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Common Medium and Large Trees of Georgia

Red Maple

Red Maple TreeFamily: Maple/Aceraceae

Characteristics: Red Maple trees are a deciduous tree featuring medium texture, medium growth rate and an oblong to oval form. It is commonly used in landscaping since it has good site tolerance. The bark is smooth and light gray in color. Clusters of small, red flowers develop in February and are followed by winged fruit in March. Autumn color varies from yellow to red.

Landscape Uses: Use Red Maple as a shade tree in moist soils with full sun. It will adapt to hot, dry locations whenever irrigated. Red Maple is simple to transplant and enjoys wet soils. Surface roots are common as the plant grows older.

Size: 40 to 50 ft tall with a spread of 24 to 35 feet

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Low-lying areas and swamps, always in close proximity to water.

Native To: Canada to the middle of the Florida peninsula and west to Minnesota, Oklahoma and Texas.

Comments: Since this tree has such a huge growing range, its origin is incredibly important. In other words, be sure that you don't plant a Red Maple from New England in Georgia; it might not adapt to the South’s high temps and humidity. A few cultivars have been over-used and are prone to diseases.

Sugar Maple / Acer saccharum

Sugar Maple TreeFamily: Maple/Aceraceae

Characteristics: Sugar Maple is a deciduous tree which has a medium texture, medium to slow growth rate and an upright to oval shape. It is most commonly known for its vibrant yellow to orange to red autumn color.

Landscape Uses: Sugar Maple makes a fine specimen, street or shade tree. It requires moist, well-drained, loamy soils and doesn't enjoy hot, dry locations. It creates dense shade, which could be a problem for sun-loving plants growing underneath its canopy.

Size: 60 to 80 feet tall with a spread of 25 to 40 feet

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b

Habitat: Moist, well-drained soils of the north Georgia mountains; typically found in the upper Piedmont area on fertile north slopes.

Native To: Eastern Canada to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas

Comments: There isn't any other native tree which matches the vibrant yellow, orange and red colors of Sugar Maple in autumn.

Yellow Buckeye / Aesculus flava

Yellow Buckeye LeafFamily: Buckeye/Hippocastanaceae

Characteristics: Yellow Buckeye is a substantial-sized tree featuring an upright to somewhat spreading crown. The compound palmate leaves are dark green above, yellow-green and pubescent below in youth and smooth at maturity. The flowers are yellow tinged in color with green, borne in erect panicles, six to seven inches long by two to three inches wide from mid- to late April. The bark is gray and smooth in youth, becoming scaly or having large gray to brown plates on older trunks.

Landscape Uses: Yellow Buckeye is a gorgeous, swiftly growing tree when correctly grown. It can be made use of as a specimen tree because it offers great shade in addition to ornamental flowers. It prefers deep, moist, well-drained soils and requires plenty of moisture for optimum growth. Yellow Buckeye is typically found in the extreme north areas of Georgia, but it does grow in a few Piedmont counties. Sosebee Cove Scenic Area near Blairsville, Ga., has several exceptional specimens.

Size: 60 feet high, with a spread of 30 feet

Zones: 7a, 7b

Habitat: Yellow Buckeye attains its biggest size in rich Appalachian soils in coves and in sloped forests.

Native To: Pennsylvania, west to Ohio and Illinois, and south to Tennessee, northern Alabama and northern Georgia.

HICKORY SPECIES

Family: Walnut/Juglandaceae

Characteristics: Hickories are large, deciduous trees, 60 feet or more tall, with alternate, pinnately compound leaves.

Pignut Hickory / Carya glabra

Leaves are generally 8 to 12 inches long with 5-7 leaflets. The terminal leaflet is the biggest. Both sides of the leaflets are smooth. Bark on young trees is smooth, gradually developing braided ridges.

Shagbark Hickory / Carya ovata

Leaves are 8 to 14 inches long with five leaflets, and sometimes seven. The upper surface is smooth, but the lower surface is pubescent. Bark is gray to brownish, exfoliating with age into small plates that are detached on both ends.

Mockernut Hickory / Carya tomentosa

Leaves are 8 to 15 inches long with five to seven leaflets. The lower leaf surface is densely pubescent and glandular. Leaves are aromatic whenever they get bruised. Bark is dark gray with tiny furrows in youth, getting deeply furrowed with distinct interlacing ridges with age. On more aged trees, the bark develops a diamond-like or “expanded metal” pattern.

Landscape Uses: The fall color of all hickories is glowing, luminescent yellow. No other tree matches the brilliant color in the late October to November landscape. All have excellent wood for timber, and their nuts are coveted by wildlife.

Size: 60 to 80 feet tall, with a sparse branching habit.

Zones: 6b (Carya glabra and Carya tomentosa), 7a, 7b,
8a, 8b

Habitat: Pignut is typically noticed on upland sites in association with oaks and other hickories. Shagbark grows best on moist alluvial river and valley soils and on adjacent slopes and ridges. Mockernut is the most common hickory in Georgia, and is found in upland forests.

Native To: Pignut — Maine to Ontario, south to Florida and west to Louisiana. Shagbark — Quebec to Minnesota, south to Georgia and west to Texas. Mockernut — Massachusetts to Ontario and Nebraska, south to Florida and west to Texas.

