Trees on the Yale Nature Walk

Tree ID: 42
Date of tree entry: February 4, 2015
Acer palmatum (common name: Japanese maple or smooth Japanese maple) is a species of woody plant native to Japan, North Korea, South Korea, eastern Mongolia, and southeast Russia. Acer palmatum is a deciduous shrub or small tree that is 20 to 33 ft tall. It is often present as an understory plant in shady woodlands. In nature, Acer palmatum undergoes considerable genetic variation. Seedlings from the same parent tree often grow to display differences in key traits such as the leaf size, shape, and colour. Development of Japanese maple cultivars started in Japan in the 1700s, when gardeners selected and bred or used grafting to propagate attractive variants in leaf features, and overall size and form of the tree. Currently, there may be more than 1000 varieties and cultivars present, including hybrids or grafts with species closely related to Acer plamatum, such as A. duplicatoserratum and A. japonicum (downy Japanese maple). Out of these, at least 350 cultivars are used in Europe and North America. The term “Japanese maple” does not represent one species and may be used to refer to any of the 23 species of Acer that are native to Japan.
Tree ID: 39
Date of tree entry: February 4, 2015
Tucked away a few steps from Hillhouse Ave this Ilex opaca is a pillar of Christmas time cheer amid a small group of deciduous and evergreen trees. American holly are unique in their vast range; they are native from southern Massachusetts to central Florida, and can be found as far west as eastern Texas. American holly are evergreen trees with small, white flowers and red berries. The berries are an important source of food for birds, and they are reputedly poisionous to humans.
Tree ID: 32
Date of tree entry: February 3, 2015
The crabapple is a small, deciduous tree found primarily in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. These trees typically grow to be 4-12 m tall, and possess distinct white, pink, or red petals when in bloom. Crabapples are self-sterile, and thus completely rely on insect pollinators to transport their pollen. Despite this, crabapples cross-pollinate often and have hybridized over generations to the point where a distinct species within the genus cannot be identified.
Tree ID: 31
Date of tree entry: February 3, 2015
The Blue Atlas cedar, the most popular of all Atlas cedars, is a majestic evergreen tree, with limbs covered with patches of green or blue-green needles. In its early years of life, it maintains a narrow conical form before widening into a pyramidal form after around 20 years. In its natural range (the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco), it can grow up to 120 feet high and 40 feet wide. This particular specimen stands alone in a courtyard between Hillhouse and Prospect Streets, so it has the space it deserves. Compared to most conifers, the tree is very tolerant of heat and dryness.
Tree ID: 30
Date of tree entry: February 3, 2015
The white fir is native to the mountainous regions of the Pacific coast to central Colorado, and from central Oregon and southeastern Idaho to northern Mexico. They can grow in a variety of environments, from high elevation with long, snowy winters to lower elevation with warmer weather and lower precipitation. It is a monoecious species, with densely grouped reddish male cones and larger brown female cones. It is a genetically adaptable and plastic species that has been known to hybridize with other firs. The white fir has two primary uses: in construction as timber, and as Christmas trees. As such, they are commercially grown and harvested. The biggest threat to the white fir are predatory animals. The fir engraver beetle, for example, can damage up to 2.4 million cubic meters of harvest stock per year. Rodents such as the pocket gopher and grazers such as deer can also stunt their growth, and in extreme cases, outright kill mature trees. Our specimen in New Haven serves an aesthetic rather than commercial purpose and seems to have thankfully remained safe from predators.
Tree ID: 1
Date of tree entry: June 26, 2014
A multi-stemmed, deciduous tree with a rounded columnar form, stewartia features stunning bark that exfoliates in strips of gray, orange, and reddish brown once the trunk attains a diameter of 2 to 3 inches. Serrated foliage emerges bronzy purple in spring, develops into a dark green by summer, and turns red or orange in the fall. In midsummer, "glamorous" white camellia-like flowers open in random succession and are followed by pointed brown seed pods, which are persistent but not very ornamental.
Tree ID: 14
Date of tree entry: April 18, 2014
The Japanese falsecypress, also commonly known as the sawara falsecypress, is a medium to large-sized conifer. The tree is native to Japan but its planting potential has a widespread distribution across North America. The origin of its genus name "Chamaecyparis" is from the Greek words "chamai," meaning low growing, and "kyparissos," meaning cypress, which references its habitat and relationship to other genus members. Its species, "pisifera," means "bearing pea-like seeds," because of the small, rounded seeds and cones. The smaller rounded cones with fewer seeds are the characteristic that distinguishes the false cypress from the true cypress.
Tree ID: 13
Date of tree entry: April 18, 2014
The weeping beech is a variety of European beech developed in England in 1836 and first introduced to the States in 1847. This particular weeping beech drapes its branches over the gentle slope of Farnam Gardens on Prospect Street. It’s hard to miss—gnarled roots emerging around the trunk and knobby branches bending low to the ground, like some kind of living dinosaur! In the late spring, summer and into autumn, the canopy creates an umbrella-shaped room, almost fully enclosed on all sides, dark green leaves creating the roof and walls. This tree appears actually to be three individual trees but in fact beeches reproduce vegetatively (they create clones by rooting many branches from one tree) so these three “trees” are identical and come from the mother tree, farthest up the hill.
Tree ID: 10
Date of tree entry: April 18, 2014
Decaisnea fargesii is commonly known as dead man's fingers or the blue bean tree. This shrub is native to western China and other western Asia countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, and northeastern parts of India, though its common names originate from Ireland. This shrub is often as wide as it is tall, and this particular measured to 7m in the winter of 2014. It commonly flowers in the summer while its fruit ripen in the fall around Halloween. This plant is distinctive for its blue sausage-shaped fruit, which give its various common names. Although the fruit is edible, the tree mostly serves an ornamental or decorative purpose when grown in non-native parts of the world.
Tree ID: 12
Date of tree entry: February 11, 2014
The white fringe tree, Chionanthus virginicus, is a small but beautiful tree found in the Marsh Gardens. This tree is characterized by its resplendent white flowers, which bloom in May or June. The tree also has small olive-like fruit, which develops in August or September. It is deciduous and loses its leaves in the winter. This exposes the smooth gray bark. The white fringe tree is found throughout the eastern United States from Texas to Florida and south of New York. This tree is native to Missouri.