Tips for Hiking Denver to See Fall Leaves

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Fall is gorgeous throughout Denver and it’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the beauty the area has to offer. Before heading out, our Denver tree service pros suggest that there are a few things that should be done to make the trip far more enjoyable, safer, and the perfect day out. Use the following tips to get ready for your next hike to see the fall leaves changing colors and enjoy the stunning scenery outside of the city.

Find the Right Time to Go

The best time to see fall foliage is during the month of September. Residents will want to plan their hike when they’re starting to see the leaves nearby changing. Leaves will start changing earlier in the northern areas, so once the nearby leaves start changing, start looking into northern hiking trails to enjoy. For the best time to go, start hiking early in the morning. This leaves plenty of time to stop and take breaks and allows for longer hikes without camping. Plus, the trails won’t be as crowded early in the morning, so there will be plenty of parking and fewer people on the trails.

Choose the Perfect Trail

Denver has plenty of trails with stunning views, so almost any trail is a great option. Top trails to check out include Ptarmigan Lake at Cottonwood Pass, Chicago Lakes, the Upper Piney Falls Trail, and the Caves to Lookout Point in Crested Butte. All of these offer the views you’re looking for and will be a great hike to enjoy alone or with friends and family members. Avoid trails like Kenosha Pass or the Rocky Mountain National park this time of the year. These trails tend to be packed, with potentially thousands of visitors during the year, so they may not be as much fun to do.

Pack Appropriately

Pack to enjoy the hike. Wear layered clothes so it’s easy to take off or put on a jacket as the weather changes throughout the day. Bring plenty of water, enough for everyone to stay well hydrated during the hike, and wear comfortable walking shoes to prevent blisters and other pain. Pack a map of the area, as well, to avoid getting lost, especially in areas where cell service may be limited. For longer hikes, pack snacks as well as any necessary safety gear or first aid supplies. A backpack can carry everything needed on single-day hikes, including a camera for capturing the amazing views.

Check Trails Before Leaving

Check local websites for updates on trail closures before leaving and view online maps to check out the traffic in the area. If there is heavy traffic, it may be best to choose an alternative hike to avoid a large number of hikers on a single trail. Keep an eye on the weather, as well, and prepare to wait to hike if there will be severe weather in the area. If the weather’s great, traffic isn’t too heavy, and the trail is open, it’s time to head out on the hike.

Whether you’re new to the area or just want to get out and enjoy the magic of the changing leaves during the fall, there are plenty of trails in and around Denver to check out. Use the tips here to make sure your trip is amazing and that you get to see the views you’ve been wanting to see!

Do you have additional tips for hiking in Denver to see the Fall leaves? Give our tree care team a call! We’re also here to answer any questions related to tree removal or tree trimming!

Did you like this article? Check out some of our other articles relating to trees!

10 Fascinating Facts About Trees

Caring For Your Black Walnut Tree

Planting Native Trees in Denver

Have you ever walked down a Denver neighborhood street and wondered about the origin of some of the trees?

All those trees you see, whether they are oak or maple trees, all have a history of origin. That history plays an important role in the types of trees that you can grow in your region.

The next time you go to plant a tree, it’s important to consider native trees that grow well in the Colorado climate. In this article, our Denver tree removal team helps you to understand why it’s important to choose the right tree for your area.

Photo by Soly Moses on

Native Trees Help Our Environment

Native trees are beneficial to our Colorado environment! When you plant local trees, you are also helping the Colorado wildlife thrive and replicate their natural habitat. Bird, insects and even small mammals (like squirrels) look to native plants for not only shelter, but also their food source too. When there aren’t enough native trees, these habitats for animals will decline and populations will diminish.

When you plant native trees, it can have the following benefits for wildlife:

  • Food and shelter in their natural habitats
  • Native trees are adaptive to climates, providing wildlife more opportunities to thrive
  • Ability to withstand pests and insects

How to Find Native Trees to Grow

It can be challenging to find native trees to grow in your own backyard. Many nurseries don’t carry local native trees, so it’s important to do your research and call your local nursery.

If you happen to find a nursery that carries local trees, you need to make sure that your yard is suitable to grow it. Although a native tree might be local to your region, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will grow well in your yard. For example, some trees might grow best in rocky or sandy soil, while your soil might be too wet or too shady. Be sure to do your research before attempting to plant a new native tree.

Types of Native Trees to Plant in Colorado

  • Douglas Fir
  • Quaking Aspen
  • Pinon Pine
  • Rocky Mountain Juniper
  • Cottonwood
  • Bristlecone Pine

Do you have additional questions about planting native trees in Denver? Give one of our tree services team a call! We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have regarding tree removal or tree trimming!

How Trees Make Your Life Better

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Why Trees Can Make You Happier

As a family tree service, our tree care specialists at Urban Forestry Tree Service love trees – and sometimes we have even known to hug them on occasion! Whenever we’re near one of these giant plants, we feel a sense of comfort and a feeling as if we’re somehow related to them. Like a distant relative. We also find them to be awe inspiring as many of the trees we encounter are over a hundred years old. They represent a sense of history for us.

Although many people might not feel the same way we do, but perhaps everyone should. While we all know that being in nature (like hiking in the Colorado mountains) leads to better health, being more creative, and just being a better human, there’s also something about trees that can benefit our lives.

