Texas Arbor Day occurs on the first Friday in November. This is the better time to plant trees in Texas due to the cooler temperatures of the Fall. High temperatures occur around the state in the Spring when National Arbor Day is scheduled on the last Friday in April. Check out the National Arbor Day Foundation website for great info and a nursery. See how Odessa is part of the Tree City USA program. Can you name the Texas State Tree? See picture below for a clue!
Texas Arbor Day 2020: Trees of Sibley
LETMN Members collaborated to help people learn about trees for Texas Arbor Day by taking pictures of trees, their trunks, leaves and fruits and writing creative tree fairy stories! Take a tour of Sibley Nature Center Trees and have fun learning about them through each tree’s special fairy. You can do this by scrolling through information below, or try your hand at our Kahoot! App Quiz/Games on Trees of Sibley Nature Center that will be periodically posted.
Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) trees are located throughout Sibley Nature Center trails and paths and are common in the Llano Estacado. You can see a beautiful example of this tree in the parking lot of Sibley Nature Center with benches and lots of shade in the summer. (Photo by Susie Yarbrough).
Shelley, the Live Oak Fairy by Wes Reeves
Hello, my name is Shelley and welcome to my home. I am from the family known as Live Oak Fairies. We are the most beautiful of fairies and also the most intelligent because we make our homes in Live Oak trees. In case you didn’t know, the latin name for our trees is Quercus Virginiana. These trees often grow quite large. They often grow 60 to 80 feet high and up to 120 feet across. The crown is often symmetrical and quite dense making them beautiful too. Our trees keep their leaves throughout the winter (hense their name), then the leaves begin to yellow in early spring. The leaves are then dropped and quickly regrown. That way these trees provide us excellent shelter essentially year round. Live Oaks produce small and typically twin acorns. They also attract various bird species, animals like squirrels, and many insects as well. We always have friends to play with. You may have noticed that their trunks and branches are often somewhat twisted. That allows them to flex and bend instead of breaking when the strong winds from storms come. The leaves even roll up allowing the strong winds to blow through.
These trees can live for hundreds of years like us fairies and are often associated with the “Old South”. In fact they are the state tree of Georgia. If you have one of our trees don’t prune them in the spring or early summer. They are quite disease resistant but that can make them vulnerable to Oak Tree Wilt. That can be fatal. If you use contaminated pruning equipment, that can spread Oak Wilt as well. Thank you so much for visiting my tree home. Please come back any time.
Eve’s Necklace (Sophora affinis) tree is an shrub-like tree that produces dark colored seeds in the fall which are strung like a necklace, hence its unusual name! (Photos by Mary Jane Brown).
Eve’s Necklace Fairy Story
Mary Jane Brown
Eve’s Necklace (Sophora affinis) is a small shrub-like tree that grows between 15-30 ft tall. The bark appears as thin, scaly and reddish brown. The light-green leaves appear to look oval or elliptical shaped. In the spring, Eve’s Necklace produces very fragrant wisteria-like white flowers with a tinge of rose. Fairies love the smell of the spring flowers. Bees also love to visit the beautiful smelling flowers. The fairies gather and store the nectar in the spring, to use through the year to remind them of this beautiful and magically scented flower. After the flowers fade in the spring, seed pods are formed which eventually turn into black bead-like strings of seeds, which gives the tree its name. The fairies do not eat these seeds, as the seeds are poisonous. In the fall the fairies will collect the round black seeds and using natural pigments, will begin painting and decorating the seeds. The fairies know how bleak wintertime can be, so the decorated seeds are hung from branches of leafless trees to remind the animals and birds that spring will come again.
Texas Mountain Laurel (Dermatophyllum secundiflorum syn. Calia secundiflora) is a tough evergreen shrub or small tree native to Mexico and the American Southwest. It is known for its attractive, fragrant flowers and its extreme drought hardiness. (Photo of Texas Mountain Laurel by Susie Yarbrough).
