Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens is hosting a Fall Native Tree Sale, some of them grown by Daniel Struve, professor emeritus in horticulture and crop sciences.
The sale is Sept. 14, 3 to 7 p.m., and Sept. 15, 9 a.m. to noon at the Arboretum North site behind the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center.
A variety of native trees from locally sourced seed will be featured in 3-gallon containers, 4' to 5' tall. Most will sell for between $35 and $45. Species include, but are not limited to, various varieties of Aesculus, Asimina, Carpinus, Carya, Castanea, Cercis, Diospyros, Frankliniana, Gymnocladus, Lindera, Magnolia, Nyssa, Prunus, Quercus, Stewartia, and Viburnum.
In 2014, Struve was interviewed by WOSU radio about his efforts to collect seeds and grow trees. By his own estimate, he has planted some 50,000 trees. Here is the text from that interview:
Struve may have retired from teaching horticulture but by no means has he given up his horticultural practice. He’s still working to grow genetically superior trees from seeds. “I’ve always had an interest in trees, especially these monarchs of the forest…the old ones. And although in our lifetime they might appear to live forever there’s a finite life span,” Struve says.
So Struve has been collecting the seeds of some of the most impressive specimens of the forest or wherever he can find them, along the roadside, even on The Ohio State University campus.
“Basically the genetic constitution of those plants is being preserved in other places, assuming that I can germinate the seed, grow a seedling, and then that seedling or tree gets planted somewhere in the landscape and goes on to a long and prosperous life,” Struve says.
Struve’s trees can be found at several locations on the Ohio State Columbus campus. He planted rows of oaks by the married student apartments near Ackerman and Fred Taylor Drive. He put in more trees by the 4-H building behind the Schottenstein Center. And there’s an avenue of oaks along the drive just off Kenny at Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory.
“Right at the entrance are some red oaks and these all came from the seed collected from the same mother tree, so they’re all brothers and sisters along this drive here. There’s probably about a dozen of them and so now we have an alley of red oak,” Struve says.
The seeds for the Waterman oaks came from a tree near Plumb Hall on campus. But Struve makes forays into the countryside to find superior trees to harvest their seeds. Last fall he went to Licking County armed with plastic storage bags, a felt-tip pen, and permission, of course. His mission: to gather seeds from beech, oak, and pawpaw trees. He found a bountiful crop on a beautiful beech.
“This year, this particular tree has produced a lot of seed. Beech does not produce a lot of seeds often. And the fact that this one is really producing a lot is really unique,” Struve says.
As Struve talks, he quickly picks beech nut seeds from the reachable branches. He seems to do so by instinct. He’s been gathering seeds so long, he says.
“Now the other problem with seed collection is it’s addictive and you don’t know when to stop. So how many is enough? You always want more, is the word,” Struve says.
It makes sense to gather more than you need. Some seeds won’t germinate, some seed casings are empty. Some seed’s coatings are so difficult to break through that they require acid, filing, or the application of boiling water to stir them to life.
Struve knows all the tricks of the trade to start the germination process. In fact, he’s developed his own methods of bringing a seed to tree…something he calls the Ohio Production System. Even so, he says, there are no guarantees of success.
“It’s a game of chance and there’s a lot of steps in it and a mistake at any one point in this process … well, you failed,” Struve says.
Just a few days ago, Dan Struve was sowing seeds in a special blend of potting soil in a greenhouse near Delaware.
“Now I’m taking out the individual seedlings and we’re just putting them in the soil, and then after we’re done sowing, it’s just hurry up and wait,” Struve says.
The whole process from collection to germination to potential tree takes a year’s time. Struve works with a sense of urgency, because he figures, a horticulturalist has a limited number of years to accomplish his work.
“As a propagator, your professional life starts maybe when you’re 20 and you’re done when you’re 65. So you have 45 years, so basically that’s 45 chances to get it right. So, basically, you don’t want to waste any of those chances. It never gets old,” Struve says. -- Source: WOSU