Got a need for trees? The N.C. Forest Service has them up for grabs. The yearly seedling sale began earlier this month, and orders will be accepted until all offerings have sold out. However, the trees will remain in the ground until fall — the exact distribution time depends on weather.
For 2017, the state is producing 16 million seedlings, a number that’s steadily increased over the last few years of its Nursery & Tree Improvement Program. Conifers can be purchased in orders as small as 50, hardwoods as low as 10. The seedlings can also be ordered by the hundreds and even thousands; there are native warm-season grasses, too.
The “Forest Service is here to benefit all of the citizens of our state,” says James West, program head. “Some only want a few [seedlings] to plant on their property, some want to reforest or accomplish restoration work, while others are in the reforestation business full time. We try to have something for everyone.”
West says that pine selections are made based on growth and form characteristics, as well as disease resistance. In general, the program’s seedlings are native to and suitable for the state’s various geographic zones and originate from locally adapted seed sources. (See sidebar, Trees for WNC, for specifics about the best choices for this area.)
For hardwoods, 10 seedlings start at $25; for conifers, 50 seedlings begin at $25. The price goes up from there based on quantity and variety. A $2 fee per package/unit will be added to orders shipped to a distribution center. If mailed directly, shipping costs begin at $16 and increase based on the amount of seedlings purchased.
You can browse and shop the selections via www.buynctrees.com, and find more information about the program on the nursery page of www.ncforestservice.gov. When the seedlings are ready, they will be distributed to a center in Asheville (there are also centers in Sylva, Lenoir and other WNC locations).