Small Ornamental Deciduous Trees
for Southern Wisconsin Landscapes
Provenance is very important whenever considering any tree, or for that matter any plant. Nurseries should know where the trees were raised or the origin of the seed or cultivar. As you may know, most plants evolved over a wide range of conditions, extending not only east to west, but also north to south. It should be logical, that those originating from the southern extant of their range may not be as hardy as those originating from their northern range. Many cultivars are based on local variations within the plant’s population.
Niwaki is the pruning of trees in the landscape that is reminiscent of bonsai. However, bonsai means dwarfed in a container. Niwaki represents character pruning in the landscape.
Acer buergerianum - Trident Maple from China and Korea slowly matures at about 20-30’ for most specimens. A Light shady to full sun environment is preferred. The new growth is often a rich bronze to purple, maturing to a wonderful smaller glossy dark green in summer. The wonderful exfoliating bark ages to a gray-brown-orange platy, scaly character for wonderful winter interest. While autumn color is wonderfully variable in the yellow, orange and red, it’s handsome later than most other woody ornamentals. Prefers moist well drained acidic soils and once established is remarkably drought tolerant. Many miniature bushy forms are also available.
A. campestre - Field Maple from Europe and the Near East slowly matures at about 25-35’. Very clean smaller dark green summer foliage commonly provides a persistent nice golden-yellow color in the autumn. I have seen some autumn colors with handsome brown venation. Very adaptable to most landscape conditions preferring full sun to light shade in alkaline to slightly basic pH soils. Easily pruned and maintained in the landscape.
A. carpinifolium -- Hornbeam Maple Occasionally we are able to offer this maple that has leaves the look like our native Carpinus-Hornbeam. Here in the Midwest, this maple matures to about 25’. Its dark green leaves put on a rich gold-brown autumn display. The smooth gray bark provides good season interest. Hornbeam Maple prefers moist well drained acidic soils in a shady landscape.
Acer caudatum subsp. Ukurunduense--Arahaga Maple is native to Ku rile islands, Korea, SE Siberia and Manchuria. It is a close relative of our native A. spicatum. Maturing to about 30-35’, this open growing maple has attractive vertical spikes of near white flowers. The new branches are attractively blushed red, especially in the winter, and maturing to a wonderful coppery honey color and ultimately to a flaky fissured gray-brown. This maple prefers open forest conditions with well drained soils in a circum-neutral pH. It is very tolerant of a wide range of conditions. The new foliage emerges green with yellow to brown fuzz, tomentose, on the lower surface. Autumn colors are a bright yellow.
A. griseum--Paperbark Maple is one of the prized small trees for the mature landscape, slowly maturing to 20-30 feet high and wide in many years. While Paperbark Maple prefers rich moist well drained soils in a ph range of 6 to nearly 8, it is fairly tolerant of more clay type soils. The foliage is a flat green to bluish-green. Native to open forest environments, the autumn color is highly variable, ranging from spectacular bronze-reds to fire-red and yellows. The rich brown to cinnamon colored bark exfoliates and flakes providing one of the crowing glories of the Paperbark Maple.
A. henryi -- Henry’s Maple is an uncommon tri-foliate maple from Central China. Having grown specimens in Madison, WI for over 20 years, Henry’s Maple is an interesting in a number of factors. The new growth emerges brilliant red to purple, maturing to a medium rich green. The bark is a beautiful smooth gray. This maple is one of the latest color-up in the autumn with variable colors ranging for yellow to orange and rich red. While tolerant of many soils, it prefers rich loamy soil in neutral to acidic conditions. It performs best in full open forest conditions.
A. japonicum -- Fullmoon Maple is one of my favorite maples. Having grown this excellent maple in my garden, as the variety Dissectum for nearly 20 years, it never fails to please me. The new growth emerges clothed in silvery hairs amid purple red attractive mini-firework flowers. Its foliage matures to a rich green in 3-6” diameters changes to a bright yellow heavily blushed orange and red in the autumn. A. japonicum is best in open forest to forest edge environments with soil ph in the circum-neutral range. Fullmoon Maple matures in the 10 to 30 foot range, depending upon the cultivar. However, this maple is very easily pruned and shaped and maybe kept considerably smaller. Fullmoon Maple is native to Hokkaido and Honshu Japan.
A. maximowiczianum (A. nikoense) -- Nikko Maple slowly matures to about 20-30 feet high. New emerging 3 parted foliage is bronzy maturing to medium green with blue-gray undersides which are thickly felted with stiff silvery gray hairs. Late Autumn colors are glorious yellows, reds and purples, intensifying with time. Native to Northern Honshu Japan and central China, Nikko maple enjoys well-drained, loamy, moist slightly acidic soils. Smooth gray to brownish gray bard compliments the garden.
A. miyabei –Miyabe’s Maple is similar in shape to Sugar Maple but much smaller and with rounded tips. Miyabe’s Maple is one of the few maples that has a milky sap in the leaf stalks. Young leaves are covered in silver hairs, losing them and becoming a matt olive-green upon maturation. Maturing in the Midwest to 30-40 feet, Miyabe’s Maple prefers moist, slightly acidic well drained yet diverse soils. One of the last maples to turn buttercup yellow in the autumn.
A. palmatum -- Japanese Maple – Momiji has more cultivars than nearly any other single species of plant. Well over 500 named cultivars exist for this maple that has been cultivated for more than 1500 years. Momiji has been part of the Japanese culture as shown in Man-Yoshu, published in 614 A. D. In 1695 the first book was published on A. palmatum and its cultivars. Of all of these cultivars, only a few are durable enough to thrive in Madison, WI. The tallest that I have had experience with f. atropurpureum is over 25 feet tall in Monona, WI, making this the ideal smaller tree our landscapes. A. palmatum is native to Japan, Korean and China, and therefore varies significantly in its hardiness. Some cultivars are barely frost hardy while a relative few survive below -20F. A. palmatum is an open forest dweller, preferring partial sunny, light shady conditions with well drained yet moist, humusy rich acidic soils. The summer foliage is translucent, glowing in sunny conditions. Autumn colors vary from purest yellow to orange to pink to red. All are easily pruned, with sterilized tools.
A. pensylvanicum – Striped, Moosewood or Goosefoot Maple is native to the rich very moist acidic forests of Northeastern USA, Southern Canada to Minnesota. Moosewood matures to about 30’ or so in most of its native area. Typically, Goosefoot Maple is low branched, thereby providing a secondary canopy in the forest environment.
