Recommended Trees for Urban Landscapes:
Proven Performers for Difficult Sites

 Revised 2/00 -- Author Reviewed 2/00 HIL-8617

T. G. Ranney, M. A. (Kim) Powell, Richard E. Bir
Extension Horticultural Specialists
Department of Horticultural Science
College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
North Carolina State University

 

The following list of recommended trees includes a variety of plants that have demonstrated particular resistance to harsh growing conditions, diseases, and insects in North Carolina. It should be emphasized, however, that even these trees have their limits. No single species is suited for all sites and consideration should be given to soil conditions, local occurrence of diseases and insects, microclimate, hardiness zone, and mature tree size when selecting any plant. Site preparation can also be extremely important in determining the success of any landscape planting. Every effort should be made to provide for adequate moisture, drainage, and rooting space on all sites. If trees are to be planted under utility lines, special consideration should be given to species and cultivars with mature heights less than the existing overhead clearance. Maintaining a good diversity of species in any landscape planting will help insure that insects, diseases, and changing environmental conditions will not, at some point, result in widespread problems.

In certain cases, specific cultivars have been listed below. These cultivated varieties may have particular merit due to exceptional ornamental features or due to a unique form or habit. Many of the upright or columnar selections are particularly useful in situations where there is limited space for canopy development as is often the case along urban streets.

The hardiness ratings presented conform to the USDA hardiness zone map. Zones 6, 7, and 8 correspond roughly to the mountains, piedmont, and coastal plain regions of North Carolina, respectively.

Although this list includes many desirable plants, it is not all inclusive and the focus is on stress resistant plants. Less stress resistant plants can be appropriate on favorable sites. Experimentation with new introductions and cultivars is encouraged.

Sources For More Information:

 

Species

Cultivars

Hardiness Zones

Mature Ht./Wdt. (ft)

Form

Stress Tolerance1

Comments/ Limitations

Acer barbatum *
Southern Sugar Maple

Limited availability of cultivars

7 to 9

65/45

oval

More heat tol. than A. saccharum

Avoid compacted or dry sites. Intolerant of salt.

Acer buergeranum*
Trident Maple

Limited availability of cultivars

5 to 8

35/30

oval rounded

DS

Can be weak wooded.

Acer campestre*
Hedge Maple

`Queen Elizabeth'

6 to 7

40/40

globose ovate

CS, DS, PO, pH adaptable

Extremely adaptable. May be injured by late frosts.

Acer leucoderme*
Chalkbark Maple

Limited availability of cultivars

5 to 9

30/25

oval rounded

DS

Can have excellent fall color.

Acer platanoides*
Norway Maple

`Cleveland'
`Columnar'
`Crimson King'
`Deborah'
`Emerald Luster'
`Emerald Queen'
`Globosum'
`Olmsted'
`Schwedleri'
`Summershade'
'Superform'

4 to 6
4 to 6
4 to 6
4 to 6
4 to 6
4 to 6
4 to 6
4 to 6
4 to 6
4 to 6
4 to 6

55/35
35/15
45/35
65/55
65/60
75/60
15/18
45/25
60/50
75/65
45/40

ovate
columnar
broadly ovate
broadly ovate
globose
broadly ovate
globose
columnar
broadly ovate
broadly ovate
broadly globose

CS, PD, PO SA, pH adaptable

Tolerant of urban conditions. May suffer from leaf scorch, Verticillium, Ganoderma rot, aphids, and frost cracks. Dense shade and shallow roots may interfere with turf. Can be weedy in some areas.

Acer rubrum*
Red Maple

`Autumn Flame'
`Bowhall'
`Karpick'
`Northwood'
`October Glory'
`Red Skin'
`Red Sunset'

4 to 6
4 to 8
4 to 8
3 to 6
5 to 8
3 to 7
4 to 7

55/45
50/30
50/25
40/35
60/50
40/35
60/50

broadly ovate
conical
narrowly ovate
broadly ovate
broadly ovate
broadly ovate
broadly ovate

CS, PD, PO

Own-rooted plants preferred as graft compatibility can be a problem. Susceptible to Verticillium wilt. Intolerant of high pH. Shallow rooted.

