Friday, April 6, 2012

Tree of the Week

Downy ServiceberryAmelanchier arborea (Michx.) Fern.

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: Leaves simple, alternate, ovate to slightly obovate, 2 to 4 inches long with petioles 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long, toothed, slightly heart-shaped at base; surfaces densely white-hairy when unfolding in spring but eventually glabrous or only slightly hairy beneath; veins branching freely and forming a network near the margin. Winter twigs slender, glabrous, red-brown to gray; leaf scars linear or crescent-shaped, very small, with 3 bundle scars. Buds elongate, the terminal 1/4 to 1/2 inch long and the laterals often nearly equal in size; scales commonly 4 to 6 in number, either red or yellow-green tinged with red. Flowers perfect, regular, in showy racemes, appearing when the leaves are beginning to expand in early spring; petals 5, white, linear to narrowly oblong. Fruit a reddish purple pome about 1/4 inch in diameter, ripening in early to midsummer. Bark light gray and very smooth, becoming darker and shallowly furrowed at the base of older stems.

SIMILAR TREES: Easily distinguished from other small flowering trees by its narrow petals and in summer by its small, early-ripening fruits and elongated buds. In winter, hornbeam has much shorter buds and muscled trunks.

IOWA DISTRIBUTION: Native throughout eastern, southern, and central Iowa, also occurring though uncommon in the natural lakes area and the Des Moines River valley in northwestern Iowa.

Forest and Shade Trees of Iowa: Third Edition, by Peter J. van der Linden and Donald R. Farrar

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