A. pseudosieboldianum -- Korean or Purplebloom Maple is a wonderful maple native to Korea, China and Manchuria maturing at 20-30 feet tall. Korean Maple prefers open forest environments common in the older parts of our urban areas, with well drained circum-neutral ph humusy soils. Purplebloom Maple has reddish-purple flowers. Autumn colors are in the yellow to orange and reds, very handsome and persistent for weeks.
A. shirasawanum—Shirasawa’ Maple or Fullmoon Maple is one of my favorite maples, thriving in my Madison landscape for about 20 years. Shirasawa honors the famous Japanese landscape artist. Native to the Honshu and Shikoku Island of Japan, this maple slowly matures at about 20-30’ (So far about 10’ tall in my garden). Fullmoon maple prefers slightly circum-neutral pH in humusy moist well-drain soils in open forest environments. It holds its flowers of white petals and red sepals upright along with its seeds, for an interesting look. Spring foliage unfolds yellow-green and matures to horizontally held translucent green leaves, that glow in the sunlight. Autumn colors slowly turn yellow to orange to pumpkin-red. Gorgeous!
A. sieboldianum – Siebold’s Maple is very similar to A. pseudosieboldianum but Siebold’s Maple has yellow petaled flowers with red sepals. This wonderful maple has bright green leaves on a 25-35’ mature single to multi-trunked tree. Native to Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, Japan, its new leaves unfold reddish pink with a soft silvery down on ruddy colored stems. Siebold’s Maple prefers moist well-drained rich forest type soil with ph in the circum-neutral range. Autumn colors are typically brilliant scarlet.
A. spicatum – Mountain Maple is native to northern USA and southern Canada, including Wisconsin and northern Minnesota. Growing to 35’ or so, this understory maple has green bark, occasionally striped, and prefers very moist humusy well-drained forest soils and environments; ideal in rain garden areas. The new foliage is blushed a rich red and matures to a dark yellowish-green. Autumn gives way to yellow, orange with red. Mountain Maple is a wonderful native.
A. tataricum spp. ginnala -- Amur Maple is from Central and Northern China, Manchuria & Japan and enjoys our northern climates. Depending upon cultivar, Amur Maple is highly variable and matures from 6’ x 6’ to 25’ x 10’ to 25 to 30’ high.
A. tegmentosum -- Manchustriped Maple is native to China, Manchuria, Korea and Russia. The new foliage unfolds a lighter green maturing to a medium green with a slight bluish cast. A. tegmentosum prefers forest environment with moist humusy rich soils with a more acidic ph. Manchustriped Maple’s new branches are covered in a silvery waxy bloom which it losses as it mature slowly to about 35’. Its autumn color is golden yellow.
A. triflorum--Three-Flowered Maple is named for its flowers occurring in clusters of three. Native to Northern China, Manchuria and Korea, this hardy tree matures out about 35-40 feet. The Three-Flowered Maple’s spring leaves emerge blushed coral rose and mature to a leathery rich green. The bark tissue exfoliates in vertical scales of reddish gold to golden butterscotch brown. Outstanding! Autumn colors vary with rich reds, salmons, yellows and oranges. It’s always a pleasure in the landscape.
A. tschonoskii spp. koreanum – is native to the Sorak Mountains in northeastern South Korea. Maturing to about 30-35 feet, this maple has reddish bark with yellow-green stripes in the summer turning coral red in the winter. It’s stunning on the younger branches. Tschonoski Maple prefers moist well drained soils in a circum-neutral pH. Autumn color arrives late in yellows, oranges and occasional blushes of red.
Aesculus pavia – Red Buckeye is a small tree maturing to about 20-35’high. Red Buckeye has very handsome lustrous dark green palmately compound up to 12” in diameter. Tolerant of many soils, but prefers moist, well-drained, circum-neutral pH conditions in open forested light to medium shady conditions. Red Buckeye in not prove to the severe mildew infections that afflict many other Aesculus species. In May, the Red Buckeye radiates with panicles up to 8” high and 3” wide of masses of red flowers. Stunning! Autumn colors are minimal. It is native from Pennsylvania to Illinois and southeastern USA.
Amelanchier arborea—Downy Serviceberry, amongst many common names, is native to most of the Eastern US. Maturing to about 25-35’ in height with many of the cultivars being selected for not only their flowering, leaf color, growth structure but commonly for their Autumn coloration. Amelanchier are one of our first trees to bloom in the landscape with white sweet to faintly malodorous pendulous racemes. The fruits mature from a green to red to purplish black and are delicious for both human and many other forms of wildlife. Preferring open or forest edge habitats, most Amelanchier prefer moist, well drained, acidic pH forest type soils. Even though Amelanchier are prone to numerous pests and diseases, they are very popular in the landscape. Fire blight is a problem and should be pruned out with a sterilized pruner/saw as soon as it’s manifested.
Betula nigra – River Birch is one of the largest and longest lived birches, maturing out at more than 70 feet high and wide. Native to Wisconsin and the eastern USA, River Birch prefers moist to river bottom soils with an acidic pH. While tolerant of other conditions, it is intolerant of alkaline conditions. This is one of the most trouble free birches for our landscape. Rich green leaves give way to clean bright yellow autumn colors. River Birch’s bark tissue is one of its very fine attributes peeling and exfoliating into creamy to brown papery sheets revealing white, caramel and salmon colored smooth bark. While a few cultivars exist as large trees, only a few are dwarf.
C. caroliniana-- American Hornbeam, Ironwood, Musclewood is native to much of Eastern USA and the Southern areas of Canada. Slowly maturing in the 30-40’ range, this handsome tree has smooth gray fluted bark, hence its common names. New growth emerges bronze-purplish-red and matures to a lustrous dark green and intimately to a nice yellow, red, orange and even purplish been in the Autumn. Flowers with one bract, pendulous green catkins resembling hop flowers. While not very showy, they are unique and therefore interesting. C. caroliniana prefers deep, rich, moist and slightly acidic soils in full sun to forest shady locations. Ironwood is wonderful native plant. A few cultivars are beginning to make it onto the market, but uncommonly available.
C. japonica – Japanese Hornbeam matures about 20-30’. The handsome foliage unfolds like origami pleats, to a rich green culminating in yellow blushed red autumn colors. Bark is thinly furrowed and scaly. Typically Japanese hornbeam forms a multi-stemmed wonderful small canopied tree. It is best grown in rich moist soils, however quite tolerant of poorer soils as long as it is moist and drains well in open forest type conditions.
