Trees

Information on urban hardy species that have been tested for success.

Witch Hazel

Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel is an excellent understory tree that produces fiery-yellow, fragrant flowers that stand out in the fall and winter. The extract witchhazel is distilled from the bark of young stems and roots. Size and Light Requirements Grown in full sun or partial shade, witch hazel will reach 20 feet in height in …

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Black Willow

Salix nigra The black willow has elongated green leaves and dark brown to black, deeply-furrowed bark. The tiny yellowish-green flowers that appear in catkins in the spring provide nectar for bees and other pollinators. Size and Light Requirements Growing best in full sun to part shade, the black willow can grow to a height of …

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American Sycamore

Platanus occidentalis The American sycamore is a tough, wide-canopied tree that will provide plenty of shade in the summer. Its signature brown bark exfoliates to reveal creamy whiter inner bark that can be seen from a great distance. Typically growing to its largest size along rivers and streams, this tree is highly resistant to pollution, …

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Okame Cherry

Prunus x incamp ‘Okame’ Flowering much earlier than other cherries, the okame cherry displays carmine-pink blossoms in the late winter or early spring. Deep green foliage in the spring and summer turns to a stunning bronze in the fall. Size and Light Requirements The Okame cherry needs full sun and can grow to a height …

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Loebner Magnolia

Magnolia x loebneri ‘Merrill’ A cross between Magnolia kobus and Magnolia stellata — this small, deciduous tree enjoys a rounded habit and star-like white flowers that appear before the leaves in early spring. Flowers give way to cone-like fruits that ripen to red in late summer. Most often grown as a multi-trunked tree, the young …

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Freeman Maple

Acer x freemanii A hybrid of the red and silver maple, this fast grower combines the best attributes of both in a stately, adaptable shade tree. Exceptionally bright red fall color and vigorous growth are hallmarks of this popular and proven performer. Size and Light Requirements Reaching a height of 40 feet in 30 to …

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Japanese Pagoda

Styphnolobium japonicum Contrary to its name, the Japanese pagoda is an ornamental shade tree native to China and Korea. It is able to withstand the rigors of urban life and still stage a late summer show of fragrant, white flowers and green leaves that persist well into autumn. Pagoda trees can be found on the …

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Shumard Oak

Quercus shumardii An urban tough tree with brownish-red fall foliage, the shumard oak is an excellent shade tree for any yard. Size and Light Requirements This oak prefers full sun, and will attain 40 feet in height in as many years. Plant This Tree This tree is available through our residential planting program, RiverSmart Homes. …

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Swamp White Oak

Quercus bicolor A favorite choice of professional arborists, the swamp white oak is a grand shade tree with distinct leaves that are a dark green color above while being silvery-white below. As its name suggests, it thrives in wet soil situations, but oddly enough, can also withstand drought. Size and Light Requirements Swamp white oaks …

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White Oak

Quercus bicolor The sturdy white oak is a shade tree with a beautiful silhouette, dark green leaves and distinct grayish-white furrowed bark. It is known for its wood that is sometimes used in barrels for aging wine and spirits. Size and Light Requirements White oaks generally grow slowly in full sun to partial shade. It …

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Loblolly Pine

Pinus taeda The loblolly pine is a relatively fast-growing evergreen known for its straight trunk, upright form and distinctive bark. Its narrow form allows it to occupy a variety of yard spaces, and over time its crown of attractive green needles spread out to provide shade below. Size and Light Requirements Loblolly pines need full …

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Pin Oak

Quercus palustris Before modern fasteners, pin oak wood was used to join, or “pin” construction timbers together, and so it was named. This a strong, upright shade tree commonly planted in D.C. Size and Light Requirements Pin oaks grow somewhat slowly and under most conditions will reach 40 feet in height in 40 to 50 …

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Scarlet Oak

Quercus coccinea The scarlet oak, the District of Columbia’s state tree, is prized for its rich, red fall foliage from which it gets its name. Once established, the scarlet oak can withstand significant dry spells. Size and Light Requirements Scarlet oak is slow to moderate growing, reaching 40 feet in height in 30 to 50 …

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Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba A throwback to prehistoric times, the gingko is a beautiful shade tree with unique fan-shaped leaves that turn a beautiful yellow in fall, and distinctly furrowed corky bark that is gray-white in color. This tough urban tree is able to withstand varied conditions and stresses. Only plant male varieties to avoid the unpleasant …

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Pond Cypress

Taxodium ascendens The pond cypress is a graceful pyramid-shaped tree with dark, shaggy bark and light-green leaves that turn orange-red in the fall. Size and Light Requirements The pond cypress does best in full sun, and is somewhat smaller and more compact than its cousin, the baldcypress. It will reach about 30 feet in height …

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