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Nut Tree Grove

The Nut Trees were established in 1982 in the far southwest corner of the 40 acres. Several hybrid and cultivar introductions by the late Archie Sparks, the late Al Ferguson, and Ward Mally exist in this planting. Particular favorites of theirs to propagate were black walnut (Juglans nigra), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), northern pecan (Carya illinoinensis), and chestnut (Castanea). In some cases, visitors can also identify the graft union where inter-crossing of hybrids took place. Cultivars in this collection were selected for their large, edible fruits. Other selection features include ease of cracking and self-hulling.

Many nut trees double as attractive ornamental trees with exceptional fall color but are best tucked-away from high-traffic areas due to their fruitful nature. Selections noted more for shade trees are found elsewhere on the grounds due to having smaller fruits, and thus, less of a hindrance to the public.

The latest addition to this area is an architectural feature called BLUESTEM. This project was created by students from Iowa State University – School of Design and was given its name after the native Iowan tall grass, big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) that once nearly covered 80% of Iowa. Two hundred tall, thin poles meet the ground at varying angles and orientations, creating a moiré effect. The visual movement of the space is reminiscent of tall grasses swaying in the wind.

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