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Old 11-25-2009, 10:59 AM   #1
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Default Native street trees for the Northeast?

Last week I attended a meeting of my town's Highway Department to discuss street tree planting. I had e-mailed the superintendent to complain about the planting of Norway maples (mostly the hideous "Crimson King" cultivar), and he invited me to the meeting.

I distributed a US Forest Service fact sheet on the Norway maple and discussed how even cultivars of the species cross-pollinate with the species type and reproduce in our area, and what a problem the tree is becoming in natural remnants in and near our town. I think they were surprised to discover that planting an invasive species in an urban area can cause problems. They conceded that they have been planting dozens of Norways all over town but invited me to offer alternatives.

Some of the criteria for replacement trees are that they be salt-tolerant, tolerant of somewhat compacted soil and concrete in the root zone, and possessing characteristics that do not interfere with sidewalks and machinery (such as a vase-like or conical shape and not too many or too large fruits or flowers). Cost doesn't seem to be too much of an issue, because they are planning to shift from bare root to balled and burlapped.

Off the top of my head, I recommended black and red oak and "American Liberty" elm, but I'm going to do more research and e-mail them a list of species and sources where they can be found. Cottonwood is abundant around here & might be another option.

Anyone else have ideas?
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:05 PM   #2
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I found this list: Native Trees for Roadside Use in Illinois

I've seen Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) and Planetree (Platanus occidentalis) growing in those thin strips of lawn between sidewalk and road. They all seem to be doing well. Sad to say I've never seen
Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) in my neighborhood. Maybe the seeds are too big.

Of all the ones above, planetree looks the most beautiful but it's suppose to be able to grow to 100ft.
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Old 11-25-2009, 01:05 PM   #3
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In southern Ohio, botanists with the Ohio Department of Fish and Wildlife are urging city officials to plant native trees. Part of their presentations concerns the ecological benefits of using native trees. I can suggest the following species to you:

Acer pensylvanicum
Celtis occidentalis
Cercis canadensis
Crataegus mollis
Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Ostrya virginiana

You might also suggest to the Highway Department that they use some of the large native shrubs.

Good luck.
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Old 11-27-2009, 10:44 AM   #4
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Thank you both for your recommendations. Fraxinus pennsylvanica is very common around here, including my property, but unfortunately EAB is just across the Niagara River and we are likely to lose them all. R. pseudoacacia is often planted around here but is non-native this far north & escapes cultivation. I love P. serotina, but the town is unlikely to want it b/c of its fruits. All the others sound workable. You'll be happy to know, bookworm, that Gymnocladus dioicus is occasionally used as a street tree in these parts (not native here, but doesn't escape).
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Old 11-28-2009, 01:03 AM   #5
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What kind of salt are they using to de-ice the streets? Bad news which you already know is that the most salt tolerant species are most invasive... Tree of Heaven, Buckthorn, Russian Olive, Autumn Olive, Bradford Pear, Sawtooth Oak... Straight species Red Mulberry is tolerant. So is Shagbark Hickory, The Kentucky Coffeetree already mentioned, Bur Oak, and Red Oak. Celtis occidentalis might not make it. That could go either way. Have a few harsh winters needing lots of salt until they're established and they'd be toast. Mild winters with little salt and they'd have a chance. Ash are tolerant... why plant a tree that doesn't have a shot at making it? Ostrya virginiana and Cercis canadensis aren't salt tolerant... not even close. Crataegus mollis would be real iffie. One that people forget about trying that has decent salt tolerance is Basswood. American Elm and American Chestnut had decent salt tolerance. I think I'd try to sell them on thinking about our lost heritage by resurrecting the Elm and Chestnut. There are some cultivars out there with a lot of American DNA in them.
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Old 11-28-2009, 01:27 AM   #6
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I found this, RESURRECTING THE AMERICAN CHESTNUT Print it out and stick it on an American flag background before passing it around. I found this on salt you might be able to use, http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-142.pdf.
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Old 11-28-2009, 03:45 PM   #7
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Thanks, Equil, it's hard to find good info on salt tolerance. We're not near an ocean, so almost everything that grows here is not naturally salt tolerant. There's a big difference between the Atlantic coastal flora and the Great Lakes flora. This site is somewhat helpful, some species are noted as being good for urban situations or street trees:

UConn Plant Database Main Page.htm
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Old 11-28-2009, 06:16 PM   #8
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My town has a page with recommended trees here. Not sure of the salt tolerance of these, but we definitely get lots of roadside salt here, so maybe they're okay? The list has quite a few already mentioned, and does include a few non-natives.

We have a basswood growing down by the road which seems to do okay. We also have a black cherry, but it drops a lot of branches, so maybe not such a good choice for roadside use (and there's the fruits, as you mentioned).
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Old 11-29-2009, 02:43 PM   #9
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Try reading these 8 pages on street trees from Cornell University. Especially 74-75.
Mentions Quercus macrocappa Q muhlenbergia and corylus colurna...with Acer and robinia salt tolerant. Tilia americana also mentioned. Great street tree.
Cornell great place to call or e-mail for information.

I particularly like the stress on using several species rather than just a couple.


http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/pro...ria07/m711.pdf
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Old 12-01-2009, 03:54 AM   #10
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Do you know what kinda salt they're using? That does make a difference.
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