Trees are very important to our lives in many ways. Obviously, they produce the oxygen we breath and clean the air to protect our planet, but trees also have other important benefits.

Here are some of the more findings from research on how trees increase human well-being.

Trees help us feel less stressed

The most researched benefit of nature exposure is that it seems to help decrease our stress and can reduce anxiety. Most of this research has been conducted in forests too!

In one study, young adult Japanese participants reported an increase in their moods after walking for 15 minutes in a forest. The participants that walked in a forest experienced less anxiety, aggression, fatigue, brain fog, and depression. They reported that they felt much happier. The results were even stronger for people who were more anxious or depressed to begin with.

Other studies suggest that “forest bathing” (which is spending time in the woods or forests amongst trees) can help us deal with the stresses and strains that we often deal with on a daily basis.

Studies have also shown that just looking at images of forested areas can improve our moods and emotions. People reported that they had significantly better moods, more positive emotions and a getter sense of purpose.

Trees improve our health

Not only does spending short amounts of time in forests improve our mental health, but it also improves our immune systems too. Studies found that elderly patients had improved immune function after they visited forests. Some believe that the reason for this is due to the aromatic compounds that trees release.

Trees can also improve our heart health. People who walked in forests had lowered blood pressure, pulse rates, cortisol levels and sympathetic nervous system activity. Their parasympathetic nervous system that’s related to relaxation was also increased. Due to these lowered markers, which contribute to heart health, it’s suggested that walking in the forest amongst trees improves our cardiovascular system!

Even people who live in the city and don’t have access to a forest can reap the benefits of trees. City dwellers who live near trees are shown to have improved immune systems! There’s something truly magical and healing about trees!

Trees in neighborhoods have less crime

Research suggests that green spaces in urban areas reduces crime.

In some studies it’s been shown that areas within cities have less crime when there is a large percentage of tree canopy coverage and green park space. Crime rates for assaults, drug possession, robbery and battery drop significantly in these areas.

Trees can have such a profound calming effect, it seems (just ask our tree service professionals!). As we learned previously, trees can calm people’s fears, anxiety, and aggressive behaviors which are often related to crime. Trees (especially in parks) draw people out of their homes and can create a sense of community, which is an effective way of making neighborhoods more safe.

Trees may make us better humans

Research also suggests that being in nature and around trees just makes us kinder to other people.

In one research study, it was noted that people who study trees (much like our tree care specialists) felt a feeling of awe and inspiration. They tended to feel that life had more meaning and felt a sense that there was something in the universe that had a greater play in our lives. They also felt a greater sense of connection, not only with nature, but with their fellow humans.

For many of these reasons above, I try to get into nature as often as possible and try to be around trees. That might be taking a walk in a park that is heavily wooded or going hiking in a forested area in the Colorado mountains. I also touch trees and connect with them.

Many of our tree care professionals also like to take care of trees in their yard or plant a tree. That way they can enjoy all of the psychological benefits fo trees right there in their own property.

So when it’s time for a tree trim, and you are in need of Denver tree services, give Urban Forestry Tree Service a call for a free estimate. In the meantime, visit some of our other links below to learn more about other benefits of trees!

Related Links:

The Best Low Maintenance Tree for Your Landscape in Colorado

Tree care on your landscape doesn’t always have to be complicated. In fact, we always recommend that aspiring landscape architects start with trees that are a bit more forgiving to any potential costly mistakes (in other words – keep it simple stupid)! That’s where low maintenance trees come into play…

If you’re not already familiar with the Colorado Blue Spruce – it happens to be one of the most commonly used conifers for home landscaping use, and for good reasons (see our taxonomical description of conifers)! Not only are these trees far less susceptible to the same health complications that other spruces are vulnerable to, but these rather tall trees serve practical and aesthetic purposes as well, including:

  • Acting as a wind barrier / windbreak
  • Helping to absorb sound from traffic and surrounding neighbors
  • Are disease resistant and therefore require less tree service and maintenance
  • Helping to delineate property lines, especially when planted in a row as a natural fence
  • Attracts wildlife such as: deer, songbirds (siskins, nuthatches and crossbills), porcupines, squirrels, and chipmunks
  • And of course, beautifying (or should we say “Colorado-fying”?) your landscape!

Colorado Blue Spruce: A Profile

The Colorado Blue Spruce was originally discovered in the mid 1800s among expansive meadows within the higher regions of the Rocky Mountains. Soon after their discovery, they quickly became one of the most popular trees used for landscaping purposes. As the name implies, the Colorado Blue Spruce is a majestic pyramid-shaped tree that can display a range of colors between silver, blue, and green year-round. In fact, the Colorado Blue Spruce was breathtaking enough to have caught the eye of naturalist and writer by the name of Henry Tuescher, who adored the tree so much that he dubbed it “one of the five finest conifers” in the 1969 publication, Handbook on Conifers.

Upon being fully mature, these trees can reach heights that range between 50 – 75 feet tall with a breadth of 10-20 feet, which is why they are often used as a natural privacy barrier around the edges of your property. Keep in mind; however, that it may take several decades to reach these kinds of heights (although 5-10 feet is plenty of height to secure your privacy). For reference, these spruces can grow anywhere between 12-24 inches per year. And fortunately, as these trees grow taller, their root systems grow deeper and more firmly into the ground which helps protect them from the threat of harsh weather conditions knocking them over.