Cercis canadensis – Red Bud is one of the spring delights in our landscape. To enjoy this fine small tree maturing to 20-30’ high and wide, one should acquire stock grown from either from Columbus, WI or the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum see stock. The seed trees at the MN Landscape Arboretum originated in Columbus, WI. While Cercis is not a long lived tree, about 15-25 years, is certainly provides years of quality color, structure and form for the landscape. Redbud flowers are born in tight fascicled or racemosa clusters right off the branches or even quite old trunks. The cauliflower appearing clusters outline the branches providing a very unique display. Seed pod production is variable with some years the tree being adorned with the flat 2-3” long x ½” wide flat pods. Preferring well-drain moist soils, but Cercis is quite adaptable except to wet conditions. It tolerates a wide range in pH and full sun to light shade. Autumn colors are in the bright yellow to muddy yellow, depending upon season and strain. Prone to co-dominant and bark inclusions, early health and structure pruning is highly recommended. Cercis is ideal in the established and naturalized landscapes.
C. virginicus -- Fringe Tree is native to the eastern US from New Jersey to Texas. While native to the south east, our native Fringe Tree is fully hardy in the MN Landscape Arb. Slowly maturing to 10-20 or more in the landscape, Fringetree is ideal for the small residential garden with its open architecture. White fragrant dangling skinny ¾ to 1¼ in long by 1/12” wide petals provide a fleecy soft texture to the May garden. Stunning! The green leaves begin to emerge just as the flowers fade, maturing into vibrant green simple foliage. Autumn color is a translucent yellow to butterscotch yellow. Fruits, on the female trees, are a dark blue 1/2” or so egg-shaped ‘plum’. These provide great avian fodder. Provide full sun to partial shade in well drained fertile acidic soils for optimum growth, however, it is extremely adaptive except to extreme soil conditions.
Cornus alternifolia -- Pagoda Dogwood is another fine Wisconsin native arborescent shrub. Maturing out at 15-25’ high and 15-20’ wide with each iteration or trunk living about 15-20 years before canker invades and kills the older trunks. The plant commonly produces replacement trunks to provide many more years of delight. With its sympodial growth pattern and fine horizontal branching habit, Pagoda Dogwood is appropriately named. New stems are typically shiny chestnut colored with the newly emerging leaves blushed with purple. The very fragrant creamy white flowers bloom in May or Early June in terminal flat-headed upright cymes, reminiscent of Queen Ann’s Lace. These are followed by green aging to red and finally bluish black ¼” or so berries with pinkish red stems. They are a bird’s delight. Autumn colors are quite variable and range from reddish-purple on the outer leaves with golden yellow on the interior ones. I have also seen autumn colors of apricot blushed red. Our Pagoda Dogwood is tolerant of almost any of our soils except extreme wet or dry conditions in sun or full deciduous native shade.
C. asperifolia var. drummondii – Roughleaf Dogwood is a little known Midwestern native 15-30’ tree, tolerant of most or our soils except poorly drain wet or drought conditions. Flowering during June & July with small four petaled white flowers born in loose heads atop rich green rough textured foliage, this dogwood may be seen growing along the shady borders of our forests. Its autumn berries are beloved by numerous birds. Trained as a tree, our Roughleaf Dogwood is a tough small tree for the residential garden.
C. florida –Flowering Dogwood is considered by many to be the premiere small tree for the residential landscape. This tree is native to the E. USA except Wisconsin. Go figure. Growing to 20-40’ high and sometimes greater in width in its native haunts, this tree doesn’t grow to that size in Madison. The oldest tree that I know of in Madison is about 15’ high and just under 20’ wide. C. florida prefers moist well-drained acidic cool humus rich soils in open forest conditions. Poor health and diseases are the bane of those being grown in less than quality environments. The long lived mid-spring 4 white bracts are the main show with the flowers being tiny greenish yellow in their centers. Each bract is pinched at its tip giving the bract a lobed outer margin. The simple elegant green leaves emerge as the bracts begin to fade. Autumn colors are red to reddish-purple. Late frosts may damage the bracts, resulting in two bracts or bractless flowers. Simply a wonderful garden tree if you have the correct conditions. There are many cultivars, but alas, few are tolerant of our Wisconsin low temperatures, as the spring blooming flowers are formed before the onset of winter. So, conditions in summer and autumn of the previous year and winter’s climate all come to bear on its ability to glorify our landscapes.
C. mas – Cornelcherry Dogwood is a wonderful smaller and usually multi-stemmed (although it is easily shaped to a single trunk) tree maturing to about 25’ high. Experiencing it glorious yellow ¾” diameter tufts of flowers on leafless branches in Late March or Early April is a stunning site. Bright red fruits adobe the tree in mid-summer, and when they are slightly to somewhat soft (before this, they are not ripe, acidic and sour) are particularly delicious fresh and may be used in preserves and the like. Dark green somewhat glossy summer foliage commonly gives way to yellow blushed purplish red autumn foliage. C. mas is tolerant and adaptable to many soil types, pH, but prefers well drained mediums. Full sun to partial shade C. mas is comfortable in nearly any landscape.
C. officinalis – Japanese Cornelcherry is a close relative to C. mas sharing many of its fine attributes. C. officinalis blooms a bit earlier with more flowers and with its not as tasty fruits ripening a bit later. Its exfoliating bark is a bit more handsome with richer grays, browns and oranges. Other factors and growing conditions are the same as C. mas.
C. racemosa – Gray Dogwood is represented by a number of tree forming cultivars that are very handsome. Gray dogwood matures to about 15’ with dull gray-green to dark green summer foliage aging to purple with its interior yellow autumn leaves. Most of the shrub forms form suckering colonies so selection is critical. Very tolerant of almost any soil conditions and thriving in full sun to even deep shade, Gray Dogwood has a wide landscape use. Creamy white heads of flowers born in L. May or E. June are followed by white/bluish-white berries on reddish pink to orangish pedicels that a relished by 100s of birds.
Cotinus obovatus – American Smoketree is a wonderful native tree to Tennessee, Alabama, and Edwards Plateau of Texas. American Smoketree matures at about 30’ high with the record being 59’ in Warren, TN. One of the oldest specimen I know of in Madison is found on a homestead on the near southwest area of Madison, approximately 90 years old and about 25-30’ tall. Magnificent! The bluish dark green foliage turns magnificent yellow, orange, red to purple and every shade in between. Dioecious late Spring - early Summer flowers are hairy inflorescences giving the appearance of red-purple blushed smoke. Very tolerant of soils, even gravely types, provided they are well drained, they hate heavier wet soils. pH tolerant in sunny conditions.
