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Heavy seed crop leads to sparse-looking trees

Todd Lanigan, forest health specialist, Eau Claire, Todd.Lanigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-839-1632

You may have noticed some of the elms and maples had a lot of brown in them at the end of May and early June. Some elms and maples produced a lot of seed this spring, which reduced the amount of energy available for producing leaves. With fewer leaves and more of the brown, papery seeds, the trees can take on a thin, brown appearance.

Heavy seed years can occur for many reasons. It happens naturally from time to time and it can also be stimulated by environmental stressors. A couple of examples of environmental stressors are: excessive moisture, winter injury and frost damage to roots.

The cause of this year’s heavy seed production is anyone’s guess. There does not appear to be a common pattern between the affected trees to indicate whether it was simply a normal heavy seed year or related to an environmental factor.

 

Protect yourself from ticks and tickborne illnesses

Bill McNee, forest health specialist, Oshkosh, Bill.McNee@wisconsin.gov or 920-360-0942

Adult deer tick. Credit: Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, bugwood.org.

So far this spring we are off to a busy tick season, with many reports and photos being sent in to DNR staff. Ticks can be found year-round in Wisconsin but are most active from May to September. Some species, including the deer tick responsible for Lyme disease, carry infectious diseases that elevate them from mere nuisance to serious health threat.  Lyme disease is most often spread by very small, immature ticks known as “nymphs.” Adult deer ticks can also transmit Lyme disease, but because they are larger, they are more likely to be discovered and removed compared to the tiny nymphs which can be as small as a chia or sesame seed.

Continue reading “Protect yourself from ticks and tickborne illnesses”

Trees clean the air and prevent respiratory illness

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Did you know trees help prevent asthma and other respiratory diseases? Trees filter particles out of the air we breathe, which decreases our risk of respiratory illnesses, including asthma. One study found that in 2010, trees removed 17.4 million tons of air pollution across the US, which prevented 850 human deaths and 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms. Continue reading “Trees clean the air and prevent respiratory illness”

Urban tree identification tool available

By Dan Buckler, Urban Forestry Assessment Specialist

Many guides help you distinguish between a black and a northern red oak, or between a beech and a musclewood. But for many people just trying to identify a tree outside their door, these guides might not be appropriate. Some include too many trees from out-of-state, some focus on trees only found in rural areas, and some others are weighed down by detail.  Continue reading “Urban tree identification tool available”

Salt spray injury on conifers observed in spring

By Paul Cigan, forest health specialist, Hayward, Paul.Cigan@wisconsin.gov, 715-416-4920

A particularly active winter weather season has left white pine and other conifer species along many of Wisconsin’s roadways with salt spray injury this spring. These salt deposits draw water out of the foliage, causing them to dry out and turn brown, often beginning at needle tips and progressing down to the needle base. Browning is most heavily concentrated on branches facing the road, lower portions of tree crowns and foliage that remained above the snowline.

Browning is likely to intensify as the weather continues to warm this spring, and heavily damaged needles may die and prematurely fall off. Successive years of damage can leave branches sparse of foliage and cause branch dieback.

Salt spray from de-icing salts applied to roadways may drift and settle onto vegetation within 150 feet of a roadway. Injury can be prevented or reduced by placing physical barriers such as snow fencing, plastic or burlap around conifers in fall. Salt residues can also be rinsed off with water during periods of warm weather prior to bud break. More information about salt damage to plants can be found in this UW–Madison Division of Extension publication.

Red pine shoot with needle tip browning from salt spray injury.

Red pine shoot with needle tip browning.

White pine tree with salt spray injury concentrated on limbs of the lower crown that are facing the roadway.

White pine tree with salt spray injury.

White pine seedlings with salt spray injury concentrated on tissues above the former snowline.

White pine seedlings with salt spray injury.

 

Help your heart by planting trees

February is American Heart Month. Get heart healthy the easy way, head outside! Exposure to trees relaxes and restores your mind, lowering your blood pressure and heart rate. This helps to reduce incidences of cardiovascular and lower respiratory diseases. Conversely, tree loss from the spread of the emerald ash borer, and other insects and diseases, is associated with increased mortality related to cardiovascular and lower respiratory diseases.

walking in park Continue reading “Help your heart by planting trees”

Trees help achieve resolutions to be healthy

The sedentary lifestyle has become more common, and the shift has been costly. One result is an increase in obesity. Childhood obesity rates have tripled (12–19 years old) or quadrupled (6–11 years old,) and adult rates have doubled since the 1970s. Obesity increases risk of chronic diseases and conditions such as: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, cancer and mental illness. This rise in chronic diseases related to obesity results in billions of dollars in medical costs and lost productivity each year. Continue reading “Trees help achieve resolutions to be healthy”