September 17, 2021

Should you plant hybrids?

Came across a post on Reddit asking if they should plant a hybrid tree. They had concerns about the ecological value of that their choices after having to replace a non-native Bradford Pear that ripped apart.

Dave Lage owner of ecogarden

Freeman Maple
Freeman Maple

Hybrids

Hybrids are a cross between two closely related species. For instance Freeman Maple is a hybrid of Red Maple and Silver Maple. This gives certain properties of both but generally won’t be viable to produce seeds.

Downsides

Knowledge for the ecological impact that hybrids have is limited. We don’t not have the quantitative knowledge if the impact this has on insects, birds, fungi, and others. At least the lack of sexual reproduction of these trees limits the fruits that are available to squirrels, birds, insects, and others.

There may be unintended consequences from propagating hybrids. For instance Bradford Pear is a hybrid that has gone to become able to create viable seeds. This wasn’t considered when creating and propagating the tree but now it’s spreading.

Should you?

You need to consider and maybe consider if these downsides outweigh the upsides of getting a true species. Consider the impacts of your actions and choices you make. The ecological impact may be greater than you expect.

Image by James St. John

Subscribe to the newsletter

Dave Lage - Founder - Ecogarden Design
Occasional ecological landscaping information, landscape designs, and how-to guides.