Ninebark (Physocarpus oblongifolia)
Ninebark is a native shrub found along streams, rocky banks and bluffs, and other sunny, mesic environments. It is found from southern Canada south to Florida, and west to Oklahoma and Kansas. Several individuals are growing in the UTAS wildflower garden next to the Arboretum Visitors Center. In 2010, a number of Ninebark plants were used in landscaping the new Arboretum parking lot. A member of the Rosaceae plant family, Ninebark has dense clusters of fragrant white flowers. As the fruits develop, the clusters turn pink and eventually a buff color. The alternate, 3-5 palmately lobed leaves are medium to dark green on the upper surface and somewhat lighter below. The dark brown to orange bark that peels into several layers is the basis for the common name Ninebark. The flowers provide an excellent source of nectar for a wide variety of insects, the fruits are eaten by birds, and deer may browse the foliage.
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Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
Northern Red Oak, a fairly common tree in our deciduous forests, is found along many of the Arboretum trails. As the common name implies, it is most prevalent in northern hardwood forests, but is found throughout Tennessee. Its range extends from the Maritime Provinces and eastern Canada south to Alabama and Georgia, and west to Minnesota, Nebraska and Oklahoma. The lobes of the alternate, dark green leaves are bristle-tipped, a characteristic of other members of the red oak group, and turn brick red in the fall. In poor years, however, the leaves are likely to be red-brown to yellow. The acorns are up to 1 in. long and have a cap covering up to 1/4 of the nut. The bark is lightly to deeply furrowed, frequently with light-colored plates running up and down the trunks between the fissures. The acorns are prime food for squirrels, turkeys, deer, black bears, and other wildlife. Although Northern Red Oak frequently produces large crops of acorns, squirrels and other wildlife may consume 80 to 100% of the acorns in any given year. Northern Red Oak is an important lumber tree, with a wide variety of uses in construction and furniture making.
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Norway Spruce (Picea abies)
Norway Spruce, a native tree of north, central, and eastern Europe, has been widely planted in eastern North America and in parts of the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains. A number of examples are present at the Arboretum near the top of the Tulip Poplar Trail and along the upper edge of the sinkhole area near the Program Shelter. This tree may grow to heights of 100 to 200 ft. It has characteristic pendulous branches with orange-brown twigs bearing short (1 to 2.5 cm) blunt-tipped needles. The tan-brown cones, 4 to 7 in. long, are found on branch tips in the upper third of the tree's canopy. The bark becomes gray scaly as the tree matures. Norway spruce is used for lumber, pulp, musical instruments, Christmas trees, and as an ornamental. Several Norway Spruce research projects have been carried out on the UT Forest Resources Center, including growth and adaptation studies associated with genetic sources and improvement of needle retention for use as cut Christmas trees.
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