Kentucky coffeetree 'Focus Tree' for McCook city rebate program

Friday, June 30, 2017

McCOOK, Neb. — McCook’s Tree Advisory Board has expanded the list of trees for which the city will offer rebates in the 2018 spring and fall planting seasons, and changed its “Focus Tree,” starting next year, from an oak to the Kentucky coffeetree.

At their meeting in April, board members agreed to change the “Focus Tree” — a tree that the board would like to see more of in McCook — to encourage diversity of tree species within the community’s tree inventory.

At their June meeting, board members added a nut tree and a conifer to its 2018 list of rebatable trees.


Preparing for the 2018 tree-planting seasons during their most-recent meeting, tree board members removed purple leaf plum and Callery pear from the rebate list of ornamental trees and Norway maples from the list of shade trees.

For next year, they added the pecan — a nut tree — and the Ponderosa pine — a conifer — to the list of trees eligible for rebates, and broadened the selection of shade trees eligible for rebate.

New additions to the shade tree list for 2018 are: Oakleaf mountain ash, Hot Wing maple and Redpointe® maple, Japanese tree lilac, ginkgo, sugar maples and American yellowwood.

Carry-overs from the 2017 list of shade trees are: Amur corktree, catalpa, hackberry, elm (dutch elm disease resistant), golden raintree, Emerald Queen maple, Linden, Tatarian maple and thornless seedless honey locust. Oak trees eligible for rebates will be English, white, Heritage and bur oak.

Ornamental trees for the 2018 rebate program will be: Canadian red cherry, flowering crab apple, flowering hawthorne, weeping cherry and weeping mulberry.

There will be special considerations for the Ponderosa pine tree to qualify for a rebate: It cannot be planted on the terrace of the city street, and only one will be rebatable. At purchase time, a Ponderosa must be at least 4 feet tall.

The Ponderosa pine, the only pine tree native to Nebraska, is added to the rebate program for its value to the habitat, it’s a good wind break and it helps to provide privacy. If tree planters in McCook like the Ponderosa and utilize it in the rebate program, more conifers may be added.


The Kentucky coffeetree is McCook’s new “Focus Tree.”

A Kentucky coffee tree is drought-resistant, tolerant of pollution, and adaptable to a variety of soils. With its reputation as a tough species, the Kentucky coffeetree is an excellent choice for parks, golf courses and other large areas. It is also widely used as an ornamental or street tree.

At a tree workshop in McCook in late April, Amy Seiler of Gering, a western community forestry specialist with the Nebraska Forest Service, described the Kentucky coffeetree as “an ugly duckling. I love this tree.They’re so ugly as babies, but they grow into elegant, filtered-shade trees. They have really strong wood, they don’t break easily and they have few insect/disease issues.”

The Kentucky coffeetree likes full sun and humus-rich moist soil, but survives also in dry, compacted or alkaline soil. It tolerates hot, dry weather and even occasional flooding, and handles some ice without losing branches.

The Kentucky coffeetree is not a small tree — it tends to reach heights of 60 to 75 feet tall with a 40-50-foot wing span. Its growth rate is considered “slow” to “moderate.”

It can reach a height of 90 feet; the national champion Kentucky coffeetree, in Maryland, is 97 feet tall.

Be aware, however, that although pioneers roasted the seeds to make a cooked “coffee” of sorts and Native Americans used the pulp to treat insanity, the Kentucky coffeetree’s leaves, pods and seeds are poisonous and toxic to humans, pets and livestock.

Hunting tribes of Native Americans put large quantities of the beans in streams and lakes to stupefy and/or kill fish. Cattle have reportedly died after drinking from pools of water contaminated with fallen leaves and seeds from the tree.

Clinical signs include rapid onset (within 1 hour) of (among other symptoms) intense gastrointestinal irritation, diarrhea, vomiting, hypertension and convulsions. Death can occur within a day after clinical signs appear.

Several cultivars are available that are predominately male and produce no fruit. These are “Espresso,” “J.C. McDaniel” or “Prairie Titan,” and “Stately Manor.”

It’s a homeowner’s responsibility to research the potential of toxicity with any plant or tree they would like to place in their yards.


Rebate Rules

In 2018, to be eligible for a rebate from the city’s tree program, these rules must be followed:

— Trees must be planted on the home owner’s or tenant’s property located within the city limits of McCook.

— Trees must be at least six feet tall.

— Trees must be purchased by residents of McCook from McCook businesses.

— For the spring growing season and rebate period, trees must be purchased and paid for in full between the dates of March 26, 2018, and June 8, 2018, with rebate requests received by the city office by June 22, 2018. For the fall growing season and rebate period,trees must be purchased and paid for in full between the dates of Aug. 27, 2018, and Nov. 23, 2018 with rebate requests received by the city office by Dec. 7, 2018.

— Two trees will be rebated per property owner or tenant, per lot, in the spring and in the fall. A third tree may be purchased and rebated if at least one of the three trees is planted on the terrace street right-of-way in the spring or in the fall. The owner/tenant must contact Digger’s Hotline, (800) 331-5666, to locate underground utilities prior to planting the tree.

— The purchaser must present a paid sales slip stating the type, size and cost of tree to the city clerk at the city office by the deadline. The purchaser will be required to sign a certificate stating that the tree will be planted in accordance with rebate program guidelines.

— At the time of planting, the property owner/tenant shall mulch around the base of each tree a diameter of three feet and two inches deep, with a shredded wood or wood chip type mulching material. The cost of the mulching material may be included in the cost of the tree, provided that the cost does not exceed the maximum rebate amount.

Rebate Amounts

— For shade trees and ornamental trees, upon meeting the rebate/planting guidelines, a rebate equal to 75 percent of the total purchase price of each tree (price of the tree plus the price of the mulch material), not to exceed $75 per tree (maximum of three trees), will be paid.

— For the Focus Tree — Kentucky coffeetree — upon meeting the rebate/planting guidelines, a rebate equal to 75 percent of the total purchase price of each tree (price of the tree plus the price of mulch materials) not to exceed $100 per tree (maximum of three trees) will be paid.

Rebates for non-residential or any other special exception plantings must be approved by the McCook Tree Advisory Board.

Check into the city’s ordinances regarding the placement and size of trees in relationship to streets, alleys and driveways before planting. The ordinances are available on the city’s website or at the city office.

For more information, call the city office at (308) 345-2022.

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