What is a specimen?

What Is A Specimen Tree – Information On Planting A Specimen Tree

You’ll find lots of advice on the Internet about how to use specimen trees. But what is a specimen tree? In case you are confused, it’s not a species of tree. Rather, it’s a tree planted by itself as a stand-alone garden feature. Read on for specimen tree information, including the best tips for using a specimen tree in the landscape.

What is a Specimen Tree?

This is a tree planted apart from other trees that is used as a focal point of a garden or backyard. Many gardeners like using a specimen tree in the landscape. If you plant trees in a group or in a mass, the trees themselves are less important than the grouping. A tree planted alone is itself the landscape feature. These solo tree features are called specimen trees.

Specimen Tree Information

The term “specimen” comes from a Latin word meaning “to look at.” A specimen tree is a plant you decide is particularly beautiful or interesting, and well worth looking at. It is a tree that deserves to have center stage in your garden.

Specimen tree information suggests that many different features can make a tree worthy of taking center stage solo. Flowering trees can be excellent specimen trees, especially if the blossoms last a long time and are showy.

Trees with pleasing forms, like dogwood or weeping willow, can also serve as engaging specimen trees. Trees with features like peeling bark or twisting branches often are given stand-along status.

How to Use Specimen Trees

When you are planning a garden or backyard, you’ll want to consider how to use specimen trees. Using a specimen tree in the landscape can provide shade to the house or to other plantings.

When you have decided to plant a specimen tree in your backyard, think first about what you have to offer a tree. Identify exactly where you intend to go about planting a specimen tree. Then figure out what size a tree would be appropriate there.

The next step in figuring out how to use specimen trees in your yard is to take stock of your climate, soil and hardiness zone. Those living in warmer regions can consider leafy tropicals as specimen trees. Northern state gardeners have the option of using evergreens.

Both tropical plants and evergreens provide year-round interest. If you are planting a specimen tree whose attraction is limited to one season, think about planting a second specimen tree. For example, if you are planting a specimen tree that offers lovely flowers in springtime, consider installing another tree with winter interest a distance away.

Best Specimen Plants to Grow in Your Garden

Specimen plants are usually grown in gardens and landscapes to create focal points. These plants are often characterized by unusual form, bold colors, attractive flowers, or lovely foliage. Best specimen plants have year-round foliage, compact growth and low maintenance needs. When grown indoor, small specimen plants can be used to brighten up small spaces by creating focal points or create dramatic effects by placing these plants at strategic spots. When grown outdoors, large specimen plants can be used to fill spaces or create permanent displays.

Some of the best specimen plants that are always at the top of my list include:

Colocasia esculenta – A nice specimen plant grown for its large, attractive foliage.

Pennisetum setaceum – Commonly known as ‘purple fountain grass’ is a beautiful specimen plant for growing outdoors.

Pennisetum Setaceum ‘Rubrum’, Image by Matt Lavin

Miscanthus sinensis is a bold, upright and attractive grass.

Miscanthus Sinensis, Image via Wikipedia

Acer palmatum or ‘Japanese Maple’ is a small tree with interesting and colorful foliage.

Dioscorea elephantipes is a beautiful specimen plan known for its unusual form.

Pachypodium lamerei or the ‘Madagascar Palm’ is another beautiful specimen plant for growing outdoors.

INTRODUCTION

A voucher herbarium specimen is a pressed plant sample deposited for future reference. It supports research work and may be examined to verify the identity of the specific plant used in a study. A voucher specimen must be deposited in a recognized herbarium committed to long-term maintenance. More information on herbaria may be found in our web document “Herbaria and Herbarium Specimens.”

Why is voucher material needed? Plant classification is constantly changing. Shifts in species alignments and groupings are made as new evidence comes to light. Identifications are subject to change. Vouchers specimens help cross-reference these changes to previous research.

GETTING STARTED

Preplanning for the preparation of voucher specimens is crucial. Arrangements should include:

  • targeting collection locations and date periods to obtain useful specimens;
  • obtaining collection permits from appropriate agencies (this can take months); and
  • establishing official contact with government, herbarium, and research personnel in the area you will be working. This is required by law in most countries.

