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.
While temperature is always a consideration, soil type, moisture regimes, soil structure, environmental exposure, soil nutrients, a soil’s acidity/alkalinity and other factors weigh in heavily as to your success or failure. Swamp loving plants rarely survive atop a gravel hill.
When in doubt, hire a knowledgeable environmental/plant person to help guide your selections.  Since 1973, I have been professionally selecting plants for our area and have firsthand knowledge with nearly every reviewed Small Ornamental Tree in this list.

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.
For further information Niwaki: Pruning, Training and Shaping Japanese Garden Trees by Jake Hobson   ISBN-9780881928358.

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.
Cultivars include:
Streetwise’ is more reliably burgundy in the autumn and with enhanced exfoliating bark. More lustrous dark green leaves in summer.
Goshiki kaede' has striking white and pink irregularly variegated leaves. Otherwise its growth habit is like the species.
Small Leaf Variegated' Irregularly white splashing on smaller handsome green leaves give an enhanced airiness to the garden. It is smaller growing than the species and a wonderful form for garden Niwaki.
Tancho' The first viewing of this form, I was immediately hooked. The green leaves are smaller than the species. However, a small fraction of the leaf’s surface area and only the borders are rolled up, inward about half-way and not tightly. This exposes a border with the lighter undersurface of the leaves and provides the small tree a great garden presence.

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.
Cultivars include:
Carnival’ is a very slow growing very small form with handsomely white, occasionally blushed pink, border milky green leaves. Evenly moist conditions and light shade is preferred for this bushier growing form. If too hot and or dry, the borders may scorch, and if not severe, it recovers very nicely. While growth reversions to solid green may occur, they are easily pruned out, maintaining the extremely handsome variegated form.
Postelense’ is a glorious golden yellow leafed form maturing in the summer to a lighter green. The autumn color is a richer golden yellow. In spring it looks like the whole tree is in yellow flower. It is a bit smaller growing than the species.
Pulverulentum' has green leaves sprinkled with irregular and various sized white dots and splashed. I nice form, especially when treated as a garden Niwaki. It may require pruning out of the reversions and is slower going than the species.
‘Queen Elizabeth’ I planted a group of this cultivar in Madison, near Gammon Rd and Old Sack Rd., in hard clay soils, and it convinced me that this cultivar is one tough queen. After 20 years, it has a natural lollipop growth form and has matured out at about 30’. Its bark tissue is wonderfully corky, bubbly and furrowed, providing good winter interest. The autumn color is quite variable with some years showing little and in others, a bright golden yellow. It prefers full sun in almost any soil other than gravel.
‘Royal Ruby’ has wonderful spring growth of ruby red that age to a nice deep green. The leaves are smaller than the species. Autumn leave color is variable.
‘Streetwise’ is a broad columnar form maturing a bit taller, about 40’, than the species.

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.
Cultivars include:
Cinnamon Flake’ is a hybrid A. griseum x A. maximowiczianum. The foliage is darker green and less lobed than the species and the bark tissue exfoliates in smaller strips giving the appearance of cinnamon colored corduroy. It is very handsome.
‘Girard's Hybrid’ is a hybrid Acer griseum x nikoense. It is like the typical Paperbark Maple, but with finer textured dark cinnamon bark. 
‘Gingerbread’ is a hybrid Acer griseum x A. nikoense. ‘Gingerbread’ matures in a more upright oval pattern of 25-30 high but only 15-20’ wide. Its bark is similar to ‘Cinnamon Flake’. Autumn colors are more in the orange to red.
‘Sugar Flake’ is a hybrid Acer griseum x A. saccharum (Sugar Maple). This new hybrid shares many aspects of each of its parents including growing larger than Paperbark Maple but not nearly as large as a Sugar Maple. Wonderful autumn colors and exfoliating bark give this 30 to 40 foot tree a nice presence in the landscape.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Aconitifolium’ is one of the more beautiful forms of Fullmoon Maple. If never pruned, ‘Aconitifoium’ matures in the 15-30’ range after many years. The 4-8” diameter leaves have 7-11 deeply lobed sinuses, and are held in a lax position. Red flowers complement the foliage but are very few in fertile seed set. The autumn color is nearly indescribably beautiful with yellow centers blushing to intense red at the border. Mangificient.
‘Ao Jutan’ is a cascading deciduous 4-6’ high spreader with large green leaves dissected to the petiole and to the leaf-veins. Autumn color is in vibrant shades of gold, orange, red and purple
‘Attaryi’ is very similar to ‘Aconitifolium’ but with larger leaves up to 12” in diameter with the sinuses only to about half-way to the base of the leaf. The autumn color is more maroon.
‘Dissectum’ is the form that I have in my garden. The leaves are very deeply and finely cut to their base rivaling many of the A. palmatum Japanese Maples. Maturing in a more horizontal growth form 6-9’ high by 10-15’ width range, this smaller tree is axial in the mixed perennial garden. Its autumn foliage is carmine red in the veins with yellow on the blades, providing a wonderful pumpkin color. Stake the main branches for increased height.
‘Green Cascade’ is very similar to ‘Dissectum’ except it is smaller in leaf and growth form. ‘Green Cascade’s’ leaves are held a bit more horizontally and are a bit more snowflake-like. ‘Green cascade’ is also more horizontally growing, maturing in the 3-6’ high range. Stake the main branches for increased height.
‘Fairy Light’ is even similar to ‘Green Cascade’ but the foliage is even more finely dissected. Slowly maturing to maybe 10’ high.  Stake the main branches for increased height.
‘Itaya’ is typically multistem with larger leaves than the species.
‘Meigetsu’ is a more open form growing to about 30’ high. Its leaves are up to 6” in diameter. The new foliage emerges bronze.
‘Giant Moon’ is a very large leafed from with the new foliage emerging tinged pink and clothed in silvery hairs. ‘Giant Moon’ matures about 25-30’ tall. Autumn colors are in the reds, yellow and oranges.
‘O isami’ or ‘Oh isami’ forms a very open canopy ideally suited for forest dwelling perennials under its canopy. Maturing at 30’ by 30’ its leaves are nearly round, strongly toothed and lobed about halfway to their base. The new foliage emerges soft olive green blushed soft copper-red.  Autumn colors are scarlet, gold, yellow and orange.
Otaki’ or ‘Ohtaki’ is more shrub-like maturing about 15-20’ tall. ‘Otaki’s leaves rich dark green are closely packed, deeply cleft and toothed on thick short branches.  Autumn color is similar to the species.
‘Oregon Fern’ is nearly identical to ‘Green Cascade’ in leaf with the shape of the leaf of `Aconitifolium’. The primary difference is the its sensational ruby-red autumn color.
‘Vitifolium’ is the largest of the cultivars, maturing to nearly40 feet. The new emerging leaves are brightly blushed scarlet rose in the spring with majestic autumn colors in reds, golds & oranges.
‘Wood’s #2’ is also one of the largest leaved Fullmoon Maples. With leaves as large or larger than a x-large hand and wwith the leaves dissected near ¾ to the leaf’s base, this maple puts on a stunning show. ‘Wood’s #2’ with it’s coarsely branched structure casts medium shade, providing excellent contrast to many of the neighboring plants as well as those growing beneath it. Autumn colors are in the reds & golds.

