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Deciduous (Non-evergreen) Trees

Tower PoplarTower Poplar - Leaves are glossy green above and hairy white beneath. Columnar; rapid growth. Branches to the ground; suckers badly. Needs adequate moisture; seedless. Replacement for Bolleana or Lombardy Poplar; more resistant to borers. Bolleana Poplar - Short lived tree (10-20 years). Rapid growing; cut back to rejuvenate. Likes moisture; winter dieback problems especially during drought. Very subject to damage by borers and disease. Not recommended. Lombardy Poplar - Very similar to Bolleana; narrower. Less drought tolerant and somewhat less hardy. Not recommended.

Columnar European AspenColumnar European Aspen - Best of the upright poplars/aspens. Very columnar; dark green foliage. Coarsely toothed leaves. Twisted upper branches; lower trunk is bare. Difficult to propagate. Needs adequate moisture; borer and canker problem if drought stressed. More resistant to borers than Bolleana or Lombardy.

Green AshGreen Ash - Oval to elliptical spreading crown; 5-7 green semi-glossy leaflets per leaf. Golden-yellow fall color; loses leaves early. Fairly drought tolerant; tends to be overused. Seeds may be a nuisance; plant male cultivars. Ash galls (male trees, especially species), anthracnose and ash plant bugs can be a problem. Male cultivars include: 'Bergeson' (semi-glossy dark green leaves; tend to be upright, open, and fast growing), `Dakota Centennial' (fastest growing green ash; upright open habit), `Harlequin' (variegated foliage; weaker stemmed and less vigorous), 'Kindred' (dark green, glossy leaves; oval and dense), `Patmore' (similar to `Bergeson'), `Prairie Dome' (globe shaped becoming densely rounded), `Prairie Spire' (fast growing; upright narrow habit), 'Summit' and 'Marshall Seedless' (older cultivars; not as hardy). Overplanted. Emerald Ash Borer Concerns. Not recommended.

Black AshBlack Ash has 9-11 leaflets on dark green leaves; holds golden yellow leaves late into the fall. Slower growing in drought; narrower than Green Ash. 'Fallgold' (narrow upright form; seedless. Susceptible to male flower gall). `Majors Gold' (upright form; early golden fall color).    Black Ash-Manchurian Ash Hybrids `Northern Gem' (rounded growth habit; light seed production); `Northern Treasure' (narrow growth habit; more popular).  Not recommended.

Manchurian AshManchurian Ash 'Mancana' has a good upright oval shape; dense with 9-11 leaflets per leaf and a golden yellow fall color. Not as drought tolerant as green ash; seedless.  White Ash has 5-7 leaflets per leaf and purplish fall color; not very drought tolerant or hardy. 'Autumn Blaze' (oval to roundish shape; light seed production); `Northern Blaze' (oval to roundish shape; hardier than `Autumn Blaze'); `Autumn Purple' (not hardy enough).  Not recommended.

BoxelderBoxelder - Medium-large, fast growing tree; easy to transplant. Very susceptible to herbicide damage and storm injury; weak wood. Poor fall color; tree has a low aesthetic value. `Baron' (seedless). `Sensation' (questionable hardiness). Variegated forms are not hardy.


Ohio BuckeyeOhio Buckeye - Medium sized tree with rounded oval, compact growth habit; corky grey bark. Creamy colored blossoms on upright panicles; shiny brown inedible nuts. Yellow to red fall color. Difficult to transplant; plant nuts. Physiological leaf scorch; may defoliate in late July. New cultivars are greatly improved: 'Autumn Splendor' (dark green semi-glossy foliage; no leaf scorch; good purplish-red fall color) and `Homestead' (poorer leaf quality and better fall color than `Autumn Splendor'; reddish fall color and no leaf scorch).

Northern CatalpaNorthern Catalpa - Extremely large leaves and showy flowers; white conspicuously purple spotted. Subject to frequent and extreme dieback because of border line hardiness and high moisture requirement.


Kentucky Coffee-treeKentucky Coffee Tree - Medium sized tree with large doubly pinnate leaves; coarse pods on female trees. Rounded to oval open growth habit. Attractive in the winter; grayish rustic plate-like bark and coarse, stout branches and twigs. Slow to leaf in spring; good drought tolerance but slow without adequate moisture; difficult to transplant. Yellow fall color. `Stately Manor' (male tree; more upright narrow growth habit).