Crataegus–Hawthorns & Mayhaws would be wonderful trees for the residential landscape if they weren’t so prone to numerous diseases and pests, and of course clothed in vicious multiple branched thorns. Hawthorns grow 20-30’ high and often as wide. National champions are in the 50’ range. Hawthorns are sun lovers, tolerant of nearly any well-drained soil including sandy gravels, and drought conditions once they are established. Soil pH is inconsequential. Flowering later than Malus-Crabapple, they fill in a void with white and occasionally red to pink flowers in cultivar flowers in Early June with fragrances ranging from glorious sweet perfume to quite rank. Most have simple toothed to maple-like glossy green foliage, with some having great autumn colors. The bright to dull red to orangish winter persistent fruits are not only visually attractive but also relished by a number of birds and other creatures. Their bark tissue peels longitudinally very handsomely in various colors of gray to coppery orange. A number of rusts attack hawthorns, including the not easily controlled Cedar (juniper) Quince Rust. When considering Crataegus for the landscape, for me, it is imperative to select on inermis- thornless cultivars. Just strolling under a thorny hawthorn while wearing a soft soled shoe – tennis, can invoke screeches of pain – as well as I know, as the thorns penetrate your shoe and into you foot. It behooves me to see the thorned types even being planted other than in open naturalized environment. Smaller birds do love nesting in the thorny masses, what would dare try to get through the thorns to birds’ nests. Number of species varies tremendously from 35 to 200 just in the Eastern USA. Many 100s (maybe upwards of 1,000 species) are found in N. America, Europe and Asia.
C. monogyna—Singleseed Hawthorn is from Europe, Northern Africa and Western Asia. While the American species are superior trees, there is a wonderful miniature for the open aired sunny rock garden known as C. monogyna ‘Inermis Compacta’. This truly miniature could be used as a natural potted bonsai or more appropriately, a wonderful Niwaki garden form. Even though it slowly matures to 8-10’ plus, it’s easily kept pruned under 4’ as it’s thornless. Small clusters of wonderfully perfumed white flowers amid glossy green deeply lobed leaves are followed by bright red berries. Yes, it does get a number of foliar diseases, but being so small, they are easily controlled with treatments just as the foliage is maturing in the spring. Great autumn yellow color and handsome peeling bark tissue tops off a fine truly miniature tree.
C. phaenopyrum–Washington Hawthorn is very similar to C. viridis in many ways. It blooms last of all the Hawthorns. To the best of my knowledge, none are without thorns, but some like ‘Princeton Sentry’ and ‘Washington Lustre’® have far fewer thorns. It’s native to SE USA.
C. viridis – Green Hawthorn is much touted to have rust resistant foliage, which it does. However, the fruits are incredibly prone to rust, so much so, that the unripe green fruits appear fuzzy orange. If they survive the onslaught of rust, their brilliant red fruits are wonderful in the winter landscape, unless voraciously consumed by our feathered friends. Native to 2/3s of S. USA from the East Coast to Texas
I have this love – hate relationship with Crataegus. I am unsure why, with the tremendous diversity in nature, why the research is advancing so slowly. Yes, soon, we should have some wonderfully foliar AND fruit disease resistant cultivars. It required nearly 100 years for Malus-Crabapples to come along ……. soon Crataegus will show their fine attributes for the low maintenance residential landscape.
Euonymus atropurpureus – Eastern Wahoo is native to the eastern half of The USA. Eastern Wahoo is uncommonly seen in gardens. However, it is wonderful to see it in the natural landscape with its crimson capsules and later with its reddish-purple autumn color. Maturing in the 25’ range is makes a handsome small tree in the residential garden. There are number of fine specimens in the Madison area. Eastern Wahoo is tolerant of most well-drained soils in light to medium shade.
E. europaeus – European Spindle Tree matures at 15-30’ high and with about the same width. While a fabulous small tree, it is very susceptible to Euonymus Scale. However, timely bi-annual April/E. May & Early August broadcast/drench treatments with Imidacloprid controls the pests. Early leafing, dull dark green summer foliage turns a handsome yellow to reddish purple in the autumn. Besides being an attractive small tree, the September into November pink to red fruits are a beautiful site. Spindle Tree is adaptable to most pHs in well-drained soils in sun to light shade. Spindle Tree is native to Europe and Western Asia and has become a bit invasive is some parts of the USA. The species is rarely cultivated.
E. hamiltonianus var. sieboldianus – Yeddo Euonymus is a wonderful landscape tree, but it’s an incredible magnet for Euonymus scale. The species is not recommended for the residential landscape.
E. bungeanus ‘Prairie Radiance’ (Verona) – Winterberry Euonymus is another fine tree type Euonymus introduced by the U of Nebraska. “Prairie Radiance’ matures to about 20’ by 20’ with showy pink capsules with orange-red seeds. It lighter green leaves turn a wonderful soft yellow to pink in the autumn. Fun sun to light shade and average well-drained soils in a circum-neutral pH suits it wonderfully. It is native to N. China and Manchuria.
Fagus sylvatica – European Beech. With the species often maturing over 100’ tall and 50-75’ wide it may surprise you with a number of wonderful smaller & dwarf forms. Gray, smooth, fluted bark is one of its very handsome winter attributes. Leaves of many types unfurl with a coating of fine silver hairs giving it a shimmering simple structured green appearance. Number of cultivars is probably well over 100. Foliage colors include: yellow, purple, bronze, and pink, yellow and white variegated. The foliage also varies greatly with ferny, cochleate, tufted, recurved, linear, crispate, round, toothed, lanced and even irregularly interrupted leaves. The over-all tree shapes are also very diverse, round to pyramidal to narrowly columnar, upright oval to horizontally oval, upright weeping to horizontally weeping and nearly everything in between. It has copper autumn colors. Extremely long lived in the 100s of years. Tolerant of many soil conditions but prefers well-drained garden soils. It is quite pH adaptable. It’s native to Europe.
Frangula caroliniana –Carolina Buckthorn or Indian Cherry is a wonderful native which is occasionally encountered in our area. Maturing in the 15-30’ range in our area, Indian Cherry is a handsome thornless tree with simple dark green leaves. 5-petalled white flowers (Rhamnus-Buckthorn has yellow-green flowers) in the spring give rise to red sweet berries in late summer. Indian Cherry is widely adaptable to soils and environmental conditions. Birds love the fruits and with regret, rabbits will browse the stems.
