The strawberry wave is behind us, the heat wave is upon us, and the raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry wave is here and continues. If early summer comes, can fresh tomatoes, sweet corn and melons be far behind?
Hydrangeas are wilting in the mid-day sun, but come back at night, though do not neglect periodic watering if conditions stay dry for long periods. Cedar-quince rust on Callery pear flames in southern Ohio but not here, as the problem of invasive flowering pears is exacerbated by massive numbers of bright orange spores on sidewalks, cars, and ultimately carpets. Rust on these problem pears is fortunately, at least not yet, adding insult to injury here.
In most years, cool wet weather during leaf emergence of sycamore (American planetree) in May, combined with the sycamore anthracnose fungal pathogen, results in trees that look dead and dying, as young leaves are killed aborning in the bud. Sadness ensues, but patience is a virtue in this case.
As the season progresses, new leaf buds burst forth, the cool weather abates, the new leaves are thicker and less susceptible to infection, and the tree refoliates.
This year, I took pictures of the iconic sycamore on the storied College of Wooster campus in early June and again last week in early July. As per usual, all is now well.
Simple diagnosis on maple
Speaking of rust of a biologic nature on cars, let us speak of “Impala Moonrise Damage.”
First, consider the unusual ways plants may be damaged: Soil compaction from peacocks in public gardens; pines overrun by a buffalo herd in my backyard resulting in dead branches (true story); taxus injury in a nursery from a doghouse dragged by a dog in pursuit of deer.
Sometimes diagnosis is a puzzling matrix, especially from a sample sent in the mail, described in a text, or from an online image: brown leaves, scorched leaves, dead branches may be due to a myriad of causes.
But Impala damage: what gives?
It is a reminder of the importance of responding to someone asking for a diagnosis … by asking questions.
Of course, we encapsulate this in “The 20 Questions on Plant Diagnostics” (ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/plpath-gen-3): from “What Is the Plant” to “What Are our Recommendations” but we are reminded of the necessity of questioning daily.
Case Study: Why are these Acer shirasawanum ‘Moonrise’ fullmoon maple leaves in my yard scorching?
Leaf scorch can be due to so many problems. Too much soil water resulting in root decline and root rot. Too little soil water resulting in moisture stress. Frost injury. Evapotranspiration due to high reflective heat and limited root space for parking lot trees.
Anthracnose disease – causing scorchy blotchiness along leaf veins. Leaf mining injury from a range of different insects. Vascular wilt diseases. Insects that damage plant stems. Or simply mechanical injury to plant stems. Necrotic tissue on leaves following earlier chlorotic tissue from severe micronutrient deficiency. And on and on.
In this case of my maple, though, it was loss of water from the maple leaves due to excessive wind whip while the potted maple was transported from its place of purchase to the ChatScape (also known as Chatfield’s home and garden) in the ChatMobile – a Chevy “Impala.”.
So, going back to the 20 Questions of Plant Diagnostics: “What Is the Horticultural History?” “What Is the Environmental History?” “Who Knows the Most About the Plant?” “What Else?” And so on.
The key question in the case of our maple was, “Has this newly planted tree been transported in a vehicle recently?”
Yes, and quite rapidly. The common impala (a medium-sized antelope), Aepyceros melampus, clocks in at 47-56 mph, according to Wikipedia, and the ChatMobile Impala goes even faster.
Diagnosis confirmed. Prognosis: the maple shall be fine.
A favorite tree
White Tigress maple (Acer tegmentosum ‘White Tigress’). It is difficult to get me to declare my “favorite” tree, but my wife, Laura, has no qualms: it is this maple on a protected, small bank in our backyard.
We are not certain of the identification, but this is not so embarrassing. After all even Lake County, Ohio, nurseryman Tim Brotzman, who introduced ‘White Tigress’, indicates that it is difficult to tell, considering the dozens of snakebark maples in the world and the fact that the not even the parentage of ‘White Tigress’ is truly known; usually it is considered a hybrid of the Asian Acer tegmentosum and Acer davidii.
I will not go into a detailed description of the features of our presumptive ‘White Tigress’ since the pictures tell the stories. But here are the basics: striped bark, flower bud scales, ornamental stipules, clean light-green foliage with highly defined veins, attractive strings of tiny chartreuse flowers and fruits, and wonderful burnt-orange fall color.
That fall color description is the one aspect of our plant that makes me wonder about whether we have identified it properly. ‘White Tigress’ typically is described as having yellow or gold fall foliage; our tree is a darker orange. Protect from sunburn, though ‘White Tigress’ is generally considered more tolerant of sun than our native striped maple, Acer pensylvanicum.
Cankered areas develop on the stems, and we have worried about it — sunscald or an unidentified fungal pathogen — but the tree seems to tolerate this, for 25 years now, anyway.
There are 12 maple taxa in our yard including six natives and six non-natives, so we do love maples. They range from native red and huge unwanted silver maples to “rilver” maple hybrids and striped maple to specialty maples such as fullmoon maple, Korean maple, hornbeamed maple, and another favorite, three-flowered maple.
As you may expect, the low five figures real estate value of our house is eclipsed by the value of our almost two acres of land for the ChatScape: togethe,r they are pushing six figures.
Finally, speaking of money, the latest USDA figures for the annual economic value of Ohio’s green industry of nurseries, landscapers, garden centers and all: $14.5 billion, the fourth highest green industry state in the U.S.
Plants are green in more ways than one.
Jim Chatfield is a horticultural educator with Ohio State University Extension. If you have questions about caring for your garden, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-466-0270. Please include your phone number if you write.