The 2011 Super Service Award Goes To…

December 15th, 2011

….Leaf & Limb Tree Service! Angie’s List notified us today that we are the recipient of a 2011 Super Service Award! This award is given to less than 5% of all businesses listed on Angie’s List.

Leaf & Limb Tree Service wins Angie's List Super Service Award for 2011!

According to Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, “Only a fraction of the businesses rated on Angie’s List can claim the sterling service record of being a Super Service Award winner because we set a high bar.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award winners have met strict eligibility requirements including earning a minimum number of reports, an exemplary rating from their clients, and abiding by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Here at Leaf & Limb we are honored to have received this award. Although it is only one small award from one of many companies, it is nice to see that our efforts to offer excellent service are being recognized. For us, the client is king and we strive to demonstrate this through our service.

Thanks to each of you who took time out of your busy day to post feedback about our company on Angie’s List. It is because of you that we won this award.

Want to Increase Your Property Value and Save Money? Think Tree Care!

December 9th, 2011

Consider the following: Your trees are valuable assets. First, trees increase your property value by as much as 20%. Second, trees provide a number of important benefits such as:

  • Reducing energy bills by providing shade
  • Absorbing pollutants in the air, soil, and water
  • Cleaning carbon dioxide from the air
  • Lessening noise pollution
  • And more!

Whether you are looking to add value to your existing property, sell your property for a higher price, or command higher rent rates from tenants, your trees should be an important consideration.

Save Money and Increase Property Value Through Tree CareMany tree service companies are able to fell trees, trim trees, and remove stumps, but they do not have the expertise with which to identify, diagnose, and solve tree disorders. As such, they are unable to recommend solutions that heal and preserve trees.

To offer tree care services requires a great deal of knowledge about tree physiology, diseases, root systems, pests, abiotic factors, as well as the surrounding environment. But this expertise does not translate into offering services that are more expensive. As a matter of fact, tree care services are generally cheaper than tree removal services.

According to various surveys and cost analyses performed by USDA Forest Services, municipalities, and the private sector, it is estimated that the average cost to remove a tree is somewhere around $500-$700.  In contrast, tree care services (fertilization, pest control, etc.) generally range from $50 to $200 per tree. Not only that, but tree care involves less risk to workers and property. Best of all, by caring for your trees you have maintained and enhanced these assets rather than removing them.

The end result of tree care? You have saved money and increased your property value. Contact Leaf & Limb Tree Service today for all your tree care needs.

 

NOTE: This blog post is an excerpt from Leaf & Limb article entitled Tree Care: Save Money and Increase Your Property Value. You can read the full version of this article by clicking the link.

 

Stop the Press – Colin is an ISA Certified Arborist!

September 17th, 2011

We are proud to announce that Colin has successfully completed the Certified Arborist exam administered through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)! Congratulations Colin! By combining a great deal of hard work, many hours of studying, and over 10 years of experience in the tree service industry, Colin aced the three and a half hour exam. His certification number is SO-6603A.

Colin Camu ISA Certified ArboristYou may be wondering, what exactly is an ISA Certified Arborist? To answer, let me explain a bit about the ISA, as well as the program itself. The International Society of Arboriculture is a scientific and educational organization committed to spreading information regarding the care and preservation of trees. It is one of the largest, if not the largest, organization of tree care professionals in the world. In 1992 the ISA founded its certification program with the goal of improving the knowledge and standards of practice within the tree care industry. In addition, the program is designed to help the general public in identifying quality professionals who have a thorough knowledge of tree care practices, as demonstrated by passing the ISA education program and exam. Since 1992, over 25,000 professionals world-wide have earned one of ISA’s credentials.

This program is voluntary. All individuals who choose to earn this certification must complete an education program and exam that covers all facets of arboriculture. This includes topics such as soil management, tree identification & selection, tree biology, safe working practices, pruning, diagnosis & treatment, tree risk management, and much more. As an aside (in case you are wondering), arboriculture is defined as the cultivation, management, and study of trees and related perennial woody plants. But between you and I, the word “arboriculture” is mostly just a fancy term tree service professionals like to throw out for “oohs” and “ahhs” :)

All Certified Arborists have a minimum of three years worth of full-time experience working in the tree service industry. After passing the exam, individuals must adhere to ISA’s Code of Ethics. In addition, they must also undergo regular recertification and educational requirements. This ensures that Certified Arborists stay abreast of new industry developments and techniques, which maintains high standards for the Certified Arborist program overall.

