White oak catkins and leaves.

White oak catkins and leaves.

Updated: February 27, 2024
By Andrew Kling , and John Hooven

In our Winter 2024 issue...

Read about a few changes taking place, in the newsletter and more. Register now for the Spring session of our "The Woods in Your Backyard" online course, and learn about upcoming webinars. Our new feature, "Native Trees of Maryland," looks at the state tree: the white oak.  "Invasives in Your Woodlands" looks at the non-native (but some say delicious) wineberry. And don't forget the events calendar and the Brain Tickler challenge.

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Some changes in our neck of the woods

 Andrew A. Kling, Branching Out editor

A roundup of some of the changes taking place in our newsletter, in Maryland, in your woodlands, and behind the scenes.

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Native Trees of Maryland: The White Oak (Quercus alba)

John Hooven, UME Forest Stewardship Educator

The white oak is, without a doubt, a remarkable tree species. The tree is truly an impressive specimen where older examples are found growing in the open landscape.  It is no wonder that this species of oak is Maryland’s state tree.

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Registration is Now Open For the Spring Session of “The Woods in Your Backyard” Online Course

Registration is now open for the Spring 2024 session of “The Woods in Your Backyard” online course. Our course is designed primarily for small-acreage property owners who want to learn how to care for or expand existing woodlands, or to convert lawn space to woodlands. The self-directed, non-credit online course runs for ten weeks, from April 8 to June 17.

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Research to Help Private Forest Owners Manage Woodlands for Ecosystem Services

Jeff Mulhollem, Penn State University

A team of forest ecologists and social scientists in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, using a $650,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will conduct research aimed at helping owners of small- to medium-sized forest tracts manage their woodlands for ecosystem services they deem desirable.

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This issue's Brain Tickler

USDA Encourages Producers Participating in CRP to Consider Forest Management Incentive


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering financial assistance to agricultural producers and private landowners enrolled in its Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to improve the health of their forests. The Forest Management Incentive, available through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), can help participants with forest management practices, such as brush management and prescribed burning.

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News and Notes

In the News and Notes roundup for this issue: New timber tax tips for the 2023 tax year from the USDA; Maryland marks a milestone on its way to planting five million trees by 2031, and an Anne Arundel County project that was part of it; and a look inside a prescribed burn in the Frederick Watershed.

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Invasives in Your Woodland: Wineberry

Andrew A. Kling, Faculty Associate

North America is home to a variety of berries prized for their taste, including native blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. This issue’s spotlight falls on a shrub in the rose family that writers describe as very edible, or delicious, or amazing. Another describes them as “not a sour berry in the bunch.”  This is the wineberry, and despite its tastiness, it is non-native and invasive.

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Events Calendar

February 27, 2024, 7:00 PM

MNPS Monthly Program: Tiny Forests, Big Results? Testing the Miyawaki Tiny Forest Concept in Urban Landscapes

The Maryland Native Plant Society’s monthly program for February features a presentation that discusses the early results observed in native plant composition and wildlife use of tiny forests over time, as well as the process of planting and maintaining a tiny forest. The program is free and open to the public. For more information and to register, visit https://mdflora.org/event-5450029.


March 22-24, 2024
Gather to Grow: 2024 Forest Farming Conference
Roanoke, VA

The Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition's (ABFFC) Gather to Grow multi-day Forest Farming Conference will feature learning, networking, and strategic planning programs that will shape the future of forest farming of woodland crops such as botanicals, mushrooms, and decorative products in Appalachia and beyond. Go here to learn more.



April 5-6, 2024
2024 Volunteer Tree Planting Relay
Various locations

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has engaged communities and individuals in watershed conservation via  volunteer tree plantings for decades. For 2024, they are holding a 24-hour “tree planting relay” to plant thousands of trees in selected locations. For more information, visit https://www.allianceforthebay.org/volunteer-tree-planting-relay/.

Branching Out, Vol. 32, no. 1 (Winter 2024)

Branching Out is the free, quarterly newsletter of the Woodland Stewardship Education program. For more than 30 years, Branching Out has kept Maryland woodland owners and managers informed about ways to develop and enhance their natural areas, how to identify and control invasive plants and insects, and about news and regional online and in-person events.