ProblemSolver Plants for Dry Sun - Trees and Shrubs

Trees

Acer saccharum subsp. nigrum
Black maple

Black maple is a Missouri native that is very similar in appearance to sugar maple but with superior heat and drought tolerance. Fall color is beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red. It is a large, deciduous tree that typically grows 60-75" tall. Its sap may be tapped for syrup that is equal in quality to that obtained from sugar maple.

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Celtis occidentalis
Hackberry

Hackberry is a tough shade tree that grows in a wide range of soils. It is a Missouri native and typically grows 40-60'. It has good natural form and interesting warty bark. Fruits are attractive to a variety of wildlife. Birds consume the fruits and disperse the seeds. Fleshy parts of the fruit are edible and somewhat sweet.
Crataegus viridis
Green hawthorn

Green hawthorns are beautiful flowering trees. These Missouri natives grow 20-35’ tall and are largely thornless. They have an aroma that is not particularly fragrant. However, on the plus side they don’t suffer from cedar-hawthorn rust!

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Ginkgo biloba
Maidenhair tree

The fan-shaped leaves of the maidenhair or ginkgo tree turn a spectacular bright yellow in fall. Easily grown in a lawn or as a street or shade tree, it tolerates the difficult city conditions of compacted soil and air pollution. Male cultivars are preferable as the fruit-like covering on the seeds produced by the female trees is unpleasantly odorous. Mature size can reach 100'.

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Ostrya virginiana
Eastern hop hornbeam

This Missouri native typically grows 25-40' tall with a slightly smaller spread. Female catkins are followed by drooping clusters of sac-like, seed-bearing pods which, as the common name suggests, somewhat resemble the fruit of hops. Also commonly called ironwood because of its extremely hard and dense wood.
Quercus coccinea
Scarlet oak

Scarlet oak is a stately shade tree that eventually matures to 70' feet tall. Foliage is a glossy green in summer turning to scarlet in fall. Native to southeastern Missouri.

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Quercus falcata
Southern red oak

 Also native to southeastern Missouri, the southern red oak is a large tree, maturing at 90' tall, with an open, rounded crown and dark glossy leaves.
Quercus macrocarpa
Bur oak

Bur oak is one of the most majestic of the native North American oaks. It is a medium to large sized deciduous oak that typically grows 60-80’ tall with a broad-spreading, rounded crown. Bur oaks can live for hundreds of years and become giants; many have legendary or historic status. The acorns are very large, hairy and edible.
 
Quercus marilandica
Blackjack oak

Blackjack oak is another Missouri native. Although not the most attractive tree, it is rugged, living in places that other trees could not survive. It is compact, growing 20 to 40' tall and has distinctive bark, resembling alligator hide.
Quercus muehlenbergii
Chinkapin oak

Chinkapin oak (or Chinquapin) is a medium sized deciduous oak that typically grows 40-60’ tall with an open globular crown. Leaves somewhat resemble the leaves of the chestnut (Castanea) whose nut is sometimes called a chinquapin, hence the common name of this oak whose acorn is sweet and edible.
Quercus prinus
Chestnut oak

Chestnut oak is a medium to large sized deciduous oak that typically grows 50-70’ tall with a rounded crown. It thrives in dryish rocky soils.
Quercus rubra
Red oak

Generally a durable and long-lived tree, the red oak (sometimes called northern red oak) is a Missouri native. It is medium sized with a rounded to broad-spreading, often irregular crown. It typically grows at a moderate-to-fast rate to a height of 50-75'. The leaves are dark  green and lustrous with grayish-white on the underside.
Quercus shumardii
Shumard oak

Shumard oak is a medium sized Missouri native oak that typically grows at a moderately fast rate to a height of 40-60'. Pyramidal in youth but spreads to a broad open crown with age. Fall color appears late, but is often a respectable brownish red. Similar in appearance and habit to scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea).
Quercus stellata
Post oak

Generally considered to be low-maintenance and long-lived, post oak is a medium-sized Missouri native tree that typically grows 35-50’ tall with a rounded crown. It is called post oak because its durable wood has been used for fence posts.
Quercus velutina
Black oak

