Arbor Day Foundation & Florida


Arbor Day Foundation website presents important educational material.
The Arbor Day Foundation has played a big part to help people, cities and towns plant more trees since 1865 when J. Sterling Morton started this foundation.

In Florida alone there are 165 Tree Cities. We've discussed this organization in these previous posts: Florida's Arbor Day: Third Friday in January and our followup post on our members' favorite trees: Your Favorite Trees.  So yes, The Arbor Day Foundation has done a lot to increase awareness of the importance of trees even in urban and suburban environments and presents a lot of good educational material.

BUT...

With their membership packages, they make it almost irresistable to acquire trees from their Nebraska-based nursery. Where I live in northern Florida, the 10 free trees offered are 3 redbuds, 4 dogwoods and 3 goldenraintrees, plus I could qualify for 2 crape myrtles.

Arbor Day Foundation offers
 I have a problem with this membership offer for several reasons:

While the redbuds and dogwoods are native to north Florida, will stock from Nebraska-grown populations adjust well to Florida's short winters, soil that does not freeze, or the wet and dry seasons? (Florida has 5 wet months and 7 dry months and in some years it can be really dry.)
∙ The goldenraintree is not native to Florida. they don't specify which species this is, but Koelreuteria elegans.ssp formosana, is on the number II invasive list for central and south Florida. http://www.fleppc.org/list/11list.html. To their credit, they don't offer this as one of the free trees for central or south Florida, but still, it's potentially invasive here, too.
∙ The non-native crape myrtles are so over-planted here, it would be so much more useful to plant a native tree instead, just to add some diversity to our urban/suburban canopy. Plus most other trees are not hat-racked into ugly stubs on an annual basis. See my post: I don't love crape myrtles, but... 
Bald cypress, sabal palms, and lives oaks grow well in their native habitats, and those
habitats will be different throughout their range.

∙ For central or southern Florida zipcodes, the offer is either 10 bald cypress trees, 10 live oaks, or 5 crape myrtles. But the more southern parts of the state will be that much further removed from the Nebraska climate.

If you wish to join the Arbor Day Foundation to support their good projects...

My advice to Floridians, is to skip any of their tree offers and plant trees grown from local stock. The Florida Association of Native Nurseries has made it easy for you to find specific native plants or a member nursery close to you.

Arbor Day Celebration

The national Arbor Day is the last Friday in April, but Florida celebrates it at a more reasonable tree planting date, the third Friday in January. (Some other states have adjusted their dates as well.)

So by all means support Arbor Day: plant more trees on your property, in your neighborhood, or volunteer for an off-site restoration area. Trees provide so many benefits.

Before you plant, know what your tree needs for soil type, space for the canapy and room for the roots. Plan ahead for its mature size so pruning can be minimized and also plant compatible understory trees and shrubs to form a pleasant grove that may mimic what might have grown there before the invasion of the most invasive species--us.

Ginny Stibolt

Not sure about the best way to plant trees or how much to water them? See my article: Trees and Shrubs: the Bones of Your Landscape

Comments

Good points! It has been my experience that most articles, catalogs and offers are designed for zones 4-9. If you are zone 10, or heaven forbid zone 11, you are out of luck. The literature has not caught up with the population and we're pretty much on our own. What should happen is companies like this should partner with native nurseries for the best selections.
Anonymous said…
I agree with your comments. I just wish it was easier for consumers to purchase native plants in south Florida! I don't understand why big box stores don't offer native species in their garden centers.
Inez said…
ONE YEAR I GOT A REDBUD TREE--TURNED OUT TO BE A MAPLE TREE. AND REDBUD TREES FROM NEBRASKA IS NOT A GOOD THING. WILDLIFE NEEDS INDIGENOUS TREES AND THOSE FROM NEBRASKA PROBABLY ARE NOT THE SAME(EVEN IF THEY ARE THE SAME SPECIES)..PER CAROLYN SUMMERS IN HER BOOK: DESIGNING GARDENS WITH FLORA OF THE AMERICAN EAST. A WONDERFUL BOOK, BY THE WAY, EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT FROM THE NE USA.
Jan Allyn said…
Our chapter hasn't done anything special for Arbor Day but I think we should start. We'll be doing our 2013 program planning soon and we will most definitely plan some sort of event to promote native trees!
Thank you, FNPS, for the referral to our member nurseries. Floridians can buy locally grown plants and support their local economies by shopping with with our local growers. Find retail sources at PlantRealFlorida.org and wholesale at FloridaNativeNurseries.org

and friends with good advice at FNPS.org
David MacManus said…
I agree with your post- it is best to plant trees grown from local stock. The GoldenRain Tree that they offer is the cold hardy Koelreuteria paniculata
Ginny Stibolt said…
Distincly Florida, the partnership idea is great, because locally-grown stock would do so much better.

The best way to find native plants anywhere in Florida is to link up with a local native plant nursery. Go to www.plantrealflorida.org to find one. Yes, it's not as easy as running over to Home Depot, but in the end, it will work out much better for your landscape.
Anonymous said…
We are fortunate in North Port to have a People for trees chapter. They have sales and offer get advice.
Jason LaRoche said…
Thanks for this article Ginny, I have brought up these same concerns to our Hernando chapter board about the 'Florida' Arbor Day mailers. We all agreed their giveaway 'Florida' tree selection left a lot to be desired. Worst being they include an invasive tree. Another item of concern was in the questionnaire where it asks if we agree that the Cabbage Palm should remain the state tree of Florida....OF COURSE IT SHOULD!!. I think the cabbage palm is a beautiful, ecologically important, and symbolic tree that distinctly represents Florida. Why are they (Nebraska-based) worried about what we choose as our state tree? I support the work they do but definitely have some concerns with these 'Florida' mailers. Thanks.
Jason LaRoche, Hernando Chapter of the FNPS

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