New trees for Kansas and Kansas City landscapes have arrived at Grimm’s Gardens! As I mentioned earlier, Doug Grimm has developed a number of trees for the landscapes of the Central Great Plains region, from Nebraska City, NE to south Kansas City, KS and MO, from Marysville, KS to Maryville, MO.
The first tree we welcome to our landscape is ‘Mr. America’ Whitebud. The whitebud is actually a redbud mutation with white flowers instead of the standard pink or light purple. Redbuds are common throughout our region, and indeed, there have been a few whitebud cultivars and they are not unseen in the landscape.
However, there is no whitebud like ‘Mr. America’, because it is sterile. That is correct, the flowers are full of pollen which is attractive to early spring bees and other pollinators, but the tree produces no messy fruit. Along with Doug I have watched this tree over my 8 years at Grimm’s Garden, I have photographed it every spring and watched it through the year. There is no fruit.
The process of finding or developing a sterile cultivar can be tricky. Most seedless cultivars of trees are the male version of the tree. Many trees are dioeceous, meaning that they have male and female flowers on different trees, just like man and woman. One example is a Kentucky Coffeetree, and great shade tree for Kansas, if you can get the male ‘Espresso’ which although has pollen and flowers, it does not produce seeds.
Another way of getting a seedless tree is to find a mutation which has sterile flowers. ‘Mr. America’ is a whitebud that has sterile flowers. Unlike the coffeetree, redbuds are monoeceous, meaning they have male and female flowers on the same tree.
I foresee ‘Mr. America’ becoming a favorite tree in Kansas City to replace the invasive callery pear tree. ‘Mr. America’ flowers better without the stinky smell of callery pear, has pollinator loving flowers, produces no messy or invasive seeds, is native to the region, and has better branch structure. Although the whitebud lacks in fall color, it more than makes up for it in durability, disease and pest resistance, and size.
‘Mr. America’ has no problems with rust disease on leaves which affect callery pear, they are small and compact and can fit under power lines if need be, and make great street trees. The grow 30 feet tall and wide and can tolerate a wide array of soil and site conditions, from full sun to part shade, heavy clay or well-drained soils.
Come out to the Little Arboretum at Grimm’s Gardens this spring to see ‘Mr. America’ in full bloom or buy your own!