COLUMBIA — Columbia TreeKeeper volunteers and city forestry staff gave away six types of tree seedlings to residents in celebration of Arbor Day on Saturday.
TreeKeeper volunteer Rebecca Choat and other volunteers handed out pin oak, tulip poplar, pitch loblolly pine, bald cypress, Norway spruce and redbud trees in the parking lot of the Activity and Recreation Center. TreeKeeper volunteers assist the city in tree care and park maintenance projects.
“I have noticed people looking for the redbud and tulip poplar,” Choat said. “They are flowering trees, so I think that is why.”
Although Arbor Day was officially on Friday, the Saturday celebration drew a crowd of people who wanted a little more foliage in their backyard or who stopped by on their way to the Columbia Farmers’ Market.
“We came to the farmers market looking for asparagus and flowers,” Sally Abromovick said. “This is a wonderful surprise.”
Abromovick recently moved into a new home and wanted more greenery around the house. On Saturday, she picked up a Norway spruce and a pin oak.
Although picking up a tree was a pleasant surprise for Abromovick as she was leaving the market, Susan Dyer came to the parking lot on a mission. Dyer moved to Forest Ridge almost two years ago.
“It’s a new home so there are no shade trees because it is a new development,” Dyer said.
Last year, she went to pick up a tree from the TreeKeeper volunteers at Bass Pro Shop, but her newly planted oak didn’t last much more than a few days.
“My dog ran into the tree and it broke off,” Dyer said.
TreeKeeper volunteers joked with Dyer that after her dog took out her oak tree last year, she needed a new one. Dyer took a pin oak, not for utility but mostly for sentiment.
But Parks and Recreation staff are present to try to help people pick a tree that serves an environmental purpose.
“A lot of people come and say I have a shady, wet spot or I have a hot, dry field, so I try to point them in the right direction,” Columbia Parks and Recreation Assistant Forester Dave Dittmer said. Dittmer’s knowledge of Missouri’s diverse ecology helped him give advice.
“We are in a very unique spot. We are in the middle of three eco-systems,” Dittmer said. “The Northern part of Missouri went through some glacial periods and the Ozarks tend to be a lot rockier.”
For volunteers, the main goal was to get a tree to a good home.
“These are all Missouri native trees and that is really important to conservation people,” Choat said. “We are giving out information to promote native trees and demote non-native trees.”