Protecting Natural Resources

Adopt a Service Tree

There Are Many Reasons to Value Trees
  • For beauty
  • For shade
  • For food and building materials
  • For medicines
  • For supporting the network of wildlife
  • For providing oxygen and improving air quality
  • For sequestering carbon and ameliorating climate change
  • For conserving water and preserving soil
  • For being our partners in the living world since the beginning of our human existence.

In native cultures all over the globe trees are revered, in recognition of the important role they play in the sustenance of life. In modern cultures this important fact is often forgotten as we pursue our overcrowded lives.

birds waxwing on the branches eat mountain ash

Today there is an awakening awareness that to preserve the beauty and bounty of the creation, and to stop environmental changes that threaten our future, we must pay attention to the world of trees.

Here, in Floyd, we are blessed with a high percentage of tree coverage, around 60%. Still, there is much room for improvement and several groups in the area are stepping up to offer their services to local citizens who wish to create new plantings and to preserve and enhance existing growth.

SustainFloyd’s Adopt a Service Tree Program

As one small part of the picture,  SustainFloyd is offering a program called “Adopt a Service Tree.” This is a program to help churches, school and community groups, as well as private families to plant one to three small trees, which will eventually serve to support birds and other animals that enjoy the fruits and nuts of native trees. You can apply for free saplings and supplies by completing our online form. There are a limited number of trees available.

How to Adopt a Service Tree

Planting trees is a way to invest in the future. Years down the road a tree planted today will be providing food, shade and shelter, in addition to the oxygen it adds to the air for us. Tree planting projects are an effective way to engage new people with the outside world and the beauty that surrounds us. A school or Sunday School group, club or a family group can follow the growth process and take responsibility for one small piece of life. We’d like to help you get started.SustainFloyd is providing some free ‘service’ trees to the community. These are mostly relatively small trees that are suited to our environment and will provide food for wildlife, and in some cases for people too. The trees will come with detailed planting instructions and help if needed. We will provide mulch and protection for each tree to help it get established.

You can apply for your trees by completing a simple application. The saplings you receive will be grown from seed and will be in their third season. They will be around four feet tall, but still quite slender. Planting will be in spring or fall. A few larger trees will be available for early applicants from schools.

We will be offering the following trees as long as supplies last:

  • Eastern red cedar
  • American basswood
  • Elderberry
  • Chinese chestnut
  • Red mulberry
  • Mountain ash
  • Black Locust

Supplies are very limited, so if you are interested apply now. You can apply by completing our simple online application. Printed applications are also available at the SustainFloyd office.

Thank you to all for your tree requests. All our trees are now assigned. Please stay tuned for news of further opportunities.

A Program Inspired By a Pilgrim

The Adopt a Service Tree Program grew out of an experience at a pilgrimage site in France. Read more

More Trees Please!

An active local program is being run by More Trees Please! Floyd, Virginia’s Forest Initiative. Their mission is “To draw down carbon emissions via reforestation and avoided deforestation. MTP! will help landowners access federal and state cost-share programs, organize site visits with professional foresters, and organize volunteer planting parties. More Trees Please! will aggregate landowners into carbon market collectives and will be a repository of information regarding planting and caring for saplings. View their website.

About the Trees

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus Virginiana)

Qualities : Fragrant oil in wood repels insects; wood is rot resistant. Its small berry-like cones are used to flavor gin and are eaten by many birds.
Form/Habit : Conical shape in open spaces. Used for hedge or landscape accent. Young needles are prickly to touch.
Soil/Climate : tolerates wide variety of soil, hardy to USDA zone 4 but slow growing in poor soil. It is a “pioneer species” in old fields and may live to be more than 800 years old.
Comments : Red Cedar can become “invasive” in areas not mowed or no longer allowed to burn periodically, locally along interstate 81 especially in TN for example. It should not be planted closed to apple orchards.
References: The Scientific Reason Why Cedar Keeps Moths Away From Old Clothes, American Conifer Society

Chinese Chestnut (Castanea Mollissima)

Qualities : Deciduous, blight resistant, grows 1-2 feet per year, best in full sun. Nuts produced in prickly husks (fall nuisance near play yards), edible by humans, deer and other wildlife
Form/Habit : spreading form good for shade, height and width 40 to 60 feet
Soil/Climate : prefers sandy, more acidic soils, hardy zones 4-8
Comments : should be planted in pairs not less than 30′ apart for pollination.
References: American and Chinese Chestnuts, Growing Chinese Chestnuts

American Basswood, linden (Tilia Americana)

Mature Height: This is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree reaching a height of 60 to 120 ft (exceptionally 129 ft) with a trunk diameter of 3–4 ft at maturity. The crown is domed, the branches spreading, often pendulous.

