Suggestions for replacement trees lost to storms

  • Article by: JEFF GILLMAN , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 23, 2013 - 3:58 PM
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A tree fell during a storm on June 21, 2013, in Minneapolis.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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Summer storms have taken their toll on our trees. Across the metro area — and across the state — cottonwoods, maples, oaks and spruces have lost large branches or tumbled in the high winds.

Combine those losses with the advance of diseases and pests, such as emerald ash borer, and a lot of people are looking for replacement trees.

If you’re one of them, consider this when you go tree shopping: You don’t have to replant the same type of tree. In fact, it might be a good idea to try something new.

Some trees tend to be more popular than others. But if we all planted the same kind of tree, an insect infestation could eventually wipe most of them out. (Remember what happened to all those elms when Dutch elm disease was introduced.)

Lindens, crabapples and Freeman maples (including the popular Autumn Blaze maple) are popular trees. So popular, that they’ve been widely planted. While these are great trees, if we choose from a wider variety of trees, we’ll get a more interesting, more diverse, more sustainable landscape.

Here are some trees to consider:

 

Elm

Elms were planted heavily in Minnesota because they are a statuesque tree with a wonderfully wide canopy. Because of Dutch elm disease, which is still a problem, elms weren’t planted for years. However, certain types of elms are resistant to the widespread disease. The American elm cultivars Princeton and Valley Forge are both attractive, fast-growing and tolerant of many different soil types.

Aside from the American elms, Accolade and Triumph elms also are good choices.

 

Birch

With its pale white bark, paper birch is a popular tree, but it’s not recommended because it’s susceptible to bronze birch borers. However, many kinds of birches do well — sweet birch and yellow birch are two. They’re resistant to birch borers and are beautiful to boot. They also offer a scented secret: Scratch their bark for a whiff of wintergreen.

 

Ginkgo

The ginkgo tree has fan-shaped leaves and a unique branching structure, which give this shade tree a very different look.

One of its most notable characteristics is its lack of insect and disease problems. It’s also tolerant of many soils. One caveat: This tree gets tall, eventually reaching a height of 60 to 80 feet. If you do decide to go with a ginkgo, be sure to buy a male tree. Females drop fruit that smells bad when stepped on.

 

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  • The showy mountan ash features white flowers and red fruit.

  • Accolade is a good choice if you want to plant an elm.

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