When To “Spruce Up” Your Landscape

We recommend planting Colorado Blue Spruces in the spring or fall, which you can read more about in our article entitled, “Best Time of Year to Plant Trees in Colorado“. However, since these trees do require ample amounts of full sunlight, the most optimal time to start planting would be at the beginning of spring. Another reason that these trees are so popular is due to their resilience; unlike other spruces, these trees can tolerate both flooding and drought, as well as Colorado’s notoriously meh soil which tends to be alkaline and low in organic matter.

As you can see, the attributes of the Colorado Blue Spruce make it one of the most dummy-proof trees for novice gardeners and landscapers to start planting! It’s really difficult to make a mistake with these types of trees, which makes tree care easy peasy…

Spring Has Sprung

At the time of this writing, it is mid-April, which means that it’s the perfect time of year to start witnessing the Colorado Blue Spruce blossom with beautifully colored flowers, which can range in color from pinkish-purple to yellowish-green. Some can even appear as a bright orange color. Once these flowers have begun to pollinate, it will start to bear 3-4 inch pinecones as its fruit, which mainly begin to appear towards the crown or top of the tree.

And the good news is that Colorado Blue Spruce trees are so common throughout Denver that you probably won’t have to leave your neighborhood to find one, especially once you learn how to become an expert in spotting them. And for you homeowners out there – why not consider gifting your landscape with a few? Your yard will thank you, and quite possibly your home value too! You really can’t go wrong with the Colorado Blue Spruce, and if you’re looking for advice on the most ideal place to plant them in your yard, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free Denver tree removal consultation for your tree service needs in Denver, Aurora, Arvada, Wheat Ridge and Lakewood.

Other Helpful Articles:

Best Time of Year to Plant Trees in Colorado

Spring is here, and along with the change of season comes one of the best times to plant new trees! And we can think of no better way to beautify your landscape and lower your stress levels than to honor planet Earth with new growth! At the time of this writing, COVID-19 social distancing and quarantine policies are still in place, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t spend some quality time in your own backyard!

(Note that hardware stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot are considered to be essential services, which also means that their respective garden centers and nurseries are still open for business! We contacted our local Lowe’s in Arvada, CO and they assured us that their garden center was still open, so long as the items were checked out inside of the store)!

Tree Planting Season

Although generally speaking, the best time of year to plant trees is in the fall starting in September, Colorado’s altitude, dry climate, and alkaline soil obviously presents some exceptions!

Traditionally, the recommendation to plant trees in the fall stems from the idea that there is less chance of drought or sunscald – both of which can harm newly planted trees which are more vulnerable to the elements. Fall also happens to be when the soil is softest, making it easier to dig into the ground! Planting in the fall means less leaf growth, which will reduce the requirement to water your trees as frequently. Lastly, cooler temperatures in the fall can also help trees to encourage new root growth, which ultimately provides a stronger foundation for a tree’s root system (since the tree can allocate resources towards strengthening its roots rather than towards new leaf production).

That all being said, so long as you’re being mindful of the fundamentals – the best time to plant trees here in Denver, CO is actually in early spring. You can plant as early as mid-March so long as the ground does not continue to be frozen and at least four to six weeks before the extreme conditions of summer arrive. Be aware; however, that if you plant in the spring, expect to water your newly planted trees frequently since your trees will be producing roots and leaves simultaneously. And if you do end up waiting until the fall to start planting trees, you may want to consider wrapping them in tree wrap for the winter just to be on the safe side (Learn more about how to wrap your trees HERE).

Hopefully this goes without saying, but planting your trees in the winter is a recipe for disaster – especially for smaller or newly planted trees that have not yet developed mature root systems (see: Caring For Your Trees In Winter). Tree trunks that experience bouts of freezing and thawing are more likely to experience cracking and rupturing, which means that trees planted in the winter may not make it to the spring. If you must plant in the winter, we recommend contacting one of our tree trimming experts in Denver CO for additional assistance.

Tree Planting Fundamentals

We’ve written a lot about tips and strategies for planting trees in the past, so we’ve decided to save our readers some time by compiling the most useful of them here! Once you’re prepared to plant a tree in the spring or fall, make sure you take a look at the following articles:

NOTE: As an essential service, our doors are still open at regular hours, and we’d be more than happy to assist you with your next tree planting project or other tree removal needs in Denver or the surrounding communities! Reach out to us today for a free Denver tree service estimate, or call us at 720-650-2039!

Does Vitamin B1 Help Plants Grow?

So sure, as tree service experts in Denver we may not exactly be gardeners, but we have stumbled across this myth more than once in our landscaping careers – the idea that Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine) acts as some kind of miracle nutrient to help plants grow healthier and larger, especially when administered after transplanting. The origin of the story goes back to 1930 when a scientist experimenting with plant roots in a lab petri dish observed that B1 helped stimulate the roots’ growth. The experiment was part of a larger trend of experimenting with a category of plant growth stimulators called “auxins”. Today, common auxins used in household fertilizer products include indole butyric acid (IBA) and naphthylacetic acid (NAA).