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.
Cultivars include:
forma atropurpureum vary a fair amount in their retention of their burgundy-crimson summer color. Most of the burgundy foliage forms are derived from f. atropurpureum. This is a wonderful small tree with great form and glorious autumn colors in the red, oranges and yellows. ‘Bloodgood’ is one of the most popular burgundy-crimson leaved cultivars in the Midwest. ‘Bloodgood’ was supposedly selected at Bloodgood Nurseries from a seedling of f. atropurpureum in the 1970s. Holding its red to purple-red foliage better throughout the summer is one of the primary reasons for its popularity. Its growth, to over 30’, is more upright than wide spreading with attractive tiers of branches. The brilliant red seed pods add attractive summer color with minimal viable seed. Autumn color is typically a bright crimson.
‘Crimson Queen’ is a wide spreading finely dissected leaf form rarely growing to more than 10 feet tall but 10-15 feet wide with age. The burgundy color of the leaves is maintained all summer and even tolerates full sun, as long as the soil conditions are conducive. Autumn color is deep red aging orange-red.
‘Emperor 1’ is supposedly a cultivar of ‘Bloodgood’ discovered by Richard Wolff of Red Maple Nurs. PA. It leafs out a bit later than ‘Bloodgood’, therefore avoiding late frost. The form is for upright, and holds its summer burgundy color better than ‘Bloodgood’. The foliage is also thinner than ‘Bloodgood’ giving it a more translucent look, but is therefore more easily tattered.  ‘Red Emperor’ and ‘Wolf’ are considered to be the same.
‘Inaba shidare’ is similar to ‘Crimson Queen’ with darker deeper purple-red foliage. Autumn colors are more in the brilliant crimson.
‘Moonfire’ is a selection with purple-red selection of f. atropurpureum making it a strong upright grower maturing at about 25’. Autumn colors are in the crimson spectrum.
‘O sakazuki’ is an famous old cultivar maturing at 20-25’ tall. Rich green summer foliage with near black stems enhances the open airiness of this sturdy form. The autumn color rivals nearly anything the landscape in intense translucent crimson. Glorious!
‘Tompenburg’ is a wonderful deeply lobed form with each of the leaf lobes help in a near perfect circle and convex along the leaf’s individual veins, almost forming a round finger. The purple-red leaves are held by red stalks, further enhancing the form. Maturing about 25 feet high 15 feet wide, this strong upright form compliments the garden with Autumn colors in rich crimson.
‘Viridis’ encompasses most any of the finely dissected green leaved palmatum maple. Bright green summer foliage turns gold blushed crimson. ‘Viridis’ matures about 10 feet tall and 10-15’ wide.  ‘Ever-red’ is very similar, but with burgundy-red foliage.

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.
Ideal in naturalized forest landscapes, where Striped Maple will show off its wonderfully green and near white vertically striped bark tissue. On the current year’s growth, the striped bark turns bright red and gray. Magnificent! Bright green leaves give way to a vibrant yellow autumn colors. It thrives in Madison is supplied with ample moisture.

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!
Cultivars include:
‘Aureum’ is the cultivar in my garden and pictured on our home page. Growth is like the species, however slower and a bit more bunched. Its spring foliage unfolds in a bright chartreuse-yellow occasionally blushed red, maturing to a wonderful greenish translucent yellow. Watching sun filter through its leaves is awesome. Its autumn colors are coppers, oranges, yellows and reds.
‘Autumn Moon’ is a form of ‘Aureum’ with its newly emerging golden yellow spring foliage blushed with burnt orange-copper and rose.  The branches are open tiered, holding the foliage in their best viewing angle. The autumn foliage is rich orange to red. ‘Autumn Moon’ is a bit more site demanding than the species. Soil must be moist and rich along with an open forest environment.
‘Johin’ (Elegant) with its burnish dark coppery red leaves with yellow green veins is a show stopper in the garden. The leaves are dissected midway towards the base of the leaf and slight rolled convex. Autumn colors are in the oranges and reds.
‘Lovett’ leaves and stature are smaller than the species. The leaves are more pointed than the species. The new foliage emerges a lighted green blushed rose. Autumn color is in the oranges and red.
‘Sensu’ (A moving fan) leaves emerge in light yellow-green wonderfully blushed with orange-brown-copper, especially along the margins. The leaves are delicately divided nearly to their base, providing grace and elegance. Maturing to a translucent medium green, the summer leaves give way to pink-red to orange leaves with yellow-green centers. 

