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JSWCD has native trees, shrubs for sale

TREES, PLEASE — Sheryl Kay Peckens, president of the East Springfield Junior Women’s Club, recently visited the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District office at 500 Market St., Mezzanine, Suite 4, Steubenville, to pick up order forms for the Ohio native tree sale under way through April 23 in addition to information about Quaker Ridge Arboretum and Nature Trails to distribute at a future meeting. The club plans to order trees and shrubs to plant in the community as part of its mission of promoting conservation and caring for the environment. For tree ordering information, visit the website www.jeffersonswcd.org or call (740) 264-9790.

STEUBENVILLE — April is Ohio Native Plant Month, and the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District has a diverse selection of mature native trees and shrubs for sale to meet patrons’ conservation needs.

In 2019, House Bill 59 designated April as Ohio Native Plant Month in an effort to increase public awareness to Ohio’s native plants and the many benefits they provide to pollinators, Ohio’s economy and the health of Ohio’s environment.

Ohio has approximately 1,842 native plants, including trees, shrubs, perennials, vines and grasses.

“Native plants are part of an intricate balanced web and essential to all wildlife,” a spokesperson noted. “These natives are abundant in benefits as they absorb stormwater, prevent flooding, filter drinking water, improve soil health, remove air pollutants, sequester carbon and feed the bees and creatures that pollinate most of our food crops.”

The JSWCD has plants in 3-gallon pots with trees being roughly 3-4 feet tall and shrubs being about 2 feet in size. Stock is limited and is on a first-come-first-served basis. To view the selection of trees offered, visit the website at www.jeffersonswcd.org. “There you will find pictures, descriptions and interesting historical fun facts about each of the plants being offered,” the spokesperson explained.

Orders are being accepted through April 23. The preferred method to place an order is on the website, but mail-in orders also will be accepted.

For mail-in orders, make checks payable to Jefferson SWCD and mail to 500 Market St., Suite 4, Steubenville OH 43952.

Trees are $30, and shrubs are $25.

Pick-up will be at the JSWCD office parking lot on May 3 and May 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The office is located at 500 Market St., suite 4, mezzanine. The phone number is (740) 264-9790.

Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District Public Relations Chair Duayne Wetherell announced, “In addition to ordering plants and shrubs for your own personal property, you now have an opportunity to make a purchase to be donated to the Quaker Ridge project.”

A tax-deductible donation of a native tree(s) or shrub(s) to the Quaker Ridge Arboretum and Nature Trails will help to provide plantings for a diverse and healthy sustainable ecosystem, he said. “Your generous donation will provide county residents with lasting benefits for years to come,” he added.

Location is important when planting as different trees bloom better in certain soils. To find out what soil type a property contains, contact the office at (740) 264-9790.

A look at some of the items available include the following:

– One of the most unique and forgotten understory trees or large shrubs native to Jefferson County and the Eastern United States is the pawpaw. Indigenous to low bottom woods, wooded slopes, ravines and riparian corridors this purple-flowered fruit-bearing plant spreads by root suckers and can colonize. The fruit, which has a banana-like flavor, was a staple in early America.

The Shawnee tribes had a Pawpaw month, Spanish Explorer Hernando de Soto noted the plant in 1540, and Lewis & Clark feasted upon the fruits on their return trip in 1810. George Washington enjoyed pawpaw as an ice cream flavor. Several towns in eastern America were named after the fruit. However, the plant fell out of favor after the Great Depression when the fruit was known as the “poor man’s banana” and was eaten with such regularity people tired of it.

In 2011, Chef Jose Andres called the pawpaw “the most amazing American fruit” and has been a staple feature in his award-winning restaurants in Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas. Pawpaws attract orioles, cardinals, blue jays, wrens, grosbeaks, titmouse, nuthatches, mockingbirds, chickadees, warblers, towhees and thrushes. The blooms attract various native bees and honey bees. The tree is a host plant for 13 species of butterflies and moths in the greater Jefferson County area, including the beautiful zebra swallowtail.

– The sweet bay magnolia is one of the most underappreciated magnolias as when they bloom they fill the area with a fragrant and lemony smell. Blooms are several inches in diameter and are a waxy snow white. Bloom time is most notable in May and June, but this small tree will not be outdone and will bloom sporadically throughout the summer.

The leaves are a rich green with a silvery underside, and in Jefferson County, the leaves are semi-evergreen with some persisting through the winter. Seedpods form from the flower and produce red seeds that are a favorite of birds. It is best planted in a naturalized area or with a groundcover underneath as some consider the tree messy — but the beauty and fragrance is worth it.

Thomas Jefferson planted sweet bays adjacent to his house at Monticello and noted them in his journal for their great flower. Sweet bays were the first magnolia introduced to Europe sent by the first botanist in the colonies, John Bannister in 1688. In 1705, Robert Beverley wrote of the blooms of the sweet bay magnolia as “the pleasantest smell in the world.”

The tree is a host plant for 19 species of butterflies and moths in the greater Jefferson County area, including the well-known spicebush swallowtail and Eastern tiger swallowtail. Birds flock to the sweet bay magnolia as it supports 17 genera of birds. Mockingbirds, robins, eastern kingbirds, wood thrushes and red eye vireos seek the tree out and feed upon its seeds. Eastern kingbirds and mockingbirds habitually use the strong stiff leaves of sweet bay for nest material, and swainson’s warblers, which make rare occurrences in Jefferson County, use sweet bay magnolia leaves as a primary construction element for their nests, so more sweet bays may bring this bird back to the region.