Yet are the claims that B1 stimulates new growth and prevents transplant shock true, or based on shaky evidence? First and foremost, it’s important to understand that fertilizers, pesticides, and other gardening products are tested, regulated, and proven to be efficacious and safe for commercial use. Without such regulations and rigorous standards, consumers will otherwise be subjected to false marketing, and ultimately end up wasting money – or worse, doing more harm than good to their landscape or garden. After all, there’s nothing worse than having to back track and to have to make multiple trips to the garden center to undo your mistakes!

The History of Vitamin B1 Fertilizers

The rest they say is history, as the idea started to spread and become popularized throughout the decade. In fact, the December 1939 issue of Better Homes & Gardens (archived HERE) helped further popularize the idea by featuring bountiful gardens of full and healthy rose and daffodil flowers, ostensibly under the auspices of our friend B1. Transport yourself back to the 1930s, and this might have been the equivalent of, “if I read it on Wikipedia, it must be true.”

If only it was that simple! The unfortunate truth is that by 1942, the original scientific author had redacted his own comments, saying that, “it is now certain; however, that additions of vitamin B1 to intact growing plants have no significant or useful place in horticultural or agricultural practice.” What gives? Have we been duped by this nearly 100 year old practice? After all, Vitamin B1 fertilizers like THIS one (sorry to knock this product guys!) are still sold on the retail market at Lowes, Home Depot, and local nursery and garden centers.

Vitamin B1 Debunked

The truth is that although research and experimentation throughout the 20th century has revealed that various auxins combined with B1 may help to stimulate root growth, Vitamin B1 on its own does not. This illustrates a classic case of correlation not equating to causation. In fact, one experiment showed that just plain water worked better for stimulating root growth than water combined with B1.

The reason that this myth perpetuated for so many years is that in those original experiments dating back to the 1930s, Vitamin B1 did help to stimulate plant growth in a controlled lab environment; however, these results failed to produce similar results in the real world. Lastly, it’s helpful to understand that under ideal conditions, healthy soil containing certain strains of bacteria and fungi naturally produce Vitamin B1 without the need to supplement with “fortified” fertilizer supplements.

Moral of the story? Don’t be duped by the marketing hype, and skip the B1 fertilizers that claim to ““prevent transplant shock” and “stimulate new root growth”! In other words, our tree removal professionals do not approve!

How To Properly Fertilize Your Plants

What to do instead? Thankfully our Denver tree service pros have written extensively on the subject! See our articles on the topics of transplanting, watering, and fertilizing, and as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us the next time you’re looking for tree removal service in Denver! We also offer several other types of tree services to our residents in Arvada, Lakewood, Aurora, and Wheat Ridge!

Other Helpful Articles:

Our Favorite Healthy Restaurants in Denver, CO

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We thought we’d take a brief departure from our usual Denver tree removal programming to share with you some of our most frequented healthy eating spots in the city! During the time of the post, we’re still in the midst of coronavirus self-isolation and quarantine, which means lots of ordering from home and delivery food (thanks DoorDash!).

Thankfully Denver is a Mecca for healthy restaurants and allergen-free options! Many of the restaurants on this list are staff favorites, and lean towards the gluten-free and Paleo end of the spectrum with plenty of vegan options as well. Enjoy this list, and let us know if we’ve missed anything! We’ll continue to add to this list as we continue to discover new gems!

Just Be Kitchen –  2364 15th St.

This might be one of our favorite spots in the city, and happens to be one of the most allergen-free menus in the entire country!! Located just across the street from South Platte Park and Centennial and Confluence Parks, Just Be Kitchen offers a 100% gluten, grain, refined sugar, soy, corn, peanut & legume free menu!! For those on elimination style diets or looking to follow autoimmune friendly guidelines, this place is a dream come true. And if you’re used to gluten-free foods tasting like cardboard, get this – everything on the menu actually tastes really good.

Staff favorites include the vegetable curry, aka “Passion” (you’ll definitely want to add the GF tortilla!), the deconstructed “egg” roll, and their breakfast burrito (breakfast menu only), aka “Fulfilled”. Oh, and did we mention that they also offer Bulletproof Coffee (coffee with grass-fed butter and MCT oil) and a bone broth bar?

If you can’t tell we love this place – it’s the perfect blend of foodie culture meets healthy eating without being pretentious. If you want to check it out, they feature a number of different menus depending on the time of day, but you can check out their dinner menu HERE.

Hands down an Urban Forestry Tree Service favorite! Are we allowed to say “certified fresh”?

Next Door American Eatery – 1701 Wynkoop St. Suite 100

Next Door currently operates seven locations, and is the brain-child of Kimbal Musk – yup Elon Musk’s brother, the guy that wants to take us to Mars. But Kimbal is on a mission of his own and wants to revolutionize the way Americans eat. According to Kimbal, “Real food is the new internet means that young entrepreneurs getting into food today, where they’re bringing real food that just taste much better.”

Well, we’re not exactly sure how food is the new internet, but we can get down with their delicious locally sourced menu! As the name implies, Next Door’s menu is American through-and-through, but with a healthy-twist and tons of gluten-free options. You can find their Denver LoDo location right next to Union Station, just about a block away from Tattered Cover Book Store and Whole Foods.

We really love their charred cauliflower salad, keto burger (yum – avocado and bacon, yes please!), and the roasted veggie salad! They also serve a handful of alcohol-free mocktails, and the Strawberry Lemon Fizz is worth a visit alone!

We’re all about supporting local farmers, and eating at Next Door is a great way to embrace your localvore lifestyle. Check out their Union Station location menu HERE.