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Sode no uchi’ is a wonderful dwarf form in its foliage and structure. Rarely growing more than 10’ ‘Sode no uchi’ is a wonderful form readily adapting to Niwaki. Growth is about 4-6” or so per season. Its medium soft green leaves are about ¾” to 2” in diameter and are held nearly horizontal. Autumn colors are crimson-red to yellow.

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.
Amur Maple is tolerant of most soil conditions including a good tolerance of acidity/alkalinity, making it a good candidate for newly landscaped sites, varying from full sun to medium shade.  Autumn color is highly variable but typically in the fiery reds, oranges, golds, and yellows, and best in full sun. Flowers are nicely fragrant. Amur Maple is extremely tolerant of pruning with many of the bushy taxa being able to be pruned into interesting Niwaki forms.
Some tree form cultivars include:
‘Beethovan’ is a wonderful tightly branched columnar form maturing at 20-25’ high by 10-15’ wide making it ideal along lot lines and other tight locations. Creamy-white fragrant flowers, bright red samaras, glossy deep green summer foliage and gold to red autumn colors, makes this a good choice for the landscape.
‘Mozart’ is just like ‘Beethovan’ but wider growing. ‘Mozart’ matures 20-25’ by 15-20’ wide.
‘Red Rhapsody’ matures 25-30’ high and wide, a bit smaller in height if allow to be a multi-trunk specimen. ‘Red Rhapsody’ has glossy green summer foliage and great autumn red foliage.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘White Tigress’ is a hybrid between A. tegmentosum and another maple. Never-the-less, it is a magnificent striped maple with large leaves and green bark striped near white. ‘White Tigress’ has wonderful yellow foliage in the autumn.
‘Wilson’ Leaves are larger than the species

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. koreanumis 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.
A. laevis –Allegheny Serviceberry is a very close relative of A. arbores but differs with the new foliage emerging with a bronzy color, darker and sweeter fruit and other minor differences. It hybridizes readily with A. arborea forming Amelanchier x grandiflora – Apple Serviceberry. The following list of cultivars, with various parentage, is just a few of the 30 or more that may be found in commerce. Many cultivars are shrubs and not tree forming.
Cultivars include:
‘Autumn Brilliance’ is one of my favorites either as a multi-trunked or single trunked 20-25’ tree. Floriferous, disease resistant foliage, delicious fruits and excellent red, yellow and coppery autumn colors make this a standout.
‘Cole’ is a handsome tree form with exceptional orange-red autumn color and improved glossier foliage.
‘Cumulus’ grows to about 30’ tall with fleecy white flowers and more bright yellow to orange-scarlet autumn colors.
‘Rainbow Pillar’ is typically a columnar multi-trunked form maturing in the 25-30’ range.  White flowers with bright green, mildew resistant foliage, that turns on autumn with a bright rainbow of yellow, orange and red.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Shiloh Splash’ matures to a 15-20’ high small tree. Its leaves emerge bronze-pink-green and mature to clean crisp green centers and white margins; excellent peeling bark, makes it a standout in the garden. Solid green revisions will need to be removed, but on a small tree, this is fairly easy. Yellow autumn colors with creamy yellow border. It enjoys moisture so it is ideal in rain gardens and similar conditions. 
‘Tecumseh Compact’ is nice compact form of the species maturing to about 30’ or so with excellent peeling bark.

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. 
Cultivars include:
‘Palisade’ a tight columnar form with dark green foliage and good autumn color 30’ tall or so but only 15’ wide. ‘Palisade is ideal for narrow locations.
‘Schmidt #6’ is a horrible name for a fine cultivar with an excellent habit, and bright red autumn color.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Alba’ (forma alba) is a white flowering form. The dark gray to blackish limbs and the closely held white flowers provide a distinctive look in the spring.  ‘Royal White’ is a fine larger blooming white flowering selection originating from the open Illinois plains in Bluffs, IL.
Columbus Strain are raised from seed originating in Columbus, WI. Maturing at closer to 20-25’ high and wide, these strains are ideally suited to our gardens. Flowers are slightly smaller than the southern non-hardy cultivars.
Covey ‘Lavender Twist’ was discovered growing at Connie Covey, garden in Westfield, NY. This is a great weeping form. The 30 year old parent plant is about 5’ high. However, you may stake it to whatever high you desire.
‘Forest Pansy’ is being widely sold but not by us. Originally I planted one in McFarland, one in Madison, and one in Token Creek in the 1980s. Within a few years they were all dead. However, there is a fine plant at the Chapel next to James Madison Park that has been thriving for years. Go figure!
‘Hearts of Gold’ is a chartreuse leafed form with flowers like the species. The new foliage emerges yellow with a tint or red-purple, maturing to pure chartreuse yellow and gradually to a bright summer green. Stunning! It matures more at the 20’ range.
Minnesota Strain or ‘Northland Strain’ is a cold hardy seed-produced strain growing for many years at the U of MN. It supposedly originated from seed collected in Columbus, WI.

