I’m interested in the Regal Prince Oak trees being planted in downtown Rochester. The squirrels should be jumping for joy with such a plethora of acorns soon to be descending upon our city streets (unless the city is just planting male trees). Also, I’ve seen some information indicating (there are) a couple of diseases to which these trees are resistant. Should we anticipate acorn problems or disease problems with these trees? -- Concerned tree fan

Rochester City Forester Jeff Haberman told one of my minions that Royal Prince Oaks are a long-lived species adapted to our area with relatively few pest issues, making them one of several options suggested for the Destination Medical Center Heart of the City project.

“Unfortunately only two species of oaks are being used,” he said of the 101 trees planned to be planted along two blocks of First Avenue Southwest, south of Center Street, and in the eastern portion of Peace Plaza. “It would have been my preference to use a greater variety of species, but uniformity of aesthetics was the driving reason for what is being planted.”

Haberman has frequently pushed for diversifying tree plantings in the city to ensure a disease found in a single species doesn’t wipe out all the city’s canopy in an area. It’s part of the reason the city has been working to replace infested ash trees with a variety of species in city parks and along street boulevards.

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The city forester said he had limited input in the project but offered a list of six to 10 species with the narrow columnar forms sought by designers, which some city officials have speculated will be less than ideal for crows to roost in, even though the nearby buildings will likely remain popular by the winged downtown residents.

Haberman did confirm that all oak trees can produce acorns.

However, it’s important to remember the environment. Unlike the trees in your backyard, these oaks will largely be surrounded by concrete, hardly an attraction for wildlife that would typically be drawn to the dropped nuts.

While the addition of porous paving will allow the new trees to continue to have access to water as they grow in place, acorns are not anticipated to be a problem. City and park staff, along with Rochester Downtown Alliance’s new Clean and Safe Ambassador Program, maintain the surrounding area, which will now likely include some sort of acorn patrol to eliminate potential hazards.

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