Five on Black – 1617 California St.


Here at the office, when visitors come from out of town, we often pitch Five on Black as the “Brazilian Chipotle”. Like Just Be Kitchen, their menu is entirely gluten-free, and if you opt out of having meat or Brazilian cheese buns it is completely vegan. Their menu is simple, delicious, affordable, and fast casual! What’t not to love?

Start by choosing a base and build your own bowl. Our favorite combo is white rice, Churrasco beef, coconut roasted sweet potato, spicy coconut sauce, topped with chimmichurri, farofa (toasted cassava flour), and cilantro. Just writing this out my mouth is watering!

Check out their menu HERE!

Modern Market – Various Locations

Modern Market boasts 12 locations in total along the front range, one of which is located at the Denver International Airport, making this restaurant like the McDonald’s of healthy eating! Their range of healthy eating options means that our office probably orders food from here more than any other restaurant on this list! We have take-out delivered from the 900 16th St. LoDo/Downton location on just about a weekly basis!

Just about everything on the menu is great with plenty of gluten-free options (they can even make gluten-free pizzas!), but we particularly love their wintergreen salad, curry sweet potato soup, smoky chicken bowl, custom hand carved bowls (choose between: chicken, pork, salmon, grass-fed steak, or sesame glazed tofu), and their gluten free cookies. Top it off with a Spindrift and you’re good to go!

The menu may vary upon location, but you can start HERE and then select a location from there!

Larkburger – 8000 E Belleview Ave.

As far as no frills burgers places go, Larkburger in Greenwood Village takes the cake (or the burger bun?). Order yourself one of their signature burgers or customize yours to taste. Not only do they offer gluten-free buns on the menu (they’ll also do a burger in a lettuce wrap for you, no problem) alongside their certified angus beef burgers, but also offer a variety of healthy salads as well.

As far as our personal favorites – you can’t go wrong with the Bacon Cheddar Burger, but we also really love to indulge ourselves in the ahi tuna salad. And where else in Denver can you get onion rings battered in GF rice flour?! Then you more keto-inclined folks, you might really want to check out their “avo fries” – avocado slices fried in gluten free rice flour, served with ranch! Mmmmm….

Like most of the restaurants on this list, Larkburger also happens to be family-friendly. The kids menu includes a grilled cheese sandwich among other staples, and for dessert, the menu also offers ice cream with gluten free cones! You can’t go wrong with this place!

See their menu HERE.

And of course, once you’ve satisfied your appetite, we’d be honored to be your tree removal service providers! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free Denver tree trimming quote today.

Plant Classification of Trees and Shrubs

Genus. Species. Hybrid names. Cultivars. The following article on plant classification is for the more scientifically-minded and botanically-inclined who may desire to dive a bit deeper than our usual posts on the topics of tree care, pruning, or transplanting. This time around, we’re sharing this resource with you directly from The Complete Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs – a fantastic and thorough reference guide that contains in-depth descriptions of cultivation requirements for pruning and planting various trees and shrubs. While we recommend having a copy of this guide for your own tree care and landscaping needs, first enjoy this passage on the taxonomical categorization of trees and shrubs on your property…

Although trees and shrubs can be classified in many different ways, the only classification that has a really wide application is what biologists call natural classification, that is a classification based on the branching of the evolutionary tree.

The advantage of a classification that reflects evolutionary branching patterns is that is allows the highest level of prediction of a plant’s properties. For example, if we recognize that a particular shrub belongs to the legume family (Fabaceae) on the basis of its pea-like flowers and pods with a row of seeds, then we know that there is a strong likelihood that its roots will have nodules containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria that allow the plant to thrive in infertile soils. The ability to produce these nodules must have arisen in one of the earliest ancestors of the whole family and has been inherited by nearly all surviving members – but it is not one of the features by which we recognize the family. The rules governing the scientific naming of plants are laid down in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN), updated at 5-year intervals by international congresses of botanists. But this code only gives rules about the correct form of names (mostly of Latin or Greek origin) and or priority among competing names, making no attempt to lay down which classification should be followed.

Major Groups of Plants

The great majority of trees and shrubs described here are flowering plants – that is, they belong to a large natural group in the kingdom, believe to have descended from a single ancestor that first appeared at some time during the Age of Dinosaurs, perhaps around 140 million years ago. The term angiosperms is also used for the flowering plants by biologists. They are characterized by having seeds fully enclosed in a fruit and by possession of flowers, which appear to have co-evolved with the insects that in most cases are required to pollinate them. There are at least 300,000 species of flowering plants in the world, of which more than half are likely to be trees or shrubs.

But trees and shrubs include one other major group of plants, namely the conifers (such as the Colorado Blue Spruce). These comprise only about 600 present-day species, but some of those species form vast forests in far northern regions. Conifers are characterized by having their seeds sitting on the scales of cones, and their pollen is also borne in small sacs on the scales of other smaller cones, not in flowers. Their evolutionary history goes further back than flowering plants, to around 180 million years ago.

Some very interesting plant groups may also be included in a broad definition of trees and shrubs. Among the oldest are the tree ferns, arguably no proper trees or shrubs, but in contrast the ginko is without doubt a tree. The single species Ginko biloba is the sole survivor of a more diverse group that first appears in the fossil record almost 250 million years ago. It was traditionally grouped with the conifers but is now known to have branched off before these evolved their present characteristics.