Chionanthus retusus -- Chinese Fringetree is a fine relative of our native Fringe Tree. C. retusus matures to about 25’ with peeling or ridged-furrowed handsome bark. The one in my landscape peels with caramel colored tones. Lustrous leathery green leaves are held until the bitter end with soft yellow autumn color. The white flowers are born more erect than C. virginicus and are also more delicate. Small ½” dark blue fruits are born on the female trees and ripen in late summer or early autumn and are relished by birds and other wildlife. Chinese Fringetree prefers rich moist well drained soils with near neutral pH. The one in my garden is on the north corner of my home and is unfazed with winter temperatures for nearly the past 10 years. It comes from the northern provenance of China as typified by its longer pointed leaf and exfoliating trunk form. Cultivars are beginning to show up but are very uncommon at this time.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Black Stem’ is a wonderful cultivar with larger glossier lustrous green leaves and longer wider flowers. The bark tissue is more caramel colored with the newer stems being nearly black. This could be another name for ‘Prodigy’.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Argentea’ is truly a wonderful site to see. The leaves are much smaller with bold undulating margins of white with centers of milky green, occasionally blushed red or pink when young. Multi-tiered growth provides a perfect foil for these delicate leaves. Flowers are white and much smaller than the species. Berries are not commonly produced. It is slower growing and prefers well-drained rich soils. ‘Argentea’ is a stunning site in the garden.
‘Golden Shadows’ was discovered by Walter Stackman on a branch of a dogwood growing next to his deck in Illinois. How fortunate he saved it. While growth and its leaves are like the species in size, the new leaves emerge yellow with a blush of red, maturing to cream, yellow and green. Very handsome! Some sun and good growing conditions provide the best coloration and form.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Lemon Drops’ is a wonderful tree form with creamy yellow flowers, yellow fruit and dark green foliage.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Spring Grove’ is white with bud hardiness about -26F.
‘Prairie Pink’ has pale pink blushed on white flowers from Kansas. Supposedly bud hardy to -22F.

C. kousa var. chinensis -- Kousa Dogwood is a wonderful small tree for our area. Blooming in June with wonder four pointed 3-4” diameter long lasting bract flowers in white or pale pink, Kousa Dogwood brightens up the landscape. Varieties originating from the chinensis group seem to be a bit hardier in our area. Kousa Dogwood matures out at about 20-30’ in our area with glorious multi-colored tan-brown-gray exfoliating bark. This dogwood prefers sunny to light to moderately shady locations and well drained yet moist soils with circum-neutral pH. Pinkish red edible (I don’t care for them) fruits up to 1” in diameter are produced in late summer and are quite handsome but may be messy if planted near walkways. Rarely do the seeds produce off spring in our area. Summer foliage is dark green, however occasionally some variations may occur with blushes of red or gold. Autumn color is yellow to red and all colors in between. Marvelous! Many cultivars are on the market and vary in their bud hardiness. The following are those I have had experience with.
Cultivars include:
‘Avalanche’ is just like the species but with supposed bud hardiness to -30F
‘Milky Way’ is one of the older cultivars on the market. It is marked by its increased floriferous habit. Since ‘Milky Way’ is not a true cultivar but represented by approximately 15 different clones, variability is inevitable. However, with this being the case, they still seem to be all very floriferous and excellent trees.
‘Galilean’ is characterized by larger dark green leaves, bright white large flowers and red fruits. It also has improved winter hardiness.
‘Heart Throb’ see ‘Miss Satomi’
‘Prophet’ has starry-shaped creamy white numerous flowers on a more upright tree.
‘Rosabella’ see ‘Heart Throb’
‘Miss Satomi’ is a larger flowered, up to 4”, form with deeper red flowers and brilliant red foliage. I started ‘Miss Satomi’ in my garden nearly 20 years ago as a 12” sapling. Once it reached flowering age, if has yet to fail to impress me with its summer flowers, autumn foliage and more recently, with its maturing exfoliating bark. ‘Heart Throb’ and ‘Rosabella’, according to Michael Dirr, may be the same.
 ‘Samaritan’ touts milky green centers with cream-white margins. They leaves are more folded than the species. Slow growing form with a vase-shaped habit. ‘Samaritan’ should be planted in some shade along with good moisture.
‘Wolf Eyes’ is similar to ‘Samaritan’ but it’s more compact and slower maturing more in the 6-10’ range. Its autumn color is pinker to red.
xrutgersensis is a group of hybrids between Cornus florida, C. kousa and C. nuttalli. My experience as not been good in our area. I any of you have any of these hybrids thriving in our area, please let me know.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Aureoelegantissima’ (‘Elegantissima’) is a very slow growing form with yellow borders on green leaves.
‘Flava’ is a yellow-fruited form with sweeter and larger fruits. Very tasty!
‘Golden Glory’ is a more upright form with abundant flowers.
‘Redstone’ was selected for heavy fruit production and improved disease and insect resistance. Since the species is very pest-free, I am not sure if this is a significant improvement in our area. Variation has been noted in this cultivar due to it being raised from seed.
‘Variegata’ is a very slow growing form with stunning irregular creamy-white margined medium green leaves. It prefers a bit more moisture and better soils.

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.
Tree cultivars include:
‘Snow Mantle’ (‘Jade’) has rich deep blue-green disease resistant foliage that turns handsomely purple in the autumn. It is a heavy flowering and fruiting form with bluish-white berries and glow in the evening light.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Flame’ is a hybrid between this and C. coggygria. ‘Flame’ has pink flowers and brilliant orange red autumn coloration.
‘Grace’ is another hybrid with C. coggygria. ‘Grace’ has massive up to 14” high x 11” wide ‘smokes’ on 20-25’ trees. The leaves emerge light red-purple aging to a blue-green. Its autumn foliage glows with red, orange & yellow.

