December 12, 2007

Tree Walk Wednesday: the ultimate green gift

This year we decided to give trees for holiday gifts. Disclosure: we fell in love with Heifer's animal program and the ease of their web site interface. For many family members, we donated animals on their behalf. We also gave two shares of seedlings through Heifer. Before we decided on Heifer we researched urban forestry nonprofits with tree gift programs. We intended to donate to tree organizations in cities in which relatives live. We have family in Berkeley, but Berkeley does not host an urban forestry nonprofit, so we considered San Francisco's Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) Green Christmas and Holiday Tree Tribute programs. (Read Ron Sullivan and Joe Eaton's article about FUF's Green Christmas program.) Other Bay Area tree gift programs include the Sacramento Tree Foundation Tribute Giving, San Jose's Our City Forest Memorial Dedication Gift and Tree Gift Dedication programs, and Palo Alto's Canopy Tree Planting Gift program. Most of our family lives on the East Coast. We have purchased tree gifts from EarthWorks Projects in Boston and considered doing so again. I volunteered with EarthWorks when I lived in Boston and think their orchard and urban wilds programs are significant contributions to Boston's green space system. You can also treat yourself to a tree gift. The persimmon tree (Diospyros virginiana) looks ornamented in fall with bare branches and vibrantly colored, hanging fruit (see here). A plus is that the fruit is edible. Another tree gift for your yard is the holly (Ilex). The combination of bright red fruits against dark green leaves is suggestive of the holiday season. The fruit is used as a food source by birds and can be used to make honey. Hollies are understory trees and associated with sweetgums, flowering dogwoods, and red maples. (Read the holly entry in the USDA Forest Service Silvics Manual). I've seen these species growing well in Berkeley, so consider planting a woodland!

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