Siouxland CottonwoodSiouxland Cottonwood - Very large, rapid growing tree; cottonless. Weak structure; breaks up in high winds. Prefers good moisture. Leafspot may be a problem; rust resistant. Tends to be short lived; winter freeze back may occasionally occur. Don't use in small yards or near buildings. Not recommended.

American ElmElm - American Elm can't be recommended because of Dutch Elm disease. Japanese-Siberian Elm Hybrids have excellent resistance to Dutch Elm disease. `Sapporo Autumn Gold' (small leaves similar to the Siberian Elm); `Cathedral' (larger glossy leaves; good shape and fast growing), `New Horizon' (larger leaves; hardiness???), and `Vanguard' (fairly glossy larger leaves, more upright shape, good vigor, and look more like the American Elm). Japanese Elm are Dutch Elm Disease resistant. `Discovery' (intermediate leaf size; darker green than Siberian Elm. Not well tested here).

HackeberryHackberry - Umbrella to vase shaped; most like the American Elm. Eroded corky bark and light green leaves. Susceptible to spring frost and drought. Slow to become established in heavy soil; spring dormancy problem; sweat out bare root nursery stock. Lemon yellow fall color. Witches broom and nipple gall are cosmetic problems but do not threaten tree survival.

Honey-locustHoney Locust - Very small leaflets; provides a very light filtered shade. Fast growing; plant in sod to slow growth in the fall and reduce the risk of freeze back damage. Good drought tolerance; yellow fall color. Susceptible to Nectria canker; pruning opens wounds for canker. Border line in hardiness. Two of the hardier thornless and podless cultivars are 'Imperial' (broad spreading habit) and 'Skyline' (pyramidal, central leader habit; larger size). `Prairie Silk' (horizontal branches; golden fall color. Hardy; may produce seed pods). 'Sunburst' (golden leaves at the tips of growing branches; lacks hardiness; few perform satisfactorily).

American LindenAmerican Linden (Basswood) - Tall, rounded tree with heavy foliage; many times multi-trunked in nature. Relatively fast growing but slow to establish for the first few years. Do well in heavy, clay loam soil. Likes moisture; suckers around the base. Fragrant yellow flowers. Yellow fall color. Recommended cultivars include: Boulevard (Pyramidal) American Linden (narrow pyramidal shape), Frontyard Linden (broad pyramidal shape; rounding with age), Redmond Linden (striking pyramidal growth habit; poor fall color. Holds leaves late into fall; twigs reddish-purple color in the winter. Hybrids of American and Littleleaf Linden include: `Dropmore' (narrow pyramidal when young; does well here), `Gleneven' (fast growing with a straight trunk; pyramidal), `Wascana' (hardier, faster growing and wider angled branches than `Dropmore'; pyramidal)

Silver MapleSilver Maple - Medium-fast growing large tree with light green leaves and silver-gray bark; yellow fall color. Needs above average moisture. Weak structured tree; strengthen by pruning to one main leader when young. Not recommended in heavy poorly drained alkaline soils due to iron chlorosis susceptibility. 'Silver Queen' (more upright growing; may sucker at the base; seedless). 'Skinneri' (a cutleaf cultivar; not as adapted as species; semi weeping); `Autumn Blaze' (cross of Silver & Red Maple; dark green leaves. Orange red fall color; good rate of growth. More drought tolerant than Red Maple; additional years are need to fully determine its adaptability and hardiness).  Not recommended.

Norway MapleNorway Maple - Rounded, dense crown with dark green leaves and white milky sap; provides heavy shade. Usually freeze before good fall color develops. Very susceptible to sunscald; wrap to prevent. No iron chlorosis problem. Not fully hardy. 'Emerald Lustre' (hardiest of the group; semi-glossy foliage; vigorous growth; good branch structure). Red leafed types are very borderline. 'Royal Red' (appears to be hardiest red leafed cultivar; slower growing than the green leafed forms).

