Native Trees and shrubs to be sold at SIU Arena

By Kitt Fresa, Features Editor

Members of the Carbondale community will have the opportunity to buy trees and shrubs native to the surrounding environment on March 24 and 25 at the SIU Arena parking lot.

“We focus on bringing people the trees that are from this area or belong in this area,” Executive Director of Keep Carbondale Beautiful Sarah Heyer said. “Animals and insects recognize that plant as something that is a source of food or a home for them, and so it fits into the ecosystem more successfully.”

Keep Carbondale Beautiful is a non-profit corporation that has been in Carbondale since 1987.


The corporation’s mission statement is to initiate, plan, and direct cooperative efforts in litter control, recycling, community beautification, and environmental education.

The trees that KCB will be selling at the sale are grown just south of Carbondale and also north of St. Louis. The trees and shrubs themselves come in three-gallon pots and are typically able to fit inside most cars. Trees are $25-30 and shrubs are $20.

Some of the trees that will be sold at the event include Sugar Maple, River Birch, Pecan, Sycamore, Cherrybark Oak and Bald Cypress. Some of the shrubs include Wild Hydrangea, Black Chokeberry, American Plum, Inkberry and Virginia Sweetspire.

Heyer said KCB will order any tree for customers except invasive trees and the tree a customer wants to order doesn’t have to be native.

Heyer said many people come to tree sales specifically looking for native trees. Buyers can go as far as wanting to know the exact location of where the tree was grown.

Knowing this, buyers are able to compare the environment the tree was grown into the environment they’ll plant the tree in.

“If a tree is grown here in this area then it’s used to the weather that we have,” Heyer said. “Its used to this climate, animals and other things in the environment so they’re usually more successful than a tree from someplace else.”


Heyer is the only employee of KCB but the corporation also includes a volunteer Board of Directors with seven members.

“It’s a really good job because I can just do stuff that I believe in and encourage other people to do the right thing,” Heyer said. “I don’t have anybody competing against me because if you’re doing it too that makes it easier.”

One of these ‘competitors’ is Green Earth, a non-profit land conservation organization in Carbondale has been working alongside Heyer and KCB.

KCB and Green Earth do separate sales in the spring, but a joint one in the fall.

Executive Director of Green Earth Stephanie Eichholz, said twice a year Green Earth and KCB have a partnership on a volunteer work day where the two organizations come together to clean up trash in and around nature preserves and neighborhoods.

Eichholz said that many volunteers and RSOs come out from Southern Illinois University Carbondale to help with some of the projects.

“We get pretty good numbers when we come together like that and that way we can send the students out in teams and really cover a lot of area,” Eichholz said.

Later on, in the season Green Earth will be having their own Spring Native Plant Sale Fundraiser on April 14th from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm at John A. Logan College in Carterville, IL.

Eichholz also talked about why native species are so important to the environment.

“When you start introducing exotic species you no longer have that coevolved relationship….The insects can no longer subsist on the plants for food and habitat,” Eichholz said.

Eichholz said when insects can no longer subsist on the plants, it affects the rest of the food web. When the insects’ population is diminished, then the birds who eat the insect start to disappear as well and begins a chain effect.

Staff writer Kitt Fresa can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @kittfresa.

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