Ohio Division of Forestry discovers first native tree species, sugarberry, in more than 50 years

CINCINNATI, Ohio , May 12, 2009 (press release) – Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry has announced Ohio's first native tree species discovery in more than half a century.

Sugarberry, Celtis laevigata, a large, broad, fast growing deciduous tree with a rounded vase crown of spreading, pendulous branches, has recently been found in the Chilo and Utopia areas in southeastern Clermont County. ODNR Division of Forestry Private Lands Forester Brian Riley discovered the trees, which are closely related to the common hackberry.

"We are excited to now know that Ohio has a small, thriving population of sugarberry that is well established on the northern edge of the species' distribution," stated David Lytle, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry.

Sugarberry Tree TrunkSugarberry grows well in the rich, bottomland soils of the lower Ohio River Valley and can be found throughout the Mississippi River Valley and the southern United States. In a given year, a mature tree can produce tens of thousands of red, pea-sized berries, Riley explained.

The berries remain on the tree into the late winter months. The fruits provide a valuable food source for migratory birds that fly up from more southern states each spring.

The last native tree species discovered in Ohio was Mexican plum in 1941, also found in Clermont County.

Ohio is home to 149 species of native hardwood trees and 9 species of softwood trees. The Ohio wood industry generates over $15 billion annually.

For more information about Ohio's trees, Big Trees, urban forests, private woodland care and renewable natural resources, visit www.ohiodnr.com/forestry.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR web site at www.ohiodnr.com.

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