Fairy Court of the Texas Mountain Laurel
by Susie Yarbrough
The fairies that live around Sibley enjoy the beautiful spring flowers, the lovely red seeds, and the protection provided by the sturdy weatherproof leaves of the Texas Mountain Laurel, but one of their favorite aspects of this small tree is its power to elicit the truth. Twice a year, fairy court is held within the cover of a Mountain Laurel. During Spring Court, litigants are mesmerized by the intoxicating fragrance of the purple panicles and cannot help but tell the truth. To unravel the fabric of lies, the Fall Court relies on the power of the bewitching round red seeds that are as poisonous to the body as lies are to the soul. Whether still in the pods or scattered on the surrounding soil, when in the presence of these seeds, the truth will be known. Do not attempt deception in the presence of Sophora secundiflora. The magic works on humans, too!
Arizona rosewood (Vauquelinia californica) is an evergreen species of shrub or tree in the rose family known for its beautiful dark brown wood streaked with red. (Arizona Rosewood around the Sibley Nature Center Building photo by Kim Doolan).
Arizona Redwood Fairy Story by Kim Doolan
The Arizona Rosewood is an excellent home for our Fairy family. It is evergreen, which means that it has leaves all year around. The leaves make it easy for us to hide and harder for you to see us. Also, the bark peels away from the trunk and branches so we can store our food and clothes behind the peels. Some of these trees can grow 10 to 25 feet tall. When that happens, often multiple fairy families live in the same tree.
In the spring, when the beautiful white flowers bloom, we throw a big party and invite all our friends. Sometimes, we make hats or skirts from the flowers. In the fall, when fruits are ready, we use them to decorate our homes for the holiday season
If you were a fairy, wouldn’t you like to live in an Arizona Rosewood?
Goldenball Lead (Leucaena retusa) tree is a truly delightful evergreen shrub-like tree with lovely yellow puff ball flowers that can bloom throughout the year depending upon the amount of rainfall. (Photo of yellow puff ball flowers and oval leaves by Mary Jane Brown).
Fairy Story for Goldenball Lead Tree
By Mary Jane Brown
The Goldenball Lead Tree (Leucaena retusa) can grow between 12-15 feet tall, is usually multi-trunked, has bright green-blue rounded leaves and cinnamon colored bark. The leaves make great shade for fairies during hot summer days. The Goldenball Lead Tree will begin flowering in the spring and can continue to flower after rain in the summer and fall months. The flowers actually look like round golden puffballs and give off a sweet smell. Fairies are known to use these golden puffball flowers, to transport them on a gentle summer’s breeze to known magical fairy gathering places. Upon arriving at the magical fairy gathering, the golden puffball flowers open up releasing fireflies to light up the gathering place where much merriment takes place. As the sun begins to rise in the morning, the fireflies gather back into the golden flowers and the wind carries the fairies back to their Goldenball Lead Tree.
To find these trees at Sibley, here is a map for around the building. Please stay on the walkways and trails (except for the Goldenball Lead tree!).
Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) is a beautiful flowering shrub or tree adapted to dry, hot climates. It is not a true willow – being instead a member of the catalpa family, but its leaves are long and slender resembling willows. (Young Desert Willow shrub photos by Lacy Fannell).
Desert Willow Fairies by Lacy Fannell
The Desert Willow fairies can usually be found flying around the frilly, lavender blossoms of this small, deciduous tree. The fragrant, tube-like flowers begin to appear after summer rains and create a perfect shelter for the fairies to gather and relax. Their hummingbird friends will often come to visit when the flowers are in full bloom. However, when autumn arrives the flowers are replaced by slender seed pods which the fairies protect throughout winter until the flowers bloom once again. This fairy home can grow between 15 and 40 feet tall and thrives in hot, sunny climates. Although it is not related to the willow, the Desert Willow’s thin, light green leaves certainly resemble it. You will also find these happy fairies playing and dancing around the multitude of thin, smooth trunks that make up their hardy home.
Desert Willow Flowers from Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (wildflower.org)
Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) can develop into either a shrub or a tree. As a tree it can grow up to 40 feet tall with a wide broad crown. Mesquite is common throughout most of Texas and other southwestern states and Mexico. Mesquite is tenacious and is nearly impossible to eradicate. Mesquite produces a hard and strong wood that is used in furniture and gunstocks. It is an excellent wood for barbecuing as it releases a flavorful smoke and produces hot even coals (Mature trunk of a Honey Mesquite with a fairy doorway! Photo by Ken Rust).