– This small understory tree, also known as Canadian serviceberry, is one of the finest native trees to this portion of Ohio along with its cousin, the Allegheny serviceberry. The plant can serve as a small tree or large shrub and is commonly multi-trunked. It features showy white flowers in drooping clusters which are present before the onset of leaves. The common name has several origins.

The shadbush derives from the fact that when the tree begins to bloom the shad fish would usually inundate rivers of the eastern United States on their way to spawn. The serviceberry nomenclature comes from the plants blooming time being a harbinger for Easter services.

The journals of Lewis and Clark call out the plant as the expedition survived solely on the berries of the tree when food was scarce. The dark blue-black berries ripen in June and are edible and great filling for pies. The blooms attract various native bees and honey bees.

The tree is a host plant for 105 species of butterflies and moths in the greater Jefferson County area, including the red spotted admiral, luna moth and Eastern tiger swallowtail. The shadblow serviceberry will attract 16 genera of birds, including cedar waxwings, warblers, mockingbirds, chickadees, woodpeckers and grosbeaks.

– The tulip poplar is a large stately tree that has fallen out of favor in the last 100 years as more and more trees have become introduced from Asia and Europe.

However, this tree should not be overlooked. The tree is long lived and sports a large cup-shaped flower with yellow petals and orange band at the base that resembles the shape of a tulip. Flowers often can go unnoticed as they appear after the leaves of the tree. The tulip poplar is known as the tree that built America. Sons of Liberty groups used the tree as their symbol, and the Liberty Tree in Boston was the most famous of all these trees. The tulip poplar became so synonymous with American independence that British troops were ordered to destroy every one they saw.

Thomas Jefferson called the tree the “Juno of our Groves” and planted them readily. George Washington had the trees planted throughout Mount Vernon, some of which still stand today. Ben Franklin had them planted around Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Daniel Boone used a dugout 60-foot-long log from a tulip poplar to transport his family to the frontier of Kentucky.

The tree is a host plant for 17 species of butterflies and moths in the greater Jefferson County area, including the stunning tulip tree silkmoth. Tulip poplar attracts 19 genera of birds, including hummingbirds, finches, orioles, waxwings and grosbeaks.

– Named for the Quaker Botanist Linnaeus the Linden tree is also known as basswood and is native to the Jefferson County area. It has a variety of uses in the lumber business from veneers to shipping crates. The bark is used to make rope and mats.

The most notable feature of the tree is its showy and fragrant flowers that attract bees and butterflies. When a tree is in full bloom, bees often visit with such abundance that the trees can be heard humming from several feet away. Pounds of honey will be produced from the nectar of the tree, and the honey is a highly prized gourmet food item. George Washington planted the trees around his upper and lower gardens to attract the bees to the area, so that they would also pollinate his fruits and vegetables.

The American Linden attracts 151 species of butterflies and moths, including the question mark and mourning cloak as well as 18 genera of birds.

– Commonly called the “King of the Oaks” this well-known tree presents a magnificent appearance and almost unparalleled value for pollinators, birds and wildlife.

The acorns are one of the best sources of food for wildlife and are gathered, hoarded and consumed by birds, deer, chipmunks and squirrels. White oaks host 534 known species of moth and butterflies. The tree also is vital for many of Ohio’s migrant songbirds, which depend mightily on these little wrigglers for their survival.

At one point white oak made up 60 percent of the forest canopy in Jefferson County, but because the wood is in such high demand the current forest canopy of Jefferson County is believed to only have white oak make up 11 percent of the trees.

– Native to Jefferson County, the spicebush gets a bad rap and is undervalued.

The shrub is host to 13 species of butterflies, including spicebush swallowtail and Eastern tiger swallow tail. Birds require the shrub with 16 genera of birds utilizing it as part of their life source.

Spicebush is unassuming and often goes unnoticed. The shrub is named for the Quaker Johann Linder. This shade-tolerant shrub is a great feature to the landscape and is best utilized as a backdrop or to soften harsh lines or edges.

In early Jefferson County histories, spicebush is referenced as a substitute for cinnamon and as an alternative to allspice. During the Civil War, spicebush leaves were used to brew a tea that was often a substitute for coffee. The bark and leaves are aromatic and are a major ingredient in many perfumes.

– Cranberry Viburnum puts on a magnificent floral display, followed by a profusion of deep red berries that climaxes into a great fall color display.

Thrushes, cedar waxwings and robins flock to this shrub and are the primary seed carriers.

The plant is a vital component in the lives of many wildlife species and is the host plant to 94 species of butterflies and moths in Jefferson County.

The berries can be used to make jams and jellies, but competition to get the berries is stiff with the wildlife. Thomas Jefferson loved cranberry viburnum and tried to find ways to capitalize on all of its great features. The Quaker Peter Collinson stated that this shrub was worth every cent spent on it as it returned investment to the buyer every season.

– No matter which of its several names you call it by — clethra, summersweet or sweet pepper bush — this little shrub is a powerhouse.

One of the showiest and most fragrant shrubs it is a great asset to any garden, landscape, or naturalized area. When in bloom the fragrance can carry for a long distance and has a very sweet smell that will fill the area. This choice native shrub was prized in Europe in the 1730s.

The Quaker John Bartram sold this plant more than any other species. When Thomas Jefferson lived in Paris in 1786, he requested that clethra be sent to him. He longed to smell the sweet fragrance of the plant and thought the introduction of the plant into French gardens would symbolically help solidify the relationship between America and France.

Clethra hosts locally 10 varieties of butterflies and moths.

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