No, we have not buried ourselves!

We are just tired. Blogging for month takes a lot out of a squirrel. We are pulling together the entire Trees and Shrubs for Bees list for a post and that plus the unexpected heat, got he better of us.

While you wait for us, enjoy this new White Fringetree the humans win our neighborhood planted last year.

 

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F is for Fringetree

White Fringetree is a small, native tree we have featured many times on The Squirrel Nutwork because Ms. Flora believes it doesn’t get enough attention. The leaves are rather plain, the fall color is yellow. But when this tree blooms…

It’s a gorgeous fluff of white. There is some debate over if bees get a lot of use out of it. They do pollinate it, but likely the nectaries of this long-petaled, skinny flower don’t offer much.

But for small spaces, this 12 to 20 foot high tree is perfect, and native. It blooms May to June and sets fruits in August that are eaten by songbirds.

Perhaps this is a good time to compare Fringetree to Flowering Dogwood, another small, spring-blooming, native tree. Bees do not like Dogwood and they don’t use it. We are sorry, dogwood, but if you humans have only one space for a small, spring-blooming tree and want to help the bees, choose White Fringtree or Carolina Silverbell. We’ll feature it another day, obviously not ‘C’ day–looks shiftily around–and maybe not ‘S’ day, but one of those terribly awkward letters that we can’t find a tree for! Shout out to the Blogging From A to Z Challenge for challenging us!

Tomorrow is out first Sunday of the month. The A to Z skips Sundays, so look for ‘G’ on Monday!

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Purchase plants and seeds from a known source that does not use pesticides / insecticides, particularly neonicotinoids. They are not safe for honeybees and native bees. Watch this bee researcher’s Ted Talk to learn more about bees, why they are dying and how you can help:

Marla Spivak: Why Bees Are Disappearing

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there,

Do any of you human readers recognize these fruits?

Mystery #69

Sorry this isn’t in the best of focus, but with a clump, what can a squirrel do? Back later to check your guesses!

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On July 26 we showed these fruits ripening—on the White Fringetree.

They are ripening at different rates, but songbirds are attacking the purple ones with gusto. From the safe distance of a nearby maple tree, we’ve seen American Robins, Blue Jays and Gray Catbirds like this one.

Gray Catbird eating White Fringetree fruits

White Fringetree

As I looked around from my favorite branch this morning, it was hard to select what I want to talk about. It’s still spring in the East and so much is blooming. Here’s a special native:

White Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus, is a smaller tree, only growing to 30 some feet. That’s fine for us squirrels, but for you humans’ sake, I hope you can find a short one. The leaves are plain, so don’t give many clues to identifying the tree unless you use a guide.

Up that high you’ll miss the flowers, which are so fine and fringy, their panicles seem like a white mist around the upper branches. They smell heavenly.

Glad these flowers stuck around after that spike of warm weather in early April. Late this summer I’ll snag a picture of the tree’s fruit, a purple drupe that the birds eat. Because it forms at the tips of branches, it’s hard to get at for us squirrels.

A neat note I found while doing my research, is Linnaeus named this tree. Originally he used a feminized version of the species name: virginica. But this was corrected to be masculine, viginicus, which I take to understand is because the tree has either male or female flowers on it, rarely both. The part I do understand is, this could cause the tree not to have drupes on it, if it is a male-flowering tree. Miz Flora assures me this one does, so I guess it’s a girl. We’ll see come fall.