Comments: Hickories feature a taproot which penetrates down two to three feet the first season, while top growth is only a couple of inches. They work to establish their root systems for several years before putting on top growth. They are excellent wildlife resources. Seedlings are tolerant of shade and can remain in the shrub layer for many years, waiting for a “gap” which offers light.

Sugarberry / Celtis laevigata

Sugarberry TreeFamily: Elm/Ulmaceae

Characteristics: Sugarberry is a deciduous tree featuring medium texture, medium growth rate and also a broad oval-shape to rounded form. Leaves are dark green above and pale green below. They are alternately oblong and lance-shaped, and are two to four inches long and 1¼ inches wide. The trunk is light gray in color and smooth, with prominent corky, somewhat warty, ridges. Fruits are brownish-red, about 1/3 inch in diameter. They ripen between September to October.

Landscape Uses: Sugarberry is a long-lived shade tree. It tends to grow well in moist soils with full sunlight.

Size: 60 to 80 feet tall and 23 to 35 feet wide

Zones: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Moist soils on river flood plains and in alluvial forests, mainly in the lower Piedmont and the Coastal Plain.

Native To: Southern Indiana and Illinois, south to Texas and Florida.

Comments: This tree is the larval host of the hackberry emperor butterfly and is used as a primary food source for fall migrating birds.

American Yellowwood / Cladrastis kentukea
(Syn. Cladrastis lutea)

American Yellowwood TreeFamily: Pea/Fabaceae

Characteristics: American Yellowwood is a mediumsize, deciduous, flowering tree featuring panicles of fragrant, white, pea-like flowers in late springtime which flow from the ends of the branches. It is beautiful when in bloom, but a young tree might not bloom until it is five to eight years old. Mature trees are often alternate bearing, with fantastic flowering one year, then few to no flowers the year after. Flowers are followed by brown pods, two to four inches long, each having four to six flat, hard-coated seeds. Leaves are pinnately compound, each with nine to 11 leaflets. Its autumn color is golden yellow. The tree's name is derived from the color of its heartwood, which is a bright yellow.

Landscape Uses: An outstanding specimen tree for the landscape. It is very beautiful when in bloom.

Size: 30 to 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide at maturity

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a

Habitat: Rich soils on hill slopes or along ravines near streams. It prefers a more basic soil.

Native To: North Carolina to Tennessee and Kentucky, south to Georgia and west to Oklahoma.

Comments: A 1999 Georgia Gold Medal Winner.

American Beech / Fagus grandifolia

American Beech LeavesFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: American Beech is a deciduous tree with medium texture and medium to slow growth rate. It has smooth, bluish-gray bark and golden bronze fall color. Dead foliage stays on the tree throughout the winter months. Fruit, called beech nuts, are yellowish-brown, unevenly triangular in shape and are enclosed in a spiny bur less than an inch long. Fruit production is often heavy every couple of years

Landscape Uses: Use American Beech as a shade or specimen tree. It enjoys moist, acidic, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. It is a shallow-rooted and not intended for dry locations.

Size: 50 to 80 feet tall with a canopy width of 40 to 60 feet

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Moist, rich soils of uplands and well-drained lowlands; eastern United States.

Native To: New Brunswick to Ontario, south to Florida and west to Texas.

Comments: American Beech produces deep shade that discourages other plants from growing under its canopy.

White Ash / Fraxinus americana

White Ash TreeFamily: Olive/Oleaceae

Characteristics: White Ash is a big, beautiful deciduous tree with medium to coarse texture and a medium growth rate. It is dioecious (having male and female flowers borne on separate trees). Flowers are borne in panicles before the leaves show in April. Leaves are opposite, pinnately compound, eight to 15 inches long with five to nine leaflets (usually seven). The leaves have a sagging quality and are dark green in color above and light green below. The bark is ashy-gray to gray-brown in color with interlinked diamond-shaped ridges. Fall colors vary from yellow to deep purple or maroon.

Landscape Uses: Make us of White Ash as a specimen or street tree for large locations. It maintains a central leader in youth with an even distribution of branches. It can be transplanted easily and enjoys moist, well-drained soils and areas of full sunlight.

Size: 50 to 80 feet tall, with a similar spread

Zone: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Deep, moist, well-drained forest soils. It does not like harsh conditions.

Native To: Nova Scotia to Minnesota, south to Florida and west to Texas.

Comments: White Ash is subject to several pests and diseases. It is somewhat tough to distinguish from Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica).

Green Ash / Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Green Ash LeavesFamily: Olive/Oleaceae

Characteristics: Green Ash is a deciduous, quickly-growing tree with a vertical, spreading habit. It is dioecious (having male and female flowers borne on separate trees). It grows three to five main branches and a lot of coarse, twiggy branchlets which bend downward and then up at the ends. Leaves are opposite, pinnately compound and 12 inches long with five to nine leaflets. They are lustrous dark green in color above and pubescent below. The yellow autumn color is inconsistent, particularly on seed-grown plants.

Landscape Uses: Green Ash is a common variety of shade tree since it transplants easily and grows in many different types of soils and site conditions. It is subject to a variety of insect and disease issues.

Size: 50 to 60 feet tall and 25 to 30 feet wide

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Flood plains, wetlands and stream banks.

Native To: Nova Scotia to Manitoba, south to northern Florida and west to Texas.

