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Cedars

Northern White-cedar

Northern White-cedars (Thuja occidentalis), also known as American Arborvitae, are often found in coniferous swamps and along lake shores. These conifers have a number of distinctive attributes: they are long lived, their bark is nearly fireproof, and their wood is very tough and can repel both the elements as well as insect pests.  

Northern White-cedars have a life expectancy of 200 to 300 years (hence, one of its common names – “tree of life” or Arborvitae), but there are records of them exceeding 1,000 years. And cedar wood can withstand a great deal of stress.  According to botanist and author Donald Peattie, “…a mere shaving from a carpenter’s plane may be laid on an anvil, folded, and struck repeatedly with a hammer, yet not break.” 

It did not take humans long to appreciate the qualities of this wood.  Its toughness, along with its being the lightest wood in the Northeast, made it ideal for the canoe frames of Native Americans. Lumber camps of the North Woods had cedar shingles because the wood resists decay practically forever. Today its durability lends itself to a number of outdoor uses, including fences, decks, boats and furniture.

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Blackberry Psyllids Heading for Conifers

11-9-15 blackberry psyllid 101Occasionally you see a wild Blackberry bush with leaves that have stunted growth and are often curled up. This malformation is due to the Blackberry Psyllid (Trioza tripunctata), also known as the Jumping Plant Louse. Closely related to aphids and scale insects, psyllids are plant-feeding bugs which typically have one specific host on which they feed and lay their eggs. Blackberry Psyllids, small, cicada-like insects that hold their wings tent-like over their body, feed only on Blackberry and in so doing, cause this leaf distortion.

Blackberry Psyllids have one generation per year. The adults mate and lay eggs (39-202) on Blackberry bushes in early summer. The nymphs, small and wingless, also feed on the sap of Blackberries. They are often found inside the curled leaves during the summer months where they secrete several types of waxy structures as they feed. In the fall the nymphs mature and overwinter as adults in conifers (pines, spruces and cedars) prior to returning to Blackberry bushes in the spring. If Blackberries are one mile or more from conifers, no psyllid damage will be found; those growing within one-eighth of a mile from conifers are at the greatest risk of psyllid damage.

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