For you the reader, having an ISA Certified Arborist on staff means that if you are interested in using Leaf & Limb you can rest easy knowing that we have a working knowledge how to properly tend to your trees. We are able to offer consultations, advice, and plans of action for all your tree care needs. So give us a call – we would love the opportunity to meet with you!

Facebook and Twitter… We Have Joined the 21st Century!

January 28th, 2011

We have finally decided to join the 21st century and we now have Facebook and Twitter pages for Leaf & Limb Tree Service! Ok, confession time: we have actually had these pages for a while but have not been very active. Well, that has changed and we are now being far more active. We will regularly post photos, interesting information, links to good articles, and other fun things pertaining to our business and industry. Please join either one (or both!) of these pages today! We would love for you to be a part of the fun. You can go directly to these pages by clicking one of the icons below. Once you are there, you can join by clicking the appropriate buttons to either “Like” (Facebook) or “Follow” (Twitter). Thanks in advance and we look forward to seeing you out there in Social Media Land!

Leaf & Limb Facebook Fan PageLeaf & Limb Twitter Page

PS: You may have noticed that there are also snazzy new links for Facebook and Twitter at the bottom of every page on the website.

Colin has earned TCIA’s “Certified Treecare Safety Professional” Accreditation!

December 20th, 2010

After a great deal of work, we are proud to announce that Colin has earned his “Certified Treecare Safety Professional” (CTSP) accreditation from the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). This is no small feat. As a matter of fact, there are only two tree services in the RDU/Triangle area that have this accreditation!

So you are probably wondering two things. First, how hard is it to become CTSP accredited? Second, what does this mean for you? So glad you asked!

Certified Tree Care Safety Professional

To answer the first question, this certification requires experience, extensive training, and passing safety-related exams. In addition, CTSPs are required to fulfill 30 continuing education credits, which includes things like ongoing safety training, teaching safety-related classes, writing articles published in industry magazines, and so. But enough about this! What does hiring a CTSP accredited tree service mean for you?

The whole purpose of TCIA’s CTSP program is to decrease work-related injuries and fatalities in the tree care and tree removal industry. After all, this industry is one of the most dangerous in the U.S., ranked on par with the likes of logging and snow crab fishing. According to TCIA’s, “Accident Survey Results: 2008-09 Operations” an accredited member will experience 100% fewer accidents than the non-accredited non-members.

Having a CTSP on staff means that we at Leaf & Limb are committed to the highest level of safe working practices in all areas of our tree service operations. It means that we are devoted to following the latest technological advances and safety regulations affecting the field of safety in our industry. When you employ our services, or the services of any other CTSP certified tree service, you can rest assured knowing that you will have a safe, professional operation managed by highly skilled experts.

Once again, congratulations to Colin for all his hard work! His CTSP accreditation is invaluable to Leaf & Limb Tree Service and brings an extra level of safety awareness necessary to ensure that every tree care and tree removal project is completed with all essential precautions.

Be sure and check out our official press release on PRWeb and on our website.

And Summer turns to Autumn…

October 14th, 2010

Hello friends! We do apologize to all our readers for not having published any new blog posts since July, but it has been a very busy summer and early autumn here at Leaf & Limb Tree Service. Ok, ok, nobody likes excuses. We promise to do better in the future :) But not to worry! We have series of new blog posts we are getting ready to release regarding tree care for Bradford Pear trees. Having been the darling child of the landscaping industry for the past 30 years, there is a good chance you have a Bradford Pear tree planted on your property, at your office, or somewhere nearby. It seems that whenever a thunderstorm or ice storm rolls through the area, Bradford Pears are the first to go. That is not a coincidence. Bradford Pear trees have problems with structural integrity and are prone to splitting. But more on this topic later. Stay tuned to this blog for the release of our in-depth articles.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the new pages we have published on our website. We spent a lot of time writing pages specific to all the major cities here in the Raleigh metropolitan area. As always, let us know if we can be of service to you.

Be sure and check back soon for our new articles about tree care for Bradford Pears!

