Needles and Nuts

This is the time of year when trees start dropping things — from leaves (or needles) to nuts.

Pine needle drop

Pines, like any other tree, discard their old needles during autumn. The difference between these "evergreens" and deciduous trees is that not all the needles drop off; otherwise the tree would perish. There are also "deciduous" needle-bearing trees like the larch (also known as tamarack) and the bald cypress that drop all of their needles during autumn.

Many eastern white pines retain their blue-green color all season, while some turn a yellow-green in winter. The needles stay on the tree for at least two years before turning yellow and shedding in early fall. Eastern white pines prefer full sun and are easily transplanted into the landscape. They can live for over 200 years, are fast growing for the first 10 years and then slow down to a moderate growth habit. As a native tree, songbirds feed on the seeds, and deer, squirrels and mice feed on the foliage.

White pine blister rust is a serious bark disease that will kill the tree. White pine weevils kill the terminal shoots. The white pine aphid and sawfly can cause damage but will only kill the tree if it is very small. This tree was once used by colonists as masts for tall ships.

Source: Ginny Rosenkranz, University of Maryland Cooperative Extension weekly IPM Alert Report, published weekly from the Central MD Research and Education Center.


Once again, the Maryland Forest Service collected walnuts from residents of Frederick County to be sent to the Maryland State Tree Nursery. This was a banner year for walnuts, with most trees producing to capacity. At final count, nearly 800 bushels of walnuts were collected totaling 40,000 pounds. The nursery will grow nearly 40,000 seedlings with these nuts.

Besides walnuts, residents from across the state collect a wide variety of seeds to culture native tree seedlings that are well-adapted to Maryland's growing conditions. The J.S. Ayton State Tree Nursery grows nearly 8 million seedlings each year for reforestation and other conservation purposes.

Got walnuts? Consider collecting them and donating them to the Maryland Forest Service. Collected nuts will be used to grow seedlings at the state tree nursery. This year, about 800 bushels of walnuts were collected.

Article by FCFCDB

Nature Notes for 12/7/2008