Dying dogwood tree lost last big branch; state nursery to assist restart

The last big branch on my dying dogwood is still holding on to its stump, so it may remain green a little longer, but it’s time for some new seedlings to take its place.

Maybe it’s a bit over dramatic to say I discovered a sad sight in my backyard this weekend, but I was heartbroken to notice that the last live limb on the only big dogwood tree along our forest edge was on the ground.

The good news is that I beat the clock this year in the race to get flowering dogwood trees from the George O. White State Forest Nursery when the order form went active at 8 a.m. on Sept. 1. Nearly half of the tree species were sold out within the first few days. The website has been offline for a few days, but it appears flowering dogwoods may still be available if someone else is looking for a nature-nurture experience.

The bare-root, native tree seedlings from the conservation department are a tremendous bargain with prices per tiny tree no more than $1 each. For the first time in the nursery’s 80-plus-year history, state residents will have to pay shipping charges. A $9 handling fee and 6.1% sales tax is also added to each order.

Residents with a Conservation Heritage Card, Permit Card, or Conservation ID Number receive a 15% discount up to $20 off seedling orders. Seedlings are ordered by the bundle in lots of 10 or 25 depending of the size of the planting project.

The state nursery offers seedlings for more than 60 native species.

In addition to reforestation, trees may be planted to provide windbreaks, food and habitat for wildlife, or erosion control. Several of the tree options can do all of those things.

More than a dozen oak seedlings are offered at the nursery with common varieties like black, white, red, pin and bur oak trees available. Other more esoteric oaks the nursery can provide include chinkapin, concordia, nuttall, shumard and overcup oaks.

Bushes and shrubs that grow fruit and nuts for human consumption are also available including blackberries, elderberries and hazelnuts. Trees that offer edibles and potential pie filling include pecan, persimmon, pawpaw, black cherry, wild plum, walnut, and hickory.

Evergreen seedlings can be ordered too, and some of them are the least expensive trees available. Bundles of 100 trees are a little as $34 per package. Among the selections are loblolly, shortleaf and white pines, and Norway spruce or eastern red cedar trees.

Staff at the George O. White State Forest Nursery are shown tending to the trees in Licking, Mo., in this conservation department photo.

“The nursery grows millions of seedlings each year, but some species are very popular and sell out quickly,” said Forest Nursery Supervisor Mike Fiaoni. “And some seedlings occasionally succumb to harsh weather or hungry wildlife, despite the nursery staff’s best efforts.”

Even if a species is listed as “sold out,” Fiaoni said, customers can still place an order for those seedlings because other orders may get canceled, freeing up inventory. Customers won’t be charged for seedlings unless they are available to ship.

Orders are processed Sept. 1 through April 15, and are shipped from February to May depending on the best time for planting. The most reliable order form is online at mdc.mo.gov/trees-plants/tree-seedlings, because the availability of seedlings is kept up-to-date. An order form is published in the September issue of the Missouri Conservationist magazine each year. For more information call the nursery at 573-674-3229, or send an email to StateForestNursery@mdc.mo.gov.

My 10 little dogwoods and 10 wild plums are scheduled to arrive in April.

Originally published by Leader Publications on Sept. 1, 2022.

Published by John J. Winkelman

A freelance outdoor writer for more than 30 years

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