PRESSING AND DRYING PLANT SPECIMENS

Specimens are pressed in a plant press, which consists of a wooden frame (for rigidity), corrugated cardboard ventilators (to allow air to flow through the press), blotter paper (to absorb moisture), and folded paper, typically a newspaper (to contain the plant material). The plant press is tightened using straps with buckles or bolts with wing nuts. The objective of pressing plants is to extract moisture in the shortest period of time, while preserving the morphological integrity of the plant, and to yield material that can be readily mounted on herbarium paper (an acid-free cardstock) for long-term storage.

In order to fit on a standard herbarium sheet, a plant specimen should be pressed flat to no more than 11 X 16 inches. If the specimen will not fit those dimensions, it may be folded or cut into sections. Multiples of smaller plants may be pressed together in order to provide ample material for mounting and study. Small loose pieces, such as seeds, may need to be placed in a small paper packet inside of the newspaper. Large fruits or bulbs are often cut in half lengthwise or in slices prior to pressing. In order to insure rapid and thorough drying, extremely succulent materials such as cactus stems may need to be sliced open and some of the fleshy interior scraped out.

Each specimen should consist of a stem with attached leaves and, if at all possible, flowers and/or fruits. The roots of herbaceous plants should also be included. In the case of very large trees, shrubs, or vines, pieces should be selected to illustrate to the greatest extent possible the overall characteristics of the plant and the range of variation in flowers, leaves, and other structures. Each collection, i.e. gathering of a plant specimen, should be assigned a collection number. Data for each collection should be entered in a field notebook (see discussion of label data below) and the number should be written on the folded paper containing the specimen. Do not trust your memory for this information! If ample material is available, a minimum of three specimens should be pressed for each collection, especially if collecting in a region where the flora is poorly known. This will help facilitate the identification of the plants through the distribution of specimens to various herbaria and researchers. An ethical collector will insure that his/her collecting activities do not pose a significant threat to the survival of endangered species or habitats. Ethical herbaria will only accept legally collected specimens. See Florida Plant Collecting : Regulations and Permitting for some guidelines on collecting in Florida.

Care should be taken to make good specimens. Pressing material immediately upon collection results in the best specimens. Samples that are allowed to wilt prior to pressing will generally produce inferior specimens. Plants should be carefully arranged as they are placed in the press to maximize preservation of diagnostic features. Leaves, flowers, and fruits should be spread out so that they do not overlap and can be observed from different perspectives. The collection number should be clearly written on the outside of the folded paper containing each plant specimen. The plant press must be kept tight; this prevents shrinkage and wrinkling of the plant material and yields specimens that are easier to mount securely on herbarium paper. The pressed plants must also be thoroughly dried prior to storage and mounting. Best results are obtained with the use of an electric dryer that holds the presses and provides steady bottom heat between 95°F and 113°F (-120°F) (e.g., see Blanco et al., 2006 and the plant dryers and field presses section of the UF Herbarium Plant Specimen Collection and Pressing Bibliography). A low ambient humidity and good airflow around and through the presses also insures rapid and thorough drying of plant material. As the specimens dry, it may be necessary to further tighten the straps on the press to minimize shrinkage and wrinkling. Rapid drying promotes the best retention of plant color, but excessively high temperatures or long drying periods can result in blackened, discolored, and brittle specimens.

Mounting and storage of specimens require a considerable financial commitment in the form of archival materials, labor, and storage cabinets. Herbaria have the prerogative not to accept specimens if the cost of labor/materials for processing is excessive or if the quality of specimens or accompanying data is unsatisfactory. Due to differences in mounting methodologies and materials, most herbaria prefer not to accept already mounted specimens. Because plant classification is generally based on the morphology of flowers and fruits, in most cases sterile (non-flowering or -fruiting) specimens will not be accepted.

IDENTIFICATION OF PLANT SPECIMENS

The identification of plant specimens requires a considerable amount of time and effort. It is important to find out what research is being or has been done on the flora of the region where you are working. A thorough literature review and consultation with herbarium personnel will give you a good basis for starting the identification process.

