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Generally we define a shade tree as any tree that drops its leaf (deciduous), reaches a mature height of 20 feet or greater, and is grown for shade rather than ornamental (leaf color, flower, fruit) value. Trimming shade trees needs to be done at specific times for the following varieties: All Maples and Birch: trim when in full leaf to avoid bleeding from pruned branches. All Oak, Elm, Cherry, and Walnut: trim when fully dormant, between the months of November and March to avoid disease infection. All other trees may be trimmed at any time during the year.
BLUE (Carpinus Caroliniana) Height: 25’-30’, Width: 25’-30’. Full sun to full shade. A small slow to medium growing native tree with a rounded crown, smooth slate gray bark, and deep green leaves. The attributes of this tree have given rise to many common names, including Ironwood (the wood is hard and heavy), and Musclewood (the blue-gray bark is fluted with long sinewy ridges). Performs best in deep, rich, moist soils, but will tolerate drier sites. Will grow in heavy shade, and is often found as an understory plant in the wild. Fall color is usually yellow, but may display oranges and reds as well. An excellent tree for small sites. Growing zones 3 to 9.
DAKOTA PINNACLE (Betula platyphylla ‘Fargo’) Height: 30’, Width: 7’-8’. Full sun to part shade. Developed at North Dakota State University where it was selected for its narrow, columnar habit. After several years the bark matures to a yellow white. A medium growth rate tree which performs best in moist soils. Avoid dry, sandy conditions. Summer foliage is a deep, glossy green, turning to a clear yellow in late fall. The narrow upright habit makes it perfect for confined spaces where a smaller specimen tree is desired. Growing zones 3 to 7.
HERITAGE RIVER (Betula nigra ‘Cully’) Height: 45’-50’, Width: 30’-35’. Full sun to part shade. A rapid growing native tree commonly found along river bottoms, where it tolerates spring flooding for periods of up to 3 weeks. Bark is heavily exfoliated with a tan-creamy white color. Foliage is medium green and lustrous, turning clear yellow in fall. The most disease resistant of the birch varieties, it is believed to be completely resistant to bronze birch borer. It prefers moist soils, but will tolerate drier soils. Fall color is a clear yellow. Typically grown in clump form. Growing zones 3b to 8.
PAPER (Betula papyrifera) Height: 40’, Width: 30’. Full sun to part shade. Commonly called White Birch, this fast growing native tree features bright white bark. Medium green leaves in summer turn a brilliant clear yellow in fall. Young trees posses a dark brown bark that slowly becomes lighter in color as each layer of bark exfoliates, until the bark becomes white. Performs best in moist, well drained soils. Avoid dry, sandy conditions. Can be grown in clump form or as a single trunk. Considered short lived with a life span of approximately 35 years. Growing zones 2 to 7.
OHIO (Aesculus glabra) Height: 20’-40’, Width: 20’-40. Full sun. Unusual palmately compound leaves are among the earliest to emerge in spring. A medium growth rate tree with a broad oval to rounded crown. Greenish-yellow flowers are produced on 4" to 6" panicles, followed by 1.5" light brown fruit capsules containing a shiny brown nut that drops in September. Performs best on moist, well drained soils. May drop its leaves early if grown in dry soils. Fall color is variable, ranging from poor yellow to bright orange. Growing zones 3 to 7.
NORTHERN (Catalpa speciosa) Height: 50’-60’, Width: 35’-40’. Full sun. A fast growing tree with very large (10”) heart shaped medium green leaves. In June, 2” white flowers appear in 4” to 8” panicles, producing 12” to 15” long seed pods. Fall color is non-existent, with the leaves usually falling while still green. Will grow in light and heavy soils, as well as dry to moist conditions. Has the largest leaves of any tree grown here in central Minnesota. May suffer some dieback in severe winters. Growing zones 4 to 7.
WILD BLACK (Prunus serotina) Height: 50’-60’, Width: 35’. Full sun. A rapid growing native tree, pyramidal in youth becoming more oval shaped with age. Leaves are lance shaped, dark green and shiny. In May, 4” to 6” long racemes of white flowers are produced, leading to edible 1/3” fruits, which ripen to black in August and September and are favored by birds. Best in well drained soils. The wood is highly prized for furniture and cabinets. Fall color varies, from yellow to wine red. Growing zones 3 to 9.
KENTUCKY (Gymnocladus dioica) Height: 50’-60’, Width: 40’-50’. Full sun. A medium growth rate tree with deeply furrowed bark and stout branches. One of the latest trees to leaf out in spring, the small heart shaped deep green leaves emerge on bipinnately (double) compounded leaf structure. Produces 4” to 6” leathery brown pods containing 3 to 5 seeds. An excellent choice where summer shade is desired and a maximum amount of solar gain is desired in winter. Prefers deep, moist soil but will grow in drier conditions as well. Fall color is a poor yellow. Growing zones 4 to 8.
