Blog Post By Jona Elwell

Trees that Pack a Punch

With temps cooling down, we are seeing people out and about in the neighborhood again! If you are getting your space ready for fall check out these trees that truly pack a punch! Every neighborhood needs some trees, and every garden or landscape needs a tree or two. Trees take in carbon dioxide and provide us with oxygen, cleaning and freshening the air around us. They soften the harshness of a city – the ever present gray of impervious surfaces and their accompanying unrelenting heat. 

Just because you have a small yard does not mean that you cannot have a tree! What these lack in height they make up for in various ways:

Crape Myrtle | Crape myrtle spp.
A small, flowering tree that will provide shade when fully-grown, the crape myrtle not only has wonderful, showy flowers (which we professed our love for in the DCist) that can range from white to deep purple. The crape myrtle tree also features fabulous fall leaf color, in hues of purple, red, orange and rust. After the leaves drop in winter, the bark peels and takes on nice shades of brown, cream, white and gray. Bring some beauty to your yard for the next summer when you let us help you plant it for free!  

Paw Paw | Asimina triloba
At the north end of its range in D.C., the pawpaw is an under-used (not for long!), small tropical tree with lustrous, dark-green leaves. Its deep-purple spring flowers produce clusters of kidney-shaped fruit that taste like a banana crossed with a mango. Animals enjoy the fruit, so the tree should be netted to protect the fruit for human consumption, however, deer will not eat pawpaw leaves. Want to know about this regional delicacy? Join us at the first annual Pawpaw Party! You can even bring one home when you let us help you plant it for free!  

Serviceberry | Amelanchier sp.
There’s a reason WAMU can’t get enough of these local, edible berries: they’re delicious (for humans as well as songbirds, and even black bears). Even better? These native trees aren’t just a pretty face: they’re surprisingly hardy and can stand up to shock and mediocre soil quality, and usually don’t grow past 25 feet in height – perfect for compact yards. Let us help you plant it for free!  

Sweetbay Magnolia | Magnolia virginiana
A small evergreen tree in our area, sweetbay magnolias have lemon-scented flowers and blooms in spring forming bright-red seeds in the fall. This tree is a favorite among gardeners throughout D.C. Pollinators, especially beetles, are attracted to its pollen, which is high in protein. It is a host plant for tiger swallowtail butterfly, palamedes swallowtail, spicebush swallowtail, and sweetbay silkmoth too! Bring some beauty and butterflies to your yard when you let us help you plant it for free!  


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