Tree Removal in Cary with a Crane

July 15th, 2010

We recently completed a job for a client located in Cary, North Carolina. As you will see from this video, she had a gum tree located in a narrow section of space between her house and her neighbor’s house. In addition, a fence and a deck on the remaining sides further limited the available room. Thus access was far too tight for traditional tree felling methods. Even climbing the tree and piecing it down in small sections was not an option. Instead, we brought in a crane and removed the tree by hoisting large sections over the house. Watch as our climber, crane operator, and crew work to skillfully to remove this tree in three segments. It is fascinating!

10 Tips on How to Choose the Right Tree Service and Avoid Scams

June 29th, 2010

Unfortunately for you, and unfortunately for those of us trying to run legitimate tree service companies, our industry is full of con artists, fly-by-night crooks, and companies that produce less than desirable results. According to a recent news release from the Better Business Bureau, “the tree service industry was the sixth most complained about industry at your BBB last year” (you can read the full press release here.) So what can you do to protect yourself when hiring a tree service? How do you choose the right company? What are the necessary steps to avoiding tree service scams? We would like to offer you a few of our insights based on our years of experience. These should help point you in the right direction:

1. Insurance: Make sure each tree service you are considering has appropriate liability insurance and workers compensation insurance. All certificates of insurance should be sent from the tree service’s insurance agency directly to you. Otherwise, it could be a fraudulent certificate. If a company has an accident, and does not have the proper insurance, then you are liable. You will have to pay for repairs to your property and any injuries that may have occurred as a result of the accident.

2. Better Business Bureau: Ensure that the company in question is accredited with the Better Business Bureau. Only a handful of tree services receive BBB accreditation and those that do are generally reputable. Also, find out what kind of rating the company has. The tree service should be in good standing with BBB.

3. Reputation: Do some research to find out what kind of reputation the tree service has with its local community. The right tree service should have positive online reviews in a variety of places. Check to see whether the company in question is a member of any reputable trade association, such as the Tree Care Industry Association or International Society of Arboriculture. How long has the company been in business? Do they have any complaints on local forums, discussion groups, etc? Ask the company for references, if you need the extra assurance. Especially for expensive projects, doing a bit of research is always worth the time.

4. Too Cheap?: If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. During these tough economic times we are all looking for bargains. But if a tree service is giving you a very low price, it may be because they a) have no experience, b) do not have the proper insurances and certifications, or c) they only intend to complete part of the project.

5. Too Expensive?: Similarly, if a price seems too high, say no thanks. Do not let a smooth-talking salesman convince you that $9000 is a reasonable price for removing an easily accessible oak tree in your front yard.

6. Multiple Estimates: You may be asking yourself, “how will I know if a price is too high or too low?” We recommend that you get estimates from at least three different companies. From the three estimates you should get some sense of what price is normal. If possible, we recommend that you meet with each representative in person. This will give you a chance to judge the company’s expertise and professionalism. It will also enable you to ask questions, learn about more about what is involved, and so on.

7. Compare Apples to Apples: When you consider different estimates you should compare what is actually being offered. If one tree service is offering extra services or some extra benefit then you should take this into account. For example, perhaps one tree service plans on felling the tree whereas another tree service will remove it in small sections? Felling a tree is easier and requires less time, but it will cause more damage to your property. Piecing a tree down in small sections will cause minimal damage to your yard, but it requires more time and effort and thus it will generally be the more expensive option. This is also a good point at which to compare the service, professionalism, knowledge, presentation, etc of each different company. Remember that price is not everything – you should listen to your instincts about which company is most trustworthy.

8. Avoid Door-to-Door Contractors: Do not ever do business with door-to-door contractors, particularly for large projects such as tree removal. The BBB and a number of district attorneys offices across the country regularly warn against this. Door to door contractors are often con artists that travel from town to town, preying on homeowners, particularly seniors. If you simply make it a policy not to do business with them, you will not have to worry about being caught in a scam. Besides, deciding to complete tree work on the spur of the moment is not a good idea – there are too many variables that must be carefully considered first.

9. Use Caution After a Disaster: Natural disasters (or whatever sort of disaster it may be) usually bring the con artists out in droves. Unfortunately, this may be the one instance where hiring a door-to-door contractor is necessary. If, for example, you have a tree lying on your house and there is no electricity, you may have to hire a tree service that passes by. But even in this situation, make sure you are being charged a reasonable price. There are many examples of companies charging exorbitant rates for simple tree removal projects after a hurricane, ice storm, etc. You should also ensure that the company has the necessary insurances and certifications.

