Magnolia for blog 4 23 15

Dinosaurs Ate Magnolias

Magnolia for blog 4 23 15
Herbivores of the Cretaceous period enjoyed lunching on the early ancestors of many plants and trees that we know and love today. Magnolia, for example, is a genus that dates back to the dinosaur days, along with ginkgos, conifers and palms. While great snacks for dinosaurs, PHS does not recommend eating magnolias for the rest of us. Nevertheless, let’s celebrate some stunners this spring that would have surely appealed to the Pleurocoelus.

We spoke with our very own tree expert, PHS’s Mindy Maslin, Education Project Manager and Tree Tender extraordinaire. Here are her top picks for must-admire trees around Philadelphia:

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellate)
This early bloomer in Philadelphia has large, white, star-shaped fragrant flowers. Spot these along Kelly Drive and near Lloyd Hall. After the blooms fall off, we can enjoy glossy, green leaves that make this a great tree throughout the seasons. Be on the lookout for their interesting-looking seed pods later this year.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis)Eastern Rosebud- Photo Credit- Julie Walton Shaver
Usually one of the earliest spring trees to bloom in this area, and the name can be misleading. The blooms on this tree have a purple  hue and do not necessarily reveal a “redbud.”  Once the blooms fade away, they expose beautiful heart-shaped leaves. A nice display of Eastern Redbud can be found along Market Street near 11th street.

Flowering Cherry Trees
A traditional favorite among the “first signs of spring,” with their pop of vibrant pinks. Remember, names can be misleading.  These are ornamental trees and don’t bear edible fruit. When the petals fall to the ground in profusion, they can create a flowery carpet of pink in the streets and sidewalks along Kelly Drive and into Fairmount Park. Special note: One of Mindy’s favorites is the Kwanzan Cherry Tree with its double blossom.

Fun Fact: What’s going on with my Oak tree?
While everything else is budding out in springtime, oak and beech trees are still holding their leaves from last fall. Don’t despair, they will leaf out later in the season and old leaves help protect the emerging leaf buds. At this point in the season, the leaf buds are expanding and they are pushing out the old leaf and springing into the new season. With the help of rain and wind, the old leaves will soon fall off.

PHS Tree Resources:
Free Tree Giveaway
Register today to receive a free tree, courtesy of a partnership between the Phillies and PHS. Tree pickup will be held Saturday, May 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia. Learn more and register here.

The PHS Tree Tenders program, part of the Plant One Million campaign, teaches the basics of tree planting, tree care, and how to rally communities around the importance of trees. It also provides street trees for community plantings twice a year. The class is offered several times throughout the year in Center City Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. The Montgomery County three-part class meets May 5, 12 and 19. The Philadelphia three-part class meets on May 13, 20 and 27.

Make Your Tree Count
Visit to register your tree and make it count toward our goal of one million trees throughout 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware.

Stop by PHS Meadowbrook Farm in Abington Township to purchase a spring blooming tree such as Magnolias, Chinese and Eastern Redbud, the PHS Gold Medal Fothergilla and many more. Speak with a Meadowbrook expert to determine the right tree for your yard.

Young tree

The PHS Tree Tenders Lunchtime Series Has Begun!

treeLearn about trees at convenient lunchtime workshops at PHS. Take one workshop or the whole series–you’ll be glad you did!

Dates and Topics
Jan. 17    Urban Stresses on Trees
Jan. 24    Tree Planting
Jan. 31    Tree ID
Feb. 7     Tree Care
Feb. 14   Trees and Watersheds, and the Emerald Ash Borer
Feb. 21   Organizing a Community Tree Planting
Feb. 28   Presentation by Tree Tender Partners: Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Philly Tree Map, Plant One Million, US Forest Service, PHS McLean Library

The fee is $25 for the entire series or $5 per class. Preregistration is required; to register click here. All classes will be held at PHS, 100 North 20th Street, fifth floor (except on January 17, when class will be held in the PHS McLean Library on the first floor) at 12 noon.

The Tree Tenders coursework can be used for ISA, PA LA, Act 48, and PLNA credit. Given the nature of the training and the evening hours, the course is not appropriate for children under 16.


July Lecture on the Lifespan of Urban Trees

How long do urban trees typically live? How can we better monitor their health? In what ways can we make smarter decisions when planting?