The cycads are plants with palm-like fronds and large cones. Together with the conifers and ginko they are part of the broader group known as gymnosperms, or naked-seeded plants. The cycads are of a similar geological antiquity to the conifers, though now reduced to about 200 species scattered through warmer regions of the world. Popular articles sometimes call the cycads “dinosaur food”.

There are another three small groups that have been classed as gymnosperms but which molecular evidence now shows to be small offshoots of the common stock that diverged into the gymnosperms and angiosperms. These are each represented by a single genus, namely Ephedra, Gnetum and the bizarre Welwitschia, each of them with no close relatives.

Levels of Classification

All the plants covered in this book are what botanists term vascular plants, characterized by stems with distinct zones of conducting tissues that are able to carry water some distance from roots to leaves. The ferns and their allies (such as club-mosses) are the most primitive vascular plants.

Vascular plants are next subdivided into those reproducing by spores, the pteridophytes, and those reproducing by seeds, the spermatophytes. In this particular context, the only pteridophytes are tree ferns: all other trees and shrubs are spermatophytes.

Traditionally the angiosperms (flowering plants) are divided into two great classes, the dicotyledons and the monocotyledons. Nearly all woody plants belong to the first of these, which includes about two-thirds of all flowering plants species. Dicotyledons are usually recognizable for having net-veined leaves, flower parts in fours or fives, and two seed leaves (cotyledons). Monocotyledons usually have parallel-veined leaves, flower parts in threes, and a single seed leaf. Monocotyledons covered in this book include palms, yuccas, aloes, dracaenas, cordylines, strelitzias and bananas.

The flowering plants are usually treated as a division in the formal hierarchy of plant classification, and the monocotyledons and dicotyledons as the two classes belonging to it.

The most important levels in this hierarchy are shown in the following list, with the tree Magnolia campbellii subsp. mollicomata taken as an example to illustrate where it belongs at each level of the hierarchy.

  • Division – Angionspermae
  • Class – Dicotyledonae
  • Subclass – Magnoliidae
  • Order – Magnoliales
  • Family – Magnoliaceae
  • Subfamily – Magnolioideae
  • Tribe – Magnolieae
  • Genus – Magnolia
  • Subgenus – Yulania
  • Section – Yulania
  • Species – Magnolia campbellii
  • Subspecies – Magnolia campbellii subsp. mollicomata

The levels picked out in bold are the ones commonly used by both botanists and gardeners.

Below the level of species there is great confusion in plant names. Subspecies is the only rank below species shown in the list above, as this is the primary subdivision of a wild species and is sometimes regarded as a species still in the process of evolving. Historically, though, it is the rank of variety (strictly speaking “var.” stands for the Latin varietas) that has been most often used, but this is full of ambiguity.

And then there is the level of form, which in the botanical system comes below subspecies and variety (the abbreviation “f.” correctly means the Latin forma, which is the same thing. Botanists generally use this level to signify an aberration from the typical state that may occur repeatedly in the wild and involves only one character. An example of this is Gleditsia triacanthos f. inermis (thornless honey locust), whose only difference from other forms of this species is the absence of thorns, a feature which is observed to recur in wild populations.

Hybrid Names

The International Cod of Botanical Nomenclature states that the name of a plant known to be a hybrid between two species should be of similar form to a species name but with the multiplication sign x inserted in front of the specific epithet. Thus the hybrid between the horse chestnut species Aesculus hippocastanum and Aesculus pavia is Aesculus x carnea.

And once a name is published for that particular combination of species, then any hybrid konwn to have that same parentage must take the same hybrid botanical name, though it may be distinguished by a different cultivar name (see the following text). The multiplication sign can also be used to indicated a hybrid even in the absence of a published hybrid name, by placing it between the names of the two parent species; an example of this is Rhododendron aurigeranum x R. zoelleri.

There are cases of hybrids occurring between plants of different genera, and these may be named with a generic hybrid name. This is signified by placing the multiplication sign before the hybrid genus name, for example x Crataemespilus grandiflora for the hybrid between Crataegus monogyna and Mespilus germanica. Note that such names are usually formed by combining parts of the names of the parent genera.

Of much rarer occurrence are graft hybrids, which result when tissues of two different plants get mixed together at a graft union, without any sexual combination of genes. The best known cases are generic graft hybrids, and they are designated by putting a + sign before the graft hybrid name, which is formed in a similar way to a normal generic hybrid. One such involves again Crataegus and Mespilus and has been named + Crataegomespilus to distinguish it from Crataemespilus.


The concept of a cultivar as a distinct kind of name only crystallized after about 1950, though plant breeders had obviously been using non-Latin names since the mid-nineteenth century – for example, Camellia “Aspasia”. In 1953, the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants was published, in which cultivar was defined. In the case of trees and shrubs a cultivar is nearly always a single clone and must therefore be propagated by cuttings, division, grafting, budding or tissue culture. Although numerous closes may arise during a breeding program, it is only when one is selected for its superior qualities and named, that for practical purposes a cultivar comes into existence.