10. Pay When Satisfied: Once you have picked a tree service you feel comfortable with, the most important rule to follow is never NEVER pay for a tree removal or tree trimming project of any kind until you are 100% satisfied with the work. There are countless instances of homeowners paying for a tree service project up front, only to never hear from the company again. The tree service industry is not like the building industry – we never under any circumstance need to be paid in advance for our work. One popular trick among disreputable tree services is to begin a project, collect money (for any number of reasons – “I have to pay my staff”, “we need money for fuel”, “we need payment to finish the job”, etc), and then never return. This is especially true with stump removal. In this scenario the company has completely removed the tree and then asks for payment, promising to return later to remove the stump. Upon receiving payment, the company never returns. Remember: do not pay a dime until your job is completely finished and you are happy with the service.

So long as you make contact with several companies, do your homework, make sure your company of choice is properly insured, and exert common sense, you are sure to choose the right tree service. Add to that never paying for a job until it is properly completed, and it is almost certain that you will avoid any sort of tree service scam altogether.

Dragon’s Blood Tree

June 16th, 2010

I was watching BBC’s new documentary “Life” last night and the particular episode was all about plants. BBC featured some incredible plants, but the one that really caught my attention (being the tree guy that I am) was the Dracaena Cinnabari, or, the Dragon’s Blood Tree. This odd looking tree grows in the mountaintops of the Socotra Archipelago, which is a group of four remote islands located in the Indian Ocean south of the Arabian Peninsula. It is named as such because of its unique red sap. This red sap forms a resin that was a prized commodity in ancient times. Romans and other old civilizations used it as medicine and as a red dye. Dragon’s Blood resin has enjoyed continued popularity throughout history for various purposes, and even today it is still used as a varnish.A Dragon Blood Tree on the island of Socotra

You will notice that the Dragon’s Blood Tree has a truly bizarre shape, reminiscent of a giant mushroom or an upturned umbrella. This odd shape is not an accident. It is crucial to the tree’s survival. Socotra is a hot, desert island with an especially tough dry season and very little rainfall. In order to survive here, plants must develop clever methods for obtaining water. As the occasional morning mist sweeps across the mountains, water droplets accumulate on the Dragon Blood Tree’s long waxy leaves. The tree’s shape allows it to transport the water from the leaves down the branches and trunk to the roots. It is important that the droplets run down the tree because the sun will evaporate any that fall on the hot ground below. But if water does happen to fall, the tree provides enough shadow with its dense canopy that some of it is able to seep into the soil before being evaporated. This tree’s ability to survive in such a harsh setting is amazing, don’t you think?

So there you have it! The Dragon Blood Tree is one of many fascinating trees on Planet Earth. Stay tuned, as I’m sure we’ll mention many other incredible trees here on the blog… Monkey Puzzle Tree anyone?

How to Prevent Tree Damage

June 2nd, 2010

Every year trees cause incredible damage to people and property. In the most tragic of situations, trees even cause death. This occurred here in Raleigh last week when a tree fell into a house and killed a woman. What makes this incident particularly sad is that it could have been prevented. Authorities believe the tree fell due to decay at the base of the tree. Apparently a large portion of the tree broke off during previous years, leaving an exposed gap at the bottom of the trunk, which led to rot. When a storm blew through the area, the base gave way and the tree collapsed. Had the deterioration been identified earlier, and had the tree been removed under controlled circumstances, this tragedy could have been prevented.

In order to prevent tree-related damage, it is essential that you identify potential problems early, before they turn into actual problems. As a homeowner or as somebody who oversees property where trees are present, it is very important that you regularly assess the health of your trees. As much as we all love and appreciate trees, they can be dangerous. Here are a few issues to watch out for:

  • Are there dead trees on your property? For dead trees, it is a matter of “when” they will fall, not “if.” Dead trees are especially dangerous if located near a home, office complex, or area where people are often present.
  • Are there trees with dead branches? Dead branches will eventually fall, and when they do, they have the potential to punch holes in roofs, dent cars, break sheds, or hurt people.
  • Are there any branches hanging in trees? In our industry, we have a special term for hanging branches: “widowmakers” You get the idea.
  • Are there trees with holes or rot at the base? If so, there is a good chance that the base of the tree is weak, which means it has the potential to fall and cause damage at any time.
  • Are mushrooms, cracks, splits, or any other indicators of a dead or dying tree present along the base of the trunk? If so, this is a tree that should be removed.
  • Do you have a tree where branches regularly fall? Not only are the falling branches themselves a hazard, but this could be an indicator of a larger problem.
  • Do you have trees that lean strongly in one direction? In conjunction with the lean, are there roots lifting out of the ground on the back side of the tree? If so, this tree should be carefully assessed, particularly if it is leaning towards a house, office, garage, sidewalk, etc.
  • Are there large branches with open, old, or rotting wounds? A branch like this has a high likelihood of falling.

These are just a few of the many potential problems to look for as you assess your trees. If you do not feel comfortable doing this yourself, or if you simply do not have the time, call your local tree service and ask them to give your property an evaluation. Here at Leaf & Limb Tree Service we offer such evaluations at no charge. Contact us today and we’ll set up a time to meet with you. Remember, the key to preventing tree damage is to identify potential issues early, before they develop into serious problems.

Raleigh Tree Removal Videos

May 5th, 2010

Over the last couple of weeks we decided to start a YouTube channel (which you can visit by clicking here: Leaf & Limb Tree Service’s YouTube Channel). There are a number of reasons for this decision. First, we think videos are a fun way to showcase some of the tasks and projects we do on a regular basis. Second, videos are a great medium for presenting useful tips and “how-to” demonstrations. Last, our YouTube channel will add an extra spark to this blog, since we can embed the videos here and discuss them in greater depth than we are able to do on YouTube. Besides, let’s face it – everybody loves watching videos!

To kick off our YouTube channel, we posted two videos that we filmed and edited last week. The first video was filmed at a job site where the client had a well-manicured garden complete with fish pools in her back yard. She wanted to remove a tall pine tree located inside the garden, but there was no space to throw the tree. As such, we had to climb the tree and carefully piece it down.

The video itself was created using a time-lapse feature on a regular point-and-shoot camera (a Canon SD1100). Basically, we attached the camera to a tripod and set the time-lapse feature such that it took one picture every 2 seconds. Next we imported all the pictures into our video software (we use iPhoto, in case you are wondering) and merged them into a continuous video.

The site for the second video was a situation similar to the first. But instead of a garden, this pine tree was located near a pool, a wrought iron fence, and some smaller ornamental trees. Once again, access was an issue. Whenever access is an issue we generally have to climb the tree, or in extreme situations, remove the tree using a heavy-duty crane.

In terms of filming, we took a different approach. This time we docked our high definition camcorder (a Panasonic HDC-HS250) to a tripod and filmed a similar process: our climber removing a pine tree. But instead of using a time lapse feature, we simply filmed the whole project with one continuous shot. Once we had imported the film into iPhoto, we sped the entire process up, giving the video the fast motion effect. As you will see, a few guys on the crew decided to add a few of their own creative “flourishes” during the filming process. Perhaps these make the film seem a bit less professional, but they make it more fun to watch.

Let us know what you think about the videos! Also, be sure and let us know what you think about our new YouTube channel.

Emergency Tree Removal in Durham

April 21st, 2010

Last week we received a call from a mortgage company that owns a vacant property in Durham where a major section of a willow oak had fallen into the house, causing a considerable amount of damage. Thank goodness the house was vacant, otherwise there may have been injuries! For good reason, they needed us to remove the tree immediately. Once we arrived on site, the first order of business was to assess the situation. The tree was located near the back of the house and formed a fork approximately five feet from the ground. Rot had developed in the fork, which weakened the structure of the entire tree. Thanks to an encouraging push from the wind, the smaller of the two trunks fell on top of the house, crashing through the roof and walls.

Tree fallen into house in Durham NC

Because of the delicate nature of this job, we certainly needed to use our crane. After setting up the crane in the street right in front of the house, we began the process of extracting the portion of the tree that was, quite literally, IN the house.Our climber secured himself to the end of the crane’s attachment and the crane operator carefully raised him onto the roof.