These questions and others will be covered in a free, informative hour-long presentation titled, “How Urban Trees Thrive and Survive: Urban Tree Mortality Rates—New Approaches to an Old Problem.” Join us Wednesday, July 11 from 12 noon to 1 pm at PHS, 100 North 20th Street in the fifth floor auditorium.

Guest presenter Lara Roman will share the latest research in urban tree mortality from field studies in California. Attendees will learn about monitoring systems, life tables, and the changes to urban forests over time.

Lara Roman is a PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. She completed a Master of Environmental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. She serves on the executive committee of the Urban Tree Growth and Longevity Working Group, and is currently working in Philadelphia with the United States Forest Service Urban Field Station, supervising an urban forest inventory with i-Tree Eco.

For more information or to reserve a seat, please contact Dawn Waters at


Watch This Awesome Video About Tree Tenders

Flying Kite Media, an online magazine that highlights the efforts of progressive businesses in the Philadelphia area, recently debuted a totally cool video about the PHS Tree Tenders training program.

The video demonstrates the diversity and devotion of PHS volunteers, and showcases the recent accomplishments of the Plant One Million program. If you’ve ever thought about becoming a Tree Tender yourself, you’ll definitely want to check out this video!

Thanks to Flying Kite for the shout-out!

PHS Premieres YouTube Videos on Tree Care

If you’re reading this, chances are you love trees. You’ve probably heard about Saturday’s major Plant One Million tree-planting events; maybe you’re even participating. (Hey, thanks!)

If that’s the case, you’ll be as fascinated as I was by PHS’s new four-video series on basic tree care. The series covers watering, mulching, weeding and protecting, and pruning. Each video is packed with information about tree anatomy, best practices, and cool information about how trees “spruce up” the urban environment—all in five minutes or less. Check them out below; you definitely won’t regret it.

First up, watering:

Then mulching:

Then weeding, cleaning, and protecting:

And finally, pruning:

Great stuff!  For more information about Plant One Million, visit the website and “like” it on Facebook. Inspired by the videos and want to become a full-fledged Tree Tender? Visit this page to find out about upcoming trainings.

New Trees for Northeast Philly Residents

On May 14, Northeast Philadelphia residents gathered at Pennypack Environmental Center to claim their free trees and watch planting demonstrations. In support of the new Plant One Million initiative, PHS rolled out “A Tree in Every Yard,” a  project that gave away trees to residents in certain zip codes.

The Northeast was selected because the area has a low tree canopy but ample space for new trees. The pilot project was a great success: 165 trees were distributed to happy people who rushed home to get their green gifts into the ground.

Here is a slideshow of some of the proud new tree owners:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Are you a Northeast resident who missed this opportunity? Don’t get your branches in a bunch! Visit the Northeast Tree Tenders site to get involved in tree plantings in your area or apply to have a street or yard tree planted outside your home. For more information about PHS Tree Tenders trainings, click here.

A Homeowner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Tree (part three)

Welcome back! Now that you’ve selected the proper species, picked a great looking tree, and transported it home, it’s time for the real fun to begin: planting! Follow these easy steps to plant your containerized tree:

1) Handle your tree by the container; never carry or move a tree by the trunk or branches.

2) Remove all tags and twine.

3) Prune any dead or broken branches. Removing healthy branches, especially during the first year, adds to the stress of a newly planted tree, so restrict your pruning to dead and broken branches only.

4) Remove the tree from its container. Hold the edge of the pot and gently pull the tree upward from the base of the trunk. If the tree doesn’t lift out easily, lay it down and press on the sides of the container to loosen the root ball. If roots have grown through the bottom of the pot, you may have to cut off the container.

5) Use a pruning saw (or serrated kitchen knife) to shave 1-2″ from the sides and bottom of the root ball to remove any encircling roots. This encourages healthy root development.

6) Locate the root flare. This is where the trunk begins to widen and change into the root structure. You may need to gently scrape away soil in order to find the flare. The aim is to position the root flare slightly above ground level.

These steps can be seen in the video below, starring PHS’s own Mindy Maslin.

Remember, you can become a tree expert by taking the PHS Tree Tenders training course. Furthermore, any trees you plant should be counted as part of Plant One Million. Finally, if you have any questions or comments, please post then in the comments section and I will reply promptly. Good luck!