Ginkgo biloba – Ginkgo or Maidenhair Tree’s dwarf forms and top grafted dwarf forms are wonderful smaller trees for the residential landscape. Ginkgo is an ancient tree, possibly evolved about 270 million years ago. Only one species currently survives and it is a beauty. Its fan-shaped leaves are unlike any other leaves. Tolerant of just about any landscape conditions, Ginkgo are one of the best trees for the landscape. Supposedly, some are over 2,500 years old in its current living habitat. They were once native across most of the planet, including Wisconsin. Male and female are found on separate trees with the female typically producing an ill smelling ‘fruit’ with edible seeds. Some female forms specifically raised for their seeds, have been selected for nearly scentless ‘fruits’. All are very easily pruned and shaped. Ginkgo are nearly disease and pest free.
Hamamelis virginiana – Common Witchhazel is a wonderful large shrub that is easily shaped into a wonderful small multi-stemmed arborescent form. Maturing at 20-30’tall, with the national champion about 35’ tall in Bedford, VA. Tolerant of a wide range of soil types, and once established quite tolerant of drought. Hamamelis virginiana is native throughout our area, with magnificent specimens in Richland County and at Devil’s Lake State Park. It’s wonderful and unique crinkled strap-like petals are borne 4 to each flower in clusters of 2-4 flowers filling the air with their wonderful fragrance for weeks in Mid-October to November. While the handsome autumn yellow color may mask the stunning show of flowers, they will not cover-up their fragrance. I use flowering sprigs as cut flowers from my wonderful specimen. This is the source of the astringent Witchhazel. Very few cultivars are available at this time. Selection is progressing for flowers to mature after foliage drop.
Heptacodium miconioides -- Seven-Son Tree is an unusual tree for our area. Very few hardy trees have keel-shaped leaves with drip tips in our environment. The 3-6” long shiny rich green leaves are borne on the branches like ram’s horns. They remain rich green late into the autumn. When nearly all other trees have lost their leaves, Heptacodium turns a nice yellow for a late autumn show. Its gray-brown, caramel-colored bark exfoliates longitudinally into thin papery strips exposing lighter colors beneath. White fragrant flowers, borne in clusters of seven, burst into flower in September. Witchhazel is the only other tree blooming later in the landscape. As the flowers begin to senesce, the calyxes enlarge and turn a wonderful rose-pink, giving the tree the appearance of a secondary bloom. Rapidly maturing to a 25-30’ height, it will require some pruning help to produce its tree-like form. Tolerant of varied conditions but prefers moist well-drained acidic soils in light shade, full sun in moist soils. Originally introduced into American Horticulture in 1907, it has only recently been re-introduced in 1980. I don’t know of any cultivars being available as of 2010.
Hydrangea paniculata -- Panicle Hydrangea are wonderful when trained as trees. Certain cultivars mature in the 15-20’ height and spread. Hydrangeais very tolerant of our Midwestern climate and soils with old specimens being found in commentaries and around older homes. A classic plant introduced about 1861. Historically, only 3 or so forms were commonly available ‘Grandiflora’ ‘Praecox’ and ‘Tardiflora’. However, in the past few years, numerous cultivars, over 40 as of Jan 2009, are continuing to appear on the market. Some are very bushy dwarf plants, such as ‘Little Lime’ and ‘White Diamonds’, are wonderful for the border, maturing in the 6’ or so range. The best way to procure a wonderful tree form is to get them as standards. Standards have been grown as single stems to a specified height 4-5’ or so, and then pinched to branch them into a bush atop a trunk. Continued minimal pruning and shaping produces a nice tree form in just a few years. Many of the cultivar selections are based upon the number of sterile 4-5 sepaled flowers vs. fertile apetalous fragrant flowers, the red-pink-rose color retention, strength of flower stems, longevity of flowers, etc. I believe that many of the current selections will be replaced within 10 years or so with even better cultivars.
Koelreuteria paniculata – Goldenraintree is on the larger side of small trees, maturing in the 30-40’ range. It’s unusual in that it flowers in loose panicles of yellow flowers in Mid June-July. These are followed by papery 1-2”, 3-side pyramidal lanterns that change from green to yellow to brown, which may also be dried for arrangements. Full sun suits this tree best and it’s adaptable to just about any landscape conditions other than heavy, wet, poorly-drained soil. Its foliage emerges purplish red, maturing to bright green and then blushed orange on yellow in the autumn. Autumn color is quite variable and I think it not only has to do with the weather but also edaphic and nutritional levels. Purchase only stock grown in northern climates as provenance is important to hardiness. To the best of my knowledge, all of the cultivars are from gentler climates than ours. It’s native to China, Japan and Korea.
Laburnum alpinum – Scotch Laburnum or Scotch Goldenchain Tree matures at about 15-25’. Fragrant yellow pendulous racemes, up to 15” long, flower in May as give it its name. This Laburnum enjoys moist light shade in well-drained yet moist soils. Bright green 3-compound leaves lack autumn color. However I believe the wonderful May flowers and shape of the tree make up for Mother Nature’s autumn over site. L. alpinumis native over the Southern Alps, Apennines and to the Carpathian Mountains of south-eastern Europe.
Maackia amurensis – Amur Maackia hails from Manchuria and Korea and matures to a wonderful 30’ or so in our area. The new leaves unfold silvery green, maturing to a dark green with minimal autumn color. Very coarsely branched with its pinnate, compound 8-12” leaves that cast light to medium shade. Amur Maackia is tolerant of nearly any landscape soil except heavy, wet, compacted clays. Its bark peels in rich amber with copper highlights on younger branches and limbs. Maackia even fixes its own nitrogen. Near white flowers are produced in terminal erect racemes in June-July and smell like fresh mown alfalfa. Nice. It’s best in sunny locations. M. chinensis – Chinese Maackia is very similar but supposedly not quite as hardy. However, it has a large range in central China that should be exploited for hardiness. It has finer leaves that when they emerge give the entire tree a silvery appearance.
Magnolia – Magnolia, where to begin with its numerous species and countless cultivars that make wonderful small trees for the residential landscape. Many mature far larger than they are listed at in the literature. For example ‘Elizabeth’, some list it as maturing to 25’. Trees that I have planted are already taller than 25’ and continuing to thrive in our area. Current literature is now claiming 50’, and I believe this is more accurate considering its parentage. Never-the-less, smaller Magnolia are wonderful trees for the residential landscape. To the best of my knowledge, all Magnoliaare susceptible to scale insects and maybe controlled with properly and timely applications of insecticides. Whatever cultivar you select, just remember it will probably grow larger than listed or told. Magnolia enjoy moist, well-drained soils more in the acid range and in sunny locations. Magnolia is native over much of the northern hemisphere. The UW-Madison Arboretum has a wonderful collection.