Leaf & Limb Tree Service climber being raised onto roof via crane

Once there, our climber wrapped cables around an individual section of the tree top, which he then connected to the crane. As he cut the section free, the operator slowly moved it to an open area in the street where the rest of the crew was able to chip the branches and cut the logs in appropriate lengths.

Leaf & Limb crew cleaning up tree

This process was repeated until all that remained was the tree trunk. Next, our climber focused on the tree trunk, which caused the bulk of the damage and was still situated within the house. At this point, the key was to remove the log without causing further damage to the house.

Removing tree trunk via crane

With a little expert maneuvering from our crane operator, we were able to guide the log out of the house along its drop path, then up and over the house. Phase one was complete! Next we turned our attention to the remaining portion of the tree. Although it was still standing and look reasonably healthy at first glance, it too had rotting issues near the base. This was an accident waiting to happen and needed to be removed before it could cause any further harm. Again, we implemented our crane in tandem with our expert climber. Our climber ascended the tree and positioned himself in the canopy where he was able to begin securing cables around sections of the tree top.

Leaf & Limb Tree Service ascends tree

As he cut each section, the crane operator lifted it over the house towards the street. Section by section, segment by segment, we reduced the tree to a standing trunk. The last task was to attach the cables to the trunk, cut it free, lift it over the house, and load it onto our waiting truck. At this point, the tree was completely removed. Now it was simply a matter of cleaning the debris, hauling away the logs, raking the yard, and blowing the street. Dare I say, QED? Yes, I dare – but only because we’re pros at this sort of thing ;)

Record Levels of Pollen in North Carolina

April 13th, 2010

It is hard to decide what caused more accumulation, the blizzard from a few months ago or this year’s bumper crop of tree pollen! In all seriousness, the pollen this year is one for the record books. According to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Natural Resources’ Air Quality Division Pollen at record levels in North Carolina(just be glad you do not have to write that name on your return address every day!), the pollen levels in North Carolina are the highest they have been since the agency began to record pollen buildup in the late 1990s. According to its press release from last week, the agency measured a sample that contained 3,524 pollen grains per cubic meter at its Raleigh office and a sample from Winston-Salem that contained 9,632 grains per cubic meter! To put this in perspective, a normal pollen count during this time of year falls somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 grains per cubic meter.

Experts believe that that the sudden transition from a prolonged cold winter to a warm spring is to blame for the abnormally high levels of pollen. The protracted cold delayed tree species that normally begin to bloom early. Then once the abrupt change took place, everything bloomed all at once leading to a concentrated onslaught of pollen

The good news is that due to recent rainfall, tree pollen is finally washing away. For those of us who suffer from pollen allergies, we can breathe sighs of relief and look forward to warm spring days with no sneezing, no throbbing sinuses, and no headaches. Well, there is always grass and weed pollen to look forward to in the summer… But we will worry about that later. ¡Viva la Spring!

Just FYI, for those who are interested in pollen forecasts and all things pollen-related, be sure to check out Pollen.com

The World’s Oldest Trees

April 8th, 2010

Trees can grow to astoundingly old ages. As a matter of fact, trees (along with certain other plants such as Namibia’s famous Welwitschia) make up some of the oldest known living organisms on the planet. Certain types of trees have attained incredible longevity through a number of unique capabilities, such as the ability to replace lost or damaged organs (above and below ground), a sectored vascular system that allows portions of the tree to survive whether or not the rest of the tree is alive, the formation of clone shoots whereby an existing shoot can produce a genetically identical offshoot, synthesis of defensive compounds to ward off invaders, a hormonal control system, and much more. Trees are indeed fascinating organisms!

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the world’s oldest trees:

1. Methuselah: With a death-defying 4,842 years under its belt, this Great Basin bristlecone pine deserves its name. This is considered to be the oldest non-clonal organism (i.e., individual plant) on the planet. Stop and think about that for just a moment. This tree was a sapling at the dawn of the Egyptian civilization, hundreds of years old during the building of Stonehenge, and by the time Chinese civilization was just beginning on the banks of the Yellow River, Methuselah was already over 500 hundred years old. This is truly a staggering thought.

Methuselah is located 10,000 feet above sea level in Inyo National Forest in California. But in an effort to protect the tree from vandalism, its exact location remains a closely-held secret protected by the U.S. Forest Service. The below picture is not an actual picture of Methuselah, but it likely looks very similar.

