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Master Gardener: Tree top trivia

Alas, all breaks must come to an end. Time to hit the keyboard to punch out new articles.

Endangered trees. They’re not just in the rain forest. The Morton Arboretum in Chicago has put together a display educating the public on which trees are most in danger and what they can do to help. Examples: The Fraser fir, popular choice for a Christmas tree cut down at the local tree farm. But in the wild it has been 90% eradicated by insects called adelgids that thrive in and destroy fir forests.

Dawn redwood, a tree that once covered North America eons ago. Now about a thousand survive in the wild only in China where they are being exploited by deforestation and seed depletion.

Only about thirty Anhui elms exist in the wild in a mountainous region of China. Unlike its American cousin, this tree is immune to Dutch elm disease. We need to preserve this tree to aid in finding a cure for the beetle-spread ailment.

Been to Neiman-Marcus lately? (Don’t worry, it’s not on my itinerary either!) Upscale home furnishings have taken a liking to fabrics designed from early 20th century botanical drawings of trees. And what an appropriate name for the series - Arboretum.

Manchineel, an apple-like tree found in the Caribbean, is a plant to steer clear of. The juice from its fruit is a potent poison. Bum it for fire? Nope. Get the smoke in your eyes and you might go blind. Get the sap on your skin and get blistered. Definitely not what you’d call a tree of paradise.

Last but not least - and having nothing to do with trees, but I thought it interesting nonetheless: a staff sargeant based with the 47th Operations Support Squadron out of Laughlin AFB, Texas, has developed a mathematical formula that better predicts the chances of a dust storm. Think about where most of the active military is currently based and you can see why this is so important. The National Weather Service is interested in learning more about it, too.

By the way, I challenge you to say the above title five times without messing up!

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