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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Forester gives advice on tree selection

Monday, March 21, 2005

Susan Troxel, a resource forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation, shows slides of various types of trees during a presentation Thursday.
For those in Saline County wanting something tall, leafy and green sticking out of the ground in their yard, a qualified forester's advice may be of use.

Those who attended a free workshop on Thursday, March 17, got just that as Missouri Department of Conservation resource forester Susan Troxel gave tips on which types of trees to plant and fielded questions.

Troxel taught the second of a two classes on tree care, with hers based mostly on finding a tree residents can live with and -- just as importantly -- one that can live with them. Troxel advocated slow-growing native trees as the way to go.

Though people are anxious to have trees fill out quickly, she said fast growers inherently have weaker, softer wood. Impatience will come back to haunt planters when weak trees become easily damaged or sick.

Native species are important, Troxel said, to avoid introducing or encouraging invasive species which can make short work of the local ecology with no natural predators.

However, Troxel said there are many non-native species which can be safely grown. She said it is important to be aware of what is being planted.

When growing a tree in a yard or park, she noted planters should be aware of many factors, including utility lines, tree debris and proximity to houses.

Among bad choices, according to Troxel, are black walnut and sweet gum trees. "Trees that are prolifically dumping something on your yard are not a good choice," she said.

Some suggestions she had for the Marshall area were swamp white oaks, which she says is a pretty tough tree, and sugar maples. Sugar maples are not without problems, she said. "But for fall color and long life, you can hardly beat it."

For those looking for a flowering tree, Troxel suggested downy serviceberry (sic) over the more common suggestion of Missouri's official state tree, the flowering dogwood.

"Everybody wants a dogwood. People say 'My God, I've planted 12 dogwoods. Why have they all died?'" Troxel said. "Dogwoods are very finicky trees."

But selection of trees was just one part of Troxel's wide range of advice. Topics ranged from lawn-mower blight, a non-technical term for what happens when weed trimmers meet bark, to web worms, which Troxel said are not actually harmful to tree despite being notably unpleasant to look at.

The class was sponsored by the city of Marshall, Saline County Commission, Saline County Master Gardeners and the University of Missouri Extension, and was paid for in part through a MDC Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance grant.

In addition to helping sponsor two classes, the grant also funded the removal of four damaged trees on the Saline County Courthouse lawn, replacing them with 16 new trees.

Contact Matt Heger at


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