CrataegusHawthorns & 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
‘Winter King’ is one of the better Crataegus cultivars. This may be a hybrid, as it exhibits characteristics not wholly like C. viridis. ‘Winter King’ is excellent in architecture, flower & fruit. I have seen the fruit covered with rust but the leaves nearly unscathed. Autumn color is excellent in scarlet and purples blushed with oranges and yellows. Maturing to about 25-35’ tall and 35-40’ wide with 1” or so thorn on the young branches.

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.
‘Aldenhamemsis’ is a heavily fruited form with bright pink fruits/capsules.
‘Red Cascade’ aka ‘Red Caps’ was selected by the U of Nebraska for its persistent bright rose red fruits. ‘Red Cascade’ is considered by many to be the best European Spindle Tree for the Midwest.

E. hamiltonianus var. sieboldianusYeddo Euonymus is a wonderful landscape tree, but it’s an incredible magnet for Euonymus scale. The species is not recommended for the residential landscape.
‘Spindlewood’™ is a fine cultivar introduced by Lake County Nursery in Ohio. I have noted it is not nearly as susceptible to Euonymus scale, it still does get it. However, follow the treatment under E. europaeus. This form is more upright than the species and make a fine small tree about 15-20’ high but only 10’ or so wide for screening narrow spaces. Pinkish-purple with orange arils make a handsome seasonal display. The autumn color is a wonderful cotton-candy pink. Full sun to light shade and average well-drained soils in a circum-neutral pH suits ‘Spindlewood™ wonderfully.

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.
‘Cochleata’ is a slow-growing dwarf cone-shaped form. Its green leaves are about 1.5” long, lobed and circularly tufted. It must be seen to appreciate its foliage. Growing about 2-4” per year.
‘Mercedes’ is a very slow growing form with narrow 3-4” pendulous green leaves on ascending branches. Grows about 1-2” per year.
‘Roseo-marginata’ is one of those trees, which once viewed with the sun shining through its pink translucent margins with rich purple centers, is tough to forget. Moderate in annual growth and maturing in the 30’ range, this fine tree is suited to light shade during the hottest portion of the day. If the sun gets a bit too hot and the soils a bit too dry, some browning of the pink margins will result. The pink becomes darker in the season changing to more of a sweet cherry color while the center deepens to rich purple-green. Autumn colors are in the reddish copper color. Magnificent!

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 bilobaGinkgo 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.
Male cultivars include:
‘Akebono’ (‘Sunrise’) is a wonderful narrow compact form maturing in the 25-30’ range. It’s wonderful for border screening.
‘Chase Manhattan’ is one of the slowest smallest Ginkgo to date. It’s wonderful for the Rock Garden growing about 1” or so per year with cup shaped tiny leaves. Really cool!
‘Jade Beauty’ is a wonderful compact v-shaped grower with dark green leaves. ‘Jade Beauty’ grows about 4-5” per year.
‘Munchkin’ is another wonderful genetic dwarf with 1” wide leaves on a very twiggy structure. It grows about 1” or so year. This is another really cool form.
‘Pendula’ is a catch for many of the horizontal topophytic growing forms. These are best grown by grafting them atop 4-5’ trunks and enjoying the irregular horizontal to pendulous growth. Growing about 6” in height but up to 1-2’ in diameter per season. ‘Horizontalis’ grows like a wide spreading pancake.
‘Saratoga’ has long pendulous leaves that appear to be stretched out more from the base than at the tip and deeply cleft. ‘Saratoga’ is a very beautiful form maturing on the larger size of 30’ plus in 30 to 40 years.
‘Tschi-Tschi’ or ‘Chi-Chi’ is another wonderful form with a fan-shaped growth. Best top grafted like ‘Pendula’. Maturing in the 15-20’ range. ‘Tschi-Tschi’ is noted for its most unusual habit of stalactite hanging growths on the underside of the branches. ‘Ding-a-Ling’ is similar. All are best top grafted, maturing in the 15-20’ range.
‘Tubiforme’ has unique wonderful foliage in the form of ice cream sugar cones. ‘Thelma’ is similar with some leaves approaching tubes. ‘Troll’ has its leaves in a wider sugar cone shape on a very compact slower growing form.
‘Witches’ Broom’ AKA ‘WB’ grows about 2-4” per season forming an irregular globose crown as a grafted standard form.

Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermisHoneylocust is native to much of the eastern half of the USA.  Inermis mean thornless, as one would never want the vicious thorned species in your landscape. Also, the pods are 6-18” longs and about 1” wide, and on the species, are borne in profusion, nearly blanketing the earth below a tree. Most forms currently offered are seedless or nearly so, and thornless. Honeylocust is very adaptable and therefore commonly used in the commercial and municipal landscape.
‘Emerald Kascade’ or ‘Emerald Cascade’ is the only dwarf form I am aware of. For the best shape, is really should only be sold as a 5’ or more top grafted specimen. When grown this way, it forms an attractive, albeit irregular, weeping tree in the 20’ by 20’ range. Very unusual with its lacy leaves and good yellow autumn color. I’ve never seen a pod on any of them.

