Ozark Outdoors

Springfield Rotary Clubs will plant grove of ‘Fringe Trees’ on April 4

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The Fringe Tree is an native with beautiful “fringe” blossoms in late spring to early summer.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –  Springfield’s Rotary Clubs are cooperating to plant trees in a ceremony at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 4,  at Jordan Valley Park, 625 E. Trafficway, downtown Springfield to plant six trees in honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day.

Fringe trees (Chionanthus virginicus) have been described as “the best native tree that nobody knows.”  It is so-named for the clouds of fleecy white, softly fragrant flowers that hang from the branches in late spring and early summer.

Males sport larger, showier blooms, but females form attractive, blackish-blue fruits that birds love.

Tougher than dogwood, more dependable than saucer magnolia, longer-lived than wild cherry, and better smelling that than  the invasive, non-native Bradford Pear, it’s a tree you might want to ask for at your local nursery.

The celebration is part of the “Every Rotarian Plant a Tree Project.” Rotary International President Ian Riseley has asked the more than one million Rotarians in 35,784 clubs worldwide to plant a tree by Earth Day, April 22, 2018, to raise awareness of the critical issue of worldwide deforestation.

In addition, each Rotary club has selected a location of a nonprofit or school where they will oversee planting of trees, and many members of the clubs have also committed to planting a tree on their own property. (including this proud Rotarian for the past 34 years).

Springfield Rotary Clubs have previously contributed more than $100,000 worth of enhancements at Jordan Valley Park, including the K-Man kinetic sculpture, the climbing rock, the Springfield Wagon play feature, the Rotary Outdoor Classroom and a shaded picnic area arranged in the shape of the Rotary logo.

All five Springfield Rotary Clubs and the affiliated Rotaract Club of Springfield are collaborating to plant trees in the park and to distribute seedlings to individual members of:

  • Rotary Club of Springfield (Downtown)
  • Rotary Club of Springfield – Southeast
  • Rotary Club of Springfield – Sunrise
  • Rotary Club of Springfield – North
  • Rotary Club of Springfield – Metro
  • Rotaract Club of Springfield

“It is anticipated that nearly 200 trees will be planted as a result of the combined efforts of the Clubs and the partnering organizations,” says Rotarian Barbara Lucks, who is organizing the event on behalf of the clubs. The Springfield/Greene County Park Board is a partner in the project along with City Utilities of Springfield.

CU donated the trees and the Missouri Department of Conservation made seedlings available to more than 500 local individual Rotary Club members. Other partners include the City of Springfield Department of Environmental Services, donating mulch for the trees; the City of Springfield Department of Public Works and Tree City USA Citizen Advisory Committee, both providing technical and educational support, including educational presentations at each Rotary club; and Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, assisting with seedling distribution.


George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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