ACCOLADE (Ulmus, Morton) Height: 70’, Width 40’-50’. Full sun. A fast growing, disease resistant Elm with the classic vase shape resembling the American Elm. Has very good resistance to Dutch elm disease, and good resistance to elm leaf beetle and leaf miners. Glossy dark green foliage is smaller than native elm leaves, turning golden yellow in the fall. One of the fastest growing trees we sell. Prefers moist, rich soils, but will grow well in drier conditions as well. Growing zones 4 to 7. Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries Inc.
COMMON (Celtis occidentalis) Height: 50’-75’, Width: 50’. Full sun. A large, medium to fast growing native tree with a broad crown and distinctive ridged, corky bark. Medium green leaves in summer turning yellow in fall. Small 1/3” dark reddish brown fruit is produced in September and October and is favored by birds. Best growth rates in rich, moist soils, but tolerates an extremely wide range of conditions including dry, sandy or heavy, rocky soils, or acidic or alkaline conditions. Withstands the pollution, grit and grime of cities and is used on boulevards because of it's toughness. Growing zones 2 to 8.
SKYLINE (Glenditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Skycole’) Height: 50’, Width: 30’-35’. Full sun. A rapid growing tree with a spreading pyramidal form. Medium green small leaflets produce a light, filtered shade, turning a clear yellow in fall. Grows in most soils and conditions, except wet, heavy, poorly drained soils. Late to leaf out in spring. The hardiest of the seedless Honeylocust varieties. Tiny leaflets reduce the amount of fall cleanup, making it ideal where minimal leaf debris is desired. Growing zones 4 to 7.
AMERICAN (BASSWOOD) (Tilia Americana) Height: 75’-90’, Width: 40’-50’. Full sun to full shade. Also known as Basswood. A rapid growing native tree with dense foliage and clusters of tiny fragrant yellow flowers in early summer. Large (4" to 8") medium to dark green leaves with a lighter green underside create a dense canopy that provides excellent shade. Best growth rates in deep, moist soils but will grow in drier soils as well. Fall color is a fair yellow. An excellent large shade tree that is often overlooked. Growing zones 3 to 8.
HARVEST GOLD (Tilia X mongolica ‘Harvest Gold’) Height: 30’-40’, Width: 25’-30’. Full sun to part shade. A smaller, medium growth rate linden with a rounded habit and exfoliating bark. The leaves have deeply serrated edges with 3 to 5 pointed lobes, and are smaller than the American Linden varieties. The best choice in a linden for fall color. Medium green summer foliage turns a rich gold in fall. An excellent choice for boulevards and smaller spaces where larger varieties will not fit. Best in rich soils with adequate moisture. Growing zones 3 to 5.
REDMOND (Tilia Americana ‘Redmond’) Height: 40’-50’, Width: 20’-30’. Full sun to part shade. A selected American Linden with a medium growth rate and larger (4"-8") medium to deep green leaves with a fair yellow fall color. The crown displays a pronounced teardrop shape, appearing as though it has been pruned. Clusters of tiny fragrant yellow flowers appear in June. New branches are a reddish-brown color, hence the name. Best in moist, deep soils, but will tolerate drier conditions. A perfect choice where a formal shape and smaller size than American Linden is deisred. Growing zones 3 to 7.
AUTUMN BLAZE (Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffersred’) Height: 50’-60’, Width: 40’. Full sun to full shade. A hybrid of Silver Maple and Red (Rubrum) Maple. Combines the best of both trees; extremely fast growing with a deeper root system and outstanding red fall color. Produces less than 10% of the seeds of the Silver Maple, and seeds may not exist in many years. Widely adaptable, it grows in most conditions except for very light, sandy soils and extremely wet, heavy soils. Fall color appears later than other maples, often not appearing until mid or late October. Growing zones 4 to 7.
AUTUMN SPIRE (Acer rubrum ‘Autumn Spire’) Height: 50’, Width: 20’-25’. Full sun to full shade. A selection of Red Maple width a broad columnar form and medium growth rate. Small red flowers in early spring preceed medium green leaves, which turn to an outstanding red in late September. Best in rich, deep moist soils. Requires neutral to acidic soils, otherwise it may exhibit signs of chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves). An excellent choice for smaller sites where Autumn Blaze Maple grows too large. Growing zones 3 to 6.
FIREFALL (Acer x freemanii 'AF1') Height: 40'-60', Width: 30'-40'. Full sun to full shade. A hybrid of Red (Rubrum) Maple and Silver Maple. A fast growing selection with an upright oval crown with good branch angles. Reported to be a male selection, and therefore theorhetically seedless. Summer foliage is medium green with varying fall colors of orange, reds, and maroons. Best growth occurs with an even supply of moisture on well drained soils. In drier soil conditions growth rate and performance will be reduced. Growing zones 4 to 7.
