Monday, April 19, 2010


Contributing Writer - Sue Erhardt, Director of Education
Ongoing Series - Trees of Note

I would like to share with you two Trees of Note I am thankful to have in my life - Eastern redbuds (Cercis Canadensis) located at the entrance of Hostelling International in downtown DC.

For almost two years I have walked past these Eastern redbuds on my way into and out of the office
. Without exaggerating, I have easily walked by these trees more than a thousand times and each time I do their presence still makes me smile.

These Eastern redbuds trees have also become my marker for the seasons. Right now the trees are adorned with brilliant, delicate lavender buds signaling the arrival of spring and warmer weather. The heart-shaped, green leaves hint that summer is just ahead and when fall arrives, these same leaves will turn bright yellow and rain down on me when the wind blows. And of course, winter is announced when the trees go completely bare.

Now a word of caution. This past holiday season, someone wrapped holiday lights up and down the trunks of both trees and then left them up even after Santa had come and gone. I'll be the first to admit that as a daughter of a woman who makes Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation look like an amateur, I love holiday decorations. Unfortunately the lights were wrapped so tightly around both trunks that they were girdling the trees.

What is girdling you ask? Girdling refers to any activity injuring the bark of a tree trunk and extends around much of the trunk's circumference. Such injuries can destroy the tree's most vital membranes which are responsible for transporting nutrients up and down the tree. If too severely damaged, the tree will die.

In early February the lights finally came down but as you can see in the picture below, scarring was left behind. These trees are a testament to how tough city trees need to be to survive.

My parting thought is that the life of a city tree is not easy and these two trees have endured. If only these trees could talk, I wonder what they would say.

Visit this Tree of Note!
Hostelling International Washington, DC
1009 11th Street NW
Washington, DC

See all the Trees of Note on the Casey Trees Map.

Redbud 101:
  • Location - The range is from New Jersey and southern Pennsylvania northwest to southern Michigan, southwest into southeastern Nebraska, south to central Texas and east to central Florida. A distinct population extends from Trans-Pecos and south Texas into Mexico.
  • Crown - round; vase shape
  • Height - 20-30'
  • Foliage - 4-8" long simple; alternate
  • Color - green in spring/summer; yellow in fall
  • Flowers -Pink to reddish purple, rarely white; bloom in early spring.
  • Fruit - 1-3" pod; does not attract wildlife; no litter problem
  • Bark - thin; easily damaged from mechanical impact
  • Landscape Use - attractive choice for understory or specimen planting; commercial and residential landscapes

Nominate a Tree of Note! All individuals that nominate a Tree of Note by Arbor Day on Friday, April 30, 2010 will be entered to win a signed copy of City of Trees by Melanie Choukas-Bradley. All Trees of Note can be found on the Casey Trees Map.

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