Posted by: Highland landscaping | March 30, 2018

April 2018


April 2018                                       EDITION 110

817-488-2718  Phone |



   For the past two years our staff has been called to look at browning Italian Cypress trees in a number of settings.  We have collected information from a number of sources, but were unable to find answers to remedy the problem.  Our early research suggested that other juniper and cypress varieties around the state of Texas are suffering, as well.   In our research for this article, we unearthed an extensive study that was reported in ScienceDaily  on September 5, 2011.  The study was published September 1, 2011 in the peer-reviewed journal Phytopathology.  The five year study was performed by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley,  and the National Research Council in Italy.

At that time, the “disease” had made its way to Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, South America and Africa.  In some regions it had killed up to 95 percent of native trees in the cypress family, in addition to junipers and some cedars. It is present in six of the world’s seven continents, including the region around the Mediterranean Sea that is the native home of the Italian Cypress.

In California’s San Joaquin Valley in 1928, a fungal pathogen was identified as having infected and killed up to 95 percent of the native trees in the cypress family. The pathogen, Seridium cardinale (S. cardinale), was endemic to California.

Using DNA fingerprinting techniques on specimens from ten countries, the researchers were able to pinpoint the origin. It is believed the fungus may have been carried from California to the South of France or Central Italy  prior to 1928.  The pathogen was first identified in Italy in 1951, and it is believed the first introduction may have been decades earlier.

Picture2The fungus enters through cracks in the bark, injecting toxins that affect the trees flow of sap, and chokes off its supply of water and nutrients.  A canker appears, leaking sap.  Random twigs and branches begin to brown as the tree is dying.  Since the distance between California and Europe is too great for the pathogen to be carried by air and sea currents, it is suspected that humans assisted its journey; as well as, the


trade of plant material.  Researchers looked through historical catalogues in Italy and France, and found records of mature Monterey cypress trees for sale in the late 1920’s and 1930’s.These trees and seeds were imported from California. Monterrey cypress, grown in their natural habitat, seemed to be immune to the disease.  They were sold as a resistant option to the Italian Cypress.

By the late 1930’s, the cypress canker disease was becoming a problem in Italy and France.  When the Monterrey cypress, like the Italian Cypress, are grown in areas that they are not native to, these already delicate trees are stressed, and vulnerable to disease and insects. The Italian cypress is important to the ecosystem, and its absence from the Mediterranean landscape leaves an indelible void.

Our research tells us that there is no treatment for this disease currently available. The spread of the disease  must be stopped by eliminating the vulnerable plants.  Pruning of branches will not stop the growth of the disease.  In order to eradicate the problem, we recommend not planting Italian Cypress trees.  In settings where other junipers or cedars may also be infected, removal of all infected plants is the only means of eradication. In place of Italian Cypress, we are recommending trees that are native to, or adapted to, our North Texas environment. These evergreen trees include;  Spartan Junipers, Scarlett’s Peak Holly, Wichita Blue Junipers and Spanish Dagger Palm.

Picture4The Spartan Juniper is a fast growing, evergreen that thrives in full sun.  Used as a formal accent, or as a screen or hedge, it will grow to 15’ with a 3’ width.

Scarlett’s Peak Holly grows to 15’ tall with a width of 3’.  It thrives in full sun, and produces red berries in the winter.

Wichita Blue Junipers, known for their silver-blue foliage year                                               around, grows 10-15’ tall with a width of 4’ in full sun.

Picture5Hollywood Junipers possess an artistic, twisted shape; and, can also be trimmed as topiary. This sun lover grows 15’ tall by 10’ wide.

The Spanish Dagger Palm is an ornamental succulent from West Texas, that grows to 15’ tall with an 8’ wide head.  This sun lover is evergreen and blooms in the spring.

Picture6Slender Silhouette Sweetgum, though not evergreen, is a beautiful option for the Italian

Cypress in some settings.  It typically grows 35-50’ tall, 4’ wide. Its fall color, yellow to deep red, draws the eye to this tall columnar tree.

All of these trees may be viewed online.


“A man who wants to

lead the orchestra


turn his back on the crowd.”