SIENNA GLEN (Acer x freemanii ‘Sienna’) Height: 60’, Width: 40’. Full sun to full shade. Another hybrid of Red (Rubrum) Maple and Silver Maple. Sienna is slightly slower growing and more rounded than Autumn Blaze. Foliage is smaller than Autumn Blaze, and fall color changes from an early yellow-orange to a deep red-orange. Stronger wood than Autumn Blaze, it is a superior choice where additional strength is required. Best on well drained fertile soils, but is more adaptable to heavy clay soils than Red Maple. Growing zones 3 to 7.
STATE STREET (Acer Miyabei 'Morton') Height: 40' Width: 30'. Full sun to full shade. Ascending branches that produce a uniform, broadly pyramidal habit. Leaves have a heavy substance, and as a result have excellent resistance to leaf tatter. Slow growing and adaptable to most soils except soggy, wet conditions. The unique, grayish bark appears to have stripes when young. Excellent yellow fall color late in autumn. Growing zones 4 to 7.
SUGAR (Acer saccharum) Height: 50’-70’, Width: 40’-50’. Full sun to full shade. The classic native shade tree, with a rounded, spreading crown. Contrary to popular belief, it is a medium to medium-fast grower. Deep green leaves turn rich shades of yellow, orange, and red-orange. All of our Sugar Maples are grown from locally collected seed, giving our trees exceptional hardiness. Best on average to heavier soils, it will grow in heavy clay as long as the soil is not excessively wet. Growing zones 3 to 7.
NORTHERN RED (Quercus rubra) Height: 50’-70’, Width: 40’-60’. Full sun. Many people believe Red Oak is a slow growing tree, but in reality it is a medium to fast grower. A native tree with a broadly pyramidal crown and shiny deep green foliage which turns rich shades of burgundy in fall. Leaves persist through the winter. Acorns are 1” in diameter and glossy reddish-brown, but will not be produced until the tree begins to mature, generally at least 15 years. Best on well drained, acidic soils. Growing zones 3b to 7.
ROBUSTA (Populus x Canadensis ‘Robusta’) Height: 40’-60’, Width: 30’-40’. Full sun to part shade. An extremely fast growing, seedless (cotton-less) cottonwood with a pyramidal shape. Shallow rooted, this tree is best used where surface roots are not an issue. Will tolerate most soils and moisture conditions, with the best growth rate in moist soils. Unlike some poplars, Robusta is longer lived with an expected life span of 30 to 40 years. Often used where quick cover and shade is desired. Fall color is a poor yellow. Growing zones 3 to 9.
SIOUXLAND (Populus x canadensis ‘Siouxland') Height: 60’-90’, Width: 30’-50’. Full sun to part shade. Another rapid growing seedless (cotton-less) cottonwood. As a young tree the crown will be pyramidal, becoming more rounded as it ages, taking on the classic cottonwood shape. Has a longer life span (50 years or more) than Robusta polar. Shallow rooted, it should not be planted where surface roots are a concern. Will tolerate most soils and moisture conditions, with the best growth rate in moist soils. Fall color is a poor yellow. Growing zones 3 to 8. Photo courtesy fo Bailey Nurseries Inc.
BLACK (Juglans nigra) Height: 50’-70’, Width: 30’-50’. Full sun. A native tree known for its rich, dark wood and tasty, 1 ½” diameter nuts. Black walnut is a medium growth rate tree with a wide branching crown and medium green leaves with a fair yellow fall color. Prefers deep, rich, moist soils, but will grow in drier soils with a corresponding reduction in growth rate. Fruit is covered with a green husk that will discolor concrete. It’s biopathic nature discourages plant growth beneath it, making growing other plants beneath it difficult. Growing zones 3b to 7. Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries Inc.
NIOBE WEEPING (Salix alba ‘Tristis’) Height: 50’, Width: 50’. Full sun. An extremely fast growing weeping willow with golden yellow bark and graceful wide spreading canopy. Best growth on moist to wet soils, but it will perform well in the average yard. Medium green foliage turns a poor yellow in fall. Leaves persist late into fall. Growing zones 4 to 8. Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries Inc.
PRAIRIE CASCADE WEEPING (Salix ‘Prairie Cascade’) Height: 35’-45’, Width: 35’-40’. Full sun. A fast growing weeping willow with long cascading branches on a wide spreading crown. Stems are greenish-yellow, and foliage is a shiny deep green. Slightly better winter hardiness than Niobe Willow. Best growth on moist soils, but will grow in the average yard. Fall color is a poor yellow-brown. Leaves persist into late fall. Growing zones 3 to 6.