM on October 8


I also found a BB gun. Did you know I'm a crack shot with a rifle and a natural marksman?

I need you to come visit me and shoot my neighbors' garage light out (which they leave on 24/7 FOR NO REASON) that shines in my bedroom window and forces me to keep the blackout curtains closed all night.

I already have the gun, I just need your skillz.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:02 PM on October 8 [2 favorites]


Also people who love cottonwoods have never owned anything that collects cottonwood fuzz, especially not a pool.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:05 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]


Love this thread.

Every tree is amazing. Also it's Vermont in Autumn so EEEEE.

I went to King Phillip's woods in MA today. King Phillip is also known as Metacomet and was a badass Wampanoag. He and his people tried to burn Sudbury to the ground which made sense at the time. I took some photos of our walk but it's more mushroomy than tree-y.

Also I am on our town conservation commission and we may have to decide to cut down some trees (for good reasons) and we are thinking of organizing a tree planting afterwards and I am happy about that.

I made this tree post in 2007 and still pretty much love it. I was a fan of that golden spruce that got too popular and got cut down and I like the big trees registries and Vermont has a nice one even if the website is a little old school.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:21 PM on October 8 [5 favorites]


NZ’s native ‘kaka beak’ shrub with its red parrot-beak blooms ... and the kowhai tree whose gorgeous yellow flowers attract the tuneful tui and other native birds.
posted by The Patron Saint of Spices at 3:16 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


Elsie the Eel-- When I lived in rural Virginia, one of the neighbors had a freestanding municipal-caliber cobra light that everyone hated. Someone shot it out on the regular and eventually the owner gave up. My otherwise lovely neighbor leaves her incredibly bright outdoor light, which sits atop a 20 foot pole, on all the time, even during the winter months she spends in Florida. Over the years I have:

  • talked to her about the problem and whether there might be some mutually acceptable compromise possible, like installing a timer so it could be off from, say, 11:00 pm to 6:00 am. Were she amenable I would volunteer to pay for it. But no: she fears a home invasion and apparently the dog she acquired isn't enough of a warning system.

  • made occasional Facebook posts intended for her about the dark sky movement, the counterintuitive reasons why having a light on at your house actually increases your risk of crime, how municipalities are using shields on streetlights to protect drivers' night vision, etc. She's a Facebook addict, and even gave me a thumbs up on some of these posts, but none of it stuck;

  • rejoiced when one year the bulb burned out after she left for Florida. I was thrilled, knowing that she wouldn't climb a ladder to fix it and hoping that she just acclimated to the light's absence. Unfortunately, her nephew took care of the problem the next Spring. I briefly considered climbing up there myself and messing with the bulb, maybe loosening it or shaking it until it broke, but I thought that was going much too far and that it would be completely unfair to set her up for possibly paying an electrician to "fix" it.

    I've considered switching out the bulb for one that wasn't intended for illuminating a Monday Night Football game or a movie premier, but I like this woman and don't want to literally gaslight her into thinking she's misremembering the brightness or losing her vision. In my fantasies, I install a blue-tooth enabled lightbulb and control it from my house. I feel your pain.

  • posted by carmicha at 7:53 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]


    I like trees. My favorite is the bald cypress, because they are lovely to look at and also produce great wood for resisting rot. In 1930 my great-grandfather built a beach house on a bay in Alabama. He constructed a saw mill and cut up the local pine and cypress to build this place. The long porch has 12 foot long cypress planks that have been serving generations, and still look good.

    When we bought our little house in Houston 25 years ago, my first tree was a cypress. It came in a 30 gallon pot and stood 10 feet tall. It is now 30 feet tall, and is just beginning to turn the rust color for fall.

    Our house is on a 50 x 100 foot lot. It would not seem to have room for many trees. And yet. The back yard is infested with trees. Live oaks of three feet and two feet in diameter. A 50 foot tall white oak. Hackberries and an elm. Out back is a oil pipeline easement. I have turned that into my meadow. I have planted burr oak and catalpa. The burr oaks are dropping acorns the size of small apples.

    Overall, I have planted 10 trees in and around our lot in the 25 years we have been there. There is a lemon tree, an overcup oak, a mimosa, and some others. If I could, I would plant more. But where?
    posted by Midnight Skulker at 9:06 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]


    Welp, I've just officially been subpoenad. Grr.
    posted by loquacious at 2:12 PM on October 9


    I grew up in New England, climbing a big white pine tree in the backyard. Dad kept trying to get us to stop climbing it, by cutting off the lower branches. But we figured out how to get up the bottom section by bracing against the sassafras tree next to it and stemming our way up until we could reach the lowest branches. And then up and up and up, until the top swayed a bit, and you could look out for miles from the top of the tree at the top of the hill. And then come down with pine sap all over your hands and spotted on your clothes. I can still smell it.

    Now I probably love California Live Oaks best; they're so beautiful, broad and kind of octopus-like the way their branches go out and curve and bend. And they don't lose their leaves in the winter. But I also have a guilty fondness for eucalyptus, even though they're terrible, because their smell is so distinctive, and so tied to the trails in the East Bay hills where I have spent so many hours over the last two decades.

    I miss dogwood trees, and lilacs, and sugar maples, and white birch.
    posted by suelac at 4:12 PM on October 9


    Thank you, loquacious, for helping the DA put away a predator.
    posted by carmicha at 4:13 PM on October 9 [3 favorites]


    I love the magnolias outside of my apartment building; their pungent blooms brighten up the 'hood.