Sugar MapleSugar Maple - Hardy, dense shapely rounded tree valued for its brilliant yellow to reddish fall color; questionable performance in alkaline soil. Don't like dry hot soil; mulch trees to retain cool moister soil conditions. For better success, try seedlings from it's western most native range. `Green Mountain' (one of the best cultivars; thick leaves covered with a waxy covering; more drought tolerant; upright oval shape; scarlet fall color)

Red Maple - Showy red flowers in spring before green leaves open; red or yellow fall color. Prefer moist, slightly acidic soil. Don't like poorly drained, heavy soil. Iron chlorosis is a problem. Performance is questionable in droughty alkaline soils; slow growing. Most adapted cultivars from Minnesota sources include: `Autumn Spire' (broad columnar form; early fall dormancy with red color), `Firedance' (medium sized, oval shaped tree with a good branching habit; red fall color), `Northwood' (Rounded oval crown; good branching. Red fall color).

Bur OakBur Oak - Large rounded tree with dark green lustrous leaves; very strong branched. Slow growing and long lived. Drought and alkaline tolerant; doesn't like poor drainage. Difficult to transplant because of the tap root; plant acorns. Interesting winter appearance due to corky ridges on stout branches. Mongolian Oak is slow growing, drought tolerant and transplants well. Glossy leaves tend to cluster at the tips of branches. Coppery burnt fall color; retains leaves into the fall and winter. Swamp White Oak has glossy green leaves; tolerates wet soil but is drought resistant. Prefers acidic soil; iron chlorosis is a problem in alkaline or heavy soil. Good transplant success. Red Oak and Northern Pin Oak have very questionable performance in droughty alkaline soil. Two of the fastest growing oaks; good success transplanting. Good red fall color. Fairly susceptible to Oak Wilt.

Robusta PoplarHybrid Poplars---Robusta Poplar - Vigorous large tree with a fast growth rate; weak structured. Intermittent winter injury is a serious problem in shelterbelts. Grows good for a few years and then dies back. Seedless. Northwest Poplar - similar to Robusta but more drought tolerant and hardier. May defoliate prematurely due to rust and leaf spot diseases. `Assiniboine' (semi-upright, hardy, fairly disease resistant but susceptible to iron chlorosis in heavy soils; seedless. `Imperial' (male with excellent growth and disease resistance; may have winter dieback particularly following dry summers). `Prairie Sky' (hardy, male, single-trunked; rapid growth and fairly good disease resistance).

White PoplarWhite Poplar - Dark green lobed leaves with wooly white undersides; light gray to near white upper trunk and branches. Often confused with the Silver Maple. Wood is brittle; roots clog drains. Rapid growing; suckers profusely. Shallow rooted. Most drought resistant poplar. Use in parks or large areas only. Balsam Poplar has light colored smooth bark; smooth shiny leaves with large resinous buds. Balsam like fragrance; female trees produce objectionable "cotton".

Black WalnutBlack Walnut - Medium sized tree with large, dark green compound leaves; drop after the first fall frost. Yellow fall color. Difficult to transplant; taproot. Use local hardy seed source for nuts. Fast growing when young. Don't plant in or near a vegetable garden. Nuts are useable in cooking; wood is prized for lumber and woodworking. Butternut - small to medium sized tree usually with low spreading branches and light grey bark. Leaves are very similar to Black Walnut. Nuts are oval or elliptical in shape.

Quaking AspenQuaking Aspen - Slender straight tree with interesting light gray-green or gray-white bark; rounded leaves are attractive and 'tremble' in light breezes. Spreads by suckers and forms thickets. Susceptible to drought and canker. Rapid growing, short lived and prefers moist conditions; yellow fall color. `Pike's Bay' (lighter colored bark; may be more canker resistant). European (Swedish) Aspen is similar to Quaking Aspen. Broader growth habit than Columnar European Aspen but with same growth requirements and problems.

