Books for Tree Lovers

We asked Tree Stewards to share some of their favorite tree books, and here are a few worth putting on your wishlist. Others will be added as more members contribute suggestions.


The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring

Cover: The Wild Trees

By Richard Preston 
Join this nonfiction quest to find and climb the tallest organism on Earth, a California redwood, Sequoia sempervirens. This is the true story of Steve Sillet, Marie Antoine and the daring amateur naturalists and botanists who discovered a new world, with species previously unknown to science, living in soil in the treetops more than 300 feet above the forest floor. This tale has everything: adventure, courage, failure, love, and treetop sex. If The Wild Trees doesn’t make you want to climb a tree, nothing will.
Amazon review. Kirkus review: Enthralling.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate ―Discoveries from A Secret World

hidden life trees cover

By Peter Wohlleben
German forester Wohlleben demonstrates how trees have survived for millennia against daunting odds: They communicate through chemical means, giving sugars to their offspring and signaling pest invasions that allow their neighbors to arm their leaves. The criticism that Wohlleben goes too far down the trail of anthropomorphism is indeed valid. Nevertheless, it will give you a new perspective on forests.
Amazon review. New York Times mini review.

Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees

Cover: Seeing Trees

By Nancy Ross Hugo; Photography by Robert Llewellyn
Look no further than this gorgeous, large-format book for a crash course in tree identification. Anyone who digests the descriptions of 10 “everyday trees” and the useful advice about where to look, what to look for, and what it tells will surely ace Tree Stewards training! The photographs are fantastically dreamy and ethereal while being perfect illustrations of the text.
Amazon review.


The Overstory

overstory cover

By Richard Powers
Here’s an epic novel, set in all corners and the middle of America, uniting disparate souls with a common quest that slowly overtakes them: to better understand and protect trees. Powers brings together an electrocuted co-ed, a wood carver with the last surviving American chestnut tree on his farm, a high-powered businesswoman, a homeless man and others as they edge ever closer to the old-growth redwoods, doing what they can to keep the chainsaws and loggers at bay. It’s a fast and fascinating read, and you’ll learn more about trees than you ever dreamed.

New York Times Bestseller
Shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize
A New York Times Notable, Washington Post, Time, Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018

Amazon review.

Posted in Continuing Education, Education, Tree Care, Tree ID, Uncategorized, Worldwide | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Branching Out Winter 2018-19

Following are events of interest to Tree Stewards and other tree lovers. Outdoor events are weather permitting.

(CE) Attendance at these events may be counted as Continuing Education.

ANS is Audubon Naturalist Society. Here’s the website.

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Big Dates: Don’t Miss These

Sunday, Dec. 9, 4-8 p.m.
Annual Meeting

Sunday, Dec. 16, 6 p.m.
Trainees return Quiz 1

Tuesday, Jan. 8, 7-8:30 p.m.
Tree Anatomy for Tree Stewards

Saturday, Jan. 12, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Introduction to Pruning
Start of Training Module 2

Veteran Tree Stewards:

If you need more CE hours, watch a webinar. Or attend the Winter Solstice Field Trip & Hooley. Tell us what a hooley is.

Geology at Long Branch (CE) (Where lots of trees grow)
Saturday, Dec. 9, 1- 4 p.m.
Leader: Joe Marx
ANS members $26; nonmembers $36
Arlington’s Long Branch Nature Center occupies a picturesque spot overlooking a short, misnamed tributary of Four Mile Run, itself a tributary of the Potomac. Hike a mile or so out–and a mile back–down Long Branch and Four Mile Run, returning by the same route. A variety of rock units are exposed along the trail, including an undersea landslide frozen in time, long-vanished seaside flats, and the bottom layer of the coastal plain. To add botanical icing to our geological cake, we will traverse an old-growth upland forest and a quicker-changing floodplain forest. The paved route is entirely on level to gently inclined park trails.

Annual Meeting Sunday, Dec. 9
4-8 p.m. at Eileen Grant’s, 813 Timber Branch Pkwy., Alexandria

Our annual meeting is vital for our organization as the principal gathering for conducting business of Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria. This year, we have two very important agenda items:

First, we will vote on an amendment to our bylaws proposed by the Board of Directors, to allow for up to 10 elected board members. Our bylaws currently limit us to seven, and the board agrees that while this number is fine, it would be better to allow for more participation. Second, we will elect the board members and officers for 2019.

