Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • April-May 2024 • Circulation 5000


The Woody Superpowers of Trees

Students planting Shrubscriber trees at W. P. Wagner School. Dustin Bajer

What if I told you that trees have superpowers? That sounds strange, but trees prevent floodings and drought, filter the air, decrease extreme temperatures, and increase nearby property values. As we increasingly feel the effects of climate change, trees provide a host of abilities capable of making our homes and communities more resilient.

With this in mind, in 2014, I started growing trees in my McCauley backyard. I quickly accumulated hundreds of fruit (apricot, plums, mulberries), nut (walnut, hazelnut, and oak), and ornamental (Maple, Kentucky Coffee, and American Beech) trees. What am I doing with all of those trees, you ask? Ideally, getting them into the hands of local school and community partners – which is why I created

Shrubscriber, pronounced “Shrub-Scriber,” is a community of passionate Edmontonians growing climate-resilient communities through tree donations. Members fund 3, 6, or 12 trees for local school and community projects while connecting with like-minded folks, classes, and events.

By Matching a Tree’s Superpowers With Local Needs, We Can Grow Healthier Communities.

Let’s take a look at some of these superpowers:

The Food Grower – Trees and shrubs that produce edible fruits, berries, nuts, or leaves and contribute to community food security year after year. Eg.: Plums, Walnuts, Mulberries

The Air Cleaner – Plants that tolerate urban pollution and are good at removing particulates from the landscape – letting us breathe easier. Eg.: Silver Maple, Honeylocust, Pine, Yew

The Storyteller – Plants with a local historical or cultural connection. Eg.: Holowash Tree, The Latta Maple, Stark Oak, Chinatown Goji

The Shade Caster – Shade trees reduce extreme heat by up to 10-25°C, reducing energy costs. Eg.: Walnuts, Honeylocust, Oak, Ginkgo

The Native Guardian – Well-adapted to our historical climate, native plants have relationships with local birds, animals, and pollinators. Eg.: Black Poplar, Tamarack

The Biodiversity Builder – Trees that increase our urban forest’s biodiversity and resilience by decreasing susceptibility to pests, diseases, and climate change. E.g.: Walnuts, Honeylocust, Oak, Catalpa

The Beautifier – Trees species selected for their colour, flowers, or pleasant growth habit. Often flowering, these plants have been shown to increase mental well-being and property values. Eg.: Flowering Quince, Catalpa, Locust

Visit to learn more about community tree planting. If you know of a group that’s looking for trees, send an email to

Dustin lives in McCauley.

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