M. acuminata – Cucumbertree Magnolia is native to much of the E. USA. Our national champion is 80’ tall. So, only cultivars and hybrids will make our list of cultivars. ‘Elizabeth’ is a hybrid between this and M. denudata from Central China. Since our native Cucumbertree blooms with leaves, it is difficult to experience its fine yellow flowers. Hence, hybridization has selected for blooming before leaves so we may enjoy the fine yellow flowers. Most have rich brown autumn leaves which are excellent for drying. All of the following small tree cultivars I have experience with are hybrids with M. acuminata.
M. liliiflora-Lily Magnolia is native to China and forms part of the genetics for a group of Magnolia known as the Little Girls. On its own, it has some problems with our Midwest climate causing mildew on many of the finer cultivars. Maturing in the 10-20’ range. ‘Spring Royalty’ is one of the better forms with strong scented deep purple-red outer and French vanilla inside tepals.
‘Galaxy’ is a hybrid of M. liliiflora and M. sprengeri ‘Diva’ in 1963 at the US National Arb. I have a number of these flourishing in the Madison area with current growths in the 25’ or so. Flowering later in the spring with 12 tepals in 6-10” diameter red-purple to pink lightly fragrant flowers, making a handsome medium sized tree.
M. kobus var. loebneri or M. xloebneri - Loebner Magnolia is a hybrid between M. kobus var. loebneri and M. kobus var. stellata with the results being stellar. This is a fine group of small trees maturing in the 15-20’ range. Cut or crushed branches smell like anise. The cultivars vary in color from white to pink, the number of tepals and shape, size of flower, fragrance and early bloom time. One could go a bit bonkers trying to determine which one is the best.
M. xsoulangeana-Saucer Magnolia is the mainstay of Magnolia in the Midwest. The hybrid dates to sometime in France in the 1820s. Since then more than 50 different cultivars have been named along with much confusion. I have seen many forms named M. xsoulangeana with obvious differences. One thing is for sure; they are all beautiful but vary in their flowering times. The best cultivars for our area are those that bloom later, as the early bloomers are commonly destroyed but late frosts. Also, the young trunks are prone to frost crack as should be protected early on to avoid the ravages of wood decay later in life.
M. kobus var. stellata – Star Magnolia is a wonderful native of Japan. Maturing to 20-30’ and wide, Star Magnolia is best suited to full sun, however, I have seen fairly good flowering in light shade. 3-4” diameter white flowers are borne early in spring, typically sometime in April, and composed of 12-50 tepals. Cut or crushed branches smell like anise. It’s tolerant of many soils except heavy, wet, compacted clays. Star Magnolia is commonly planted in Southern Wisconsin. Numerous cultivars, something near 30, are available and one can go a bit crazy in trying to convince yourself that you must select the best one.
Malus – Crabapple To do justice to Malus, one would need to write a book on them. See the reference list for a fantastic tome on Malus-Crabapple. Suffice to note, the selection of Crabapples continues strongly and will for the foreseeable future. Since the 1970s there has been little reason to have a Crabapple in your landscape that is prone to the numerous diseases that afflict them. While selection continues for even better disease resistance, the selected cultivars show a very good tendency to resist Cedar Apple Rust and Apple Scab which often cause near complete defoliation of the trees by mid to late summer. Crabapples come in just about any shape imaginable, horizontal to vertical to weeping and every shape in between. Flowers range from pure white, pink, coral, rose, magenta to near purple burgundy and bicolor. Berries range from green, yellow, orange, pink, red, striped and may be blushed red tones on the sunny side. The size of the fruits ranges from 2-3” on the edible ‘Chestnut’ Crabapple (delicious), to about ¼” in diameter, with some dropping very early and other persisting handsomely through the winter. Birds enjoy many of the fruits especially after they have fermented a bit. Foliage forms are typically simple but may have one or two lobes in the M. sargentii derived taxa. Autumn color is highly variable with most cultivars not displaying any to ‘Prairifire’ rivaling sugar maples. Resistance to Japanese Beetles varies from nearly no damage on ‘Harvest Gold’ to nearly defoliated on ‘Radiant’. Again, trying to select a cultivar best suited to our area and resistant to all form of attacks narrows the list almost nothing. My experiences are reflected in the following cultivar selection.
Morus alba - White Mulberry and most other Mulberries are considered weed trees by most folks. They are quite messy in dropping staining fruits beneath them. And to further scourge the landscape, birds love them, even though they have cathartic properties for birds, facilitating the expulsion of fantastic messes in the near and far landscapes. However, they are hardy in just about any environment. This and other Morus have an interesting attribute unfound in most other trees. If regularly pruned to a small tree, even in the 3-4’ range, it maintains small juvenile leaves, multiple branches and doesn’t bear fruit. Most Morus are interesting when used in Niwaki forms in the garden. There are numerous forms in its native China that are unknown in North America.
Ostrya virginiana – Hophornbeam or Ironwood is native over nearly all of the eastern USA and Southern Canada. This wonderful small tree matures in the 25-40’ range but smaller in the residential landscape. National champion is 56’. Simple dark green leaves give way to handsome yellow in the autumn. The catkin yellow flowers in the spring betray its relationship to birch, but not the interesting hop-like seed pods. It’s tolerant of just about any soils excluding compacted wet clays and more tolerant of acidic soils than high pH alkaline soils. Ironwood enjoys full sun to medium shade. Slow to establish, but a wonderful tree with its narrow longitudinal strips of grayish brown bark. I don’t know of any cultivars that are available at this time.
Oxydendrum arboreum – Sourwood or Sorrel Tree is another fine native tree to the south eastern USA. Hardy in our area but needs to be properly sited as it enjoys moisture and acidic soils in full sun to part shade. I have them doing well in our lowland soils making it ideal for rain gardens or the outflow areas of arroyos. Maturing in the 25-30’ range in our area with the national champion being 81’. The simple lustrous dark green leaves are very handsome on a pyramidal tree that develops wonderful character with age. It blooms in June/July with white flowers that are wonderfully fragrant and are held like and similar to Lily-of-the Valley, hence O. arboreum is sometime called the Lily-of-the-Valley Tree. Flowers are followed by a dehiscent tiny capsule. If this is not enough, the autumn brings leaves of yellow, red and purple to the garden with the best color being in full sun. A few cultivars are currently on the market but all with very southern provenance. The best performers in our area are from northern growers.
