Not So Seedy (Part 1)

Authored by Sheldon Falk - Owner
Aug 30th, 2021
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It’s quite common to have customers desire trees that don’t produce fruit or seeds. It’s the low maintenance thing. No cleanup of fruit or seedlings. So today I’ll fill you in on most of the different types of trees and shrubs that do not produce fruit or seed.

Before that I need to explain the pros and cons. You may think there are no cons to a seedless, fruitless trees but perhaps ponder these points. No fruit = no birds. For some people this is a must! They love to have many birds in their yard to help keep bugs away as well as the joy birds can bring. Some fruit is decorative in winter and does not create a mess because the birds will eat it. For example, the Starlite and Pink Spire Flowering Crabapples both hold their fruit for decor and winter colour but the birds clean up most of them in February. There is another disadvantage to seedless fruit. We in the industry cannot reproduce it from seedlings. Therefore it is a clone. And when you have a clone, you have one type of tree with identical DNA making it susceptible to a smaller gene pool. In other words ,if this tree gets a disease every tree exactly like it gets the same disease or insect susceptibility. Just keep these things in mind when selecting a tree.

There are two reasons for trees not having fruit. One is that the tree is sterile and the other is the tree is male. Sterility happens more often with hybrids, just like mules in the animal kingdom. Male selection comes out of trees that have individual sexes. Named ash selections for example are all male. These would include Green Ash, Prairie Spire, Trojan and Summit. The cold hardy Nobility Ash is a male white ash. The Black Ash male selection is fall gold. Mancana Ash is a male section of Manchurian Ash. Northern Treasure Ash is a hybrid of Manchurian and Black ash and has hybrid sterility. 2 years ago I collected seed from a Northern Treasure Ash but nothing grew because although the seed had been set due to drought stress there was no viability. It was the first time I’d ever seen seeds on a Northern Treasure Ash.

There is an upcoming star in the seedless trees options called Ming Cherry. It is a hybrid between a sour cherry selection out of the Saskatoon University and the Amur Cherry. Last year I had 200 trees and saw two cherries come to maturity out of all of them. This tree seems to have many great attributes. It is fast growing from its hybrid vigour, it is seedless, and it has a rich glossy dark green summer colour and a striking golden fall colour. The bark is a unique coppery-bronze tone. And the structure of the tree is upright oval and consistently uniform. It matures to a nice size of about 20 to 25ft tall and only 12 to 15ft wide. It is also both drought and cold tolerant. That’s a lot of good attributes.

We also carry 2 flowering crabapples that are sterile. Spring Snow is the first, with an upright oval shaped tree with white flowers. And Courageous is a candelabra shaped tree with an upright form, light pink flowers, and coppery green leaves with orange fall colour. Flowering crabapples have always been popular for their prolific spring blooms but the improved form, fall colour and sterility launched these two varieties to the front of the race. Both are Canadian Prairie introductions and cold tolerant as well.

The list can go on for ages and I won’t stop here, well just for today. Keep an eye out for part two. There we will discuss seedless poplars, willows, evergreens and many more!

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