Acer x freemanii*
Freeman Maple

`Armstrong'
`Autumn Blaze'
`Celebration'
`Scarlet Sentinel'

4 to 8
4 to 7
4 to 7
4 to 7

60/25
65/50
65/40
70/35

columnar
ovate
ovate
narrow ovate

PD, PO

A cross between A. rubrum and A. saccharinum. Intolerant of high pH.

Aesculus hippocastanum
Horsechestnut

`Baumannii'

4 to 7

70/55

ovate

CS, SA, pH adaptable

Susceptible to leaf blotch and scorch.

Aesculus x carnea
Red Horsechestnut

`Briotii'

5 to 7

50/45

broadly ovate

CS

Less susceptible to leaf blotch and scorch than A. hippocastanum.

Alnus glutinosa*
European Alder

species
`Pyramidalis'

3 to 7
3 to 7

60/40
50/25

pyramidal
columnar

DS, PD, PO

Tent caterpillar can be a problem.

Betula nigra
River Birch

`Heritage'
  DuraHeat

4 to 9
4 to 9

50/35
45/30

ovate
ovate

PD

Resistant to bronze birch borer. Drought sensitive.

Carpinus betulus*
European Hornbeam

species
`Fastigiata'

4 to 7
5 to 8

60/40
40/30

oval rounded
oval vase

DS, PD, PO, pH adaptable

Bagworms can be a problem.

Celtis laevigata*
Sugar Hackberry

`All Seasons'

5 to 9

50/40

rounded

DS, CS, PD, PO, SA

Intolerant of high pH.

Cornus kousa
Kousa Dogwood

`Milky Way Select'

5 to 8

25/25

rounded

tolerates partial shade

Resistant to Discula anthracnose.

Cornus spp.
Dogwood Hybrids

Celestial
Stellar Pink

5 to 8
5 to 8

25/25
25/25

upright
upright

more disease resistant than C. florida

Resistant to Discula anthracnose and powdery mildew.

Cotinus coggygria
Smoketree

`Daydream'
'Royal Purple'

5 to 8
5 to 8

15/15
15/15

open
open

DS, pH adaptable

Susceptible to Verticillium.

Corylus colurna*
Turkish Filbert

cultivars are not available

5 to 7

60/35

conical

DS, pH adaptable

Tolerant of poor sites.

Crataegus viridis
Green Hawthorn

`Winter King'

4 to 7

30/30

rounded vase

DS, PD, pH adaptable

Occasional thorns.

x Cupressocyparis leylandii
Leyland Cypress

`Haggerston Grey'
`Leighton Green'
`Naylor's Blue'
`Silver Dust'

7 to 10
7 to 10
7 to 10
7 to 9

70/15
70/10
60/20
60/10

columnar
columnar
columnar
columnar

PD, SA, pH adaptable

Fast grower, very adaptable, however, short to lived on poorer sites. Bagworm and stem canker are problems.

Eriobotrya japonica*
Loquat

`Golden Nugget'

8 to 10

25/25

rounded

DS, high pH

Evergreen. Susceptible to fire blight.

Eucommia ulmoides*
Hardy Rubber Tree

Limited availability of cultivars

4 to 7

60/60

rounded

DS, high pH

Intolerant of poor drainage.

Fraxinus pennsylvanica*
Green Ash

`Marshall Seedless'
`Newport'
`Patmore'
`Summit'
`Urbanite'

2 to 7
3 to 7
3 to 7
4 to 8
6 to 8

55/45
55/45
60/50
60/55
60/45

broadly conical
ovate
broadly ovate
ovate
conical

CS, DS, SA, PD, pH adaptable

Select male cultivars for seedlessness. Anthracnose and ash borers can be problems.

Ginkgo biloba*
Ginkgo

`Lakeview'
`Princeton Sentry'

4 to 8
4 to 8

55/35
65/30

conical
columnar

CS, DS, PD, PO, SA, pH adaptable

Plant only male clones. Very adaptable. Excellent fall color.

Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis*
Thornless Honeylocust

species
`Imperial'
`Moraine'
`Shademaster'
`Skyline'

4 to 7
5 to 7
4 to 7
5 to 7
4 to 7

80/70
40/45
70/60
70/60
75/65

broadly ovate
broadly globose
broadly ovate
ovate vase
broadly ovate

CS, DS, SA, high pH

Some insect problems: plant bugs, mites, webworm, etc. Overused in some areas.