Parrotia persica – Parrotia is native to Iran and is hardy in our area! Parrotia flowers are brilliant crimson and age to yellow, which would be incredible if they weren’t only 1/3” to ½” across. Drat. Its oval leaves are reddish purple blushed when unfolding in the spring and age to a shiny rich green upon maturity. The variable autumn colors form late and are typically spectacular in yellow to orange-red. The winter bark is magnificent in the landscape in a mosaic of puzzle pieces of gray, green, light gray and brown. It’s easily grown in full sun to light shade and in most any soils, except those that are heavy wet and poorly drained. Parrotia mature at about 20-40’ in our landscapes. Cultivar selection is slowly progressing with selection in leaf color and growth shapes.
Phellodendron amurense – Amur Corktree is at the upper limit of what I would define as a small tree for the landscape. However, it slowly matures to the 35-45’ range. I have enjoyed this tree for many years and marvel at its adaptability and stark winter architecture. If there would be any tree to recommend on the south side of a passive solar environment, good shade in summer, minimal twig and branch shade in the winter, this has to be one of the top 5. Its leaves are ash-like and a rich green in summer and yellow to bronze in the autumn. The bark tissue feels like cork and develops handsome corky-patterns with age. It’s highly adaptable to most any landscape environments from full sun to light shade. It may develop leaf scorch in very sandy or drought conditions. Yellowish-green flowers in May-June with male and female on separate trees. Fruits are a small ½” black berry.
P. cerasifera- Cherry Plum is native to western Asia and has been in cultivation for centuries. For our area, only selected cultivars are hardy.
Sometime around 1900 Dr. Neil E. Hansen hybridized P. cersifera f. purpurascens (‘Pissardii’) and P. besseyi and in 1920 released a reddish purple-leafed plum knows as the Purpleleaf Sand Cherry Prunus xcistena. ‘Cistena’ means ‘baby’ in the Sioux language.Another short-lived, small tree maturing in the 8-15’ range, depending upon how many years it lives before succumbing to the many diseases and pests that afflict it. It is very adaptable to most soils and moisture regimes, except heavy wet clays, once established. Its fragrant pink flowers, against the reddish purple foliage, are very beautiful. The tasty fruits, if a pollinator is nearby, ripen in August and can be messy if you don’t eat them. Autumn color is some yellow to orange to red-purples. I wish all of these were more durable and less prone to diseases and pests, including Japanese Beetles.
P. maackii - Amur Chokecherry is native to Korea and Manchuria, reaching height of 35-40’ or so. It’s relatively densely branched bearing racemes of fragrant white flowers in May. These are followed by bird-loved red ripening to black ¼” fruits. Glossy green leaves shine in the autumn landscape in yellows, orange and yellow allowing the rich cinnamon brown smooth exfoliating bark to shimmer in the winter landscape. Widely adaptable but prefers average garden soils.
P. sargentii – Sergeant Cherry is native to Asia, maturing in cultivation in our area at about 20-30’. Single pink flowers up to 1-1/2” diameter are produced en masse without leaves. Nice! Simple shiny dark green leaves senescing to yellow to bronzy-red in the autumn landscape. Its bark is amazingly rich in polished reddish-chestnut and stunning in the winter landscape. It’s tolerant of most garden soil except heavy wet clays.
P. virginiana – Chokecherry is native to north eastern USA, maturing to 20-30’ or larger. Our national champion is 55’. Flowering in white racemes in the spring, followed by red, maturing dark purple fruits, that make excellent jams, pies, etc as long as there is enough sweetener added. Simple green leaves give way to autumn yellows. Tolerant of just about any soil conditions in full sun to light shade. The species and all cultivars to date share one habit, they sucker profusely, many feet from the parent tree producing little shoots all over the lawn and landscape beds. I find it difficult to recommend for this very reason. Continuous mowing or cutting them off does to reduce the sucking and may encourage it. After all, it is a suckering, colonizing plant. Some forms that you may find are selected for better tasting or yellow fruits.
Ptelea trifoliata – Hoptree or Waferash is native to a large portion of North America, east of the Rockies and into S. Canada. Over such a large area, it is interesting that so little cultivar selection has been made. It is tolerant of full sun to relatively deep shade and a wide variety of soil excluding swamps. It matures in the 20’ range with lustrous dark green summer foliage and yellow to yellow-green in the autumn. The 1/3-1/2” greenish-white fragrant flowers are borne in L. May-E. June followed by a 2/3-1” wafer-like dry seed pod that may persist into winter. Its tendency to sucker is probably one of its limiting factors. Like many other trees that sucker, just remove these and enjoy our native Hoptree.
Pterostyrax hispida – Fragrant Epaulet Tree hails from Japan & China. Maturing to 20-30’ or larger, the Epaulet Tree has bright green simple leaves, with silvery bottoms, that turns an attractive chartreuse yellow in the autumn. The late spring white fragrant flowers are borne in pendulous panicles reminiscent of epaulets. The interesting dry drupe fruit causes minimal messiness. It performs best in hot sunny locations with moist neutral to acidic rich soils. However, I’ve had good success in light shady environments. Like many of the smaller trees, avoid windy open prairie conditions. I don’t know of any cultivars.
Pyrus calleryana – Ornamental Pear is from China, maturing to a tree in the 40-50’ plus range. Nearly all forms on the market are derived from the ‘Bradford’ cultivar. Glossy green simple to heart-shape leaves with a complete compliment of spectacular autumn colors. Malodorous white flowers are produced in profusion in April from a small ½” or less, green non-ornamental roundish pome. ‘Bradford’ is widely tolerant of edaphic and environmental conditions. Many of the cultivars have susceptibility to Fire Blight and weak branching structure which should be pruned out when young.
Pyrus salicifolia – Willowleaf Pear is native to SE Europe and W Asia and typically represented in the USA in the ‘Pendula’ and ‘Silver Frost’ forms. Both of these forms are weeping with silvery-gray weeping willow-type foliage. Maturing in the 15-20’ range, they are stunning in the garden. Creamy green flowers are produced in the spring producing 1” or so brown pear shaped fruits. Autumn colors are in the yellow-orange range. With regret, it is short lived in our gardens, as it is very susceptible to fire blight and therefore not recommended.
