Thursday, May 26, 2011

Is it an Eastern or Western Cedar or Juniper?

People use the names of Cedar and Juniper when speaking about some of their evergreens. What is the difference between cedars and junipers and eastern and western cedar?

Eastern Red Cedar or Juniper have the Latin name of Juniperus virginiana. This is a slow growing tree that is long-lived and grows to about 40 feet and is adaptable to a variety of wet or dry conditions. It is an evergreen with opposite scale-like leaves. There are male and female trees with the female trees producing the berry-like fruit. The bluish berry-like fruit are covered with a whitish powder about 1/4 inch in diameter which contains one to two seeds. The bluish berry-like fruit once pollinated become cones.

Western Red Cedar has the Latin name of Thuja plicata. Other alternate common names for this plant are Giant Arborvitae, Western Arborvitae and Pacific Red Cedar. Sounds confusing doesn't it? Leaves are again evergreen, scale-like and sharply pointed. The picture to the left shows the scale-like leaves.

Rocky Mountain Juniper or Colorado redcedar has a Latin name of Juniperus scopulorum. Its leaves are evergreen and scale-like and tightly appressed. The cones on this ripen in the second year. Its overall habit is narrow, pyramidal with several main stems. It is a slow growing tree.

There are many cultivars of junipers used in our landscapes such as Juniperus scopulorum 'Moonglow' - the picture directly under the sentence. Junipers withstand drought conditions very well, but it is not well-adapted to humidity and high night temperatures of the southeast.

With all of these, be sure you know the Latin name and understand the habit of the tree which helps in knowing if you have what you wanted.

Is Vinegar a solution to weed control?

According to information provided by Purdue Extension on USDA research on using acetic acid or vinegar on common weeds such as Canada thistle, it can be effective. With a 5% or 10% household concentration, you can kill the younger plants in the first two weeks of their emergence. Once they are older and more established the plants required higher concentrations of acetic acid. This then becomes more dangerous for individuals spraying the plants. Higher concentrations can cause eye injury and burn your skin. Although, higher concentrations have a higher kill rate on plants up to 85 to 100 percent. With older plants of Canada thistle, it just temporarily burned the vegetative growth. The thistle re-sprouted new shoots in a short period of time.
If you choose to use vinegar, the soil pH was only temporarily affected because it breaks down quickly. The higher pH will however stay around for a few days. The USDA scientists do note that corn is the only crop not susceptible to tissue burn as other crops. More research is needed on other crops on ornamental and non-ornamental crops.

Other options for an organic method of controlling weeds are the old fashioned method of hand pulling in your flower beds or under your trees. Corn gluten will affect seeds that have not emerged. Contact your Extension Office before attempting any other types of organic remedies.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cedar-Apple Rust

Ever see one of these galls before? These galls use the Western Red Cedar trees or Juniperus virginiana as a host to complete its life cycle. The Cedar-Apple Rust fungus overwinters in spherical galls on cedar trees. With the spring rain it causes the telia or horn-like structures to extude from the galls. These horn-like structures absorb water and are gelatinous and then become swollen. Through all the spring rains, these telial horns produce teliospores that germinate to produce a germ tube or basidium from each cell. Basidiospores can be produced within 4 hours after the telia or horn-like structures absorb water. These basidiospores are discharged into the air and are carried long distances to infect the undersides of young leaves on apple trees, hawthorn trees and crabapple trees. So that later you detect rust spots on your hawthorn that appear like the picture below:
Though the spores are carried for long distances, it is more likely that you or your neighbor would end up with rust from a cedar a few hundred yards away. The life cycle of this type of rust takes a two year time frame to complete. There are resistant apple and crabapple varieties. Some of the more resistant are as follows: Macoun, Paulared, Maiden Blush, Empire, Early McIntosh, Dayton to name a few. Early detection is the key, so contact the Extension office in your county if you see the galls on the Western Red Cedars.