Comments: Cultivars are available. Green Ash and White Ash (Fraxinus americana) look the same except for their seeds. The White Ash’s samara wing extends less than halfway down the cylindrical fruiting body, and Green Ash’s samara wing extends halfway or more down the cylindrical fruiting body. Green Ash is an early succession tree and needs sun to become established.

American Holly / Ilex opaca

American Holly TreeFamily: Holly/Aquifoliaceae

Characteristics: American Holly is a broadleaf evergreen tree with medium-coarse texture and a somewhat moderate growth rate. Distinctly pyramidal when in youth, it grows to be more open and irregular as it ages. Leaves are alternate evergreen, 1½ to four inches long and half as wide, with spiny teeth along their margins. Vibrant red fruit exist throughout the winter months and are consumed by birds. Native seedlings are great for restoration projects.

Landscape Uses: Use American Holly for screening or as a specimen tree. It enjoys deep, fertile soils with enough moisture and partial shade. It will adapt to full sunlight.

American Holly LeavesSize: 20 to 50 feet tall and 15 to 30 feet wide

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Grows on moist areas, flood plains and lower slopes. It can be noticed in mixed hardwood forests and often times on dry, sandy sites in the southern portion of Georgia.

Native To: Massachusetts to Florida and west to Missouri and Texas.

Comments: The leaves are traditionally cut (along with berries) for Christmas decorations; it is often used as an outdoor Christmas tree. Fruit are enjoyed by cedar waxwings, cardinals and other types of birds. Fruit are borne on female trees only (male and female trees are separate).

Black Walnut / Juglans nigra

Black Walnut LeavesFamily: Walnut/Juglandaceae

Characteristics: Black Walnut is a large tree with a fine texture and loose, open shape. It many times develops a trunk which doesn't have any branches for several feet up from the ground. Its wood is great for furniture and veneers since it has a beautiful grain. Leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, 12 to 24 inches long, with 15 to 23 leaflets. The terminal leaflet is usually missing. Fruit are hard nuts encased in a green husk.

Landscape Uses: Black Walnut is a fine shade tree for stream banks and flood plains. It enjoys moist soils. Try not to plant it next to parking lots since falling fruit can dent vehicles.

Size: 75 to 100 feet tall with a canopy width of 50 to 75 feet

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Moist, well-drained soils in the wild. It was often planted around old homes.

Native To: Massachusetts to Florida, and west to Minnesota and Texas.

Comments: Black Walnut generates the chemical juglone in its roots and leaves, which kills or inhibits growth of other types of plants in the vicinity. It is a high-value wildlife tree.

Eastern Red Cedar / Juniperus virginiana

Eastern Red Cedar TreeFamily: Juniper/Cupressaceae

Characteristics: Eastern Red Cedar is an aromatic evergreen tree with a conical to columnar shaped crown. It has a medium growth rate and texture. Beautiful grayish- to reddish-brown bark exfoliates into long strips. Foliage is scale-like, closely pressed and overlapping. Its summertime color is medium green and its wintertime color is dull green. There are both male and female trees.

Landscape Uses: Eastern Red Cedar is an exceptional specimen tree. It also handy for windbreaks, hedges, shelter belts and topiary. It is alright in adverse conditions and poor soils as well as a wide range in pH levels. It enjoys sunlight and moist loam on well-drained subsoil. It is not shade tolerant and does not like developing under a heavy overstory.

Size: 40 to 50 feet tall and 8 to 20 feet wide. Size is extremely variable over its extensive native range.

Eastern Red Cedar LeavesZones: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Dry, upland, rocky soils, particularly calcareous soils. It is commonly found on moist flood plains, edges of swamps, in abandoned fields and along fences.

Native To: East and central North America, east of the Rocky Mountains.

Comments: Many cultivars have been chosen for ornamental use in home and commercial landscapes. The mature berry-like cones are eaten by many kinds of mammals and birds, including the cedar waxwing. It supplies refuge and cover for birds in bad winter weather. Majestic specimens are often seen in old cemeteries.

Sweetgum / Liquidambar styraciflua

Sweet Gum TreeFamily: Witchhazel/Hamamelidaceae

Characteristics: Sweetgum is a deciduous tree with a medium texture and a medium to fast growth rate. Its shape is oval to pyramidal when young, growing into a broad-headed tree with age. Autumn colors range from yellow to orange or purple. Leaves have five to seven star-shaped lobes and are a lustrous green color during the summer. The foliage is aromatic when crushed. Fruits are round, spiny balls on two- to three-inch pedicels.

Landscape Uses: Use Sweetgum as a shade or specimen tree. It grows quickly and is rather easy to establish, particularly when it's young. The spiny fruit can sometimes present a maintenance problem. It enjoys moist, rich, acid soils and has moderate drought toSweet Gum Ballslerance.

Size: 80 to 100 feet tall with a spread of 40 to 50 feet

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Flood plains on moist soils of valleys and lower slopes.

Native To: Connecticut to Illinois, south to Florida and west to Texas.

Comments: Sweetgum is an early succession plant. It is a prolific seeder and promptly invades cut-over hardwood stands and pine plantations on upland sites. It also sprouts profusely from stumps and lateral roots. Birds enjoy eating the seeds.

Tulip Poplar or Yellow Poplar / Liriodendron tulipiferaYellow Poplar Leaf

Yellow Poplar TreeFamily: Magnolia/Magnoliaceae

Characteristics: Tulip Poplar, also known as Yellow Poplar, is a deciduous tree with a coarse texture and a medium to fast growth rate. It is pyramidal in form when young, becoming oval-rounded as it ages. It has a fleshy root system characteristic of the magnolia family. Leaves are often tulip-shaped with four lobes. Fragrant orange-yellow tulip-like flowers appear from April to May.

