What makes a heritage tree?
Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 5, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.
Q: What is the difference between a "champion" tree and a "heritage tree"? The Gainesville Woman's Club had its huge live oak designated as a heritage tree, and I was wondering what the difference is?
A: A champion tree is the largest tree of its species known in a state or in the United States. A heritage tree is a local designation usually granted for large trees over a certain diameter.
In the City of Gainesville it is a tree over 20 inches in diameter at chest height. A tree named as a heritage tree has special protection for conservation.
The Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) at the Gainesville Woman's Club on University Avenue is certainly beautiful and could be one of the largest in the city according to City Arborist Mark Siburt. The size of that tree is less than our Florida state champion the Cellon Oak, which also resides in Alachua County. The Cellon Oak has a girth of 344 inches and a crown spread of 154 feet. Dave Conser of the Florida Department of Forestry helps to keep track of the Florida champion trees.
Lissa Campbell of the Gainesville Woman's club led the campaign to have the large "20th Century" Live Oak tree on University Avenue named as a heritage tree "to help protect it for years to come so all of Gainesville can enjoy its beauty."
For more information about protecting trees, you can contact the UF/IFAS Alachua County Master Gardeners at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I need to put more mulch in my plant beds as part of my spring cleanup. Should I remove all the old mulch and put in new or can I just add to the top of what I already have?
A: Mulch is a wonderful addition to your Florida-friendly landscape. It helps to suppress weeds, maintain soil moisture and moderate soil temperatures. Mulch also is an excellent ground cover for very shady areas in the landscape.
For your beds this spring, you do not need to remove the old mulch. Simply add to the top of the existing layer of mulch. Do not pile mulch alongside the stem of plants. Mulch is moist and can lead to rotting around the stem.
Use your composted leaves or raked pine needles. Or you can purchase pine needles (pine straw) or pine bark from local nurseries. Mixed hardwood mulch and mulch from the local utility company also are good for most beds. Cypress mulch often is made from the waste wood generated in the manufacture of cypress lumber, but it also may be produced from whole trees cut from wetlands. The Florida-Friendly Landscapes program does not recommend the use of cypress mulch, as the origin of the mulch may be difficult to determine.
I love plants — not math, but sometimes I have to grab the calculator to decide how much mulch to buy. To figure the amount of mulch needed, multiply the length of your area by the width to find the square footage. Multiply that square footage by 0.25, which will equate to 3 inches of mulch. Then divide that value by 27 to yield cubic yards needed for your project. One cubic yard will cover 108 square feet with 3 inches of mulch. For more information about mulching, visit the UF/IFAS Extension website at www.solutionsforyourlife.com.
Wendy Wilber is an extension agent with UF/IFAS. Email her at email@example.com.