Rhamnus cathartica – European Buckthorn & R. frangula – Glossy Buckthorn are a highly invasive small trees in the 18-35’ range. Since rabbits and deer dislike these trees as well as Lonicera fragrantissima, L. japonica, L. maackii & L. tartarica – the Honeysuckles, and birds eat the cathartic berries of Rhamnus and Emetic berries of Lonicera and deposit them everywhere, these horrible plants are replacing many of our native forest dwelling Cornus, Hamamelis, Viburnum, etc. This continues to be a tragedy as many people refuse to eradicate them from their properties.
Robinia pseudoacacia - Black Locust is native to the eastern USA. Black Locust is common in our area being highly noticeable when blooming in its 4-8” long pendulous racemes of white fragrant flowers. Tolerant of just about any landscape conditions except swamps. Black Locust matures in the 50’ plus range in our area. Green pinnately compound leaves are just beginning to mature when flowers that later provide flat 2-4” long brownish pods that persists beyond yellowish green autumn leaf drop. Black Locust is rarely intentionally planted in our area as the branches have paired spines at the base of the leaves. Locust borer can riddle a tree in just a few seasons. Annual treatment for borer is recommend on the listed cultivars, otherwise, they are short lived. I have stopped using any of the cultivars as the treatment is too bothersome for most gardeners.
Sorbus americana – American Mountainash is a native slow growing small tree maturing in the 20-30’ range. It has white flowers in spring followed by brilliant orange-red fruits in late summer. Although short lived in the 20-30 year range, it is stunning in the garden. American Mountainash enjoys cooler conditions in rich soils. Pinnately compound green leaves turn orange, yellow to reddish purple in the autumn.
Sorbus xhybrida – Oakleaf Mountainash is a wonderful small tree maturing in the 25-35’ range, living about 25-35 years. This is a tetraploid hybrid between S. aria and S. aucuparia with leathery dark green leaves only partially compound giving the look of an oak leaf. White heads of flowers in May give rise to clusters of bright red fruit in late summer that are relished by birds, as are all Sorbus fruits. Its habit is more upright. Autumn leaf color is in the yellows to reds. It’s widely tolerant of most soils and environmental conditions except swamps. It’s resistant to fire blight.
Stewartia pseudocamellia – Japanese Stewartia is a wonderful tree slowly maturing in the 20-40’ range in our area, and to 60’ in the wild. Simple dark green leaves give way to a dazzle of yellow, copper, orange, purple and red in the autumn. Its bark flakes in puzzle shapes of gray, brown and orangish brown, magnificent. Camellia-like 2-2½” white flowers with orange anthers in the center randomly bloom over a long period in July, never in mass like a Crabapple. It prefers rich, acid, moist soils in full sun to light shade. I rate this tree 9.5/10. If it had fragrant flowers it would be a 10! S. koreana – Korean Stewartia is very similar and may be a form of S. pseudocamellia.
Syringa reticulata – Japanese Tree Lilac has jumped into the market by being planted on municipal right-of-ways all over the area, and deservedly so. Maturing in the 15-30’ range and taller in its native N. Japan environment. Dark green summer foliage along with creamy white 6-12” tall panicles of white fragrant flowers in June has endeared this urban tolerant tree to our landscapes. It will require a number of years to reach flowering age with alternate heavier flowering. Its young bark is shiny reddish brown with lighter horizontal lenticels ages gracefully to gray scaly bark on mature trunks and limbs. It has nearly nothing for autumn color. This Tree Lilac is tolerant of nearly any soil and sunny to very light shade conditions.
Syringa reticulata subsp. pekinensis is subspecies native to Northern China, maturing in the 15-30’ range. It has a finer texture with smaller leaves and finer branching habit than S. reticulata.It is also early blooming with smaller, yet many more 3-6” tall panicles of yellowish-white fragrant flowers and bloom a bit earlier than S. reticulata. Its bark peels in finer and thinner plates that are somewhat translucent and handsomely catch the seasonal sunlight. All other conditions are like S. reticulata.
Tetradium (Evodia) daniellii - Korean Tetradium is a very interesting small tree maturing at 25-35’ in the landscape but taller in the wilds of Northern China & Korea. White fragrant flowers are borne in Queen Ann’s Lace type heads amid lustrous dark green pinnately compound foliage during late summer. Ornamental red to black capsules are borne in August and into November. Limited to no autumn color but the gray bark is smooth and very attractive. Tetradium prefers well-drained moist soils in full sun conditions. I don’t know of any cultivars.
Tilia cordata – Littleleaf Linden is native to Europe and commonly planted in our area as a large shade tree maturing in the 80-90’ range. Heart-shaped dark shiny green leaves with yellowish fragrant flowers in June compliment the tree’s architecture. Autumn brings on clear yellow leaves. It’s tolerant of nearly any type of soil and environmental conditions including terraces and tight urban conditions.
‘Girard’s Pendula Nana’ is a very dense growing form with 1-2” sizes leaves on a bushy arborescent form with pendulous tips. Probably maturing in the 8-15’ range with age. Use like ‘Lico’.
Ulmus parvifolia – Lacebark or Chinese Elm is a wonderful tree commonly maligned with the trashy Ulmus pumila – Siberian Elm. As a larger tree, hardiness with the Lacebark Elm in our area has a great deal to do with provenance in its native Northern & Central China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Maturing in the 60’ range, only the dwarf forms will be discussed here. Lacebark Elm has crisp thick dark green leaves turn yellow in the autumn. The bark tissue is magnificent as it peals in puzzle pieces revealing grays, greens, oranges & browns, giving rise to its common name. They are widely adaptable for full sun to light shade conditions in average moist well-drained soils. Please protect from rabbits as they seem to be drawn to these elms.
Ulmus glabra x U. minor var. plotii ‘Jacqueline Hillier’ is a wonderful miniature hybrid elm maturing in the 8-12’ range. It is ideally suited to Niwaki pruning in the garden. It was plicate fresh green small 1-2” leaves held on smooth gray stems in a herringbone pattern. It enjoys full sun to light shade in average garden soils. It’s a hybrid between two European species.
Xanthoceras sorbifolium – Yellowhorn is native to China. With a bit of pruning, it forms a small tree in the 20-25’ range. Lustrous green leaves remain attractive until dropping green in late autumn. In mid to late May, very attractive ~1” fragrant white flowers are borne in 6-10” racemes that have a center blotch that ages yellow to red. Yellowhorn is very adaptable to most average garden soils in sunny locations.
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