Landscape Uses: Tulip Poplar is a quickly-growing shade or specimen tree. It enjoys moist, well-drained soils and full sun. Avoid planting it in open, exposed areas and in dry soils. Allow plenty of room for growth.

Size: 80 to 100 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Moist, well-drained soils.

Native To: Massachusetts to Wisconsin, south to Florida and west to Mississippi.

Comments: Tulip Poplar is an early secession tree and is intolerant of shade. It needs full sun to become established and grow well. It is a good wildlife tree.

Southern Magnolia / Magnolia grandiflora

Southern Magnolia TreeFamily: Magnolia/Magnoliaceae

Characteristics: Southern Magnolia is a broadleaf evergreen flowering tree with coarse texture and a medium to slow growth rate. It is pyramidal in shape when young, then grows into an oval shape at maturity. Its leaves are dark green and glossy. Big, fragrant, showy white flowers grow in early summer. Fruit consists of cone-like aggregates of follicles from which bright red, shiny seeds are suspended by slender elastic threads.

Landscape Uses: Use Southern Magnolia as a specimen plant or for screening. Be sure to plant it in moist soils and in full sunlight or light shade. It really doesn't fair well in hot, dry sites. Branches are generally best left on ground level due to the leaf litter problem and the fleshy surface root system.

Southern Magnolia FlowerSize: 60 to 80 feet tall with a canopy spread of 40 to 50 feet

Zones: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Moist hardwood forests and wet swampy areas in the Coastal Plain.

Native To: North Carolina to Florida, west to Arkansas and Texas.

Comments: Many cultivars are available. Seeds are enjoyed by birds and other forms of wildlife. The suckers might need to be pruned from root or branch sprouts.

Black Gum or Tupelo / Nyssa sylvatica

Black Gum TreeFamily: Nyssa/Nyssaceae

Characteristics: Black Gum, or Tupelo, is a deciduous tree featuring medium texture and a medium growth rate. Its shape is narrow upright, pyramidal, with robust horizontal branching. It is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate trees. Female trees bear tiny, greenish-yellow flowers during leaf development in April or May. Fruit appear only on female trees and are bluish-black drupes about ½ inch long, borne two to three per stalk.

Landscape Uses: Grow Black Gum as a specimen tree. It is difficult to transplant and is best planted from a container-grown plant. It prefers moist, fertile soils but adapts to a huge range of conditions. Its leaves change color early in the fall and are showy crimson-red.

Size: 70 to 80 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Moist soils of valleys and uplands in hardwood and pine forests.

Native To: Maine to Michigan, south to Florida and west to Texas.

Comments: This attractive tree is starting to become more available in the nursery trade. Another species, Swamp Tupelo (Nyssa biflora), is often found in south Georgia. Wildlife enjoy the seeds.

Shortleaf Pine / Pinus echinata

Shortleaf Pine TreeFamily: Pine/Pinaceae

Shortleaf Pine BarkCharacteristics: Shortleaf Pine is a fast-growing, medium to tall tree. It is pyramidal in youth, developing a long, clear trunk with a small, open pyramidal crown as it ages. The dark bluish-green needles are three to five inches long in fascicles (bundles) of two or three, sometimes on the same tree. Shortleaf Pine bark is nearly black when trees are young, aging to reddish-brown with many tiny resin pockets scattered through its corky layers.

Landscape Uses: Shortleaf Pine has a massive taproot and is much more difficult to transplant than other pines.

Size: 80 to 100 feet tall, but more likely 50 to 60 feet under most landscape conditions.

Zones: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Open upland areas including grassy or abandoned agricultural land.

Native To: Central New Jersey west to southern Missouri, south to Texas and into Northern Florida; absent from the upper slopes of the Appalachian Mountains.

Comments: It is one of the most abundant pines in Georgia, second only to Loblolly. Shortleaf is subject to pinebark beetles and pine-tip moths, as are most pine species, as well as to littleleaf disease. The fruit is a prickly cone 1½ to 2½ inches long.

Slash Pine / Pinus elliottii

Slash Pine TreeFamily: Pine/Pinaceae

Characteristics: Slash Pine is a big tree which is commonly planted as an ornamental since it grows fast and has dense lustrous-green foliage. Leaves consist of two and three needles which are arranged in fascicles (bundles). Loblolly and Longleaf Pine, in contrast, both feature three needles per fascicle.

Landscape Uses: Use Slash Pine as a specimen tree or for windbreaks or screening. Its heavy needle crop and brittle branches make it prone to ice damage when grown outside the Coastal Plain. It enjoys full sunlight and moist soils.

Size: 60 to 100 feet tall and 20 to 40 feet wide

Zones: 8a, 8b

Habitat: Moist to wet, sandy, poorly-drained soils bordering shallow ponds and swamps. It occurs in maritime forests and wet flatlands, where it sometimes is the primary canopy species.

Native To: The Coastal Plain from South Carolina to Florida, west to Louisiana.

Comments: Slash Pine is planted most often for timber production in and out of its natural range and habitat. All pines are intolerant of shade and need sun to grow and thrive.

