Sixteen new varieties of maple and alder trees developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been planted in six communities in an experiment to judge how well the trees stand up against disease, pests and other assaults.
The trees will be getting their first checkup this spring after living in the wild for a year. And in the coming years, researchers will monitor how well they fare and whether any could be used to diversify Wisconsin’s tree stock.
The attack of emerald ash borer raises the likelihood of widespread loss of ash varieties in the coming years as it continues to spread across Wisconsin.
Oak wilt is killing oak trees, and Dutch elm disease has left most communities with few, if any, elm trees that once towered over streets.
Maples are widely planted, but there are concerns Wisconsin is susceptible to the Asian long-horned beetle, which has infected tree populations in Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Illinois. Infestations in New Jersey and Illinois have been eradicated, officials in the two states say.
The 16 new varieties of maple and alder trees were developed by Brent McCown, a professor emeritus of horticulture at UW-Madison, and William Hoch, formerly a graduate student at UW and currently an associate professor of plant sciences at Montana State University.