Friday mystery revealed!

Good sleuthing over the weekend!  As John, Karen, Jimbo and Al suggested, there is something stuck on the side of this Norway maple (Acer platanoides, which is Latin for “maple that takes over the planet”).  In fact, the reason that I, with my pathetic ID skills, know that it’s a Norway maple is because it’s a nursery tag stuck in the tree:

This type of injury really bugs me, because it’s entirely preventable.  One of the cardinal rules of transplanting trees and shrubs is to remove all foreign material.  And this is a perfect example of why.  I don’t know the history of this tree, but this is was I think happened.

The tag was on a branch of the young tree; as the branch increased in girth, it became girdled by the plastic and died back.  At the same time, the girth of the tree increased to encompass the base of the branch and the tag.  The dying branch was either torn from or broke off the trunk, creating a tear in the bark and creating the horizontal scarring at the base of the wound.

If you’re hopeless with plant names (like I am), keep an electronic database of all the plants you’ve installed in your landscape, including the name, the date installed, and any notes, especially for failures (e.g. not cold hardy enough, invasive, too large, slug snack, etc.).

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - Books:

7 thoughts on “Friday mystery revealed!”

  1. I feel your pain, Linda. I too hate easily avoidable tree problems. I’m forever cutting suckers off of street trees if I have my seccies handy.
    It’s funny – I’ve only in the last three months began keeping a plant database like the one you suggested. Not much in it as yet, but give it a few years!
    Lastly, I thought that -oides in a plant name meant ‘plant-like’. For instance, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides would mean ‘Plumbago-like’? Perhaps I’ve been wrong all this time.

  2. Jimbo, you’re absolutely right about “-oides”. My comment was a Dave Barryesque attempt at humor. Norway maple are aggressively invasive in my part of the country as well as elsewhere. Acer platanoides leaves somewhat resemble plane trees (Platanus). [At least I’m refraining from making a dumb joke about that scientific name.]

  3. Righto. Had I understood the cultural reference I would have laughed – I love bad jokes in general. Bad hort jokes are a dream.

  4. Coincidentally, I spend a lot of time in the Village I work for removing these tags from old plantings. Sometimes I even do it at home when I am walking the streets of Chicago. They can do so much more damage than we give them credit for.

  5. -oides: (Greek) like, resembling, having the form or nature of.
    From Botanical Latin 4th addition by William Stearn.

    since I had a free moment

  6. Not related to the post at all, but as one who also loves hort jokes, I thought I’d pass along my favorite.
    Q: Why do melons have fancy weddings?
    A: Because they canteloupe.


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