Trees to Consider
Marianne C. Ophardt
Washington State University Extension
Area Horticulture Specialist
Smaller SpecimenTrees for the Home Landscape
AMUR MAPLE (Acer ginnala) 15-25'. A multi-stemmed tree. Excellent as a specimen tree with striking red fall color and clusters of small fragrant, yellow flowers in early spring. Winged fruits add interest. Tolerates wide range of soil conditions and heavy pruning.
HEDGE MAPLE (Acer campestre) 25-35'. A nice maple for use in the home lawn. Withstands severe pruning. Tolerant of alkaline soils. The very dense crown will need thinning to permit grass to grow below.
TATARIAN MAPLE (Acer tataricum) 15-20'. A small tree for planters or street locations. Tolerant of adverse conditions. Red to red brown fall color.
EUROPEAN HORNBEAM (Carpinus betulus) 40-50'. Durable small to medium tree. Also available in smaller columnar form.
RED BUD (Cercis canadensis) 20-30'. Heart shaped leaves, early purplish-pink flowers. Tolerant of alkaline soils.
PAGODA DOGWOOD (Cornus alternafolia) 25'. White flowers in May-June. Horizontal branching habit. Very hardy. Not very available.
FLOWERING DOGWOOD (Cornus florida) 20-40'. A favorite of many people but it is difficult to establish here. It needs pampering with protection, careful watering, acidifying fertilizers, and an organic mulch. It does better in partial shade!
KOUSA DOGWOOD (Cornus kousa) 20'. Early summer flowers and bright red fruit make this shrub-like tree an interesting specimen. Fruit can be a litter problem if near walks, patios or driveways. Rich red fall color!
CORNELIAN DOGWOOD CHERRY (Cornus mas) 20-25'. Small shrubby tree. Very early yellow flowers.
GOLDENRAIN TREE (Koelreutaria paniculata) 30-40'. Attractive yellow flowers, excellent as a small lawn tree, tolerates our climate and soil conditions well.
SAUCER MAGNOLIA (Magnolia soulangiana) 20-30'. Beautiful spring flowers. Prefers acid soils.
STAR MAGNOLIA (Magnolia stellata) 15-20'. Shrub-like tree with beautiful fragrant flowers. Prefers acid soils.
FLOWERING PLUM, CHERRIES, ETC. (Prunus sp.) Many different forms of different sizes, shapes, fruiting and flowering characteristics. Many are worthwhile. Consult: Manual of Woody Landscape Plants by Michael Dirr, Sunset Western Garden Book, and The World of Trees from Ortho.
CALLERY PEAR CULTIVARS (Pryus calleryana) Variable size, according to cultivar. Good flowering and fall color.
JAPANESE PAGODA TREE (Sophora japonica) 50-75'. Lovely flowers, difficult to establish, good tree for city lots.
JAPANESE STEWARDIA (Stewardia pseudocamellia) to 30'. White camellia-like flowers in June, rich red-maroon fall color, unusually mottled bark.
Large Shade Trees for the Home Landscape
RED HORSECHESTNUT (Aesculus x carnea) 30-40'. This tree is not for small yards. Its true beauty is its dark green foliage and deep red flowers. Very showy when in bloom.
RED MAPLE (Acer rubra) 50-70'. Rounded tree with good red fall color. Good for poorly drained sites.
SUGAR MAPLE (Acer saccharum) 60-120'. This is an excellent shade tree but it needs plenty of room. Orange to yellow fall color. Has some disease problems.
RIVER BIRCH (Betula nigra) 40-70'. This birch does best in moist soils and prefers an acid soil, but can be grown here if acidifying fertilizer is used. One of the most trouble-free birches and is resistant to bronze birch borer. It has an apricot colored peeling bark that is an attractive feature. ‘Heritage’ is a considered a superior selection that has good vigor and grows relatively fast.
WHITESPIRE WHITE BIRCH (Betula platyphylla japonica 'Whitespire Senior'). The only white barked birch which is bronze birch borer resistant. You must have 'Whitespire Senior' for resistance to borer.
GREEN ASH (Fraxinus pennysylvanica) 50-60'. A popular shade tree with two bad points. It has a big problem with aphids and other insects and the seeds and seedling create a nuisance. Look for 'Marshall's Seedless' cultivar for a seedless vigorous tree. Ash borers are beginning to devastate this tree and you may want to reconsider planting it.
THORNLESS COMMON HONEYLOCUST (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis) 30-70'. A "perfect" tree for filtered shade. A relatively new insect problem (honey locust pod gall midge) had made the tree less than "perfect." Avoid the 'Sunburst' cultivar because of this insect pest.
KENTUCKY COFFEE TREE (Gymnocladus dioicus) 60-75'. This large tree is adaptable to our harsh growing conditions. Its bark has an interesting pattern. One problem with this tough tree is the litter it creates with its seed pods and leaves. Use only in large areas.
AMERICAN SWEETGUM (Liquidambar styracifula) 60-75'. Needs room to develop roots but it is a nice tree with excellent fall color and corky bark. Prefers an acid soil and should be fertilized with an acidifying fertilizer. Few insect problems in our area. 'Moraini' is an excellent cultivar with a faster rate of growth.
AMERICAN HOP HORN BEAM (Ostrya virginiana) 25-40'. A nice, medium sized tree with many horizontal and drooping branches. Tolerates partial shade. Slow to establish.
PERSIAN PERROTIA (Parrotia persica) 20-40'. Here’s a tree with few pest problems and it has very nice shiny leaves and exfoliating bark. It’s yellow-orange-scarlet fall color is unsurpassed by any other tree. This is the perfect landscape tree. If you can find it, plant it.
LONDON PLANE TREE (Plantanus x acerifolia) 70-100'. Warning: this is a sycamore and it's a BIG tree! Select only anthracnose and powdery mildew resistant cultivars. One cultivar, `Yarwood’ is very resistant to powdery mildew and fairly resistant to anthracnose. ‘Bloodgood’ is very resistant to anthracanose. `Liberty’ and `Columbia’ are two other cultivars that have been touted as being anthracnose resistant, but they’re apparently only resistant to eastern strains of the disease and not western strains of the disease.
RED OAK (Quercus rubra) 60-75'. An oak with relatively fast growth. Red fall color. Relatively few insect and disease problems. Interesting furrowed bark. This tree needs room, give it plenty of space to grow into.
ENGLISH OAK (Quercus robur) 40-60'. Tolerant to eastern Washington conditions. Also a narrow columnar form is available.
LITTLELEAF LINDEN (Tilia cordata) 60-70'. An excellent shade tree. Aphids may be a problem. Can be pruned into a hedge form.
SILVER LINDEN (Tilia tomentosa) 50-70'. A very nice shade tree with attractive foliage. Top of leaves are green, bottom sides are silver. Fragrant flowers in July. Tolerates heat and drought fairly well. Nice smooth gray bark. Aphids may be a problem.
CHINESE ELM (Ulmus parvifolia) to 50'. Small to medium sized tree. Relatively problem free. Interesting mottled bark. Quite drought and alkaline soil tolerant. Not to be confused with the Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila).
JAPANESE ZELKOVA (Zelkova serrata) 50-80'. A handsome tree with an interesting growth habit. Somewhat difficult to establish. Look for the cultivars 'Village Green' and 'Halka'.