The Q&A Archives: Choosing A Tree

Question: My mother lives 50 miles south of San Francisco. She is looking for a tree for her patio. It should provide shade and grow fast. If it were neat that would be a plus, but if it were to attract butterflies and/or hummingbirds that would be a bonus that would perhaps out weigh the "neatness" requirement. It would be helpful if it did not need to be pruned often.

Any suggestions?

Lynn Hughes

Answer: Hummingbirds are attracted to Albizia (silk tree), Citrus, Erythrina (coral tree), and Chilopsis (desert willow). All but the citrus tree will produce some litter from falling petals, and all will cast shade. Of the above, silk trees drop the most litter. Citrus trees will provide the added bonus of fruit so your final decision will probably include some kind of a trade off if you want flowers to attract wildlife but not much in the way of spent flowers or falling berries! Adult butterflies swarm to shrubs such Abelia, Buddleia, Ceanothus, Lavandula and Lilac, but do not generally frequent trees. Good luck with your new tree!

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