Deciduous Trees for Difficult Sites


When selecting deciduous trees, choose plants that are adapted to the growing conditions at the planting site. Most trees prefer moist, well-drained soils in full sun. However, there are trees that will tolerate more difficult sites. Lists of deciduous trees that tolerate dry soils, wet soils, and partial shade are provided below. (Locations in partial shade receive 2 to 4 hours of direct sunlight a day.)

Deciduous Trees Tolerant of Dry Soils

Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana)
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) Amur Corktree (Phellodendron amurense)
Turkish Filbert (Corylus colurna) Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana)*
Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum) White Oak (Quercus alba)
Winter King Hawthorn (Crataegus viridis 'Winter King') Shingle Oak (Quercus imbricaria)
Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)++ Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)
Thornless Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis) Silver Linden (Tilia tomentosa)
Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia)*
Goldenraintree (Koelreuteria paniculata)* Hybrid Elms (Ulmus species)
Flowering Crabapple (Malus species)

Deciduous Trees Tolerant of Wet Soils

Freeman Maple (Acer x freemanii) Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica)
Red Maple (Acer rubrum) London Planetree (Platanus x acerifolia)*
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa) Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)
River Birch (Betula nigra) Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) Willows (Salix species)
Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)++ Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum)
Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)*

Deciduous Trees Suitable for Partial Shade

Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)* Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier species) Corneliancherry Dogwood (Cornus mas)
Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)* Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana)
American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata)
Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

*Trees hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 5. All others are hardy throughout Iowa.

++ Green Ash is no longer a recommended species for Iowa due to the prescence of Emerald Ash Borer.  When this article was published, this insect pest was not yet introduced to the state.

This article originally appeared in the 5/7/2004 issue.



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