The meeting details:

WHO: Tree Stewards of all stripes, including trainees
WHAT: TSAA annual business meeting
(active status Tree Stewards are eligible to vote)
and holiday potluck
(bring food or beverages to share)
WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 9, 4-8 p.m.
WHERE: Eileen Grant’s, 813 E. Timber Branch Pkwy., Alexandria
HOW: with enthusiasm and gusto, of course!

Reducing Tree and Soil Damage During Construction (CE)
Webinar: Thursday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. on your computer
Free. Register here.
As the pace of urban development increase3s, urban trees come into conflict with bulldozers and backhoes. With careful early planning and an understanding of how tree damage occurs, strategies for tree preservation – and most importantly – soil preservation, can allow for trees to coexist within the built urban environment, as Nina Bassuk of Cornell University will explain. Webinar will be archived one week from broadcast at Tree Fund webinars.

Winter Solstice Field Trip & Hooley (CE)
Sunday, Dec. 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Chapman State Park, Charles County, MD
Free. No registration.

Sponsors: Maryland Native Plant Society, Virginia Native Plant Society Potowmack Chapter, Botanical Society of Washington, Mattawoman Watershed Society
Leaders: Rod Simmons, Bonnie Bick, Mary Farrah, and Robin Firth

Celebrate the start of the winter season at Chapman State Park with its spectacular scenery and remarkable diversity of native plants, wildlife, and natural communities. Visit the old-age forest section from the low river terrace and extensive water-willow shrublands along the Potomac River to the marl cliffs and ravines near Glymont. This section of the park is a regionally unique meeting ground for plants with a primary range in the inner Piedmont and mountains and those of the Coastal Plain.

Wear sturdy shoes and bring lunch or snacks and water.  Most of the walk traverses rolling, fairly open forest along trails, though some steep grades will occasionally be encountered.

Cancellation: In the event of heavy-steady snow, sleet, pouring rain, or icy, dangerous conditions of roads, the field trip will be cancelled.

Directions: Take Indian Head Highway (Rt. 210) south from Capital Beltway (495).  Proceed south on Rt. 210 for app. 15 miles.  Continue on Rt. 210 past the Rt. 227 intersection at Bryans Road (McDonald’s, Burger King, and shopping center on right and large CVS and builders supply will be on left) and start looking for Chapman Landing Road on right.  Take half right on Chapman Landing Road and proceed a couple of miles to entrance to Mount Aventine (Chapman State Park) on right.  Park and meet in small parking lot at entrance gate (additional parking is available along the shoulder of Chapman Landing Road, though please be extra mindful of the neighboring residents and careful not to damage the road edges when parking).

Special Event!
Tree Anatomy for Tree Stewards (CE)
Tuesday, Jan. 8, 7-8:30 p.m.
Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington, Room 100
Guest speaker: Jim McGlone, Urban Forest Conservationist, VDOF

Have you forgotten botany? Attend this refresher by a true expert who has the latest information about how trees grow and what that means for their proper care. You’ll learn about meristem tissue, the growth hormone auxin, and up from down with xylem (goes to the sky) and phloem (flows down).
Trainees and veterans should review Units 1, 2 and 3 of the Tree Stewards Manual prior to this lecture.

Training Resumes
Introduction to Pruning
Saturday, Jan. 12, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
National Park Service Nursery, Daingerfield Island, S. Marina Dr., Alexandria

Module 2 of Tree Steward training begins with when, how and why to prune trees. Learn tool safety, the three-cut method, and tree anatomy’s role in pruning. Module 1 trainees will be joined by several new students.

Posted in Arlington Tree Canopy, Bluemont Park, Class Presentations & Materials, Community Service, Education, Events, Free Tree, New Training Class, Out on a Limb, Tree Canopy Fund, Tree Care, Tree ID, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Give Thanks for Planting Trees!

Tree Steward Eileen Grant and a family of four who live nearby plant a tree in then Ben Brenman Park meadow. Tree Steward Eileen Grant learns that this family, planting a White oak (Quercus alba) in Ben Brenman Park’s meadow Saturday, lives just across the street and can watch their tree grow.

