Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tree Nurseries Seek Acorns and Seeds

The Virginia Department of Forestry needs your help to continue producing quality seedlings for Virginia landowners. Virginia-grown seed generally produces trees that will grow well in our state. Every year, we ask for your help in locating and collecting acorns and other seed from all over the state. Your donations help us produce the next season’s crop. Seed collection is a great activity for children and adults! It also allows individuals to learn more about Virginia trees.

See what we're looking for this year (pretty much the same as last year)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Emerald Ash Borer found in more Virginia counties

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has been detected in four additional Virginia counties. The newly infested counties include Alleghany, Bath, Fauquier and Page.

EAB has now been detected in 21 Virginia counties and seven cities since its initial appearance in Fairfax County in 2003. The entire Commonwealth of Virginia is under a federal EAB quarantine. The federal quarantine prohibits the interstate movement of regulated articles such as ash logs, ash nursery stock and firewood since these articles have the potential to move the Emerald Ash Borer to areas that are not infested.

EAB is a highly destructive, invasive beetle that has killed millions of ash trees in the US and Canada. Ash trees comprise approximately 1.7% of Virginia’s forests by volume, which amounts to roughly 187 million ash trees, all susceptible to EAB. The EAB larva chews into the soft layer of wood beneath the bark, cutting off the flow of water and nutrients. Trees infected with EAB eventually die. EAB in the larval stage are difficult to detect as they feed under the tree bark enabling them to hitch a ride undetected to uninfested areas when people transport firewood or other infested wood products.

Dr. Chris Asaro, forest health specialist with the Virginia Department of Forestry said, “Options for protecting individual ash trees from EAB are available.  People with very large, valuable ash trees would be advised to contact a certified arborist who can treat these individual trees with an effective insecticide every two to three years.  Treating these valuable trees is far less expensive than removing a very large, dead tree.  Unfortunately, there are no practical management options for EAB in a forested setting.”  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture website shows a map of quarantined states and areas, and more information on EAB and other invasive pests is available at

Monday, August 11, 2014

Oak Galls on White Oak Trees in Northern Virginia Counties

Homeowners in six Northern Virginia counties have expressed concern about defoliated white oak trees.  Forestry officials have conducted aerial and ground surveys and determined that, while this occurrence is fairly widespread, it is concentrated in and around the hills of western Fauquier County and adjacent Loudoun County.  Portions of Prince William, Culpeper, Orange and Rappahannock counties are also affected.

The culprit appears to be a very tiny insect known as a gall wasp. There are many species of gall wasps, particularly those that affect oak trees. This type of insect injects eggs into plant tissue, which forms a swelling or ‘gall’ around the injection site. Inside a hollow space within the gall, the developing egg hatches into a larva, and ultimately emerges from the gall as an adult wasp, repeating the cycle one or more times each year depending on the species. Each species of gall wasp specializes on a particular host and plant part, and each species produces a unique gall. Thus, there are a wide variety of plant galls that differ in shape, size, color, texture and the part of the plant affected (leaves, twigs, buds, flowers, etc).  

While gall wasps are a normal component of every forest ecosystem, they are generally kept under control by other insects and are not typically abundant enough to cause serious damage to trees and shrubs. However, in rare instances they can become so abundant that their galls can cause noticeable damage.

Read more about this occurrence on our website at

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Info Signs on the Conway Robinson State Forest

Visitors to the Conway Robinson State Forest can add a “high tech” dimension to their outdoor experience. Informational signs on the forest have been updated to include QR codes. These postage stamp-sized graphics, composed of black-and-white square dots, can guide visitors to information about forest management activities, including promoting wildlife, combating invasive plants and deer control. Visitors simply use their smartphone’s QR reader application to scan the codes and access to the content.

This project is designed to grant visitors an inside look at management on both the state forest and the adjacent National Park Service’s (NPS) Manassas National Battlefield Park.

 “Although the forest and the battlefield may appear to be untouched outdoor spaces, they’re actually carefully planned and maintained by natural resource professionals,” said Blake Jordan, area forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). “Not only are these wonderful sites for recreation, but they can teach the public about caring for our natural world. The QR codes allow access to more detailed and descriptive information beyond what can be included on the signs.”

For those who want to learn about the trail from home, the Manassas LEAF website also provides an in-depth explanation of each topic, along with information about the LEAF partnership.

The Manassas LEAF (Link to Education About Forests) partnership is a joint effort of the NPS’ Manassas National Battlefield Park, the VDOF’s Conway Robinson State Forest, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Northern District Natural Resources Program.