The identification of unknown plant material is accomplished with the use of dichotomous keys; published plant descriptions, illustrations and photographs; and comparison with properly identified herbarium specimens. A microscope is essential for the observation of many diagnostic features.

Regulations pertaining to collecting plants vary from country to country and state to state, so it is important for you to make official contacts well in advance. It is customary and may be required to deposit one full set of specimens in a herbarium in the host state or country. A local herbarium is the ideal place to begin your quest for identifications, as its collection may be the most comprehensive for the region. It may be possible to arrange to identify your plants and receive assistance from staff members at this institution. But, one must realize that the identification of even relatively common plants may be time-consuming. Most institutions run on tight budgets and do not have staff available to assist or supervise visitors. Even if you are not able to identify your plants to species, you may be able to roughly group them by family or genus. This will allow you to seek experts in specific plant groups who may be willing to look at specimens in their purview. Experts in the flora you are working with may be interested in your collections and willing to give assistance. Your collections may, in fact, be helpful to their projects.

When submitting a plant specimen for identification, it is critical that the sample includes flowers and/or fruits and a portion of the stem with at least several leaves attached. Information of the plant’s growth habit, size, and the habitat where it is found (as well as any other features of the plant that may not be apparent from the sample, such as plant color or fragrance) often assist in the identification process. When submitting photos for identification include a general include full-frame close-ups of foliage as well as flowers or fruits. Be sure each photo includes a scale in the form of a ruler or coin. The photos should be accompanied by the same descriptive information provided with a pressed plant sample.

HERBARIUM SPECIMEN LABELS

A plant specimen is incomplete without label data. Label data is a form of field data and must be accurate. The following are important elements:

  • Scientific name: genus, species, authority, infraspecific information
  • Determiner of the scientific name: the name of the person who identified the plant
  • Detailed location; the location is used by researchers on several levels:
    • for general mapping to region, county or province;
    • for detailed mapping, as in GIS computer applications;
    • to physically locate the plant(s) in order to obtain further research material. The location should consist of: country, state or province, county or municipality and a description of the location in reference to roads, road junctions, mile markers and distances from cities and/or towns. Latitude and longitude, section, township and range, and elevation may also be helpful. A location taken with a Global Positioning System (GPS) is a desirable complement to the locality description. GPS coordinates MUST include a datum!
      For more information see: Best Practices for Collecting Geographic Data in the Field
  • Habitat: the type of plant community where the plant is growing and, if known, other plants growing in association
  • Plant habit: describes the form of the plant (tree, shrub, vine, herb) and its height. Examples: tree, ca. 50 ft. tall. sprawling herb
  • Frequency: is the plant rare, occasional, frequent or common?
  • Plant description: describe characteristics of the plant which may be lost upon drying, such as flower/fruit color and fragrance, leaf orientation and aroma
  • Collector name: it is recommended that the collector be consistent and use their full first name, middle initial (or full name) and full last name.
  • Other collectors (*see label examples note below) present with the collector
  • Collection number: a sequential straightforward numbering system (1,2, 3, …) is preferable.
  • Date of collection: a format with the month spelled out or abbreviated and 4 digit year will prevent confusion. E.g., 3 May 2003, not 3/5/03 or 5/3/03.

Label Examples

* Please note, label formats vary considerably. We currently recommend that determiner be paired with the identification. There are two standards to denoted multiple collectors and a collection number. E.g.:

  • David W. Hall #1946 with Chuck Nance and Allen Ake – where the collection number is know to be that of David W. Hall and may be cited as David W. Hall #1946 but is sometimes also cited as: David W. Hall, Chuck Nance and Allen Ake #1946.
  • David W. Hall, Chuck Nance and Allen Ake #1946 – where the collection number is theoretically that of the first collector but the number could also be a team number. This should always be cited as: David W. Hall, Chuck Nance and Allen Ake #1946
Herbarium of the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA PLANTS OF FLORIDA

<Scrophulariaceae>
Striga gesnerioides (Willd.) Vatke
det. D. W. H.

