It’s funny how something that is essentially a very simply product – a cylindrical, translucent plastic tree tube meant to protect tree seedlings from deer and accelerate early growth – can go by so many different names, and the difference can be as simple as who is doing the naming!
Tree tubes started out being called Tuley Tubes, after the British forester who developed the idea. As they gained popularity in the UK they became more commonly known as treeshelters, although a) there was never any common agreement on if it should be treeshelter or tree shelter, and b) seedling shelter would have been more accurate.
Treeshelters was the popular term used when tree tubes were introduced to the USA in 1988/89. The first customers were largely hardwood foresters in the northeast quadrant of the USA, and those folks have stuck with the term treeshelters.
The next group that discovered the wonders of these tubes were vineyard managers, who realized they could get newly grapevines into production one year faster. Here logic prevailed and the tubes became known in the vineyard industry as grow tubes.
In recent years they have gained a huge following among the growing number of people managing their land for optimal wildlife habitat and planting trees for “overhead foodplots” of trees that produce hard and soft mast for deer, wild turkeys and other wildlife. Having “discovered” the tubes for themselves, they of course needed a new name: Tree tubes.
(BTW it’s ironic but logical that the folks most in need of protecting seedling trees from deer are the people who are trying to benefit the deer. If deer could read signs saying “Don’t eat this seedling for 5 to 10 years and it will start producing all the acorns you can eat,” there’d be no need for tree tubes!
Along the way other folks have used their own, very logical, terminology: Tree protectors and tree sleeves both make a lot of sense.
It’s funny how each group that has discovered the benefits of tree tubes has given them a different name. But in the end it doesn’t matter what tree tubes are called, it matters what they do: get your tree seedlings or planted acorns & nuts off to the safest, best start possible!