Spruce Pine / Pinus glabra

Spruce Pine TreeFamily: Pine/Pinaceae

Characteristics: Spruce Pine is an evergreen tree with a medium-fine texture and a medium to fast growth rate. Needles are dark green in color, two per fascicle, spirally twisted, and two to four inches long. Cones are brown, up to 3¾ inches long, with minute prickles on the scales. They may persist two to four years on the plant. Young trees have a dense, broadly pyramidal form, getting to be more open and irregular with age. Bark is dark, brownish-gray and attractive.

Landscape Uses: A dense canopy, slow early growth and beautiful yellow-green leaves make Spruce Pine great for landscaping. Use it for a windbreak, screening or as a specimen tree. It performs best in moist, fertile soils, but it has been observed growing satisfactorily on dry sites and heavy soils. It requires full sun for best growth.

Size: 50 to 60 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide

Zones: 8a, 8b

Habitat: Moist alluvial flood plains or hammocks with mixed hardwoods in the lower Coastal Plain.

Native To: South Carolina to northern Florida and west to Louisiana.

Comments: A great food source for wildlife.

Longleaf Pine / Pinus palustris

Longleaf Pine TreeFamily: Pine/Pinaceae

Longleaf Pine NeedlesCharacteristics: Longleaf Pine is an evergreen tree with needles that are around 10 inches long, grouped in bundles of three. They persist on the tree for 2 seasons. Its long needles, large cones and sparse branching pattern make it the most classifiable pine of the Coastal Plain. Young seedlings have a distinct grass-like physical appearance, which could last two to seven years or even longer since the tree first uses its energy to put down a deep tap root. Once the tap root is developed, it supplies the resources for fast top growth, often exceeding three feet in just one year. It is a long-lived pine, often developing for over 300 years. It has adapted to frequent ground fires that were typical in the longleaf wiregrass ecosystem that once covered 90 million acres of the southeastern Coastal Plain.

Landscape Uses: Longleaf Pine is a canopy tree and is best used as a specimen. It provides filtered shade for other plants, like azaleas and dogwoods. It thrives in the well-drained, sandy soils of the Coastal Plain, but it will adapt to Piedmont clay. It should be planted as a seedling and is very pretty in its grass-like stage.

Size: This long-lived giant could reach heights of 80 to 100 feet, with a trunk diameter of two to 2½ feet.

Zones: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Well-drained, sandy, acidic soils in the Coastal Plain up to the fall line.

Native To: Southeastern Virginia to Florida, west to Texas. There is a race of mountain longleaf growing on ridges from Paulding County, GA, to Rome, GA, and into the Talladega National Forest in Alabama.

White Pine / Pinus strobus

White Pine NeedlesFamily: Pine/Pinaceae

Characteristics: White Pine is an evergreen tree featuring medium-fine texture and a medium-fast growth rate. It has soft, bluish-green needles two to four inches long, five per fascicle. They remain on the tree for two years. The mature bark is dark gray and deeply furrowed. Cones are three to eight inches long and 1½ inches wide, often curved.

Landscape Uses: Use White Pine for a windbreak, screening or as a specimen tree. It has a pyramidal form when young and becomes more spreading with age. It is a very beautiful tree. It is simple to transplant and prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It is a mountain species, so it might struggle and be short-lived in the lower Piedmont and Coastal Plain. Expect it to live for only 10 to 15 years when grown outside its natural range.

Size: 50 to 60 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b

Habitat: Variable, from dry, rocky ridges to wet, poorly drained areas.

Native To: Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to Illinois and Iowa and southeast to Georgia.

Loblolly Pine / Pinus taeda

Loblolly Pine TreeFamily: Pine/Pinaceae

Characteristics: Loblolly pine is an evergreen tree with medium texture and a fast growth rate. Form is upright, broad and oval with irregular horizontal branching. Needles are sometimes twisted, six to 10 inches long, in fascicles of two or three. They persist on the tree for up to four years. Cones are three to six inches long, in clusters of three to five. There are sharp spines on the tips of the cone scales. It is one of the most widespread and valuable pines of the southeast. In the state of Georgia, it comprises most of the timber harvested in the Piedmont area.

Landscape Uses: Use Loblolly as a specimen tree or for screening. It offers lightly-filtered shade, so other plants will grow underneath it. Plant it in full sunlight on well-drained soils. It tolerates poor sites.

Size: 80 to 100 feet tall with a spread of 20 to 30 feet

Zones: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: River bottoms, abandoned farmland. This is a pioneer species.

Native To: Southern New Jersey to Florida, west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma.

Virginia Pine / Pinus virginiana

Virginia Pine TreeFamily: Pine/Pinaceae

Characteristics: Virginia Pine is a medium-size tree with medium texture and rapid growth rate. It is somewhat scrubby in appearance due to its numerous branches that might extend down to the ground. Its evergreen needles, arranged two per fascicle, are two to three inches long and persist for three to four seasons. Virginia Pine is often confused with Shortleaf Pine, but it can be distinguished by its twisted needles. The cones are up to three inches long and around one inch wide, grouped in clusters of four. The cone scales have sharp points.

Landscape Uses: Virginia Pine is often used for screening or windbreaks. It also has been widely cultivated in the southeast for Christmas trees because of its dense branching habit, fast growth and soil adaptability. Like other pines, it requires full sunlight for optimal growth.