Black oak typically grows 50-60’ tall with a globular, spreading crown.  It is similar in appearance to red oak (Quercus rubra) with which it may on occasion hybridize. Bark is almost black on mature trunks with deep furrows. Inner bark is yellow to orange. Trunk matures to 3’ in diameter. Leathery, shiny, dark green leaves turn yellow to yellow-brown to dull red in fall.
Robinia pseudoacacia
Black locust

Black locust typically grows to 30-50’ tall. At its best, it will grow as a broadly columnar single trunk tree with a narrow oblong crown. It also will grow in suckering thickets. It is noted for its attractive compound leaves and fragrant wisteria-like white flowers in late spring. Branches are usually armed with short paired spines (to 1.25” long). Bees are attracted to the flowers.

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Taxodium distichum var. distichum
Bald cypress

Bald cypress is a long-lived conifer that grows 50-70' tall. Although it looks like a needled evergreen in summer, it is deciduous ("bald" as the common name suggests). It is native to the southeast corner of Missouri. Although it can be found growing directly in swampy water, it also grows very well in drier, upland soils. Trunks are flared or fluted at the base. Distinctive, knobby root growths (cypress knees) may also develop around the tree, protruding above the water or soil surface. Soft, feathery, yellowish-green foliage turns an attractive orange to cinnamon-brown in fall.

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Tilia americana
American linden

This Missouri native (sometimes called  American basswood) is noted for its fragrant pale yellow flowers in late spring, small nutlets with attached leafy wings and large ovate dark green leaves. It is a medium to large deciduous tree, typically growing to 50-80’ tall with a rounded crown. In June, when a tree is in full bloom, bees often visit in such abundant numbers that humming can be heard many feet from the tree. Honey made from these flowers is a prized gourmet food item. Flowers have also been used to make tea. Winter twigs and buds are red. A syrup may be made from the sweet sap in somewhat the same manner as maple sugar.

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Ulmus parvifolia
Chinese elm

Also called lacebark elm because of the multi-colored mottled bark, Chinese elm is resistant to Dutch elm disease which decimated the American elm. It is a medium-sized deciduous tree that typically grows to 40-50’ with  a rounded crown and long pendulous branching. On mature trees, bark flakes to reveal attractive patches of gray, cream, orange, brown and green. It grows rapidly.

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Juniperus virginiana
Red cedar

Red cedar has the best drought resistance of any conifer native to the eastern U. S. This Missouri native typically grows to 30-65’ tall, although many cultivars in various sizes, shapes and colors are available. Gray to reddish-brown bark exfoliates in thin shreddy strips on mature trees. Trunks are often fluted at the base. Heartwood is light brown and aromatic, and is commonly used for cedar chests. Female trees produce round, gray to blackish-green berry-like cones (1/4” diameter) that ripen in fall the first year and are attractive to many birds.

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Pinus echinata
Short-leaf pine

Short-leaf pine is native to Missouri where it mostly occurs in dry sandy or rocky upland areas in the Ozark region. It is a medium-sized (50-60' tall), fast-growing pine with a short pyramidal crown which broadens somewhat with age. On mature trees the bark is an attractive reddish-brown in scaly plates. An important timber tree in the deep South where it is harvested for a variety of purposes, including lumber, plywood and wood pulp (for paper).

Shrubs

Amorpha canescens
Lead plant

Lead plant is a Missouri native. This pea/bean family member is a somewhat ungainly, deciduous shrub growing 1-3' tall and featuring slender, dense, 4-8" spike-like clusters of tiny, bluish-purple flowers which bloom in May-June. Compound leaves are grayish green. Common name of lead plant refers to the once held belief that the plant was an indicator of the presence of lead in the ground.

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Syringa meyeri
Lilac

Meyer lilac was found growing in a garden near Beijing, China by Frank Meyer in 1909. It is not known to exist in the wild. It is a compact, rounded, slow-growing, deciduous shrub that matures to 5-8' tall and spreads to 10' wide. Pale lilac to violet-purple flowers bloom in small, dense clusters  in late April to early May (St. Louis area). Flowers are fragrant. Leaves are dark green.

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