European White BirchEuropean White Birch - Medium-small tree with glossy green leaves and peeling white bark; even at a young age. Yellow fall color. Variable but graceful growth habit; commonly grown in clumps. Usually somewhat short-lived (10-20 years) in our area; due to low rainfall, heavy alkaline soil and the Bronze Birch Borer, which attacks weakened trees. `Crimson Frost' (new, glossy purple-red leafed hybrid with foliage superior to `Purple Rain'), `Purple Rain' (purple colored leaves). Asian (Japanese) White Birch has varying resistance to borers. `Dakota Pinnacle' (NDSU introduction; upright columnar growth habit. Borer tolerance above normal) 'Whitespire' (similar to the European White Birch but has non peeling bark; reported to be resistant to the borer). `Whitespire Sr.' (tissue cultured; good borer resistance). Fountain Birch - small shrubby tree; dark bronzy bark and multiple trunk; severe leafspot problem in eastern North Dakota or humid areas.

Paper BirchPaper Birch - Attractive white bark, sometimes peeling; red-brown twigs. Bark doesn't turn white until stems and branches reach 2-3" in diameter. Commonly grown in clumps; yellow fall color. Duller foliage and slightly slower growing than European White Birch but less susceptible to birch borer. May be short lived in hot, dry or alkaline soil conditions. Use Northern Plains seed source. River Birch has very shaggy, interesting, peeling reddish brown bark; likes moisture but not heavy soil. Resistant to Bronze Birch Borer. Borderline in hardiness. Same problems with environment as other birch; more susceptible to iron chlorosis. `Heritage' (lighter bark color than species).

Canada Red CherryCanada Red Cherry (Schubert Chokecherry) - Purple leaves selection of chokecherry; needs good drainage. Leafs out green but turns purple; fruit is an edible chokecherry. Valuable tree because of its color; don't overuse due to X-disease and Black Knot disease. Best used in borders, screens and masses, not as a single-trunked specimen, due to suckering. Canada Red Select Cherry was selected for vigorous growth, straight trunk and uniform top; darker red, thicker leaves.

Amur ChokecherryAmur Chokecherry - Upright to rounded growth habit; may be grown in clumps. White flowers like chokecherry. Very attractive coppery bark, sometimes peeling; striking in the winter scene. Non-suckering. Tends to be short lived; bark cracks and injury; Black Knot can be a problem.

Red Splendor Flowering CrabFlowering Crabs - Medium-small flowering tree; fruits vary from 1/2-1 1/2" in diameter. Many retained into the winter; attracts birds. Flowers last only for a short time; fade fast in hot springs. Coppery-red to yellowish fall color. Fireblight, scab, sunscald and iron chlorosis can be a problem. `Centurion' (rose-pink flowers; clinging cherry red fruits. Upright twig growth; disease resistant), `Coralburst’ (double pink flowers; few " fruits. Small tree grafted on a standard; small dark green leaves), `David' (spreading form; white flowers; red 1/2" fruits; semi-persistent.), 'Dolgo' (white flowered jelly crab), `Jackii' (round form; white flowers; small pea-sized reddish-yellow fruits; semi-persistent; disease resistant), `Kelsey' (double pink flowers; persistent, dark red fruits; spreading growth), `Prairifire' (upright rounded shape; dark pink flowers. Persistent, 1/2" dark red fruits; disease resistant), `Profusion' (rounded shape; heavy bloomer; rosy pink single flowers; persistent 1/2" red fruits), `Radiant' (Deep rose pink flowers; slow to fade; serious apple scab problem), 'Red Splendor' (deep pink flowers; fade fast; glossy, cherry red 1/2" fruits; retained well through winter), 'Selkirk' (rosy flowers fading to pink; glossy foliage and semi-persistent red fruits), 'Spring Snow' (white flowers; no fruit; oval dense shape is attractive), `Snowdrift’ (white flowers; 3/8" orange-red fruits. Fireblight can be a serious problem; scab), 'Thunderchild' (deep purple leaves; rose-pink flowers and few red-purple fruits. Disease resistant; replacement for 'Royalty' which is highly fireblight susceptible), `Vanguard' (narrow vase-shaped when young; rose-pink flowers. Scab can be a problem), and 'Weeping Candied Apple' (hardiness?? ; pink flowers and bright red fruits; scab problem).

Amur Cork-treeAmur Cork Tree - Medium single or multi-trunk tree with broad spreading crown; soft coarse deeply fissured bark. Massive heavy branching gives interesting winter appearance. Female trees produce small black drupes. Fast growing when young; much slower in sod. Needs moisture; not good in droughty conditions. 'Macho' (male clone, borderline hardiness). Sakhalin Cork Tree is similar and may be preferable to Amur Cork Tree when more widely tested. `His Majesty' (vigorous growing male; higher headed).

