The Auburn University Shade Tree Evaluation: Its Roots and Fruit

in HortTechnology
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, 101 Funchess Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849.
  • | 2 Department of Horticulture, 101 Funchess Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849.
  • | 3 Piedmont Substation, Camp Hill, AL 36850.

The Auburn University Shade Tree Evaluation is an ongoing trial of a moderately diverse range of species, and varieties of larger-growing trees. The study was initiated in 1980 with the planting of 250 selections in three replications of three trees each, located at the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Piedmont Substation in east-central Alabama. Among the fruit of the investigation have been an evaluation of 10 red maple (Acer rubrum) selections with respect to growth and fall color characteristics; a comparison of growth rate and aesthetic characteristics of 14 oak (Quercus) selections; a comparison of the growth and fireblight (Erwinia amylovora) susceptibility of 10 callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) selections; and a 12-year evaluation of the overall best performing trees. The Shade Tree Evaluation has served as a precedent for six additional landscape tree evaluations in Alabama. It has provided a living laboratory for a wide range of educational audiences including landscape and nursery professionals, county extension agents, urban foresters, Master Gardeners, garden club members, and horticulture students. Knowledge gained from the Shade Tree Evaluation has been shared through presentations at meetings and conferences.

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