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Good Trees

Here is an abbreviated list of “good” trees to plant in Central New York, with some notes regarding ornamental and other qualities. There are almost 750 tree species native to North America---far more than can fit on this list! The list was compiled by ESF Distinguished Teaching Professor Donald J. Leopold following the Labor Day Storm of 1998.

Small (generally less than 25 feet tall)

  • Alternate-leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia): autumn folia color, fruit, winter form; pest free
  • American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana): bark, form; shade tolerance
  • Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium): flowers, fruit; dry sites
  • Eastern Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana): form; dry sites, shade tolerance
  • Gray Birch (Betula populifolia): bark, form; dry acidic sites
  • Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago): foliage, flowers, fruit; shade tolerance
  • Paw Paw (Asimina triloba): flowers, foliage, fruit; shade tolerance
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea): flowers, fruit, autumn color; dry soils, shade tolerance

Medium (generally 25 to 50 feet tall)

  • Blackgum or Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica): foliage, autumn color, form; dry or wet soils
  • Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis): form; shade tolerance
  • Red Maple (Acer rubrum): flowers, autumn color; dry or wet soils
  • River Birch (Betula nigra): bark, form, pest free; wet soils
  • White Ash (Fraxinus americana): form, autumn foliage color
  • White Spruce (Picea glauca): form, foliage color; dry or wet alkaline soils; shade tolerance

Large (generally 50 to 75 feet or more tall)

  • Black Maple (Acer nigrum): foliage, autumn color; dry soils
  • Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa): form; dry or wet soils
  • Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus): form, foliage; dry soils
  • Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra): form
  • Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum): form, autumn color
  • Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor): form; wet soils
  • White Oak (Quercus alba): form