Honey Mesquite Fairy Story
By Ken Rust
Hi, my name is Jeremy and I live with my Fairy Family in Honey Mesquite trees in West Texas. I have a very large family with many uncles, aunts, and cousins all over Texas. We are a hearty and strong family of fairies just like the trees we live in. Life can be hard in West Texas and we rely on each other to survive. There are periods of very hot and dry weather followed by cold and wind. Our mesquite trees can withstand all the elements Mother Nature throws at us.
Our mesquite trees can grow quite large; some as tall as 40 feet with a wide and beautiful crown producing lots of shade. The bark is rough with many places where we can live and hide. Out trees have many branches and many flat thin green leaves. We know when spring has arrived when the branches begin to bud out new leaves. Soon our trees will be covered with beautiful yellowish flowers that produce a rich and flavorful nectar that attracts bees. Honey made by the bees from our trees is highly prized. Our trees also produce long bean pods that contain seeds. Native people know how the harvest the seeds and grind them into meal for making cakes.
Our trees have long sharp thorns. Native people used the thorns as needles for sewing. We can use the thorns to help protect ourselves. Sap from our trees has many uses. It is like a gum and is sweet like candy. We also can use the sap to treat headaches, stomachaches and sore throats. The wood from our trees is highly prized in for making furniture and gunstocks. People also like to cook with mesquite wood because the smoke is very flavorful and burns into hot long lasting coals.
Our mesquite trees provide us with a wonderful home. But if you come to visit our home please be careful because the thorns can be very sharp.
Vitex trees (family Lamiaceae) can be grown as a trees or shrubs and features beautiful fragrant, lilac flowers that bloom throughout the summer. (Flowering vitex photo by Lacy Fannell)
The Vitex Tree Fairies
By Melanie Petersen-Jones
The fairies of the Vitex tree are know as the nurse fairies. The berries of the tree are used as herbal remedies for many medical conditions. The Vitex tree has many names and is sometimes a bush and sometimes a tree. The tree fairies love to fly around and land in the tall purple spikes of flowers and collect medicine for others fairies in need.
Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) is a fascinating tree that is usually planted as a shade tree. The bark peels away revealing a lacy pattern giving the tree its name. You can see a beautiful Lacebark Elm at the Sibley Youth and Family Garden. (Photo of Lacebark Elm trunk and bark by Susie Yarbrough).
The Fairy Princess of the Lace Bark Elm
by Susie Yarbrough
To marry the prince, the fairy had to have a dress fashioned with unique lace, and she found the perfect pattern on the bark of an elm tree that she found in a faraway land. From that time on, fairy princesses have used the patterns found on these magnificent shade trees for their wedding dresses; hence, the name Lacebark elm. The weddings are held in the fall among the swaying branches that are filled with tiny wedding flowers.
Wolfberry (Lycium bernlandieri) is a thorny, shrub-like tree that bears a small red fruit that looks and tastes like a tomato. It provides shelter and food for lots of wildlife at Sibley Nature Center and throughout the Llano Estacado. (Wolfberry photo by Betsy Triplett-Hurt).
Wolfberry Fairy Story by Kim Doolan
Welcome to my favorite place to play tag! Wolfberries are thorny, woody shrubs that grow to all sorts of different sizes and shapes. That means that if you are fairy who is fast and careful, you can dart through the branches and it’s hard for anything to keep up with you, especially your parents. But, you have to be careful or you’ll get stuck by a thorn and then your mom will scold you.
I also like to fly here when I want quiet time. I watch the bees, butterflies and birds come and go. They like the flowers and the nectar that’s produced. They also like to eat the red berries. Sometimes, people call the berries Goji.
Another interesting thing about the Wolfberry is that it can shed its leaves during a drought and then grows them back after a good rain.
To find these trees at Sibley, here is a map for on the walking trail. Please stay on the walkways and trails. If the Youth and Family Garden is locked, you can see the trees through the fence.
More Trees to come soon! Also learn to draw a special fairy for each of these trees…
If you have an idea on how to use these photos and stories to teach others about trees, let us know! We will be happy to help and would love to see your creative ideas. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.