                      – Max Lucado


Plant trivia

What parts of the honeysuckle plant are used in herbal and traditional Chinese medicine?(look for the answer at the end of our blog)

Featured project


For the month of April, Highland completed a residential enhancement project. Having a house that receives full sun, requires plants that can tolerate our Texas heat. Native plants like the Variegated yucca, Agave, Mexican feather grass, and Nandinas not only thrive in our summers and unpredictable winters but they keep their beautiful foliage year round. These plants are also a great use for an accent piece for pots around the property. The Texas Sotol  was used for the front patio planters (that require no irrigation) to give height, dimension, and year round color. The Sotols are also used for native landscapes. Utilizing Native plants in your landscape keeps your maintenance work, use of chemicals, and fertilizers to a minimum. Not only do these plants save you on time but  they will lower your water bill while helping the state conserve water.


Brooke Sugden Photography : 817-948-6428



When: Wednesday, April 4, 2018
8:00 am – 2:00 pm

Where: Irving Convention Center

(500 West Las Colinas Boulevard, Irving, TX 75039)

How to Register: Email Brooke at

Complimentary Discount Registration Code: SBSSouthLake

General Info:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Series convenes and engages small businesses on the local level in cities around the country. Each event features both local success stories along with national expert voices on topics such as building your brand, creating a strong workforce, and getting up to speed on cyber security. With a heavy emphasis on networking, each event pairs essential business tips with opportunities to share your own story with fellow business people beyond your community and across industries. The Dallas event marks the kick-off to the second annual nationwide tour – from Atlanta to the Twin Cities, DC to Phoenix – to engage businesses with top experts to gain tools, strategies, and best practices to help companies compete successfully in today’s rapidly changing economy. Participants will hear inspiring stories of success and perseverance from speakers who have achieved small business success. And we will build rich moments for dynamic networking opportunities throughout the day.

 Seasonal color this month…

Butterfly Bush, Candytuft, Clematis, Coreopsis, Daisies, Daylily,Evening Primrose, Evergreen Senna, Flowering Sedums, Honeysuckle, Lantana, Mexican Mint Marigold, Oak Leaf Hydrangea,  Pincushion, Spiraea, Sweet Broom, Tulips,Verbena

April landscape Tasks:

  •  Plant summer flowers
  •  Plant late-spring/summer garden
  •  Plant perennials
  •  Plant trees, shrubs and groundcovers
  •  Mulch landscape beds to 3”
  •  Feed lawn
  •  Apply post-emergent for weeds
  •  Run-through sprinkler system
  •  Enjoy Spring!

Trivia Answer

The flowers, flower buds and stems

Featured plant—Red Hot Poker

Picture8Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia uvaria), also known as Torch Lily, Poker Plant or Rocket Flower, is an evergreen perennial.  Native to South Africa, it has adapted to environments similar to our U.S. zones 6-10 in many countries.   At home in full sun to partial shade, Red Hot Poker is drought tolerant, Waterwise, FireWise and Texas SmartScape rated.

Tightly tufted clumps of long (18-24”) green grassy leaves form the evergreen base that adds interest and texture year around.   Stalks (or scapes) emerge and rise erectly from the leaf clumps in the spring from which the flower emerges.  Each of its common names is descriptive of the flower, as well as its specific epithet, “like a bunch of grapes”.  The buds and emerging flowers are red, but fade to yellow as the flower opens and matures.  Red Hot Poker will continue to bloom from spring through summer as long as spent blossoms are clipped (or dead headed).  Depending on the cultivar, flower spikes can grow 36-48” tall.  To date, more than 70 known species exist.

Red Hot Poker attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and birds with its sweet nectar.  It is at home in many landscape settings, as well as container plantings and rock gardens.  Floral designers often feature the flower in cut flower arrangements. Picture9

The first known reference to the Red Hot Poker was in 1644, under the name “Iris uvaria promont, bonae spei”.  Johannes Bodaeus a Stapel included it in his work, Theophrasti Eresii de Historia Plantarum.   Red Hot Poker is included in the subclass Lillidae and family Xanthorrhoeaceae with lillies, orchids, aloes, etc.  Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) described one species of Red Hot Poker as “aloe uvaria” in his Species Plantarum in 1753.  In 1794, Konrad Moench (1744-1805), a German botanist, named the plant “Kniphofia uvaria” in honor of Johannes Hieronymus Kniphof (1704-63).  Knihof was a German professor of medicine interested in botany.  One of his best known works, Botanica in Originali seu Herbarium Vivum,    was renowned for a technique known as “nature printing” that Kniphof mastered to imprint details of botanical specimens.  He coated dried specimens with printer’s ink and pressed them on paper.  According to the Kewscience Royal Botanic Gardens Bulletin in 1895, nature printing was a little understood technique that Kniphof mastered.  His work contains 1200 botanical specimens.



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