Size: 40 to 70 feet tall

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a

Habitat: A wide range of sites, including well-drained upland slopes, heavy clays and dry, rocky ridges.

Native To: New York, southwest through the Appalachians and the Ohio valley, to central Alabama and east to Georgia.

Comments: A good wildlife food source.

Sycamore / Platanus occidentalis

Sycamore TreeFamily: Sycamore/Platanaceae

Characteristics: Sycamore is a deciduous tree featuring coarse texture and a rapid growth rate. Its most noticeable characteristic is the exfoliating, dark brown to gray bark, which flakes off to expose a white interior bark.

Landscape Uses: Use Sycamore as a shade or large specimen tree. It favors deep, moist, fertile soils. It transplants very easily and is moderately drought tolerant. It suffers from some disease and insect issues and is always dropping leaves and branches. Still, it is a fast grower and a widely-used shade tree.

Size: 80 to 100 feet tall with a spread of 40 to 50 feet

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Wet soils along stream banks, on flood plains and at edges of lakes and swamps.

Native To: Maine to Ontario and Minnesota, south to Florida and west to Texas.

Comments: In natural areas, especially along streams, it is an impressive landscape plant with its white bark defining Piedmont streams.

OAK TREES

White Oak / Quercus alba
White Oak Subgenus: Leucobalanus

White Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagacea

Characteristics: White Oak is a deciduous tree with medium-coarse texture and a slow to medium growth rate. Form is oval to upright, rounded, with wide-spreading branches. Leaves are blue-green in summer, turning wine red in fall.

Landscape Uses: White Oak is a beautiful, stately shade tree. It does best when planted in moist, acid, well-drained soils and full sun. It is best planted as a young tree. Prevent root damage or soil compaction on established trees. There are a few minor disease and insect complications, but they are not life-threatening.

Size: 60 to 100 feet tall with a spread of 40 to 60 feet

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Moist, well-drained uplands and rich, moist slopes.

Native To: Maine to Minnesota, south to Florida, west to Texas.

Comments: Probably the most popular oak tree in north Georgia, but less common in south Georgia.

Scarlet Oak / Quercus coccinea
Red Oak Subgenus: Erythrobalanus

Scarlet Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: Scarlet Oak is a deciduous tree having medium texture and medium to fast growth rate. It is pyramidal to rounded in form. Foliage is glossy green in summer and brilliant scarlet-red in fall.

Landscape Uses: Use Scarlet Oak as a shade or specimen tree, particularly on dry sites and ridge tops. It is difficult to transplant from the wild, so it is optimal to plant a container-grown tree. It enjoys well-drained soils and full sunlight. It has good drought tolerance once established.

Size: 60 to 80 feet tall with a spread of 50 to 60 feet

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a

Habitat: Poor, dry uplands and slopes.

Native To: Maine to Minnesota, south to Florida, west to Missouri.

Comments: Acorns are an important wildlife food. This tree often survives forest fires.

Southern Red Oak / Quercus falcata
Red Oak Subgenus: Erythrobalanus

Southern Red Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: Southern Red Oak is a deciduous, fast-growing tree with a short trunk and a rounded crown shape. Leaves have a variable lobe pattern with three to five bristle-tipped lobes; the upper leaf surface is shiny green color and the lower leaf surface is pubescent and yellow-gray. Bark is dark brown to black, thick, and deeply fissured, growing to be more ridged and rough near the base. The interior bark is orange.

Landscape Uses: Use Southern Red Oak as a shade or specimen tree. It really develops well on dry sites and is fairly longlived.

Size: 80+ feet wide and 50+ feet tall.

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Dry upland sites with sandy or clay loam soils.

Native To: New Jersey to Florida, west to Missouri and Texas.

Comments: This oak is also called Spanish Oak because of an association with early Spanish settlements. It has good fire tolerance.

Laurel Oak / Quercus hemisphaerica
Red Oak Subgenus: Erythrobalanus

Laurel Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: Laurel Oak is evergreen in zone 8b and semi-evergreen in zones 8a and 7b, where it holds its foliage the whole winter, then drops the oldest leaves at bud break. Growth form is spreading with medium-fine texture. Growth rate is moderately slow. It develops a broad crown at maturity, with horizontal branching.

Landscape Uses: Use Laurel Oak as a shade or street tree. It joys well-drained, sandy, loose soils and needs enough moisture during dry weather. It is, notably, pest free.

Size: 60 to 80 feet tall with an equal spread

Zones: 7b, 8a, 8b (deciduous but hardy in 7a)

Habitat: Upland sites on well-drained sandy soils, on stream banks and occasionally in mixed woods.

Native To: The Coastal Plain and Piedmont from southern New Jersey to Florida, west to Texas and southeast Arkansas.

Comments: Laurel Oak should be used more in landscapes. Several cultivars are accessible.

Swamp Chestnut Oak or Basket Oak / Quercus michauxii
White Oak Subgenus: Leucobalanus

Swamp Chestnut Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: Swamp Chestnut Oak is a deciduous tree with a compact, rounded crown and a medium growth rate. It has chestnut-like foliage with rounded teeth along the margins. Leaves are dark green in color above and grayish-green with a dense, felt-like pubescence underneath. Its bark resembles that of White Oak, with light gray, rough, flaky ridges. It produces large acorns, one to 1½ inches in diameter. Autumn color is dull red to maroon.

