Medium to Large Trees for St. Louis

by Ronda Anson

Following is a wide selection of medium to large trees recommended for the St. Louis area. Most are native Missouri species or nativars (cultivars of Missouri native trees). Others are excellent, non-invasive exotics. All should perform well in St. Louis if planted in a suitable location.

To learn what conditions each tree requires, click on the Latin name of the plant (orange text) for more information. Many of these trees were voted "Tried and Trouble-free" by six or more area professionals and should be easy to find at local nurseries. Several are "Plants of Merit." All have or are currently performing well at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Come and take a look at them. Although some may be harder to find, they are worth the search. Expected size is listed with each tree.

Native plant enthusiasts may wish to consult another of our visual guides: "Native Trees for Missouri Landscapes."

To learn how to position trees in Missouri landscapes to get the most benefit from their shade, see the University of Missouri Extension Guidesheet: G6900 "Tree Placement on Home Grounds" And for planting instructions consult the University of Missouri Extension Guidesheet: G6850 "How to Plant a Tree."


Acer miyabei 'Morton' STATE STREET
Miyabe maple
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 1 professional

Average size: 30-40' tall, 30-40' wide
Fall color: Quality yellow

Other notable characteristics: Attractive upright rounded growth habit / symmetrical branching / crisp green leaves

No image
Acer rubrum 'Autumn Flame'
Red maple
Nativar
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals

Average size: 40-60' tall, 30-50' wide
Fall color: Brilliant scarlet

Acer rubrum 'Franksred' RED SUNSET
Red maple
Nativar
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 9 professionals

Average size: 40-50' tall, 30-40' wide
Fall color: Outstanding & reliable, orange to red

Other notable characteristics: One of the best red maple cultivars available
Acer rubrum 'October Glory'
Red maple
Nativar
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 10 professionals

Average size: 40-50' tall, 30-40' wide
Fall color: Exceptional orange to red
Acer saccharum
Sugar maple
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 4 professionals

Average size: 40-80' tall, 30-60' wide (some reaching 100' tall fit into the large tree category)
Fall color: Spectacular yellow orange

Other notable characteristics: Long-lived trees which grow relatively slowly (somewhat faster in the first 35 years)
Acer saccharum 'Bailsta' FALL FIESTA
Sugar maple
Nativar
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals

Average size: 60-75' tall, 30-45' wide
Fall color: Oranges and reds

Other notable characteristics: Vigorous and rapid growth rate / more upright than the species / better heat & drought tolerance
Acer saccharum subsp. nigrum
Black maple
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 1 professional

Average size: 60-75' tall, 40-60' wide (some reaching 100' tall fit into the large tree category)
Fall color: Spectacular yellow orange

Other notable characteristics: Subspecies of sugar maple / all the best characteristics of sugar maple but with better tolerance for heat and drought / may be difficult to find
Betula nigra 'Cully' HERITAGE
River birch
Nativar
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 12 professionals

Average size: 40-70' tall, 40-60' wide
Fall color: Yellow

Other notable characteristics: Salmon-cream to brownish bark which exfoliates to reveal a creamy white inner bark / vigorous, fast-growing / found growing in St. Louis, Missouri by Earl Cully
Betula nigra 'BNMTF' DURA-HEAT
River birch
Nativar
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals

Average size: 30-40' tall, 25-30' wide
Fall color: Yellow

Other notable characteristics: Smaller cultivar that features better creamy white bark color, better tolerance to summer heat, better insect and disease resistance and superior foliage to the species
Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata'
Common hornbeam or Upright European hornbeam
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 8 professionals

Average size: 30-40' tall, 20-30' wide
Fall color: Yellow-orange

Other notable characteristics: Smooth, gray trunk and larger branches of a mature tree exhibit a distinctive muscle-like fluting / distinctive clusters of winged nutlets / clean, attractive foliage throughout the growing season
Celtis laevigata
Sugarberry
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 2 professionals

Average size: 60-80' tall, 60-80' wide (some reaching 100' tall fit into the large tree category)
Fruit: Attractive to birds / edible

