C O M M O N P E N N S Y L V A N I A T R E E S P E C I E S
The following trees are commonly found on many properties around Pennsylvania. Read about each tree to learn about identification as well as common issues found in each species.
Red maple (Acer rubrum)
Also known as the swamp maple or soft maple, the Red Maple is the most common tree species in Pennsylvania. This tree can thrive on a wide range of soil types, texture, PH, moisture and elevation than any other forest species of tree. This hardy and adaptable tree usually lives about 150 years And reaches maturity in 70 to 80 years. It is a medium sized tree that typically grows between 60 and 90 ft in height with a diameter of 30 inches. Red Maple is one of the most widely distributed trees in North America. A Red Maple is deciduous and has leaves that are arranged opposite one another on the twig. The leaves have 3 lobes and shallow sinuses. The top of the leaf is green while the bottom is whitened in color. In the fall, Red Maple are most recognized by their bright red colored leaves in the fall. It is a nice addition to any landscape. Red Maple is one of the first trees to flower in the spring, typically several weeks before the leaves emerge. Some trees are entirely male, some trees are entirely female, and some trees bear both male and female flowers. The fruit of the Red Maple are the smallest of all maples, with wings only about ¾” long with divergent wings. They are reddish and ripen to light brown in late spring before the leaves have developed. Red Maples produce many seeds which are wind dispersed and can germinate almost immediately. Several wildlife species eat the foliage and twigs of Red Maple including white-tailed deer, moose, elk, and snowshoe hare. Cavity nesters enjoy these trees, as well as sapsuckers. Some of these birds are drawn to the sap and may return to the same tree year after year. Holes made by the sapsucker can create points of entry for wood decay, fungi, and bacteria. The physical damage may weaken the trees, making them more susceptible to secondary diseases and insects.
Black Cherry (Prunus Serotina)
Also known as wild black cherry, rum cherry and mountain black cherry. This tree is the largest of commercial cherries and the main one of commercial value is also an important tree for wildlife. This tree grows between 60 and 80 feet tall and between 2 and 3 feet in diameter. It grows best in rich, deep, moist soils but is also classified as shade intolerant. And live to be 150 to 200 years old. Black Cherry flowers are small and white and hang in clusters that are 4-6 inches long. The leaves are deciduous, alternately arranged on the stem, and are simple (composed of just one blade). The leaf is 2-5 inches long and oblong in shape. The autumn color varies from striking red to golden yellow. The fruit is a dark purple round droop which looks almost black when ripened, which is where the tree gets its common name from. The best seed production is between 30 and 100 years of age. The bulk of the seed crop fall to the ground within the vicinity of the parent tree. They are an important food source for many bird species as well as black bears and rabbits. However, the twigs, leaves, and bark contain a cyanide that may be potentially lethal to livestock. The most common attacking insect of the Black Cherry is the Eastern tent caterpillar. Their populations vary year to year, hatching from egg masses that contain 150-400 eggs that have been deposited on the tree the prior fall. They build silken nests in the host tree and feed on the leaves in late spring and early summer. Large groups can defoliate entire trees, but they typically recover and put out new leaves the next season. Black knot is the most common disease to Black Cherry trees. This serious native disease is caused by a fungus and causes rough black swelling around the stems of branches. Large swellings may occur on the trunks of larger trees. The primary dealing of black knot includes proper pruning with sanitation by a professional arborist.
Northern red oak (quercus rubra)
The Northern Red Oak is one of the most important of the oak trees. Typically grows 60 to 90 ft tall and two to three feet in diameter. It is considered one of the highest quality trees in the Eastern US and Southeastern Canada. These trees are monoecious, which means you will find both male and female flowers on the same tree. Both appear with the leaves, and the pollen of the male flower is carried by the wind to female flowers in other trees. The leaves are the easiest characteristic to help identify the tree, as the North Red Oak can be difficult to identify. The leaves are deciduous and alternatively arranged on the stem. The leaves are 5-11 inches long and have bristle-tips on the lobes, which is what helps to discern red oaks from white oaks. The autumn color can be reddish brown or bright red. The fruit is an acorn with a round cap. Acorns mature over the course of two growing seasons and drop in late summer or early fall and will not germinate until the following spring. Acorn production begins when the tree is about 25 years of age with best production at about 50 years. The acorns are dispersed by birds and animals in the fall, and the tree relies on these animals to help with its species dispersal. This species is an important source of lumber and is used for flooring, cabinetry, and furniture.
white oak (quercus alba)
The White Oak is a large tree that typically grow 80-100 feet in height with a diameter of about 5 feet. It is slow growing and long-lived, living up to 500 years. It grows best in deep, well drained, moist soils but can grow in many other soil types. It is intermediate and shade tolerant but becomes less tolerant as the tree becomes larger. White Oaks is monoecious meaning it has both male and female flowers. The male flowers are yellowish green and drooping while the female flowers are reddish and appear as small spikes. The flowers emerge with the leaves in mid-spring. The leaves are deciduous, alternately arranged on the twigs, and simple in form with rounded lobes. They are 4-7 inches long with about 10 rounded lobes. You can discern white oak leaves by these rounded lobes versus a white oak versus a red oak leaf which has a bristled tip. The fall colors range from rich red to brown. The fruit is an oblong acorn with a cap, and changes color from green to brown as it matures. The acorns can germinate almost immediately when falling to the ground in late fall. White Oak can produce prolifically but occur every 4-10 years. These trees have their best production between 50 and 200 years. Wildlife helps acorn dispersal a distance from the parent tree. Oaks are one of the top ten trees for a variety of wildlife from vertebrates to insects, aiding as a food resource as well as a host for reproduction. White Oak are used for barrels because the pores are tight and hold water. This is a commercially important wood used for cabinetry, flooring, and furniture.
yellow poplar (liriodendron tulipifera)
This tall-growing tree commonly grows more than 100 feet tall with a straight trunk in a forested setting. It's common name is misleading because it is not in the poplar family, but instead in the magnolia family. It is thought that the name came from the way the leaves quiver in the wind like true poplars. Yellow Poplar is also called a tulip tree because of the flower's tulip-like resemblance. It is intolerant of shade and grows best in deep, moist, well-drained soils. It is a long-lived species that reaches maturity around 200 years of age. The tulip-like flowers are found at the end of branches high up in the canopy so they can be difficult to see from the ground. They bloom after the leaves have emerged from late April into June. Leaves or deciduous and alternately arranged on the branch. They are even somewhat shaped like a tulip. The twigs have a sweet, spicy scent when bruised or broken. The fall color tends to be golden yellow and is a great addition to any landscape. The fruit is an upright cone with one-winged seeds. Yellow Poplar is a prolific seeder and the seeds can remain viable in the soil up to 4-7 years. The bark varies as the tree matures. Yellow poplar has always been an important timber tree due to its naturally straight trunk. It is the tallest hardwood in North America.
Whether you need a regular tree pruning or have an extensive tree removal project, the experts at West Chester Tree Service are here to help! Give us a call at 610-624-8492 to schedule your free estimate.
West Chester, PA