POLK COUNTY: Just S. of Bartow city limits, ± ½ mi. E. of US 17, along S. side of Clear Springs Rd. 2 populations: ± 1800 ft. E. of railroad tracks and ± 45 ft. S. of center line of rd.; ± 400 ft. further E. and 95 ft. S. of center line. Flws. lt. purple; infrequent.

coll. David W. Hall # 1946 17 August 1993
with Chuck Nance and Allen Ake

Herbarium of the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA CULTIVATED PLANTS OF FLORIDA

Nandina domestica Thunb.
det. K.D.P.

ALACHUA COUNTY: Gainesville, University of Florida campus, cultivated at south end of west side of Rolfs Hall. Cylindrical shrub, ca. 1 m. tall. Fruit bright red.

coll. Kent D. Perkins # 5555 12 Dec 1999

PLANTS OF BORNEO

Artabotrys suaveolens Blume
Det. J.C. Regalado, 1987

Malaysia. Sabah. Tambunan District: Crocker Range, Km 64.5 on Kota Kinabalu – Tambunan Road. 5°46’N, 116°21’E. Elev. 1220 m. Montane dipterocarp forest. Crocker Formation. Woody climber on roadbank.

John H. Beaman 7178 9 October 1983
With: Reed S. Beaman and Teofile E. Beaman

Herbaria of Michigan State University (MSC) and
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Sabah Campus (UKMS)
PROJETO FLORA AMAZÔNIA
Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia
The New York Botanical Garden

Rhabdodendron amaconicum (Spr. ex Benth.) Huber

Mun. Óbidos, Pará. 91 km de Oriximiná nos Campos de Ariramba, entre rio Jaramacaru e Igarapé Mutum. Aprox. 01°10’S, 55°35’W. Campina aberta, solo areno pedregoso.
Arbusto de 4 m de altura. Frutos com cálice esverdeados. Fruitos imaturos verdes.

C.A. Cid Ferreira, 9749 04 DEZ 1987

Plantas coletadas com apoio de ENGE-RIO e Mineração Rio Norte, com participação de C.A.C. Ferreira, C. Farney de Sá, G. Martinelli, E. Soares, C.D.A. Mota de E.F. Batista.

Links to More Label Examples

Annotations

Specimens are frequently re-identified once the original label is prepared and/or the specimen has been mounted. These re-identifications are recorded on annotation slips. For more information on annotations, see: Annotation of Herbarium Specimens: Recommentations and Annotation of Type Specimens: Recommentations.

MOUNTING HERBARIUM SPECIMENS

Mounting is the process of affixing a dried pressed plant and its label to a sheet of heavy paper. This provides physical support that allows the specimen to be handled and stored with a minimum of damage.

Prior to attachment, the specimen and its label are laid out on the paper to allow maximum observation of diagnostic (usually reproductive) features as well as the range of variation in vegetative structures, including both sides of the leaves. Plants are generally positioned in a life-like arrangement (that is, with roots or lower stem toward the bottom of the sheet and flowers toward the top). When laying out the plant, be sure to leave space on the sheet for the specimen label, annotation labels, and institutional accession seal. A paper envelope or packet should also be attached to the sheet to contain any fragments of the specimen that break off over time. Once the optimum arrangement of the specimen has been determined, it is attached to the sheet using a combination of glue and strips of gummed linen cloth tape. Glue is used sparingly to attach the larger portions of the plant, such as stems, large leaves, and fruits. Gummed linen mounting strips are then applied to reinforce portions of the plant that might be torn loose as the specimen is used. Large or bulky items may need to be sewn onto the sheet with a sturdy linen thread. The objective is to secure the specimen firmly to the mounting paper, while leaving some pieces of the plant loose enough to be removed if necessary. Excessive applications of glue that embed flowers and seeds on the sheet may make it impossible to observe diagnostic features or to remove samples, thus rendering the specimen useless for scientific study. The best way to learn proper mounting procedures is through hands-on training and practice with a variety of plant specimens.

Because herbarium specimens are intended for long-term study and storage, it is critical that that all supplies used for mounting be both durable and archival. Archival denotes materials that are free of acids and other compounds that may cause them or the specimen to degrade or discolor over time. Consequently, the mounting paper, label paper, packet paper, ink, glue, mounting strips, and storage folders should all be acid free and designed for long-term stability.

