May 15, 2012
The final report on the Alternatives to Growing Ash and Norway Maple Trees in Nurseries has received approval from the Agricultural Adaptation Council.

The report states, “The Growers Sector has a truly sustainable list of trees to take them into the next stage of the development of the urban forest. This will benefit both farm sales and the health of the urban forest.”  

The main objective of project is to provide Ontario nursery growers with a list of ash (Fraxinus spp.) and Norway maple (Acer platanoides) alternatives to grow on their farms. This list was compiled from Ontario-based and neighbouring Northeastern United States research. The trees on the list are species that can withstand stressful urban environments. “Growing what their clients can use will enable Ontario growers to plan future production cycles confidently,” says the report.

The report outlines, “After reviewing the current condition of urban forests, the potential for subsequent pest infestations and the available species for urban forests in Ontario, the limit of only ten recommended trees seemed imprudent. Many designers only choose the most popular plants due to their unfamiliarity with a wider range of material.

The report predicts that farmers will increase revenue of shade tree sales by five to ten per cent. “It may well be greater than that when the project benefits from increasing attitude shifts about urban forests,” states the report.

The project team included Thelma Kessel of Lacewing Horticulture, Sean Fox, assistant manager, University of Guelph Arboretum, Jennifer Llewellyn, OMAFRA nursery crops specialist, and Dr. Glen Lumis, Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph.

There are now 29 trees listed as alternatives. That list is available on the Landscape Ontario website As well, each issue of Landscape Ontario magazine features one of the trees listed by the committee.