Halesia carolina – Carolina Silverbell is a wonderful flowering tree with bell-shaped flowers. How cool is that? This SE USA native enjoys acidic humus-rich soils with good moisture. However, once established it is more drought tolerant. Our national champion is 110’ tall and 43’ side in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN.  Under cultivation in our area, it is commonly less than 35’ tall. Simple green leaves 2-7” long and about ½ as wide commonly turn a handsome autumn yellow. The white bells are up to ½-1” long and wide lasting up to 2 weeks. The pod is 4-winged dry with 2-3 seeds. Few seeds germinate.
Cultivars include:
‘Arnold Pink’ is smaller in all aspects with wonderful pink flowers about ½ to ¾” long.  The pink may fade if the temperatures get too warm. It’s still gorgeous at any temperature.
‘Rosea’ is a catch all of any pink or pink-blushed flowering forms.
‘Wedding Bells’ or ‘UConn Wedding Bells’ is a wonderful small tree maturing in the 20-30’ range with noticeably larger 1” or so, white flowers

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.
Arborescent cultivars include:
‘Harvest Moon’ is wonderfully floriferous with lemon-yellow flowers.
‘Mohonk Red’ has light red flowers blushed yellow at the tips.

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.
Some of the best standard tree cultivars include:
‘Burgundy Lace’ has pink flowers gaining to mauve-violet with the best being produced in full sun. It’s similar to ‘Pink Diamond’.
‘Chantilly’ is noted for creamy white blushed pink flowers borne on a more compact habit.
‘Kyushu’ is a vigorous more upright form with bright lush green foliage. July blooming with white flowers aging blushed pink. ‘Snow Mountain’ is an improved ‘Kyushu’ with flowers that age rose-pink.
‘Limelight’ as a standard is quite a compact show with white panicles aging lime green blushed rose.
‘Passionate’ has nearly as sepaled flowers in 12-18” tall panicles that slowly age light pink to green. Since few if any fertile flowers are formed, it has very little fragrance.
‘Phantom’ is more coarsely branched than most other Panicles Hydrangea, but this shows off the upright held huge 18-24” panicles of white flowers that adorn this wonderful plant.
‘Pink Diamond’ has 8-12” panicles of mixed white flowers that age and rich pink. Its fragrance could be a bit better. Large green leaves openly spaced along the stems.
‘Quickfire’ is one of the earliest bloomers with white flowers aging pink in mid-summer in smaller panicles.
‘Tardiva’ flowers later with sepals in clusters of 4, and aging rose.
‘Unique’ has large pure white sepaled flowers up to 2” in diameter. They age rose-pink.

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.
Some cultivars include:
‘Starburst’ has improved branching and darker green foliage.
‘Summertime’ has much more pronounced silvery new foliage with olive-green mature leaves. The bark tissue peels more attractively than the species and the flowers are whiter. It’s a U. of MN introduction.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Butterflies’ has a fine rich yellow flower up to 5” in diameter. It has a more pyramidal growth form maturing in the 20-30’ range.
‘Sundance’ has medium yellow flowers up to 8” in diameter. Maturing at 25-40’
‘Yellow Lantern’ has lemon yellow flowers that are more cup-shaped and fragrant. Maturing in the 25-35’ range.

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.
Hybrid cultivars, all maturing in the 10-25’ range, include:
‘Ann’ Deep purple-red with 7-9 tepals
‘Betty’ Deep purple-red on the outside and near white on the inside of 12-15 somewhat floppy tepals
‘Jane’ Reddish purple outside and near white inside
‘Ricki’ Deep purple with paler inside with 9-10 tepals
‘Susan’ long reddish-purple buds opening lighter reddish-purple inside and out with 6 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.
Cultivars include:
‘Ballerina’ has up to 30 tepals up to 6” across, fragrant, slightly pinkish in the center of white tepals. ‘Ballerina’ is very frost hardy being selected in Urbana, IL 1969.
‘Leonard Messel’ has 12-16 tepals up to 6” across, rich fuchsia-pink on the back and white on the inside lightly fragrant slightly floppy flowers. Tepals are more strap-shaped and undulating. Very frost hardy, introduced 1955.
‘Merrill’ or ‘Dr. Merrill’ is very floriferous with 10-17 tepals of white 3-3½” flowers. Very frost hardy and commonly grown in our area being selected at the Arnold Arboretum about 1952.
‘Spring Snow’ has 11-15 tepals in pure white fragrant flowers borne a bit later than the above. U of IL- Urbana 1970.

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.
Besides having experienced the saucer type magnolia, other cultivars I have experienced include:
‘Lennie’ has 6 tepals of dark purplish magenta on the outside and white inside form flowers of 6-8” in diameter. It has performed well in our area, blooming later than other Saucer Magnolia.
‘Lennie Alba’ is similar to the above but with pure ivory white goblet shaped flowers composed of 9 tepals.
‘Verbanica’ has tepals of rose fading to white with white interiors in star shape late blooming flowers. Thick, lustrous, dark green foliage