The UF Herbarium Specimen Preparation Guide provides an illustrated step-by-step overview of the mounting methods used in the UF Herbarium.

WHERE TO GO FOR MORE INFORMATION

Publications

Web Pages

  • Fairchild Tropical Garden Collecting Guide: http://www.virtualherbarium.org/collecting.htm
  • Field Techniques Used by Missouri Botanical Garden: http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/molib/fieldtechbook/welcome.shtml.
  • Guide to Plant Collection and Identification by Jane M. Bowles, University of Western Ontario Herbarium (UWO), London, Ontario, Canada.
  • Herbaria and Specimens: What are They? By Diana Horton of the extirpated University of Iowa Herbarium, which is now part of the Iowa State University Herbarium.

Specimen Trees

Specimen Trees

  1. 1. Specimen Trees Brought to you by Blerick Trees www.dialatree.com.au
  2. 2. What they are and how to use them
  3. 3. The term “specimen” comes from a Latin word meaning “to look at.” A specimen tree is a plant you decide is particularly beautiful or interesting, and well worth looking at. It is a tree that deserves to have centre stage in your garden. Specimen tree information suggests that many different features can make a tree worthy of taking centre stage. Flowering trees can be excellent specimen trees, especially if the blossoms last a long time and are showy. Trees with pleasing forms, like weeping willow, can also serve as engaging specimen trees. Trees with features like peeling bark or twisting branches often are given stand-along status.
  4. 4. How to Use Specimen Trees When you have decided to plant a specimen tree in your yard, think first about what you have to offer a tree. Identify exactly where you intend to plant it. Then figure out what size tree would be appropriate there. Both tropical plants and evergreens provide year-round interest. If you are planting a tree whose attraction is limited to one season, think about planting a second one. For example, if you are planting a specimen tree that offers lovely flowers in springtime, consider installing another tree with winter interest a
  5. 5. Acer palmatum – Atropurpureum Purple Japanese Maple Tree Is a small, dense tree with excellent year-round colour. Magnificent bronze-purple foliage is combined with a good shape and a useful size to make an attractive specimen tree for a protected area in the landscape. Height: 3.5 metres. Width: 3 metres. Growth rate: has a slow to moderate growth rate. Should not be planted in exposed areas where hot summer winds may stress the tree.
  6. 6. Albizia julibrissin – Persian Silk Tree Is a hardy small tree with showy delicate pink ‘pompon’ flower heads in summer contrasting against fine, feathery foliage. Perfect for use in small to medium gardens or to provide some summer shade. Height: 4 metres. Width: 4 metres. Growth rate: Moderate. Tolerances: Moderate drought, varied soil pH, moderately saline soils, strong wind and temperate to sub-tropical conditions.
  7. 7. Callistemon viminalis – Dawson River WeeperA very long flowering bottlebrush with a beautiful,weeping habit down to the ground. Bright red flowers most of the year. Attracts birds and insects. Suitable as specimens or in a large tub. Drought tolerant once established. Height: 4 metres Width: 4 metres Growth Rate: is fast growing. Tolerates: is tolerant of drought, frost, salt spray, coastal, and poor drainage.
  8. 8. Choisya ternata – Mexican Orange Blossom A beautiful shrub from the temperate areas of Mexico, has clusters of white flowers that have the fragrance of orange. It is easy to grow and very hardy. Height: 2 metres. Width: 2 metres. Growth rate: Fast. Tolerances: Will thrive in fertile, well-drained soil, full or partial sun.
  9. 9. Acacia cognata – Lime Magik Is a plant with a pendulous habit and striking foliage in strong shades of glowing, lime-green. This cheerfully bright large shrub makes a stunning display amongst other deeper green foliage plants. Produces an abundance of soft yellow flowers during late Winter and Spring. Height: 4 metres Width: 3 metres Growth rate: Fast Tolerances: Prefers shade but will tolerate full sun. Also tolerates light to heavy soil and frost.
  10. 10. Cercis siliquastrum – Judas Tree Has a spectacular display of purplish-pink flowers in early spring and distinctive rounded leaves. Height: 6 metres. Width: 4 metres. Tolerances: Wide range including acid or alkaline but is easily stressed and resents dry or very wet sites.
