Urban Forest Nursery, Inc. Logo
March, 2019

As we continue to enter the high tech age of tree inventories, we are in the process of testing a new type of caliper RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tag. The band is specifically designed to expand with the tree as it grows. When the band is scanned with an RFID reader, the caliper is automatically stored in the Arbré Technologies inventory management system.  While we suspect there will be some changes to the actual band size (as the first prototype is quite large) we are excited about the benefit of a band that will grow with the tree   The goal is for this technology to allow tree sizing inventories to be taken quickly from a rapidly moving utility vehicle.
Our goal has always been to provide the best quality nursery stock both above and below ground, but chasing the caliper and height sizes has always been a challenge for us in keeping you in the know of the sizes we have. We have been working closely with  Arbre Technologies ,   of Wauwatosa, WI,  the company that developed this application.  We welcome any questions while we implement and improve this amazing new system to improve our information transfer to you, our customer. 
Below is the link to our latest inventory. We will send updates monthly to ensure our customers always have current information on our availability.
As a strong supporter and contributor to the TREE Fund, we want to share a recent newsletter about the type of research it supports. Check out the article on SIR (Systemic Reduced Resistance) in plants. It works like a vaccine does in humans. Wow!

Crowning Achievements
Research on Fighting Tree Diseases with Non-Chemical Compounds

Urban trees are susceptible to various pathogenic fungi and bacteria that, if uncontrolled, can result in high mortality rates. Agro-chemicals are primarily used to control these diseases, but present their own problems. Systemic induced resistance (SIR) is a resistance mechanism in plants that is activated by exposure to a disease (same concept as a vaccine). 
Nursery News
Planting Season
We plant over 7,000 new trees in the nursery every year. This starts as soon as the soil is dry enough, hopefully in late February and usually lasting through April.  Planting in bags requires that we prune every tree root back so that no circling roots are started in the bag and all new roots grow towards the edge of the bag.   Roots do grow through the bag , but are restricted so that roots fatten up and branch off inside the bag producing more root density in the root-ball. We are finding that more customers prefer the grow-bag system than other systems for these reasons and more:
  • Smaller, lighter root-ball
  • Greater root density per square inch of root-ball
  • Better root establishment
  • Easier transplant-ability
  • Near year round availability
  • Easy handling and storing
  • More trees per shipment
  • Fewer circling roots
  • A nice looking package!

All nurseries are working hard to avoid circling roots but it still happens. We try not to plant any tree in the nursery that starts out like the roots in the above photo. These twisted circling roots likely began in a small pot when the tree was barely a seedling. We inspect the roots of all 7,500 liners that we buy before they go into the ground. Bad root systems are rejected. Selective production methods are gradually helping to avoid this root condition. 
FYI  - We grow approximately  180 varieties   of trees  but here are some we have that are hard to find:

  • Nyssa & cultivars
  • Parrotia & cultivars
  • Carpinus caroliniana & cultivars
  • Ginkgo & cultivars
  • Quercus garryana
  • Frontier elm
  • Snowcone Styrax
  • Forest Green Oak
  • Tree lilac
  • Many more
Featured Tree
Carpinus caroliniana
(American Hornbeam Cultivars)

Native Flame ® , Palisade ® , Ball O’ Fire™ , & Rising Fire ®

In a Tree Profile over 10 years ago, I raved about the American hornbeam, Carpinas caroliniana and still feel the same today.   With the more recent arrival of several new cultivars which display some of the best characteristics of this species, an update on this tree is in order.

Let’s start with its generic attributes. The pioneer nicknames of “Blue Beech”, “Muscle Tree” or “Ironwood” of the species are suggestive of what a tough Midwest native tree this is.  Considered a small tree, the ultimate mature size is approximately 30-feet tall by 20-feet wide. They may grow larger under optimum conditions. It has few, if any, disease or insect pest concerns in this region and as the name implies, has branches “of steel”. In my experience, branches can bend like rubber and not break, which is a good testament for strength. This is a good urban tree characteristic.

Leaves are 2 ½ to 5-inches long and 1 to 2-inches wide, ovate-oblong, acuminate, rounded or heart shaped, sharply and doubly serrate, glabrous, dark green and often lustrous. The seeds are quite unique, appearing as a small, ribbed, seed-like nutlet enclosed by a veiny, irregular 3-lobed bract about 1-inch long. The leaves and seeds are small and thin, and decompose relatively fast, another good urban tree characteristic.

Now let’s talk about these new cultivars. They were selected for reliable and unique forms as well as consistent fall color. Some have a more distinct form than the species: central leader, upright branching, narrow or round.  Some have longer lasting fall color. 

When choosing trees for urban planting, consider these improved cultivars:
Palisade ® American Hornbeam, Carpinas caroliniana ‘CCSQU’. 30’tall and 15’wide. It has a more formal upright, dense canopy with orange yellow fall color and sinewy gray bark on mature trees. Photo courtesy Sunleaf Nursery
Ball O’ Fire American Hornbeam, Carpinas caroliniana ‘J.N. Globe’. 15’tall by 15’ wide. This is a compact globe formed tree with excellent orange-red fall color.  It is slow growing and adapts to many sites.
Rising Fire ® American Hornbeam, Carpinas caroliniana ‘Uxbridge’. 30’tall by 15’wide. This cultivar is possibly as dense, narrow and colorful as the Palisade ® but reported to be faster growing and more cold hardy.
Native Flame ® American Hornbeam, Carpinas caroliniana’ JFS-KW6’. 30’tall and 20’wide. It has upright growth and good red fall color. Leaves hold the fall color longer than the species and it has a slightly narrow and reliable form.
The American Hornbeam should be considered both a garden, as well as a street tree, especially if grown with high enough crown clearance. As a garden or yard tree, the branch structure can develop incredible character with or without your help, twisting and turning, improving with age. As a street tree, the American Hornbeam and its cultivars should be considered as one of those “Bullet Proof” selections.  It can grow into maturity and become tougher over time.

Hornbeams are all slow growing in the nursery, especially the cultivars. They are relatively easy to transplant when proper transplanting techniques are followed. Root flare is modest and root growth does not appear to be aggressive, so potential infrastructure damage is probably low to non-existent. I have seen them grow relatively well in ridiculously small street tree planter openings where they seem to adapt to the space.

Because of their slow growth, you will pay a little more for them at the nursery but they are worth it in the long run! Only moderate corrective and training pruning will be needed. With enough soil volume, they will be there for a long time. Be patient and enjoy.

As always, I would like to hear of your experience with this or other tree varieties to pass on to others.

Jim Barborinas, ISA #PN-0135, ASCA Reg. # 356. TRAQ Qualified
Urban Forest Nursery, Inc.
Urban Forestry Services, Inc. 
Mount Vernon, Washington
2019 Available Inventory
Click below to see our latest inventory list. We will be updating it soon and will send out monthly emails to ensure our customers always have the most current information on our availability.
As always,  we invite our customers to come check out our production facility in Mount Vernon, WA , including our new RFID Inventory system.  Give us a call and set up your appointment today!