|NEIGHBOR TINA HEADING TO THE ICE ROAD|
|MATURE PAPER BIRCH|
|YOUNGER RIVER BIRCH|
|MATURE RIVER BIRCH|
Now is a perfect time of the year to examine and compare the bark characteristics of trees. Tree barks can be very prominent in color or texture in many species, and birch (Betula) species barks are especially so. The barks of most other tree species are not nearly so prominent, but can still be highly characteristic. The paper birch, Betula papyrifera, is known and prized for its white, exfoliating bark. The river birch, Betula nigra, also has a colorful exfoliating bark, quite similar in younger trees to the paper birch, but it becomes less colorful as the tree ages. The former species is not well adapted to heat and moisture stress, while the latter is more tolerant of such stress, and is also resistant to the bronze birch borer, the insect pest most responsible for paper birch demise. There are several other birch species with interesting bark but they are far less available in the nursery trade than paper and river birch. The European birch, Betla pendula, formerly alba, has very prominent white bark at all ages, but it does not exfoliate. The yellow birch, Betula alleganiensis, is a species of northern mixed deciduous and coniferous forests and is seldom planted. There are a number of other, less common birches with interesting bark and I will try to address them in the future.
On the Wisconsin political front, the fourteen AWOL senators still hiding out somewhere in The Land of Lincoln (Honest Abe must be spinning in his grave) have sent a letter to Governor Walker offering to meet him on the Wisconsin-Illinois border (is this the Balkans?). The Governor wisely told them they may continue their sojourn in the political wilderness until they see fit to come and talk to him in the Capitol, where both are normally expected to do the people’s business.