Methuselah Great Basin bristlecone pine

2. Pando: Also known as the Trembling Giant, Pando is a clonal colony of a single male Quaking Aspen located in Utah. Each genetically-identical individual tree (or “stem”) is connected by a single root system. Spreading across more than 100 acres, Pando is believed to be over 80,000 years old and collectively weighs over 6,600 tons, making it the heaviest organism on the planet, as well as one of the oldest.

Pando - a grove of Quaking Aspens also known as the Trembling Giant

3. Sarv-e Abarqu: The “Cypress of Abarqu” is an ancient cypress tree located in Abarkooh, Iran. Also known as the Zoroastrian Sarv, this tree took root between 4,000 and 4,500 years ago, making it the oldest living organism in Asia.

Sarv-e Abarqu is also known as the Cypress of Abarqu and Zoroastrian Sarv

4. Llangernyw Yew: A rural, Welsh-speaking village in north Wales is the site of Llangernyw Yew, the world’s third oldest, non-clonal tree. Located in the graveyard of St. Digain’s parish church, among primitive stone crosses made during the Dark Ages, this mighty yew tree has stood here for nearly 4,000 years.

Llangernyw Yew in rural north Wales

5. Jurupa Oak: If you were to walk up a certain unassuming hill in southern California, you would probably walk right past a stand of small, gnarled oak trees growing from within a pile of boulders. Yet, you would have just passed one of the oldest organisms in the world: a grove of clonal Palmer’s oaks believed to be over 13,000 years old. The shoots only measures a few feet tall and they grow outward from the site of the original shoot at a rate of approximately one-twentieth of an inch per year. They rely on fire to burn down the stems and trigger new growth. Unfortunately for the Jurupa Oak, suburban California is encroaching on all sides.

Jurupa Oak in southern California

6. Old Tjikko: Who would think such a scraggy tree could be so old? Do not let looks deceive you. This 16-foot tall Norway Spruce, situated in the scrubby Fulufjället Mountains of Sweden, is an incredible 9,550 years old! This is the world’s oldest single-stemmed clonal tree. The actual tree trunk itself is only a few hundred years old – it is the root system that has stayed alive for nearly 10,000 years.

Old Tjikko

7. Alerce Tree: In 1993 scientists discovered this 150-foot tall Patagonian Cypress in the Andes Mountains of Chile. Unlike the Llangernyw Yew and the Sarv-e Abarqu, Alerce has been given an exact age of 3,637 years old using tree-ring width chronology. This makes it the second oldest tree to have its exact age calculated.

Alerce tree in Andes Mountains of Chile

8. The Senator: This is a Bald Cypress located in Big Tree Park in Florida. It is estimated to be nearly 3,500 years old and was once used as a landmark by Seminole Indians and other local tribes. It also holds the title of biggest tree by volume east of the Mississippi.

The Senator is a Bald Cypress located in Florida

These are just a small handful of the world’s oldest trees. There are many other ancient and mighty trees throughout the world. For example, the Jardine Juniper in Utah, General Sherman (the Giant Sequoia) in California, Jomon Sugi in Japan, Kongeegen in Denmark, the Chestnut Tree of One Hundred Horses in Sicily, the Olive Tree of Vouves in Greece, and many, many more. These trees have all stood the test of time and occupied our planet for the better part of known history.

Thanks goes out to Growth Rings Blog and  Wired.com Science for helping inspire today’s post.

Tree Care for Crape Myrtles

April 1st, 2010

Originally from China, crape myrtles are truly beautiful trees. With their colorful flower blooms and delicate, exfoliating bark, it is no wonder that crape myrtles have become a favorite for homeowners and landscapers all across North Carolina and the rest of the South. Here at Leaf & Limb Tree Service we receive numerous inquiries from individuals asking what they should do to ensure the well-being of their crape myrtles. Here is some general information about caring for these trees:Crape Myrtles