Tree Stewards are giving thanks for their many tree-planting opportunities this fall provided by their great municipal partners. We could not have planted 600 new trees in Arlington and Alexandria without our extraordinary trainees and volunteers, our newfound Marymount University environmental studies friends, the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, church groups, and most important, nearby neighbors.

More than 30 hardy volunteers turned out on a blustery morning Saturday, Nov. 17, to plant 53 trees in Alexandria’s Ben Brenman Park, and they finished with kudos for their expertise and just in time for pizza.

Continue reading

Posted in Alexandria Tree Canopy, Arlington Tree Canopy, Ben Brenman Park, Benjamin Banneker Park, Bluemont Park, Community Service, Education, Events, Growing Tree Canopy, Invasive plants, New Training Class, Uncategorized, Volunteer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Witchy Hats on Witch Hazel Are in the Woods Now

Now is a great time to find bewitching sights in the woods of Northern Virginia. Here’s evidence: Witch “hats” on native Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) leaves.

An aphid forms a sooty black gall shaped like a witch's hat on a native Witch hazel leaf.

An aphid forms a sooty black gall shaped like a witch’s hat on a native Witch hazel leaf. Photos by Jo Allen

The conical black “hats” are the chemical reaction of the Witch hazel leaf to an aphid, Hormaphis hamamelidis, that disturbs the leaf surface with its ovipositor, leaving behind a tiny egg. The leaf surface reacts to the injury by building a pointy, black gall of sooty mold with a wide brim over the spot, where the ovum overwinters before emerging in its new form by chewing through the bottom of the leaf. Clever insect, no? Smart leaf, right? Symbiosis! Continue reading

Posted in Continuing Education, Education, Fall Tree ID, Glen Carlyn Park, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

Help Us Plant Hundreds More Trees

The shocking new information about the unexpected acceleration of global warming should frighten all of us into doing everything we can to try to slow or halt it. Alexandria’s Natural Resources branch, Arlington County’s Urban Forestry unit, and Tree Stewards have the answer: Plant more than 900 trees this month!

We need your help.

In Alexandria, Tree Stewards, their trainees, and other dedicated Alexandria volunteers will plant 48 trees supplied by the city’s Natural Resources section in Ben Brenman Park Continue reading

Posted in Alexandria Tree Canopy, Arlington Tree Canopy, Ben Brenman Park, Benjamin Banneker Park, Bluemont Park, Canopy Loss, Community Service, Events, Extreme Weather, Global Warming, Growing Tree Canopy, New Training Class, Volunteer

Tree Walk at Ivy Hill Cemetery

Big oak tree at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria amid gravestones.

This colossal Southern red oak near the entrance to Ivy Hill Cemetery was one of the remarkable specimens admired by Tree Stewards on their tree walk. But it needs to be shorn of the ivy climbing its branches to live a few hundred more years. We’ll be back to Take Ivy Off Trees.

Tree Steward trainees and their mentors were agog at the magnificent tree specimens at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria on Sunday, Oct. 28th when they gathered for a tree identification expedition led by instructor Emily Ferguson. They encountered innumerable oaks of  many stripes; maples; hickories (fuzzy-tipped and not); dogwoods with checkered bark; lenticeled cherries, both native and exotic; sassafras flashing all three leaf forms; a catalpa sprout; trees that sprawled, those that clung, big-leaved, to a shady slope, and every tree shape in between in this garden of arboreal splendor.

The cemetery, founded in 1856, pre-dates the Civil War and may have been spared cutting for sightlines by troops in that hostility. Its beautiful Timber Branch Creek is as it was formed centuries ago by enormous chunks of rock that scooted in under a glacier. Continue reading

Posted in Education, Events, Fall Tree ID, Ivy Hill Cemetery, New Training Class, The Crypt, Tree ID | Tagged , , ,

Fall Tree ID Book List

Fall Tree ID Books

Posted in Continuing Education, Education, Tree ID

Training Syllabus 2018-19.6

TSAA Syllabus 2018-19 6

Posted in Class Presentations & Materials, Continuing Education, Education, Events, New Training Class, Volunteer

300 New Trees Planted in Arlington

Volunteers who helped to plant 300 saplings in BonhAir Park where summer floods had toppled many mature trees along the banks of Four Mi8le Run. I-66 in background.