  11. 11. Gordonia axillaris yunnanense With glaucous foliage and soft red stems on new growth. Huge “poached egg” flowers smother the tree from mid Winter to early Spring. It has decorative bark and glossy deep green leaves. Flowers fall in wide carpets resembling a carpet of fried eggs. Height: 5 metres. Width: 5 metres. Growth rate: Fast. Tolerances: Performs best in full sun to partial shade. Severe frosts can be problematic for this tree. Moderately drought tolerant but will benefit from mulching in summer and supplementary watering during dry spells. Prunes well to form a hedge.
  12. 12. Hakea Laurina – Pin Cushion Hakea A much admired Australian native, it has some very lovely and unique flowers that resemble a pin cushion. Attracts birds, bees and butterflies. Height: 6 metres. Width: 4 metres. Growth rate: Moderate. Tolerances: likes light soil, moist but well drained. Thrives in full sun. It’s frost tolerant.
  13. 13. Koelreuteria paniculata – Golden Rain Tree A lovely specimen tree, boasts of golden yellow showy flowers. Height: 7 metres. Width: 7 metres. Growth rate: Slow to moderate. Tolerances: will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, heat, moderate drought, atmospheric pollution and urban conditions.
  14. 14. Leptospermum rudolph Is a medium to tall shrub with purplish new growth. From late spring to summer large red flowers appear along the branches. Prune after flowering to ensure dense growth and plenty of flowers. Height: 3 metres. Width: 2 metres. Growth rate: Fast. Tolerances: Likes full or partial sunlight. Light frost tolerance. Not salt tolerant.
  15. 15. Liriodendron tulipifera fastigiatum – Upright Tulip Tree Is a very attractive tall and narrow growing tree with brilliant autumn foliage. Height: 8 – 13 metres. (Tends to reach only its minimum height in an urban environment.) Width: 5 metres. Growth rate: Moderate to fast. Tolerances: performs best in deep, well drained, but moist loam soils that are slightly acidic. Irrigation may be required during extremely dry periods. Best in full sun. Tolerates air pollution.
  16. 16. Malus hupehensis – Strawberry Parfait – Crab Apple Is a tough, wide spreading small tree with masses of unique mottled pink flowers in spring. Height: 5 metres. Width: 6 metres. Growth rate: Moderate. Tolerances: is adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions, but prefers a moist, well drained acidic soil.
  17. 17. Ornamental Pear Pyrus calleryana – Winter Glow Pear Tree – Evergreen Pear Is an attractive ornamental pear and has become a popular screening plant as it retains its foliage for most of winter. Height: 6 metres Width: 4 metres Growth rate: medium to fast Flowers: masses of white blossum in spring Tolerances: Adaptable to a wide range of site conditions including quite dry conditions, slightly alkaline soils and air pollution. Able to handle intermittently wet, heavy soils. Best in full sun.
  18. 18. Prunus blireana – Flowering Plum Tree Is a flowering plum with an excellent massed display of double pink flowers followed by bronzy-purple foliage. Attractive as a single specimen or in massed planting for long driveways and avenues. Height: 4 metres. Width: 4 metres. Growth rate: Moderate. Tolerances: is adaptable to a variety of site conditions, but prefers moist, well drained fertile soils and a position receiving full sun to part-shade. Flowers best in full sun.
  19. 19. Prunus persica – Crimson Cascade Weeping Peach Is an extremely eye-catching cultivar as it produces deep crimson-red flowers on a framework of cascading branches in early spring. Height: 2 metres Width: 2.5 metres Growth rate: Slow. Tolerances: is quite adaptable to varied site conditions, but prefers moist, well drained fertile soils and a position receiving full sun to part- shade. Flowers best in full sun and when pruned annually, immediately after flowering. Often requires spraying to prevent leaf curl.
  20. 20. Acer pentaphyllum – Chinese Maple Tree A very lovely elegant maple, has distinct five-lobed deep green leaves. From China, this maple is considered to be perhaps the rarest maple in the wild and deserves a place in the garden. Height: 6 metres. Width: 5 metres. Growth rate: Slow to moderate. Tolerances: Adaptable to a range of soil types once established, but prefers a moist, well drained soil.
  21. 21. Weeping Maple Viridis (Green) Acer palmatum dissectum A graceful weeping Japanese maple, Viridis is the widest spreading and one of the fastest growing of the weeping ‘laceleaf’ types. An excellent cultivar (equal to the better known purple-leafed weeping maples) suitable as a specimen for protected parks and gardens where there is space for it to reach its full potential. Height: 3 metres. Width: 5 metres. Growth rate: Slow to moderate Tolerances: Adaptable to a range of soil types once established, but prefers a moist, well drained soil. Should not be planted in exposed areas where hot summer winds may stress the tree and leaves may suffer scorch in very hot sun. Transplants easily.
  22. 22. Questions?