GinkgoGinkgo - Medium sized; pyramidal when young, spreading with age. Fan shaped leaves; fruits have a bad smell and are messy. Yellow fall color; borderline hardiness. Occasionally freezes back. `Autumn Gold' (male).

Thornless Cockspur HawthornHawthorn - Medium-small tree; slow growing. Good drought tolerance but likes moisture. White or pink flowers; red fruits. Not easy to transplant; slow to establish. Use thornless cultivars. 'Thornless Cockspur' (glossy holly-like foliage, white flowers and rose-pink fruits which drop; purplish fall color. Best cultivar; good disease resistance), 'Snowbird' (double white flowers, semi-glossy foliage and few fruits; hardier than `Toba'. Few thorns; rust problem), 'Toba' (white flowers age to pink; double and fragrant; fireblight and rust susceptible; not as good as other two).

IronwoodIronwood (American Hop-hornbeam) - Slender oval to pyramidal, dense, shapely, small tree; shaggy bark which exfoliates in strips. Yellow fall color; leaves turn coppery brown and often cling in winter. Very slow growing; slow to establish. Likes cool moist soil; not drought tolerant. Deer love; too infrequently used.

Japanese Tree LilacJapanese Tree Lilac - Attractive foliage and large cream-white flowers in June; clusters of tannish colored seed structures are attractive into the winter. Informal multi-trunk growth habit. Needs good drainage and full sun. `Ivory Silk' (compact oval form; slow to establish; bloom and foliage better than species). Pekin Lilac is similar but slightly smaller in size, flowers slightly earlier and has a somewhat finer texture. Exfoliating copper brown bark; shaggy.       

Siberian LarchSiberian Larch - Delicate, feathery bright green needles; drop in the fall. Has good yellow fall color. Rapid growing with good moisture but must transplant in the fall; very early spring growth. American Larch is a boggier tree; not as satisfactory here. European Larch also performs satisfactory in Northern Plains.

Littleleaf LindenLittleleaf Linden - Small to medium size and slow growing; can be grown in a multi-trunked growth habit. Coppery brown bark on limbs; leaves are about 1/2 the size of American Linden. Dense foliage with an oval shape; yellow fall color. Prefers a moist site; does well in heavy clay loam soils. Slow to establish. `Golden Cascade' (cascading rounded crown, golden fall color, and some sunscald resistance), 'Greenspire' (more upright narrow growth habit), `Norlin' and `Shamrock' (hybrids; faster growing and larger leaves. More resistance to sunscald), Mongolian Linden - Broad pyramidal shape with coppery colored bark; lobed leaves. Yellow fall color; hardy. `Harvest Gold' (upright form, exfoliating bark, glossy foliage, and yellow fall color).

Amur Maackia - Small tree with round spreading shape and smooth patchy bark; creamy white summer flowers and small flat seed pods. Slow growing, especially in droughty soils. Susceptible to spray drift. Hardy.

Amur MapleAmur Maple - Small tree or large shrub; orange-red to purple-red fall color in many years. Single or multi-trunked. Slow growth in heavy soil. One of the most adapted maples. `Embers' and `Red Wing' (similar to species with scarlet-red samaras and scarlet-red fall color; iron chlorosis can be a problem). `Flame' (less hardy than species; good red fall color). Tatarian Maple - Slightly larger and coarser with duller foliage. Golden fall color; beautiful reddish-rose samaras. Reputed to have better tolerance to alkaline soil.

May Day TreeMay Day Tree - Small to medium sized spreading tree with clusters of white highly fragrant flowers; black fruits. Tends to be low branching; no suckers. Serious Black Knot disease problem. Not recommended. Purple leafed form available.

European Mountain-ashEuropean Mountain Ash - Small to medium sized tree with clusters of small cream colored flowers and orange berries; red-bronze fall color. Holds fruits into the fall rarely into winter; good source of bird food. Needs good drainage but doesn't do well in dry exposed areas. Fireblight and sunscald can be a problem. `Cardinal Royal' (upright oval growth habit; cardinal red fruits). American Mountain Ash is similar to the European species; smaller fruits and sticky non hairy buds. Showy Mountain Ash is smaller than the European species; larger leaves and somewhat larger, bright red fruits; slow growing. Yellow to golden fall color; more susceptible to iron chlorosis. Oakleaf Mountain Ash is a small tree with lobed leaves. Fireblight?