Landscape Uses: Swamp Chestnut Oak is used as a specimen or shade tree.

Size: 50 to 100 feet tall and about half as wide

Zones: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Bottomlands and flood plains of streams in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain.

Native To: New Jersey to Indiana, south to Florida and west to Texas.

Comments: The abundant acorn production could be a problem in public locations.

Water Oak / Quercus nigra
Red Oak Subgenus: Erythrobalanus

Water Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: Water Oak is a fast-growing tree with a rounded crown. Leaves are alternate, obovate, often with a three-lobed apex. The leaves are variable in size and shape, especially when young. Leaves stay late into fall and winter, particularly during mild winters, making the tree semi-evergreen. It is considered by many to be a shortlived “weed tree” on upland sites and is a vigorous early succession tree in Zones 7 to 9.

Landscape Uses: Water Oak transplants easily and is tolerant of a wide variety of soils and site conditions. It does well in full sun. The wood is much less robust than that of other oak trees and is subject to limbs breaking or falling off during ice or wind storms. It also tends to retain numerous dead branches within its canopy.

Size: 50 to 80 feet tall and about half as wide

Zones: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Along streams throughout the southeast from the Coastal Plain to the foothills of mountains.

Native To: Southern New Jersey to Florida, west to eastern Texas and northward from the Mississippi valley to southeastern Missouri.

Willow Oak / Quercus phellos
Red Oak Subgenus: Erythrobalanus

Willow Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: Willow Oak is a deciduous tree consisting of medium-fine texture and a medium growth rate. It has a handsome pyramidal form in youth, which becomes rounded to oval in maturity. The leaves are narrowly oblong or lanceolate, light green and shiny above and pale green below. Young bark is dark gray and smooth, while mature bark has deep furrows and rough ridges. Inner bark is pink.

Landscape Uses: Willow Oak can be used as a shade or specimen tree. It prefers moist, fertile soils but tolerates adverse sites relatively well. It has a shallow root system that will heave concrete, so avoid using it as a street tree.

Size: 40 to 60 feet tall with a spread of 30 to 40 feet

Zones: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Moist alluvial soils along rivers and streams, lowlands, flood plains and rich uplands.

Native To: New York to Florida, west to Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

Comment: Spider mites are a problem in south Georgia.

Chestnut Oak / Quercus prinus
White Oak Subgenus: Leucobalanus

Chestnut Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: Chestnut Oak, also known as Rock Oak or Rock Chestnut Oak, is a deciduous tree with medium-coarse texture and a medium growth rate. Its shape is irregular and open. Foliage is lustrous dark green above and lighter green below. Fall color ranges from yellow to orange-yellow. Bark is gray and develops deep V-shaped ridges with age.

Landscape Uses: Use Chestnut Oak as a shade or specimen tree. It enjoys well-drained soils and full sun and has exceptional drought tolerance once established. Pests generally are not a problem.

Size: 60 to 70 feet tall with a spread of 50 to 60 feet

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Rocky, dry, upland soils. It also is seen occasionally on well-drained lowland sites.

Native To: Maine to Michigan, south to Georgia and west to Louisiana.

Comments: Deserving of greater landscape use.

Northern Red Oak / Quercus rubra
Red Oak Subgenus: Erythrobalanus

Northern Red Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: Northern Red Oak is a deciduous tree with medium texture and a medium to fast growth rate. It grows a rounded crown with age. Leaves are alternate, oval or obovate, up to 8½ inches long and six inches wide, with seven to 11 lobes. They are a lustrous green color above and yellow-green below. Fall color is usually yellow-brown but may be russet-red.

Landscape Uses: Northern Red Oak is used as a large specimen shade tree. It transplants readily because of a negligible taproot. It needs acidic, sandy loam, well-drained soils and full sunlight for best growth and development. Northern Red Oak tolerates dry conditions and urban areas.

Size: 60 to 75 feet tall with a spread of 40 to 50 feet

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a

Habitat: Widely adapted to a variety of sites, from rocky bluffs to water’s edge.

Native To: Nova Scotia to Minnesota, south to North Georgia and west to Oklahoma.

Comments: A source of wildlife food, it begins fruiting around 25 years of age.

Shumard Oak / Quercus shumardii
Red Oak Subgenus: Erythrobalanus

Shumard Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: Shumard Oak is one of the biggest of the southern red oaks. It grows a round, open crown, a buttressed trunk and a shallow root system. Its foliage is dark, shiny green above and dull green underneath, with pubescent woolly hairs at the leaf axils.

Landscapes Uses: Shumard Oak is used as a fast-growing shade or specimen tree. It is easily transplanted as a container-grown tree or balled-in-burlap tree.

Size: 80 to 100 feet tall and 60 to 70 feet wide

Zones: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Well-drained soils along rivers and streams.

Native To: Southern Michigan to Kansas, south to North Carolina and Florida, and west to Texas.

Comments: Its distribution seems to skip the northeastern section of Georgia (the Blue Ridge Province).

Post Oak / Quercus stellata
White Oak Subgenus: Leucobalanus

Post Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: Post Oak is a medium-size tree with stout, spreading branches and a dense, rounded crown. Leaves are lustrous, dark green, rough on the upper surface and grayish-brown underneath. Bark is gray with shallow fissures and scaly ridges. Foliage turns golden-brown in fall.

Landscape Uses: Post Oak is not generally planted as a landscape tree, but it would be a great option for dry reclamation areas.