Volunteers planted 300 saplings Saturday, Oct. 13, in Bon Air Park where summer floods had toppled many mature trees along the banks of Four Mile Run. Photos by Jo Allen


Summer rains flooded many a basement in Arlington, but along Four Mile Run as it courses through Bon Air Park, precipitation caused a wipeout. The roots of many mature trees on the banks of the creek gave way after being inundated, and water overflowed the banks, leaving former picnic areas saturated and still soggy.

The muddy conditions did not deter several dozen volunteers, led by TreeStewards of Arlington and Alexandria and Arlington Regional Master Naturalists, from planting 300 saplings in what is now recognized as a bottomland. The young trees, ranging Continue reading

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Tree Stewards Win Alexandria Beautification Award

Alexandria City Council member Paul Smedberg, Northridge Civic Association President Jeanne Snapp, Mayor Allison Silberberg, Tree Stewards Jane Seward and Lynn Gas and Council member Del Pepper at the Alexandria Beautification Awards.

Alexandria City Council member Paul Smedberg, Northridge Civic Association President Jeanne Snapp, Mayor Allison Silberberg, Tree Stewards Jane Seward and Lynn Gas and Council member Del Pepper at the Alexandria Beautification Awards. Alexandria Beautification Commission photo.

Tree Stewards Jane Seward, Lynn Gas, Meghan Rainey and their neighbors in urban forestry deserve rousing accolades for greatly improving their Northridge-Beverly Hills districts by conceiving and leading a project to have 139 trees planted in yards in their neighborhood. The massive project was a hit with homeowners and a “tremendous”success that earned them a 2018 Green Practices in Beautification Award from the City of Alexandria in ceremonies on Oct. 16.

The three homeowners enrolled in training by Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria to understand and forge a course of action to address tree canopy decline in the rolling hills of their neighborhoods.

Going door-to-door with sleek brochures showing a plan to add mainly Oaks and Black gum trees to the landscape, these Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria turned dismaying talk about tree loss into action with a positive outcome. They are true champions of trees on a scale rarely seen in already-beautiful neighborhoods.

Through bulk buying and planting agreements, they negotiated favorable terms for the new tree installations. Working through their civic associations, they advised owners of new trees about tree-watering requirements (25 gallons a week for their large-caliper trees unless it rains 1.5” inches in the previous or near-forecast week.) Note to tree owners: Buy a rain gauge.

Jane, Lynn, Meghan and their neighbors are exemplars of action trumping griping. Their drive to change the scene for the better should be a model for every Tree Steward, and every one of us in Northern Virginia. Here is a brilliant, award-winning way to improve the environment that is economical and brings communities together.

“Jane and I are so hoping other neighborhoods will take it on. We can be so helpful and save others so much time as we can help them avoid some of the mistakes we made,” Lynn said after the awards ceremony in the Lyceum.

We turned out for their amazing tree delivery, also celebrated by Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg. Tree Stewards again salute our tree heroines for all they do to promote, plant, and protect the trees that we and our neighbors cherish.

Well done, Tree Stewards and residents of Northridge and Beverly Hills! We are incomparably proud of your work and our mutual association!

Here’s  a glimpse of tree-delivery day.

Large container-grown trees arrived by flatbed in Alexandria's Northridge neighborhood on Sept. 22, 2017 for planting in residential lots.

Large container-grown trees arrived by flatbed in Alexandria’s Northridge neighborhood on Sept. 22, 2017 for planting in residential lots. Photos by Jo Allen

Tree Stewards involved in helping guide Jane Seward and Lynn Gas, center, in adding new trees to the yards of their Northridge and Beverly Hills neighbors turned out with residents and others to watch as 139 trees were unloaded.

Tree Stewards involved in helping guide Jane Seward and Lynn Gas, center, in adding new trees to the yards of their neighbors turned out with others to watch as the 139 trees were unloaded.

Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg listens as Tree Steward Lynn Gas, center, with Tree Steward Jane Seward thank their civic association leaders and many others for supporting their effort to add canopy trees to their Northridge neighb orhood and neighboring Beverly Hills.

Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg listens as Tree Steward Lynn Gas, center, with Tree Steward Jane Seward, thanks their civic association leaders and many others for supporting their effort to add canopy trees to their Northridge neighborhood and adjacent Beverly Hills.




Posted in Alexandria Tree Canopy, Canopy Loss, Community Service, Events, Growing Tree Canopy, Volunteer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,