Canopy newsletter: Unique trees that are helping to create a more diverse and resilient urban forest



Forestry updates from Hennepin County

Tree plantings help create a more diverse and resilient urban forest

On Saturday, October 26, Hennepin County foresters and community volunteers will plant more than 60 trees along New Brighton Boulevard and in Trillium Park in St. Anthony. This project is a perfect example of how the county is addressing the threat of emerald ash borer and increasing the diversity and resiliency of the county’s tree canopy.

Some of the trees are being planted to replace ash trees that have been proactively removed before they become infested with emerald ash borer. Others are being planted to add trees to a currently barren stretch of roadway.

Before the planting, the road corridor had about 70 trees of 8 different species. After the planting, the roadway will have 117 trees of 22 different species!

St. Anthony tree planting diversity beforeSt. Anthony tree planting diversity after

Unique tree species being planted

To create a more diverse and resilient urban forest, the planting includes the addition of some unique tree species. To increase public awareness, we're sharing some fun facts about these unique trees.

Princeton Elm

Princeton Elm

A true American Elm – not a hybrid – that has proven resistant to Dutch Elm Disease and Elm Leaf Beetle. This fast-growing, vase-shaped tree can reach 60 to 80 feet tall.

Kentucky Coffeetree

Kentucky Coffeetree seed pods

Despite its name, this tree is native to Minnesota. Nowadays, this tree is rare because its seed pods are too difficult for animals to chew through. It is believed that now-extinct megafauna such as mammoths and mastodons spread the seeds by eating the seed pods. Today, we have to collect and process the seeds before planting them.

Cucumber Magnolia

Cucumber Magnolia seed pod

One of the cold-hardiest magnolia trees that is native to the eastern United States. The tree gets its name from its fruit, which when unripe is green and resembles a small cucumber. Photo credit: Michael Parker


Catalpa flowers

A peculiar ornamental shade tree with three distinct features that provide visual interest year-round. This tree has large, heart-shaped leaves that can grow up to 12 inches long; clusters of large, trumpet shaped white flowers; and long bean pods that hang down from its branches.

Oakleaf Mountain Ash

Oakleaf Mountain Ash berries and leaves

Despite its name, this tree is neither an oak nor an ash. Instead, it’s a hybrid species native to Scandinavia. This tree provides visual interest year-round with white flowers in the spring and attractive orange fruit later in the year. Photo credit: MPF on Wikimedia Commons

Healthy Tree Canopy Grants

Grants awarded to 14 cities

This week, Healthy Tree Canopy grants totaling $237,000 were awarded to 14 cities to promote a more diverse, resilient, and equitable tree canopy. The grants will:

  • Fund the collection of data through tree inventories.
  • Mitigate the effects of tree pests and pathogens by increasing the capacity of city forestry programs, removing and replacing ash trees, and treating high quality ash trees.
  • Educate residents on the benefits of trees and engage them in tree planting efforts.
  • Improve livability by planting trees in neighborhoods that face economic, environmental, and health disparities.

Read about all of the grants awarded.

Grant applications for schools, nonprofits, and affordable housing properties due October 28

Grants are available to schools, nonprofit organizations, and affordable housing properties to make positive changes in the tree canopy and engage the community in taking action to protect trees. Grant funding can be used to plant trees, conduct tree-related education, remove ash trees, complete tree inventories, and hold Arbor Day celebrations.

Applications are due by 3 p.m. on Monday, October 28. Learn more and apply. For more information and to get help with grant projects, email

Fall planting projects

We’ve had a busy fall planting more than 700 trees throughout the county. Trees have been planted along county roadways and on county properties by Hennepin County foresters, the Sentencing to Service forestry crew, and the Minnesota Conservation Corps. Trees have also been planted at schools and in city parks with the help of students and community volunteers. Below are highlights of a few projects we've been involved with.

Doris A. Kemp Park in Champlin

Two volunteers plant trees at Doris A. Kemp Park in Champlin

As part of their Centennial Day of Service, the University of Minnesota Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science turned out alumni volunteers to for the planting at Doris A. Kemp Park in Champlin. Volunteers planted 24 flowering trees along the pond. Watch the video for some scenes from the planting on a beautiful fall day.

U of M Day of Service video screenshot

Little Acre Park in New Hope

Volunteers at Little Acre Park in New Hope

The weather was a different story for the planting in New Hope. A small but hardy contingent of volunteers braved the rain, cold, and mud to plant a 26 tree orchard at Little Acre Park.

Osseo fruit orchard

A public fruit orchard in Osseo, originally planted in 2017, recently got a refresh. Community volunteers and Hennepin County foresters replaced some trees that weren’t doing well and added some new trees. The orchard has apples, pears, cherries, and apricots that are free for the public to pick. The planting was featured by CCX Media.

Osseo fruit tree orchard planting CCX video screenshot

Weaver Lake Elementary in Maple Grove

Students, community volunteers, and Hennepin County foresters planted 13 trees to replace trees that had died due to invasive species or climate-related factors. The school has plans to use the newly planted trees for education, including teaching students how to make maple syrup and studying invasive species and phenology. The planting was funded by a Hennepin County Healthy Tree Canopy grant and was featured in The Press newspaper.

Making Hiawatha Avenue more pollinator friendly with compost and biochar

Hiawatha Avenue median bee lawn installation

As part of ongoing efforts to improve the landscape along Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis, Hennepin County foresters and landscape designers have been installing a pollinator-friendly landscape in the median. A mixture of compost and biochar were incorporated to add nutrients to the soil and loosen the compacted soil to improve water infiltration. Then a bee lawn seed mixture of specialized perennial grasses and flowers plants was spread. This landscape will be attractive to pollinators and require less maintenance than conventional turf grass.

Hennepin County Environment and Energy


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