Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Science and the Environment

State Nursery Offers Native Trees and Shrubs to Landowners

Lindsey Turner

The George O. White State Forest Nursery is taking orders now for native trees and shrubs.  The Missouri Conservation Department owns the 750-acre nursery and conservation area in Licking, which distributes around 2 and a half million seedlings each year.  It’s been in operation since the mid 1930s, and at the time was under the ownership of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Missouri Department of Conservation acquired it in a land swap, according to State Forest Nursery supervisor, Mike Fiaoni.

It sits on 750 acres, which offer roads to walk on, catch and release fishing at a three-acre lake (though Fiaoni says the public will be able to harvest fish there in the spring), and it's open for public hunting.

The nursery offers 65 to 70 types of trees and shrubs each year, depending on how much seed it can get.  The nursery harvests seed from its property and buys from the public.  It also buys from neighboring states when it can't get enough seed in Missouri.  This year, Fiaoni said, they've had to buy white oak seed from adjacent states .

"We need so many pounds, like 6000 pounds that we plant every year.  Usually the general public can't provide that much so we get contractors to bring some in to us," he said.

Native plants fare better in this area than nonnative species, according to Fiaoni.  For instance, they can better withstand the weather and pests.

"We have, of course, native insects and diseases that are here that our native trees and  are used to, and  a lot of times the trees you bring in are not used to that, and they can succomb to it," he said.

The George O. White State Forest Nursery distributes approximately 2.5 million seedlings each year and takes around 11,000 orders.

Besides selling trees and shrubs, the state nursery gives away seedlings to various groups, including around 94,000 annually to all fourth graders in Missouri around Arbor Day.  

Orders for seedlings are being taken through April 15. 

The nursery has a web page, part of the MDC website, where you can order online or you can print off a catalog and an order form and send the form in the mail.  Regional MDC offices and nature centers have catalogs in stock or you can have a free one sent to you.  

A tour of the nursery will be held April 6, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.