Gymnocladus dioicus
Kentucky Coffeetree

Limited availability of cultivars

4 to 9

75/65

ovate

DS, SA, high pH

Pods may be undesirable. Adaptable.

Ilex spp.
Hollies

I. 'East Palatka'
`Foster's #2'
`Nellie R. Stevens'

6 to 9
6 to 9
6 to 9

25/15
25/15
25/20

pyramidal
pyramidal
broad pyramidal

DS, PO, PD

No major problems.

Juniperus virginiana
Eastern Redcedar

'Emerald Sentinel'
'Princeton Sentry'
'Pendula'

2 to 9
2 to 9
2 to 9

20/8
15/5
40/20

pyramidal
columnar
pendulous

DS, PO, high pH

Adaptable. Avoid planting near apples and crabapples.

Koelreuteria paniculata*
Goldenraintree

'September'

5 to 9

40/40

broadly globose

DS, PO, SA, high pH

Yellow flowers in summer and good fall color. Can be weedy.

Lagerstromia spp.*
Crapemyrtle

'Dallas Red'
'Lipan'
'Natchez'
'Sioux'
'Tonto'
'Yuma'

7 to 9
7 to 9
7 to 9
7 to 9
7 to 9
7 to 9

20/20
20/20
20/20
20/20
12/12
20/20

upright/spread.
upright/spread.
upright/spread.
upright/spread.
globe
upright/spread.

PD

Many cultivars have desirable, exfoliating bark and good fall color. Aphids and mildew can be problems.

Liquidambar styraciflua*
Sweetgum

species
`Burgundy'
`Festival'
`Rotundiloba'

5 to 9
5 to 9
5 to 9
6 to 9

75/50
75/50
60/40
75/50

pyramid. round
pyramid. round
pyramid. round narrow pyramid

PD

Intolerant of high pH. Fruit can be a problem. Drought sensitive. `Rotundiloba' is fruitless.

Maackia amurensis*
Amur Maackia

cultivars are not available

3 to 7

30/35

rounded

pH adaptable

White summer flowers. Adaptable.

Malus spp.*
Flowering Crabapple

`Adams'
`Centurion'
`Prairifire'
`Robinson'
`Sentinel'
`Sugar Tyme'

4 to 8
4 to 8
4 to 8
4 to 8
4 to 8
4 to 8

20/20
20/15
20/20
25/25
20/12
18/15

rounded
upright
upright round
rounded
narrow upright
upright oval

CS, DS, PD, SA

Avoid grafted plants on seedling understock - EMLA 111 rootstock is recommended. See HIL no. 613 for more information on crabapples.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides*
Dawn Redwood

`National'

5 to 8

85/40

conical

PO

Deciduous conifer. Intolerant of high pH.

Nyssa sylvatica*
Black Gum

Limited availability of cultivars

5 to 9

70/45

conical ovate

PD, DS

Excellent fall color.

Phellodendron amurensis
Amur Corktree

`Macho'

4 to 7

45/40

ovate

PD, pH adaptable

Use male selections, e.g. `Macho,' if fruit is not wanted.

Pinus taeda
Loblolly Pine

species
`Nana'

7 to 9
7 to 9

70/30
15/8

pyramidal ovate
rounded

PD

Susceptible to pine beetle.

Pistacia chinensis*
Chinese Pistache

`Keith Davey'

7 to 9

35/35

ovate/rounded

DS

Great fall color and adaptable.

Platanus x acerifolia*
London Planetree

`Bloodgood'
`Colombia'
`Liberty'

6 to 8
6 to 8
6 to 8

80/65
80/50
80/50

broadly ovate
broadly ovate
broadly ovate

CS, PD

Cultivars are more resistant to anthracnose. Cankerstain and bacterial leaf scorch may occur.

Prunus caroliniana
Carolina
Cherrylaurel

Limited availability of cultivars

8 to 10

20/15

pyramidal

DS, pH adaptable

Avoid sites with poor drainage.

Prunus sargentii*
Sargent Cherry

`Columnaris'
`Hillier Spire'

4 to 7
4 to 7

40/18
27/10

narrow columnar

DS, SA

Avoid sites with poor drainage. Very susceptible to Japanese beetles.

