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Need a Forest Fast? Order This Month's Seedling Packet and Watch it Grow Before Your Eyes

  • 11/3/2015 7:55:00 AM
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DES MOINES – As the saying goes, people plant trees to benefit the next generation; however the State Forest Nursery’s November specialty packet may be the exception to that rule.

The Fast Forest packet is a combination of the nursery’s five fastest growing species – typically three feet or more each year once they’re established. They are also known for superbly soaking up rainwater and tolerating wet conditions, making them suitable for stream-side and waterway plantings.

Orders of the Fast Forest Packet through the State Forest Nursery will receive a custom packet of 250 bare-root seedlings (for the price of 200). The seedlings are between 8 and 24 inches, depending on the tree or shrub species.  Cost of the Fast Forest Specialty Packet is $110, plus tax, shipping and handling.

Packets include 50 each of the following five species:

Silver maple
This fast-growing tree survives rugged conditions, and grows 60 feet tall with a wide spread of 100 feet. A perfect tree for bottomlands, it also does well in dry soils. Leaves are two-toned, with bright green above, and gray or silver beneath in summer. Fall color is yellow with an occasional tinge of red.

River birch
Particularly well-suited to areas wet for a portion of the year, this fast-growing tree may also do well in areas dry in the summer and fall. Handsome “exfoliating” bark peels into papery sheets and plates, exposing the inner bark which is salmon-brown. Lustrous medium to dark green leaves change to yellow in fall. Grows 40 to 70 feet tall with a spread of 40 feet to 60 feet.

American sycamore
This tree will mature to have a large, massive trunk and a wide-spreading open crown of massive branches. A striking and impressive tree, it grows to at least 75 foot tall and is one of Iowa’s tallest native deciduous broadleaf trees.

One of the largest and fastest-growing trees in the eastern United States, reaching heights of 30 feet in just two years, the cottonwood grows best in deep, well-drained bottomland soils. It can reach diameters of 3 to 4 feet and displays lustrous light- to medium-green leaves in summer that turn yellow in the fall.

Hybrid poplar
A cross between black poplar and cottonwood, the hybrid poplar is one of Iowa’s fastest growers. Narrow and tall, this tree grows up to 15 feet per year, and lives 15 to 20 years.

To take advantage of this offer, call the State Forest Nursery at 1-800-865-2477 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and mention the “Fast Forest packet.”  Landowners purchasing this packet can choose a fall or spring delivery.

Each month, the State Forest Nursery creates a different specialty packet to offer a unique mix of tree and shrub species for that month only. This month’s specialty packet is only available through Nov. 25, 2015.  Look for an announcement of next month’s specialty packet Dec. 1.

“We want to help farmers, woodland owners and acreage owners discover the benefits different tree species have to offer,” says State Forester Paul Tauke. “Whether you want to improve water quality, pheasant habitat or simply enjoy spring flowering trees, our monthly specialty packets can help achieve these goals.”

Anyone can purchase seedlings from the Iowa State Forest Nursery for CRP projects, to increase wildlife habitat, pollinator potential or diversify backyard woodlands.  More than 40 species are available from the nursery. Seedling choices, including photos and descriptions, can be seen in the seedling catalog at

For more information about this monthly special or other tree and shrub seedlings, contact the Iowa DNR State Forest Nursery at 1-800-865-2477.