A cultivar name differs from a botanical epithet (of a variety or subspecies) in its style of printing. It has initial capitals and is not italicized, and is usually enclosed in single quotation marks. An alternative to quotes is to precede it by the abbreviation “cv”. It may follow a species or hybrid name (Acer palmatum “Sango-kaku”, Acer x conspicuum “Silver Vein”), a subspecies or varietal name (Acer pectinatum subsp. forrestii “Alice”), or may follow immediately after a genus name (Rosa “Iceberg”). This last style is usual when more than 2 species are involved in the parentage of a cultivar, or where the parentage is unknown.

One of the features of cultivar names is that they can be attached to whatever botanical name is thought to reflect their true genetic origin, without the need of formal publication and regardless of changes in botanical classification. So, if the shrubby Senecio species from New Zealand are now reclassified into the genus Brachyglottis, their cultivars are all shifted automatically into the genus, and Senecio “Sunshine” becomes Brachyglottis “Sunshine”.

Free Denver, CO Tree Estimate

Now that we’ve helped scratch your intellectual itch for classifying trees, we’d also love to help you with your tree service and removal in Denver. Give us a call today, and we’ll come out as soon as our schedule permits to provide you with a free quote.

Preparing Your Soil for Tree Planting

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If you haven’t guessed by now, our Denver tree services experts are all about empowering our clients and readers alike with tree care resources (a rising tide floats all ships as they say!). In fact, we have found that our clients that are most knowledgable about tree care tend to get the most out of their experience working with us!

The following are instructions on how to properly prepare your soil for tree planting taken from The Biodynamic Orchard Book – a wonderful resource for planting fruit trees, berries and shrub! Read on and enjoy…

The treatment of fruit trees, berries and shrubs should be undertaken with the aim of producing healthy plants and fruits, while avoiding the use of poisoning sprays. To make it possible to product the desired results without insecticides to pesticide sprays depends on many factors, not all under the control of the grower. Therefore we will discuss some of the issues the grower will encounter and some practical measures to be undertaken in the two phases of the work: the conversion period and the final goal. The grower needs to have patience and perseverance and should not expect an orchard free of pests immediately in the first or second year of the conversion phase.

The biology of trees, berries and shrubs – that is, of all wood-developing perennial plants – is entirely different from that of an annual or biennial plant. While the annual seeks its nutrients in the surface layer of the soil, the tree grows two root systems – one with feeder roots near the surface, the other sending mechanically supporting and feeder roots into the deeper layers of the subsoil.

When planting trees or reclaiming older stands, both layers of the soil need attention. The preparation of an orchard begins, therefore with the selection and pre-treatment of a suitable field.

Preparation of the Soil for Tree Planting

If a field has never been cultivated, it has a natural structure: the humans gradually becomes less as the depth increases. Natural strata such as hardpan or clay pan or podzol layers may, however, exist. If the field was previously under cultivation there will also be the hardpans and plow soles resulting from this. Now there is nothing a tree dislikes more than a hardline and wet feet, that is, standing moisture in the root area, which hinders the even development of spreading root system. Each disturbance of the root system is reflected in the growth of the tree, specifically of the crown. The results can include abnormal growth patterns, canker, bleeding and gumming, and susceptibility to pests (see: Common Insect Pests).

The soil should be carefully prepared by deep subsoiling in order to break the hardpan and establish water and air circulation. A plan root absorbs and needs oxygen for its health; it absorbs the same amount of oxygen as its own root value every day. Poor drainage should be tackled at once. Ay measure which helps establish a crumbly soil structure is an advantage. An orchard field should also be well leveled and graded; this facilitates later cultivation, mulching and irrigation.

In the first year of an orchard, subsoiling, plowing, disking and grading should be done prior to any planting. A nourishing cover crop such as rye or soya beans may be grown and sided under after well-rotted manure or compost has been spread. The more humus a soil contains, the better it is for fruit trees. Where manure and compost has been well worked into the soil, roots will develop faster (see: 5 Popular Composting Myths). Once the trees are established, it is difficult to work in the depths of the soil’ this has to be done first. Here we can already see some of the issues involved in reclaiming an older orchard – situations may. exist with regard to hardpan and generally unfavorable structure, which cannot be overcome. No fertilizer or spray applied on can overcome the circulatory disturbance of a tree who’s root is stopped by a hardpan or standing moisture.

In shallow soils and soils with high groundwater level, it makes little sense to select high stemmed or other trees which require a deep-growing root: choose dwarf types instead.

If you’re using biodynamic method, you will have already treated the disked-in manure and compost with preparations 502 and 507 or the biodynamic compost starter. This adds already digested organic matter and humus. Trees don’t like raw manure or raw organic matter. In woods, the raw organic matter remains on the surface; only leaf mold humus is in touch with the roots. The process of humification in woods is slow but the grower has, for practical reasons, to speed it up. When the cultivation begins, the soil should be pre-treated with biodynamic field spray or preparation 5500 in order to stimulate humus formation and to activate the availability of the minerals and to encourage the fixation of nitrogen. Let us assume this has all been done correctly. Then after a year of preparatory treatment, the field is ready for the planting of trees. If these things have not been done correctly, then the conditions may already have been created for many biological causes of diseases, pets and crop failure.

If you’ve already planed the seedling trees, you still have a chance to catch up by thorough inter-row cultivation, going as close to trees as possible without hurting the roots.