Soil / Climate: It likes moist soil with a relatively high pH. It is often planted on the windward side of an orchard as a protection to young and delicate trees.

The bark is gray to light brown, with narrow, well defined fissures. The roots are large, deep, and spreading. It is a common wood for use in the production of solid body electric guitar, because it is light, strong and resonant. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Linden tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes.

Wildlife: Basswood are an important nectar source for honeybees. Its flowers provide abundant nectar for a variety of insects. The seeds are eaten by chipmunks, mice, and squirrels. Rabbits and voles eat the bark, sometimes girdling young trees. The leaves serve as food for caterpillars.

Black Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis)

Mature Height/spread: 5-12 ft high and 5-12′ spread in ideal conditions.
Soil / Climate: Prefers moist, fertile soils. Elderberry is found mostly throughout the eastern and midwestern United States.

The Elderberry has oblong to oval leaves that turn greenish-yellow in the fall. White, fragrant flowers which can be washed, shaken dry, stripped from stems and beaten into batters for pancakes, waffles and muffins. Berries are small, purple-black color, and have a pleasant taste. The berries ripen in late July through September. An easy way to improve the flavor of mature elderberries is to dry them in the sun or oven. Mix elderberries with apples to make an outstanding jelly. Two year old shoots will produce fruit, which persists into early fall. Each berry contains from 3-5 seeds. These seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals ingesting them. Periodic pruning is recommended. Planting multiple shrubs for best results for fruiting.

Wildlife: The fruit is eaten by raccoons, squirrels, mice, and as many as 45 species of birds.

Red Mulberry (Morus Rubra)

Mature Height: 10-25′
Soil / Climate: Native to Eastern North America, Red mulberry grows on a variety of moist soils. Seeds are carried great distances by birds so trees may be found on any soil that is not too dry. It grows best in open conditions but is tolerant of shade.

Red mulberry is self-pollinating. Ripe fruit is dark red to purple-black. The fruit is similar in appearance to a blackberry, edible and very sweet with a good flavor. Not all the berries on a tree ripen at once, which means the berries can be harvested over a month’s time in early summer. The fruit is used in pies, tarts, cobblers and raw in a similar way to blackberries.

Wildlife: Berries are chiefly eaten by thrushes, robins, waxwings, vireos, orioles, cardinals, and finches, red admiral butterflies and by mammals such as squirrels, opossums and fox.

Mountain Ash (Sorbus Americana)

Mature height/spread: 30 ft/2-ft

Soil / Climate: native to northern North America and Eastern Canada. Grows in dry rocky areas, to moist rich woods. Prefers full sun. Zones 3-7

Grayish, yellow-brown smooth bark. Long, compound leaves with sharp toothed edges. Leaves turn orange-red in autumn. Flowers are white or pink. Berries are orange-red and 1/4 inch in diameter. Buds are shiny, in contrast with the European version’s pubescent buds.The fruit ripens in October and remains on the tree all winter.

Wildlife: Fruit is a favorite food of the ruffed grouse, the red-headed woodpecker, gray catbird, robin, bluebird, sharp-tailed grouse, blue grouse, American robins, other thrushes, waxwings, jays, and oriole. The berries are also eaten by numerous small mammals such as squirrels and rodents. It is also preferred browse for moose and white-tailed deer. Moose will eat foliage, twigs, and bark.

Black Locust (Robinia Pseudoacacia)

Mature Height: 40-80 ft. Its trunk can grow to 3-4 feet in diameter. Can sucker from its roots.

Soil / Climate: It is native to South Eastern United States. Black Locust is easily transplanted and grown. Likes full sun and tolerant of most soils. Its known as a very tough plant.

Notes: drooping, black seed pods 2-4″ long. The bark is deep furrowed and blackish. Each leaf usually has a pair of thorns at its base. Its fragrant white flowers (which smell similar to orange blossoms) can be dipped in batter and deep fried. Because it tolerates pollution well, it makes a good city, planted tree. Black Locust wood is hard, resistant to rot and durable, making it useful for furniture, flooring, paneling, fence posts and small watercraft. It is also planted for firewood because it grows rapidly and makes a good slow burning fire. It has the ability to burn even when wet. Makes a good shade tree, used as erosion control and/or for flowering effect.

Wildlife: Black locust produces large dark seedpods which hang and provide food for quail, turkey, grouse, pheasant, and song birds from autumn to early spring when vegetation becomes scarce. Small wildlife animals often take advantage of the Black Locust’s thorns by nesting among the branches. Deer are also attracted to Black locust.

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