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Centennial’ is from the Arnold Arboretum for its 100th anniversary. It has 28-32 white tepals, slightly tinged pink of the outside and opening up to 5½” in diameter on a wonderful more upright tree maturing in the 30’ range. ‘Centennial’ is considered one of the best cultivars.
‘Chrysanthemumiflora’ originated in Japan and has 30-50 clear pink tepals aging pale pink in 3½”-4” flowers. It’s very floriferous with its mum-like flowers. Very hardy
 ‘Rosea’ continues to be a popular cultivar since its introduction in 1899, with 12-15 tepals smaller pink flowers aging to white. It is also more compact as smaller growing than the species.
‘Royal Star’ is one of the more common cultivars in the landscape. Wonderful pink buds open with fragrant 25-30 white tepals flowers up to 6” in diameter. It has good clean dark green foliage. It blooms 7-10 days later than others, usually avoiding late frost damages. ‘Royal Star’ originated in New Jersey about 1955.
‘Waterlily’ has very fragrant pink aging white 14-40 tepaled 3” diameter fragrant flowers.  This cultivar is a bit confused in the industry with 3 or so forms commonly being sold under ‘Waterlily’. Whichever one you happen to grow, they are all worth the garden space.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Adirondack’ has red buds opening to near pure white on a columnar shaped tree. Dark green foliage summer foliage gives way to ½” red to orange-red autumn fruits. 
‘American Masterpiece’ is the best of the ‘American’ group by Lake County Nurs. Fade resistant bright red flowers on maroon foliage may mask the flowering a bit but is still spectacular. This is followed by 3/8” pumpkin orange fruits on a more upright oval shaped tree in the 25-30’.
‘Camelot’ is one of the Roundtable Series from Lake Count Nurs. Red buds opening fuchsia-pink and white are followed by burgundy 3/8” fruits. Nice rich green foliage turning gold in the autumn.
‘Chestnut’ is a wonderful edible crabapple with white flowers and rose-red striped yellow delicious fruits on a 25-30’ tree. The fruits have yellow flesh that is sweet yet lightly tart with a nutty fine texture.
 ‘Cinderella’ is another Roundtable form with red buds opening white. Fruits are ¼” gold and persisting almost to winter. Dark green divided foliage with minimal autumn color. Maturing in the 10-15’ range. It’s was nearly clean of diseases in the 2010 growing season.
‘Coralburst’ is typically top grafted to give it a tree form. Coral-pink buds open rosy-pink flowers are followed by few ½” bronzy berries. It is best grafted atop 5-6’ trunks, ‘Coralburst’ matures to a 15-25’ high and wide tight round or hemispheric form.
‘Donald Wyman’ has reddish-pink buds opening white with a tendency to be alternating in flowering, but still very showy. ½” bright red fruits persist into winter providing a nice holiday show. It has dark green summer foliage with no autumn display. 
‘Excalibur’ is another of the Round Table Crabapple. This one has red buds opening pure white, followed by ¼” gold- chartreuse green fruit. Leaves are lighter green and deeply lobed with no autumn color on a smaller tree to 15’.
‘Firebird’ is a M. sargentiiselected in Menomonee Falls, WI by Johnson Nurs. It’s best grown as a grafted standard. Red buds burst open white followed by 3/8” ruby red fruits that persist well into winter. Wonderful lollipop growth form maturing to about 10-15’.
‘Fox Fire’ is a wonder pink bud blooming white Crabapple with ½” diameter red persistent fruits. It has dark green foliage with yellowish autumn colors.
‘Guinevere’ is another Round Table Crabapple. Rose-red buds open white, followed by bright red 3/8” diameter fruits. Dark green foliage blushed burgundy with minimal autumn color. ‘Guinevere’ is an irregularly shaped small tree to about 15’.
‘Prairifire’ is one of the best Crabapple currently available. Clean, brilliant purplish-red flowers are followed by burgundy ½” fruits that persist into late autumn. The branches are shiny dark maroon with reddish maroon leaves aging to dark reddish-green later in the season. ‘Prairifire’ is one of the best Crabapple for autumn colors with gold, red and orange. Open growth to 25’.
‘Red Jewel’ has white flowers followed by bright cherry-red fruit about ½” in diameter and persisting late into winter. It matures at 15-20’
‘Rejoice’ has red buds opening to semi-double rose pink flowers following by burgundy fruits. An upright oval shaped tree maturing at 15-20’ with dark green leaves blushed maroon.
‘Showtime’ has shocking fuchsia-red flowers followed by 5/8” cherry-red fruits.  Maturing at 25-30’with rich green foliage blushed red with reddish orange-yellow autumn color.
‘Sugar Tyme’ has pale pink buds that open with fragrant glistening white flowers followed by ½” brilliant red winter persistent fruits. Crisp green foliage turns yellow in the autumn on a 20-25’ tree.
‘Tina’ is wonderful as a 4’ top grafted standard. With a bit of pruning, its wonderful horizontal shape is a showstopper. Rich pink buds open to white flowers followed by red ¼” fruits.

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. 
Cultivars include:
‘Chaparral’ is a wonderful fruitless weeping form with bright green foliage. It’s typically sold as a top grafted standard making a large 10-20’ green waterfall. It’s very handsome and easily maintained with severe annual or so pruning.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Select’ is one of two cultivars I have experience with. Its new foliage is a handsome lime green bordered in reddish purple. ‘Select’ is very showy but fleeting as the leaves lose this shortly after maturation. It’s still as handsome as the species.
‘Vanessa’ is the other cultivar I have experienced. It grows like the species, except it’s a uniform, distinctively columnar form.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Eye Stopper’ is nearly fruitless, with a more upright form and was selected at the UW Arb. with bright yellow autumn foliage.
‘His Majesty’ is fruitless with a more vase-shaped architecture which was selected at the U. of MN.
‘Macho’ has thick, leathery, dark green leaves and very handsome corky bark. It continues to perform nicely in Madison. It has so-so yellowish-green autumn color. ‘Macho’ was the first cultivar selection of a male fruitless form.
‘Shademaster’ is a faster and stronger growing male form with lustrous dark green leaves turning a nice yellow in the autumn.
‘Superfection’ is a more upright form of ‘Shademaster’

P. cerasifera- Cherry Plum is native to western Asia and has been in cultivation for centuries. For our area, only selected cultivars are hardy.
Prunus ‘Newport’ is a hybrid of P. cerasifera introduced in 1923 by UM State Fruit Breeding Farm and is one of the hardiest with light bronze-purple emerging foliage aging dark purple. Light pink extremely sweet flowers are sparsely produced May provide 1” edible, juicy, a little sour, fruits in mid to late summer. Maturing in the 15-25’ range with twiggy architecture. Autumn leaf color is less than stellar. It’s tolerant of just about any soil conditions in full sun. With regret, a short lived tree as it is prone to many diseases and pests. Japanese Beetles adore it.
Prunus ‘Mt. St. Helens’ is an improved sport of ‘Newport’ introduced in 1988. It has larger richer darker purple leaves on a sturdier trunk and twiggy architecture.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Minnesota Red’ is supposedly a selection of ‘Cistena’ from MN State Fruit Breeding Farm circa 1914, having deeper reddish-purple persistent foliage
‘Big Cis’ is a fast growing spot of ‘Cistena’ with larger leaves.