EXCEPTIONAL SPECIES FOR SPECIMEN TREES

May 8, 2017

EXCEPTIONAL SPECIES FOR SPECIMEN TREES

By Brad Priest, Designer at DG2 Design

The beauty of trees is often under-appreciated, and those few trees who are indeed valued for their aesthetic beauty are frequently over-used in designed landscapes across America. The list below is meant to celebrate some of the lesser-used tree species that can hold their own as specimens in any park, garden or plaza around.

PAPERBARK MAPLE (Acer griseum)

When it comes to unique ornamental value, few trees can rival that of the Paperbark Maple. This tree exfoliates thin, almost translucent sheets of bark that hang on throughout the year and reveal a dark rosy brown trunk beneath. The fall color is also typically strong, varying from vibrant deep reds to orange shades. This small tree only grows to about 20’H x 20’W, and makes a great specimen in small spaces and residential settings.

KATSURATREE (Cercidiphyllum japonicum)

The Katsuratree is a particularly elegant tree, often noted for its pleasant form, and especially for its interesting foliage. Small, tidy heart-shaped leaves offer a wide range of colors throughout the year, often emerging in purple or maroon hues in the spring, maturing to bluish-green in the summer, and changing to intense yellow-orange to apricot shades in the fall. One of the most striking features of this tree are the actual fallen leaves, which briefly give off a distinct spicy-sweet aroma reminiscent of cinnamon-sugar or ripe apples. The Katsuratree is a small to medium shade tree, typically growing to 40’H x 30’W. It looks great as a specimen in many settings.

WHITE FRINGE TREE (Chionanthus virginicus)

The White Fringe Tree makes a name for itself in the spring, when in full bloom it billows with a profusion of bright white, delicate flowers that shine against the blue skies and fresh greenery of spring. This large shrub / small tree grows to about 15’H x 15’W and makes for a beautiful specimen in garden settings. The White Fringe Tree also attracts wildlife when in fruit, and provides good yellow fall color.

YELLOWWOOD (Cladrastis kentukea)

The Yellowwood is a true multi-season performer, making it an ideal candidate as a specimen tree. Spring time finds this tree covered in large, drooping white/pink flower clusters that are very fragrant, almost perfume-like. In the summer time, interesting compound leaf structures provide unique visual textures in the landscape. Outstanding yellow color and significant seed pods are prominent in the fall, and in the winter time unique branching patterns emerge, which are often strongly horizontal in more mature trees. The Yellowwood is a somewhat low, wide tree, usually reaching a size of about 30’H x 40’W in cultivated landscapes.

SOURWOOD (Oxydendrum arboreum)

The Sourwood is a narrow, somewhat unevenly formed small tree that works great as a specimen for informal or naturalized settings. Early summer blooms of white flowers appear on narrow panicles, attracting bees who, in turn make delicious Sourwood honey from its nectar. Vibrant color appears in the fall, as the leaves transform into brilliant shades of red and orange. Further, its seed capsules persist into the winter, providing interest beyond the growing season. This tree normally grows to only about 20’H x 15’W in cultivation, though it can grow much larger in the wild.

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