Keeping Up With Karen blog
Chinese Chestnut
Photo by P.J. Perea

Chinese Chestnut

Tree Talk:
Turkey trees and shrubs

Woody plants that offer permanent food and cover attract and hold turkeys. Knowing what to plant and choosing a quality nursery can make all the difference.

Keep these things in mind before you dig:

Establish planting goals

Be specific about what you want to accomplish. Do you also want to attract deer or other wildlife besides turkeys? Could your planting have additional benefits like visual screening near roadways or water and soil retention? Think through all the benefits before deciding where to dig. A great resource to consider is your NWTF regional biologist. They understand turkeys and are trained to provide excellent land management and planting advice.

Assess your site

Knowing your property is critical to choosing what and where to plant. You may have excellent turkey trees and shrubs already growing, but need more of these species to improve your habitat. You may also need to expand the range of plant species to achieve your specified goals, which might involve removing existing vegetation.

Choose the best turkey trees and shrubs

To hold turkeys all year long, consider a variety of trees and shrubs that provide diverse foods at different times and that offer cover for rearing, roosting and travel. Planting a variety of trees and shrubs to produce soft mast (fruit), hard mast (acorns and nuts), as well as concealment and thermal cover will maximize the benefits to turkey and other critters that will call your property home. Again, your regional NWTF biologist can be a great resource.

Understanding the suitability of plant species to your region is equally important, and one of the most important factors to consider is cold weather hardiness. Check out the interactive USDA Plant Zone Hardiness Map at for help in deciding which plants are best for your area.

Photo by P.J. Perea


Choose the right nursery

Do your homework. It can be challenging to get the right planting stock. Research nursery providers based on:

Plant material knowledge and planting expertise

Customer service

Reputation, reliability and quality control

Ask questions, plan your plantings and place your orders well before the busy shipping season. Check out the seedlings offered by NWTF at and consult with other nurseries to get your next planting off and running. — Steve Tillmann, Plantra, Inc.