An interesting disease phenomenon was observed in Germany some years ago. Some arable fields with low productivity which, for many years, had been cultivated for crops, had been forested. Then after thirty years, the fir trees began to die off. The roots, it was found, had grown into the blow sole and other strata which had been affected by the previous cultivation.

When preparing a tree planting bed, make sure that even green manuring is well decomposed. An important question is, should the planting hole be large and deep or narrow? We are inclined to suggest a narrow hole just deep enough to hold the tree and its initial root development. The reason against large holes is that there is a greater amount of settling and loose soil so that the tree tends to shake loose and rattle in the hole. Also, in a large hole with looser soil, the tree may grow fast at the start. Then when the roots reach the native soil they will stop or grow very slowly causing circulatory disturbances in the rising sap. Cankerous growth, gum bleeding and undernourishment are the consequences. We prefer a slower but steadier growth from the beginning. The tree needs a firm, well-developed root system. It’s better in the long run to have the first crop a year later and have a healthy tree.

Fill the planting hole with a mixture of soil and very well rotted, earthy compost. Be sure that the soil is tightly pressed around the tree so that it doesn’t wobble.

Finally, if you find yourself guessing about how to properly prepare your soil, let one of our Denver or Wheat Ridge tree service specialists help you out. The next time you’re in need of tree removal, Cottonwood tree service, or tree trimmers in Denver CO, contact us for a complimentary estimate!

Landscaping With The Quaking Aspen

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One of our favorite tree care books, Landscaping with Native Trees, does a fantastic job of explaining how you can take common native trees and incorporate them into your landscaping. Not only do natural/native trees create visual interest, but it also makes it feel as if they perfectly belong in the environment. This book details out a list of native trees that you can add to your property that will also be disease and pest resistant, bringing you one step closer to becoming your own Denver tree services expert…


Apsen is a tree born of fires, landslides and other disasters. It colonizes disturbed areas and masses at the sunny edges of forests and meadows, where its white bark and gentle grace make it a favorite subject for nature photography. Aspens grow as clones – colonies of stems with a common root system. Fires and other disturbances periodically clear away the older stems, allowing ever more vigorous new sprouts to grow.

Quaking aspens are slender and graceful trees. Their white bark and delicate branching pattern might contribute to the illusion of small size, but aspens can become quite large on favorable terrain. The biggest single quaking aspen tree known was found in Ontonagon County, at the western end of Upper Michigan. It is 109 feet tall and over 3 feet wide. The closely related bigtooth aspen can grow even larger. One specimen in Marquette, Michigan is 132 feet tall and a venerable specimen in Caroline County, Maryland has. turns 4 feet 7 inches in diameter.


Quaking aspen derives both its common and scientific names from its foliage. The round leaves hang from flexible, flattened petioles and tremble with the slightest breeze. The scientific name actually means “like tremula”, a reference to the nearly identical European aspen, which I known for its similar shivering movement. The leaves are very finely toothed along their margins.

We have experimental provenance plot of aspen at Starhill Forest in Illinois; the trees have been propagated vegetatively from more than 30 locations across the entire natural range. The leaves vary in size, shape, fall color and phenology, spending on where the parent tree grows. Most turn bright gold in the fall, and some close from the Rocky Mountains include a little orange. Those from the East generally. have the largest leaves, up to 3 inches in diameter; those from central Alaska and the southern Rocky Mountains seem to have the smallest.

The Foliage of bigtooth aspen is similar, but it has course, irregular teeth along the margins. The two species are easy to tell apart in early spring because big-tooth aspen leafs out later, and its new foliage is covered with a white wool, as though cotton balls decorated the crown of the tree. The two species are more difficult to distinguish from a distance during the other seasons.

Flowers and Fruit

Aspens like all poplars, are dioecious, and each clone is either staminate or pistillate. In the high mountains, staminate clones seem to survive better than pistilate ones, but the genes are evenly mixed in most areas. The flowers are small catkins similar to those of willows and they are not particularly conspicuous. Those of the bigtooth aspen open later than those of the quaking aspen.

Female trees release great quantities of seed in early summer every few years, but the tiny seeds are so perishable that few remain viable long enough to sprout. This doe snot pose a challenge to the tree’s survival because almost endless generations of clones may grow from a few seeds that do not take root.


  1. Fall- the golden foliage, backlit and shivering on white stems along stands of dark evergreens is perhaps the most popular of all nature photographs for calendars.
  2. Early Spring – As the misty lime green new leaves of quaking aspen and the white leaves of bigtooth aspen expand.
  3. Summer – when the foliage dances in the wind

Native and Adaptive Range

If you live anywhere in the cooler portions of North America, quaking aspen trees are probably near. Aspen ranges from northern Alaska to the mountains of Central Mexico, eastward across every portion of Canada that has a growing season long enough to support tree growth, south through the moist, cool highlands of Virginia and Missouri and throughout the the mountains of the West. Our testing indicates that trees of western mountain origin are not as vigorous in the Midwest as those from local and more eastern sources. Root cuttings or small sprouts should be gathered locally when you are planting near the limits of species natural range. Locally adapted provenances of quaking aspen are hardy north into USDA zone 3.

How Can We Serve You?

Wondering how to identify if a tree on your property is a Quaking Aspen? Ask one of our family tree service specialists in Arvada, Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, or Aurora! Contact our Denver tree trimming experts for a free estimate. We look forward to meeting with you and sharing our passion for tree removal and care!