Size: 40 to 50 feet tall by 40 feet wide

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Poor, dry upland clay and sandy soils. In the natural landscape, it is considered a ridge tree.

Native To: Southern Massachusetts to Florida, west to Iowa and Texas.

Comments: As a member of the White Oak sub-genus, it produces acorns every year and is a fantastic food source for wildlife.

 

Live Oak / Quercus virginiana
Red Oak Subgenus: Erythrobalanus

Live Oak TreeFamily: Beech/Fagaceae

Characteristics: Live Oak is an evergreen tree with medium-fine texture and a slow growth rate. It has a broad spreading form with huge horizontal branches. It is a long-lived tree and a haven for resurrection fern and Spanish moss. The bark on older trees is almost black, develops a blocky appearance, and looks like alligator hide. Leaves are lustrous, dark green above and light green below. Old leaves drop in the spring as new leaves emerge.

Landscape Uses: Use Live Oak as a specimen tree in big locations. Its evergreen foliage does not allow a lot of sunlight underneath the canopy. It prefers sandy, moist, limestone soils and full sun for best development. It tends to not grow very well in Piedmont clays.

Size: 40 to 80 feet tall and 60 to 100 feet wide

Zones: 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Sandy, alkaline soils, including coastal dunes and ridges, near marshes and inland hammocks in the lower Coastal Plain. Also often found up to 100 miles inland.

Native To: Virginia to Florida, west to Oklahoma and Texas.

Comments: Live Oak is the state tree of Georgia.

Palmetto Palm or Cabbage Palm / Sabal palmetto

Palmetto Palm TreeFamily: Palm/Palmaceae

Characteristics: The state tree of South Carolina, Palmetto Palm, is also known as Cabbage Palm. It is a fixture along coastal locations as well as inland sites south of the fall line in Georgia and all over Florida. In terms of durability, it is occasionally the tree still standing after hurricanes have hit. Leaves are two to three feet across, blue-green, palmate in shape, with a big notch in the middle. Thread-like strands of fiber hang off each leaf. In the wild, old leaf-stems, called boots, remain on the trunk in a criss-cross pattern, but they are often removed from trees in cultivated landscapes to give the trunk a smooth physical look.Palmetto Palm Tree Trunk

Landscape Uses: Palmetto palm is often times used as a street tree, but it is also used more commonly as a single specimen or in groupings in landscapes. A beautiful and uniform grower, it lends a tropical look to the landscape. It is usually planted at angles for added visual interest. Palmetto palm is very tolerant of salt spray, flooding and wind. Transplanting goes well when done during the warm summertime months.

Size: 30 to 70 feet tall with a canopy width of 10 to 15 feet

Zones: 7b (coastal areas), 8a, 8b

Habitat: Inland hammocks to coastal dunes.

Native To: Southeastern coast from southern North Carolina to the northern panhandle of Florida. North of Florida, the native range of this palm is restricted to coastal areas that are subject to salt spray and storms. It is also native to inland areas of the Florida peninsula as well as to the Bahamas.

Bald Cypress / Taxodium distichum

Bald Cypress TreeFamily: Redwood/Taxodiaceae

Characteristics: Bald Cypress is a deciduous tree with medium-fine texture and a medium to fast growth rate. Its shape is pyramidal when young (sometimes narrow) and grows to be broader with age. In nature, more aged trees are flattopped with just a few lower branches, which is probably because of competition for sunlight. Its bark is reddish-brown, fibrous and attractive. Bald Cypress produces “knees” (vertical root extensions) in swamps but not when grown in upland sites.

Bald Cypress FoliageLandscape Uses: Plant Bald Cypress as a specimen tree. It does well in the average home landscape, displaying good drought tolerance and adaptability to sandy or clay soils as well as wet and dry sites. Uniform shape, lacy fernlike foliage, pest resistance and russet-red fall color are some of this tree’s landscaping merits. It needs full sun and plenty of room. Bald Cypress grows too large for the average residential landscape.

Size: 60 to 100 feet tall with a spread of 40 to 50 feet

Zones: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b

Habitat: Wet, swampy soils along riverbanks and flood plains, and in other spots where water collects.

Native To: Delaware to Florida, west to southern Illinois, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

Eastern Hemlock / Tsuga canadensis

Eastern Hemlock TreeFamily: Pine/Pinaceae

Characteristics: Eastern Hemlock is an evergreen tree, featuring a fine texture and a medium growth rate. It has a graceful pyramidal growth form. Foliage (needles) is short, 1/2- to 2/3-inch long, lustrous, dark green above with two white bands underneath. They are situated along the stems in two planes. Bark is a cinnamon-red color and grows to be furrowed with age.

Eastern Hemlock FoliageLandscape Uses: Eastern Hemlock is used as a specimen or screening tree and for a windbreak. It is rather simple to transplant and enjoys moist, well-drained, acid soils and partial shade. Afternoon shade and irrigation during periods of drought are necessary to grow the plant with success in the lower Piedmont area.

Size: 50 to 60 feet tall and with a spread of 30 to 40 feet

Zones: 6b, 7a, 7b

Habitat: Moist coves, hardwood forests and rocky bluffs.

Native To: Nova Scotia to Minnesota, south along the mountains to Alabama and Georgia.

Comments: It is subject to several pests, including the woolly adelgid, which has recently began invading the north Georgia mountains.

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