The Missouri Department of Conservation is taking orders for tree and shrub seedlings for spring delivery and recommends ordering early to be sure you can get them.
Greg Hoss, manager of the department’s George O. White State Forest Nursery near Licking, said weather has reduced the number and variety of seedlings available this year.
“We lost hundreds of thousands of plants to the Easter freeze in 2007,” said Hoss, “The freeze also killed flowers on many trees statewide. That limited the supply of seeds available for us to grow seedlings for this year. On top of all that, this year’s unusually cold, wet weather caused the loss of more seedlings to fungal diseases and slowed the growth of others.”
As an example, Hoss noted that the nursery was only able to produce 5,000 eastern red cedar seedlings this year instead of the customary 150,000. Other seedlings in short supply this year include hazelnut, black walnut, white oak and bur oak. Unavailable this year are chinquapin oak, swamp white oak and several other species.
Ordering seedlings is easiest online at mdc.mo.gov/forest/nursery/seedling. You also can print the seedling catalog and order form at www.mdc.mo.gov/316. Printed copies are available at regional Conservation Department offices and nature centers statewide, or on request from George O. White Nursery, P.O. Box 119, Licking, Mo. 65542.
This year’s offerings include three new species, each available in bundles of 25 seedlings for $8.
White fringetree (Chionathus virginicus) is a native shrub or small tree with a height of 20 feet and a spread of 10 to 15 feet. It produces an abundance of fragrant white flowers in April, and its lance-shaped leaves turn yellow in the fall. It grows naturally along wooded bluffs in southern Missouri but is highly adaptable. Its olive-like fruit is a good wildlife food.
Black chokecherry (Aronia melanocarpa) grows 10 feet tall and can spread to 6 feet. Its large, shiny, dark-green leaves turn purple in the fall. The fruits are tart and bitter, but their juice is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. It makes good jams or jellies.
American beauty berry (Callicarpa americana) is a fast-growing, rounded shrub that can get 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide and grows well in partial shade. It produces gorgeous, fleshy purple berries that are attractive to wildlife and persist late into fall.
Other seedlings available include Norway spruce, Osage orange, tulip poplar, bald cypress, sweet gum, Nuttall oak, water tupelo, paw-paw, Kentucky coffee tree, persimmon, deciduous holly, buttonbush, wild plum, redbud, ninebark, witch hazel, elderberry, spicebush and blackberry.
Hoss said the nursery will not offer green or white ash seedlings this year. He said a combination of insect pests and disease is devastating ash trees statewide, and no resistant strain of ash has been found. “With the problems facing ash trees, we just don’t feel it is a good idea to offer those species anymore.”