Other notable characteristics: Good resistance to witches’ broom / tolerant of a wide range of conditions / attracts butterflies
Celtis occidentalis
Hackberry
Missouri Native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 3 professionals

Average size: 40-60' tall, 40-60' wide (some reaching 100' tall fit into the large tree category)
Fruit: Attractive to birds / edible

Other notable characteristics: Tough, hardy shade tree tolerant of a wide range of conditions / mature gray bark develops corky ridges and warty texture / also attracts butterflies / prone to benign witches' brooms
Cercidiphyllum japonicum
Katsura tree
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals

Average size: 40-60' tall, 25-60' wide
Fall color: Quality shades of gold, orange and red

Other notable characteristics: Grown for its beautiful shape and its attractive foliage / leaves emerge reddish purple in spring & mature to medium green with a slight bluish tinge in summer
Cladrastis kentukea
Yellowwood
Missouri native
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals

Average size: 30-50' tall, 40-55' wide
Fall color: Yellow
Flowers: Showy white clusters, fragrant
Corylus colurna
Turkish hazel
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 1 professional

Average size: 40-80' tall, 30-50' wide
Flowers: Interesting masses of male catkins in March
Fruit: Showy, edible filberts

Other notable characteristics: Food for wildlife
Diospyros virginiana
Persimmon (male selections)
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 4 professionals

Average size: 35-60' tall, 25-35' wide
Flowers: Fragrant, white to greenish-yellow
Fruit: Attractive to birds / edible

Other notable characteristics: Distinctive thick, dark gray bark, broken into rectangular blocks / select a male tree if fruit, which can be messy, is not desired
Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo (male selections)
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 7 professionals

Average size: 50-80' tall, 30'-40' wide
Fall color: Golden yellow
Fruit: Male trees are selected to produce no fruit although some may occasionally produce a fruit bearing limb / female trees produce seeds encased in fleshy, fruit-like coverings which, at maturity in autumn, are messy and emit a noxious, foul odor upon falling to the ground and splitting open.

Other notable characteristics: Attractive fan-shaped leaves / leaves drop rapidly in autumn, forming a golden carpet
Ginkgo biloba 'Autumn Gold'
Autumn Gold ginkgo
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 10 professionals

Average size: 40-50' tall, 25-30' wide
Fall color: Golden yellow
Fruit: 'Autumn Gold' is a male cultivar (no fruit)

Other notable characteristics: Attractive fan-shaped leaves / leaves drop rapidly, forming a golden carpet
Gleditsia triacanthos f. inermis 'Skycole' SKYLINE
Honey locust
Nativar
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 7 professionals

Average size: 35-45' tall, 25-35' wide
Fall color: Yellow

Other notable characteristics: Thornless and nearly seedless / casts a sun-dappled shade
Gymnocladus dioica
Kentucky coffeetree (male selections)
Missouri native
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals

Average size: 60-80' tall, 40-55' wide (occasionally 100' tall)
Fall color: Insignificant
Flowers: Male flowers in clusters to 4” long. Female flowers in panicles to 12” long. Female flowers are fragrant.
Fruit: Attractive to birds / edible

Other notable characteristics: Seed pods of female trees are messy and the seeds are toxic unless roasted
Liriodendron tulipifera
Tulip poplar
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 9 professionals

Average size: 60-90' tall (or more), 30-50' wide
Fall color: Golden yellow
Flowers: Yellow with orange band at petal bases

Other notable characteristics: Large four-lobed bright green leaves / leaf litter can be a problem in gutters / avoid planting near driveways as honeydew dropping from scale insects can be a problem
Magnolia acuminata
Cucumber tree
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 3 professionals

Average size: 40-70' tall, 20-35' wide (occasionally 100' tall)
Fall color: Gold / seedcones turn showy red
Flowers: Slightly-fragrant, greenish-yellow, tulip-like
Fruit: Green, warty, cucumber-like seedcones

Other notable characteristics: Deciduous
Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Dawn redwood
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 3 professionals