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. sargentiiSergeant 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.
Cultivars include:
‘Rancho’ is a wonderful narrow form growing about 20-30’ high but only about 10’ wide.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘Canada Red’ is a fast growing form of ‘Shubert’, both with green new leaves slowly maturing to reddish purple, a very interesting color transformation.
‘Canada Red Improved’ is more oval with a stronger excurrent growth form.
‘Copper Shubert’ has coppery-green leaves and non-astringent red 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.
Cultivars include:
‘Aurea’ is striking with rich yellow spring foliage aging to lime-green in late summer. Very handsome form.
‘Glauca’ has blue-green leaves

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.
Dwarf cultivars include:
‘Jack’ is a compact dwarf upright-oval growing form with good branching structure maturing in the 15-25’ range. Floriferous in May with ¾” white flowers forming tiny sparsely produced yellow green fruits persist well into mid-winter. Dark green leaves turn an attractive yellow in the autumn. It’s highly resistant to fire blight.
‘Jill’ is very similar to ‘Jack’ in a globe growing form maturing in the 12-25’ range with olive-green leaves in the summer and small tan fruits.
 ‘Korean Sun’ is rounder in habit with finer textured glossy green leaves turning red to reddish-purple in the autumn.

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. tartaricathe 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.
Cultivars include:
‘Frisia’ is like the species except it matures more in the 30-40’ range and the foliage emerges golden-yellow with excellent color retention late in the season, with red spines.
‘Purple Robe’ and ‘Idaho’ are like the species but maturing in the 30-40’ range with dark rose and pink bi-colored flowers.
Both are hybrids with P. pseudoacacia, P. hispida and or P. viscosa.
‘Twisty Baby’ has lacy foliage on twisted shoots maturing in the 30-40’ range. This is a near flowerless form.

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.
Hybrid cultivars, possibly with S. koreana, include:
‘Ballet’ has white flowers to 3½” in diameter with more spreading branches and more orange in its autumn color. The petals are more feathered on their perimeter than the species.
‘Milk and Honey’ is a floriferous cultivar with 3” white flowers with brighter reddish tan bark.
‘Mint Frills’ is selected for white flowers with a prominent mint-green blotch on base of the inner petals and ruffled petal edges.

Syringa reticulataJapanese 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.
Cultivars include:
‘Chantilly Lace’ has leaves margined in pale yellow to creamy white, centers dark green with a lighter green halo.
‘Golden Eclipse’ has leaves margined in golden yellow aging to yellow green. Flowers are borne on young trees, and are more creamy colored aging to a pale gold. Its growth pattern is more upright, making it better for narrower spaces.
‘Ivory Silk’ is by far the most commonly available. Its profuse ivory-white flowers amid deep green foliage are beautiful. Growth is more oval-round. ‘Snow Cap’ is a compact form of ‘Ivory Silk’.
‘Summer Snow’ is more compact with a tighter rounder crown. It’s very floriferous with creamy white flowers with excellent foliage on shiny copper red smooth bark.

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.
Cultivars include:
‘China Snow’ has papery rich brown exfoliating bark.
‘Beijing Gold’ (‘Zhang-Zhiming’) has more yellowish flowers on a more upright form with fountain-like arching branches.
‘Copper Curls’ has wonderful peeling, curling, flaking bark in coppery-orange. Creamy-white flowers amid shiny mid-green foliage complete a very handsome cultivar.
‘Summer Charm’ is more upright with lustrous dark green foliage with creamy-white flowers on more amber curling ex- foliating bark.

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.
Dwarf cultivars include:


‘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’.
‘Lico’ is an incredible slow growing dwarf from that I have grown in my garden for about 6 years. It is now about 12” tall with 1-2” leaves. ‘Lico’ is a wonderful miniature tree for the rock garden, Niwaki or Bonsai. Since it grows about 1-2” per year, I assume in 100 years it will be in the 8-15’ range.
‘Summer Sprite’ matures in the 20-30’ range, with leathery dark green wavy leaves on a dense pyramidal form.

Ulmus parvifoliaLacebark 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.
Dwarf cultivars include:
‘Corticosa’ is a dwarf compact form with very corky bark that matures in the 20-30’ range.
‘Frosty’ is a wonderful form with its new leaves emerging chartreuse yellow with white margins in the spring maturing to thick lustrous green leaves with white teeth in the summer. Autumn leaves are yellow to yellow green. ‘Frosty’ is easily pruned to a wonderful Niwaki form in the garden. I have enjoyed mine for over 20 years. If it’s left unpruned, it may mature in the 20-30’ range.
‘Hokkaido’ has tiny 1/8” green leaves on a thick corky robust dwarf trunked form growing about 2-4” per year. It’s best in full sun. Avoid traffic areas, as the limbs are a little brittle.
‘Seiju’ is a sport of ‘Hokkaido’ except the limbs and larger foliage are gnarled, and it grows 3-6” per year.

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 sorbifoliumYellowhorn 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.

originally published V23 - Spring 2010, Autumn 2010
Stephen S. Lesch

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