    I also love the Valley Oak that shades my favorite drinking fountain/trough. There's nothing better than a bottleful of cold, clear mountain springwater after a long ride/hike, and this one runs cold all day thanks to the oak. Thanks oak!

    Thoak.
    posted by carsonb at 9:30 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


    There's a tree in one of the older residential neighborhoods downtown that has an Ent-like face. It looks like it was molded into the trunk as it grew rather than carved, like you sometimes see with Halloween pumpkins. One feels as though ones being smiled at as one walks down the street.
    posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:30 PM on October 9


    Since nobody reads this far and I don't want to clog up Ask.

    TL;DR selling the farm:

    <fedora>
    I'm a Clever Boy. Lawyer's documents were janky. Lawyers fixed documents to un-janky. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Done. I was right all along.
    </fedora>
    <tinfoil>
    They're watching me now that the know my nick.
    Or, some other C (or their lawyer) noticed the same janky.
    Or, they figured it out themselves.
    </tinfoil>
    posted by zengargoyle at 11:19 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]


    I probably love California Live Oaks best

    Spoken as someone who's never had one in their yard and has never stepped on those damn spiny leaves for 40 years. :D
    posted by elsietheeel at 6:51 AM on October 10


    Apparently, yes, I'm running away to My Side of The Mountain.

    From age 8 to 12 or so, My Side Of The Mountain and Harriet The Spy were the only two books that mattered to me
    posted by octobersurprise at 8:52 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


    Spoken as someone who's never had one in their yard and has never stepped on those damn spiny leaves for 40 years.

    No, I have a HOLLY TREE in my yard. D:
    posted by suelac at 2:24 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


    I'm partial to the Douglas fir now, but eucalyptus will always have a place in my heart, because they're all over my original home of SoCal.
    posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:54 PM on October 10


    Eucalyptus in California is definitely a memory trigger, but alas they are an invasive species, coincidentally like frogs in Australia.
    posted by rhizome at 10:12 AM on October 11


    The smell of a wild plum tree in the spring, just as it blooms out as a soft white haze over the low-hanging branches, is heavenly. Prune with gloves. Be careful mowing under it. No viable fruit to speak of.
    Wild plum trees, harvested from old pastures and farmsteads, are a lovely companion planting with redbud trees. The purple-pink flowers come out at the same time. The heart-shaped redbud leaves turn yellow in autumn.
    posted by TrishaU at 2:06 PM on October 11


    The house I grew up in had a sweetgum next to the driveway that was sizable my entire life but sometime in my late teens or early twenties it suddenly became ALL THE COLOR every fall in a way I'm sure it hadn't before that. The neighbors across the street had a maple that similarly grew a mature color crown, and once I noticed that I realized that the whole subdivision had basically gone from merely tree-lined to a robust canopy that just goes bonkers in the fall. My mom still lives there, but I haven't visited in a while and I'm sure some of those trees are now past their lifetimes.

    A few years ago we inherited some ornamental potted cherry trees from neighbors who moved out of the apartment next to ours and didn't have anywhere to move them. They asked, "do you want these for your patio? We're not going to move them since our new place doesn't have room. They're cherries but they've never fruited." Of course they fruited the next year (twice, actually), and the year after that, and when we moved out of that apartment the people who rented it were happy to keep the trees. I wonder if the trees are still there, even if those tenants aren't.

    Last year we took advantage of subsidized tree planting and put a serviceberry in our front postage stamp of a yard. It's often described as a "shrubby" variety and it will produce multiple trunks if you let it, but it can be trained to grow in a single trunk. It flowered and fruited nicely this year. It hasn't yet gotten its fall color yet, but we're looking forward to that. If we ever have the money to landscape our tiny back yard we'll probably put a subsidized yellowwood back there.



    I've been unemployed since last October and that's stretched out so long that I've been looking for temp jobs, retail, or service industry positions just to get some money coming in. The paradox of being a long time tech worker now looking for a short term paycheck is that while the required skills mean you'd make a great office temp, they also mean that every agency that fills office temp roles looks at your resume and says, "here, let me send you to our professional services organization that fills IT roles" even when you say "no really, filing and Microsoft Office are FINE, and your IT organization can't place people like me, anyway. I've tried."

    So anyway, I filled out an application for a seasonal gig at Target, got pulled in for a big hiring event, and found myself across from the store GM, who said, "so with your background …" Turns out he'd apparently hired some other IT guy a couple years ago who is now an "executive team lead" (Target-speak for assistant general manager) and he thought I was a good candidate for that track. If I really did just want some hours and no responsibility he said he'd respect that and had plenty of work I could do, but it was oddly refreshing to have an interview that actually resulted in an offer with an apparent future with the company spelled out, for once.

    I started today. Right now I'm in an hourly role guaranteed at 40 hours. I can walk to work. The money's not really in line with what I made in IT, but the next step up is a salary position with the potential to have my own store in a couple years. I'm going to see how I like the work and the culture and maybe find out I'm really as done with IT as I've kind of known for a while.
    posted by fedward at 5:47 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


    This recent article about the Bradford Pear really caught my eye.
    The U.S. Agriculture Department scientists who gave us the Bradford pear thought they were improving our world. Instead, they left an environmental time bomb that has now exploded.

    From the 1960s to the 1990s, the callery pear was the urban planner’s gift from above. A seedling selection named Bradford was cloned by the gazillion to become the ubiquitous street tree of America’s postwar suburban expansion
    .
    posted by infinite intimation at 12:08 AM on October 12


    This recent article about the Bradford Pear really caught my eye.

    It caught peeedro's as well.
    A roving free-range freak
    posted by zamboni at 7:38 AM on October 12


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