Average size: 70-100' tall, 15-25' wide
Fall color: Red-bronze

Other notable characteristics: Deciduous conifer / the trunks of mature trees broaden at the base and develop attractive and sometimes elaborate fluting
Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Raven' SHAW'S LEGACY
Dawn redwood
Plant of Merit

Average size: 70-100' tall, 25-50' wide
Fall color: Orange to red

Other notable characteristics: Deciduous conifer with soft, feathery fern-like leaves / the trunks of mature trees broaden at the base and develop attractive and sometimes elaborate fluting / faster growing, more uniform habit and better disease resistance than species
Nyssa sylvatica
Black gum (or sour gum)
Missouri native
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 11 professionals

Average size: 30-50' tall, 20-30' wide
Fall color: Incredible ranges of red to burgundy
Fruit: Dark blue, attractive to birds and wildlife
Parrotia persica
Persian ironwood
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 6 professionals

Average size: 20-40' tall, 20-30' wide
Fall color: Shades of yellow, orange and red

Other notable characteristics: Leaves emerge reddish-purple in spring, mature to a lustrous, medium to dark green in summer / bark of mature trees exfoliates to show green, white or tan patches beneath
Platanus × acerifolia
London plane tree
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 2 professionals

Average size: 75-100' tall, 60-75' wide

Other notable characteristics: Highly resistant alternative to anthracnose prone sycamore / brown bark exfoliates in irregular pieces to reveal creamy white inner bark very similar to sycamore
Pseudolarix amabilis
Golden larch
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 1 professional

Average size: 30-60' tall, 20-40' wide
Fall color: Golden yellow

Other notable characteristics: Noted for its soft green foliage (light green above and blue-green below) that turns golden yellow in fall before dropping / deciduous conifer
Quercus bicolor
Swamp white oak
Missouri native
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals

Average size: 50-60' tall, 50-60' wide
Fall color: Yellow, sometimes reddish purple
Fruit: Acorns

Other notable characteristics: One of the better oaks for fall color / excellent structure and habit / attracts birds & other wildlife
Quercus coccinea
Scarlet oak
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 3 professionals

Average size: 50-70' tall, 40-50' wide
Fall color: Scarlet
Fruit: Acorns

Other notable characteristics: Attracts birds & other wildlife / a stately shade tree / long-lived, durable and low-maintenance / unfortunately can be confused in the trade with pin oak (not recommended for St. Louis) or shumard oak (also, not recommended)
Quercus macrocarpa
Bur oak
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals

Average size: 60-80' tall, 60-80' wide
Fruit: Largest acorns

Other notable characteristics: Attracts birds & other wildlife / most majestic of the native North American oaks / long-lived (200-300 years), durable and low-maintenance
Quercus muehlenbergii
Chinkapin oak
Missouri native
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 4 professionals

Average size: 40-60' tall, 50-70' wide
Fruit: Sweet edible acorns may take up to 30 years to appear

Other notable characteristics: Attracts birds & other wildlife / long-lived, durable and low-maintenance
Quercus phellos
Willow oak
Missouri native
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 8 professionals

Average size: 40-75' tall, 25-50' wide (occasionally 100' tall)
Fruit: Acorns

Other notable characteristics: Attracts birds & other wildlife / willow-like leaves / relatively fast growth rate/ long-lived, durable and low-maintenance
Quercus rubra
Red oak
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 7 professionals

Average size: 50-75' tall, 50-75' wide
Fall color: Red
Fruit: Abundant crop of acorns may not occur before tree reaches 40 years old

Other notable characteristics: Attracts birds & other wildlife / dark, lustrous green leaves (grayish-white beneath) / relatively fast growth rate/ long-lived, durable and low-maintenance
Quercus stellata
Post oak
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 1 professional

Average size: 35-50' tall, 35-50' wide
Fall color: Ranging from bland to quality shades of yellow and brown
Fruit: Abundant crop of acorns may not occur before tree reaches 25 years old