  1. Pruning: Crape myrtles usually need little pruning in order to develop a strong structure. But there are some basic pruning techniques that can enhance the tree’s beauty and bloom capacity. First of all, remove dead branches, lower branches very near the ground, suckers growing from the base, and small twiggy branches inside the foliage. Second, you should select one to five strong shoots arising from (or near) ground level to be the tree’s main stems. Remove all others. The remaining shoots now form the tree’s central framework. These main stems will support the flowering branches (known as laterals and sublaterals). Third, prune one out of every three lateral and sublateral back to the main framework. This will stimulate new growth that matures to bear flowers through the summer. Last, for crape myrtles located in cooler areas, especially in northern regions where the growing season is short, the canopy should be further thinned out in order to let light and air into the center of the tree, thereby discouraging disease.
  2. Fertilizer: Crape myrtles generally grow best in soil with a pH of 4.5 to 7.5. But even if the soil conditions are not ideal, crape myrtles need very little fertilizer, since they are hardy trees. For older plants, sickly plants, or plants in especially bad soil, a light application of 5-10-5 fertilizer applied in the spring when growth begins should do the trick
  3. Sunlight: Crape myrtles thrive in full sunlight and full heat. If your crape myrtle is planted in the shade, look for ways to increase sunlight, such as trimming nearby trees. If you are getting ready to plant your crape myrtle, choose a spot that has plenty of sun.
  4. Water: Crape myrtles, particularly those that are well established, are drought resistant. Crape myrtles need a minimal amount of water and prefer well drained soil. Therefore you should avoid excessive watering.
  5. Flowers: Excessive watering, too much fertilizer, not enough sun, and too little heat can all cause a dearth of flowering. These actions promote more vegetative growth, which results in less flowers.Flower blooms on a Crape Myrtle
  6. Powdery Mildew: Though there are a handful of resistant varieties, most crape myrtles are susceptible to mildew. This is the most common disease on crape myrtles. If there is a white or grey powder film on the leaves and flower buds of your crape myrtle, it may have powdery mildew. This is a fungal disease that causes damage by halting photosynthesis and other basic life processes of the leaves and buds, which harms the tree. It can be eradicated by applying any fungicide that is labeled for mildew on a weekly basis until the flower buds open. In addition, thinning out branches in order to allow sun and air flow penetration into the canopy can help reduce susceptibility to mildew problems.
  7. Aphids: These are yellowish green insects that can cover the underside of the crape myrtle’s leaves and cause damage by sucking sap out of the tree. In addition, they produce sticky honeydew drops that get all over the tree itself as well as nearby decks, chairs, cars, and patios. These pests are controlled by predators, such as lady bugs. But if you are using pesticides, it may be killing the predators and not the aphids. Quit using pesticides and see what happens – it should allow the predator population to grow and they in turn will eat the aphids. If that does not work, try spraying your crape myrtles with insecticidal soap, such as Safer’s Soap, or with an oil product, such as Neem Oil Spray or a paraffinic oil.
  8. Japanese Beetles: Whole books can be (and have been) written about controlling Japanese Beetle infestations. Here are some of the basics. If you are able to start early before there are too many Japanese Beetles, hand removal is the most effective control method. Japanese BeetleThe best time to do this is early in the morning, when the beetles are still sluggish. The goal is to remove the beetles while they are emerging, before they have a chance to emit pheromones. Just pluck the beetles from the tree, reaching from above (so they cannot fly away) and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. A variation to this method, which can be used if a) there are many beetles or b) you do not want to touch these critters, is to simply place a bucket of water underneath a branch or cluster of flowers, then tap the branch. The beetles usually fall to the ground when disturbed and they will land in the water. Again, the early morning is the best time to do this since the beetles are generally still lethargic. Other methods include: 1) Use a shop vacuum to suck up the beetles. 2) blend dead beetles with some water, then spray this on the plant. Many farmers swear this method is most effective. 3) Blend garlic and hot peppers in water and spray this on the trees. 4) Shower the trees with a commercial garlic spray used to deter mosquitoes. This usually works with beetles as well. 5) Encourage birds to take up residence by placing birdbaths, feeders, and nesting boxes nearby. Birds, especially Starlings, love eating Japanese Beetles. There are many other methods for getting rid of these pests, but do keep two things in mind: First, Japanese Beetle traps are a bad idea. They generally attract more beetles than they kill, which leaves an excess of new bugs to prey on your trees and plants. Second, it is usually not worth spraying Japanese Beetles with pesticides since this will also kill aphid predators and likely lead to an explosion in the aphid population.

The good news is that crape myrtles are very tough trees. They do not need much care in order to survive. But if given a little extra TLC, your crape myrtles are sure to be especially healthy trees full of lovely flower blossoms.