Ornamental PearUssurian Pear - Oval to round tree with dark green leathery leaves; white flowers. Hardiest pear; good fireblight resistance but not immune. Prefers well drained soil. `Prairie Gem' (smaller and more dense rounded shape; thicker, semi-glossy leaves; no fruit without a pollinator; fruit is 1" in diameter, gritty and of little value; golden yellow fall color; good substitute for the non-hardy Callery Pear which is popular in Zones 5-6). `Mountain Frost' (more upright form).

Princess Kay PlumPrincess Kay Plum - Small narrow tree; showy double white flowers. Yellowish-red 1" fruits; yellow fall color. Slow to establish. Black Knot can be a problem. Mediocre performance under stress; mulch.

Russian OliveRussian Olive - Small to medium sized tree with silvery foliage; yellow fragrant flowers and bitter olive like fruits. Must be pruned or will become shrubby. Tubercularia Canker gets into open wounds from hail and pruning; problem with wilt diseases. Drought tolerant; subject to breakage and tends to have a weak root system. Very hardy foliage accent plant. Over planted in shelterbelts; spreads by seed. Autumn Olive is a large shrub with less silvery foliage and noticeably more spiny than Russian Olive.

Alleghany ServiceberryAllegheny Serviceberry-Small multi-stemed tree with smooth gray bark; much larger than Juneberry. White flowers and coppery-gold fall color; has done well in local trials. Fruit not as tasty as Juneberry.  Apple Serviceberry `Autumn Brilliance' has heavy stems; holds leaves well for good fall color. Moderate spreading branches; resists ice breakage. Iron chlorosis can be a problem. ‘Princess Diana’ does better here; silver grey bark and branches.

Ataghorn SumacStaghorn Sumac - Small tree or large shrub. Velvet haired branches earn it the name. Good fall color but suckers and forms thickets; male and female plants. Winter freeze back is common; borderline hardiness. Cutleaf form has very ferny foliage.


Laurel Leaf WillowWillows---Laurel Leaf Willow - Small-medium sized tree with a dense rounded form; often shrubby. Dark green glossy leaves with a leathery texture; twigs are brittle but not as messy as other Willows. Avoid droughty alkaline soil; iron chlorosis can be a problem. Needs good moisture; sometimes short lived. Redstem Willow has red to red-orange shinny twigs; best color on young twigs. Cut back each year and grown as a shrub. Superior to Golden Willow; more upright and less twig shed. 'Flame' (denser and more compact; golden yellow fall color and good orange-red winter twig color), Siberian White Willow (Silky White) has silvery-gray silky leaves; hardy but has drought problems. `Golden Curls’ and `Scarlet Curls’ are hybrids that resembles corkscrew willow; appears to be hardier. `Scarlet Curls’ is hardier than `Golden Curls’. Goat Willow (French Pussy Willow) is not hardy; terrible winter dieback. Daphne Willow is a good substitute; large showy catkins.

Weeping BirchCutleaf Weeping Birch - Slender pendulous branches with deeply lobed or lacy leaves. Life expectancy is similar to European White Birch; problems are also similar, e.g., highly susceptible to Bronze Birch Borer.


Weeping WillowWeeping Willow (Niobe Weeping Willow) - Large, rapid growing and attractive in the landscape; don't use in small yards. Long pendulous golden-yellow stems which hang to the ground, necessitating pruning. Sheds twigs in wind storms; very messy. Sunscald and winter dieback are problems. Prairie Cascade Willow has darker green, glossier leaves than Niobe but not as weeping; duller yellow-green twigs. May have some winter dieback, often drought related. Likes moist areas but is slow to harden up in wet falls. Northern Fountains Willow is a new Manitoba introduction. Glossy green leaves; new twigs are golden yellow in color.

Todd Weinmann, Extension Horticulturist & Master Gardener Coordinator
Phone: (701) 241-5707

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