Other notable characteristics: Attracts birds & other wildlife / low-maintenance, long-lived tree / winter silhouette is the typical hoary old oak
Quercus × warei 'Long' REGAL PRINCE
Oak
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals

Average size: 40-60' tall, 20-25' wide
Fall color: Yellow-brown
Fruit: Acorns

Other notable characteristics: Narrow, cylindrical, upright habit / glossy, leathery, dark green foliage / excellent resistance to powdery mildew and borers
Sassafras albidum
Sassafras
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 7 professionals


Average size: 30-60' tall, 25-40'
Fall color: Yellow, purple and red
Fruit: Bluish-black berries in scarlet cup-like receptacles on scarlet stalks
Taxodium distichum var. distichum
Bald cypress
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 10 professionals

Average size: 50-70' tall, 20-45' wide (occasionally 125' tall)
Fall color: Attractive orange / cinnamon-brown
Fruit: Small round cones

Other notable characteristics: Deciduous conifer / often develop distinctive, knobby root growths ("knees")
Taxodium distichum var. imbricarium
Pond cypress
Missouri native
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 1 professionals

Average size: 30-70' tall, 15-20' wide (occasionally 125' tall)
Fall color: Orange-brown
Fruit: Small round cones

Other notable characteristics: Deciduous conifer / often develop distinctive, knobby root growths ("knees")
Thuja 'Green Giant'
Arborvitae
Plant of Merit
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 9 professionals

Average size: 40-60' tall, 12-18' wide
Fall color: Evergreen

Other notable characteristics: Suitable for a hedge or screen due to narrow width
Tilia americana
American linden
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 1 professional

Average size: 50-80' tall, 30-50' wide (occasionally 100' tall)
Flowers: Showy, very fragrant, pale yellow

Other notable characteristics: Magnet for bees & butterflies
Tilia americana 'Redmond'
American linden
nativar
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 5 professionals

Average size: 50-70' tall, 30-45' wide
Flowers: Showy, very fragrant, pale yellow

Other notable characteristics: Magnet for bees & butterflies / resistant to Japanese beetles
Tilia americana var. heterophylla
White basswood
Missouri native
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 1 professional

Average size: 50-80' tall, 30-60' wide (occasionally 100' tall)
Flowers: Showy, very fragrant, pale yellow

Other notable characteristics: Magnet for bees & butterflies / national champion tree is at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Tilia cordata 'Chancellor'
Little-leaf linden
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 1 professional

Average size: 50' tall, 30-50' wide
Flowers: Fragrant, pale yellow

Other notable characteristics: Magnet for bees & butterflies / more compact than species / resistant to Japanese beetles
Tilia tomentosa
Silver linden
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 4 professionals

Average size: 50-70' tall, 30-50' wide (occasionally 100' tall)
Flowers: Fragrant, pale yellow

Other notable characteristics: Leaves glossy green above and silvery-white below / magnet for bees & butterflies
Ulmus americana 'Jefferson'
American elm
Nativar

Average size: 40-50' tall, 40-50' wide
Fall color: Yellow

Other notable characteristics: Cloned in 1993 from an elm on the National Mall in Washington D.C. that has survived since the 1930s / excellent resistance to Dutch elm disease
Ulmus parvifolia
Chinese elm (also lacebark elm)
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 3 professional

Average size: 40-50' tall, 25-40' wide
Bark: Flakes to reveal patches of gray, cream, orange, brown and green

Other notable characteristics: Noted for its excellent foliage, multi-colored bark, rapid growth and good resistance to Dutch elm disease / should not be confused with the much inferior Siberian elm, Ulmus pumila, which is also often referred to as Chinese elm
Zelkova serrata 'Green Vase'
Japanese zelkova
Tried & Trouble-free: Recommended by 9 professionals

Average size: 60-80' tall, 40-50' wide
Fall color: Orange-bronze

Other notable characteristics: Promoted as a substitute for American elm (Ulmus americana) because of its resistance to Dutch elm disease and similarity to American elm / rapid growth when young / smooth gray bark in youth exfoliates with age to reveal orange-brown inner bark