Prunus virginiana*
Chokecherry

`Schubert'

2 to 7

30/20

ovate

DS, SA

Avoid sites with poor drainage. Can be weedy.

Pyrus calleryana*
Callery Pear

`Bradford' 'Chanticleer'

5 to 8
5 to 8

40/30
40/30

broadly ovate upright

CS, DS, PD, PO, SA

Trees should be trained to a central leader with branches well to spaced.

Quercus acutissima
Sawtooth Oak

cultivars are not available

6 to 9

45/45

oval rounded

PD, CS, DS

Requires acid soils, heavy acorn production, holds brown leaves in winter.

Quercus bicolor
Swamp White Oak

cultivars are not available

3 to 8

80/70

rounded

DS, PD, SA

Requires acid soils.

Quercus imbricaria
Shingle Oak

cultivars are not available

4 to 7

60/60

broad rounded

DS

No major problems.

Quercus lyrata*
Overcup Oak

cultivars are not available

5 to 9

45/45

broad rounded

PD

No major problems.

Quercus macrocarpa*
Bur Oak

cultivars are not available

2 to 8

80/80

broad rounded

DS, PD, PO, pH adaptable

Slow to recover from transplanting.

Quercus phellos*
Willow Oak

cultivars are not available

6 to 9

90/75

ovate

CS, PD, SA

Cankerworms. Fast grower.

Quercus robur*
English Oak

`Fastigiata'

5 to 8

60/15

columnar

DS, PO, SA pH adaptable

Powdery mildew can be a problem.

Quercus rubra*
 
Northern Red Oak

cultivars are not available

5 to 8

80/65

broadly ovate

CS, PO, SA

No major problems.

Quercus shumardii Shumard Oak

cultivars are not available

5 to 9

80/65

rounded/open

PO

No major problems.

Quercus virginiana*
Live Oak

cultivars are not available

8 to 10

80/100

wide spreading

CS, PD, SA

No major problems.

Sophora japonica*
Japanese Pagodatree

species
`Princeton Upright'
`Regent'

6 to 8
6 to 8
6 to 8

70/70
50/35
50/40

broadly ovate
ovate
broadly ovate

CS, DS, PO, SA

Flowers in late summer. Canker.

Syringa reticulata*
Japanese Tree Lilac

`Ivory Silk'
`Summer Snow'

3 to 6
3 to 6

30/20
25/25

ovate
globose

pH adaptable

Susceptible to late frosts.

Taxodium distichum*
Baldcypress

species
`Monarch of Ill.'
`Shawnee Brave'

5 to 9
5 to 9
5 to 9

85/65
85/65
85/20

conical
wide spreading
narrow pyramid

CS, PD, PO

A deciduous conifer. Bagworms and mites. Fast grower.

Tilia cordata*
Littleleaf Linden

species
`Glenleven'
`Greenspire'

3 to 7
3 to 7
3 to 7

80/55
70/50
70/50

ovate
conical
conical

CS, pH adaptable

Japanese beetle and aphids can be a problem.

Tilia tomentosa
Silver Linden

species
`Green Mountain'
`Sterling'

5 to 8
5 to 8
5 to 8

70/55
45/50
45/30

ovate
ovate pyramidal
broad pyramidal

CS, DS, pH adaptable

Aphids.

Ulmus parvifolia*
Lacebark Elm

species
Athena
Allee

5 to 9
4 to 9
7 to 9

75/75
40/60
75/75

ovate vase
globe
vase

CS, DS, PD, pH adaptable

Exfoliating bark and fast growth. Train to a central leader and select branches with wide crotch angles.

Ulmus spp.*
Hybrid Elms

`Homestead'
`Pioneer'
`Urban'

5 to 7
5 to 7
5 to 7

60/45
60/60
60/45

conical
globose
narrow/ovate

CS, DS, PO, PD, SA, pH adaptable

Elm leaf beetle.

Zelkova serrata*
Japanese Zelkova

`Green Vase'
`Village Green'

5 to 8
5 to 8

70/55
60/60

vase
broad vase

CS, DS, PO, pH adaptable

Narrow crotch angles can result in splitting.

*

Recommended for possible use as a street tree.

1

Tolerant of: CS = compacted soils, DS = dry soils, PO = pollution (primarily sulfur dioxide and ozone), PD = poor drainage, SA = salt.


Published by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service


Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.