The Q&A Archives: Trees

Question: I need to know what deciduous trees would be appropriate for a site close to the sea and wind exposure. It needs to be of medium height. This would be for Western Washington State on Puget Sound.

Answer: There are so many choices! Consider the following, all proven to thrive on Fox Island:
Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)Known for the size of its leaves and its beautiful fall coloring, the Bigleaf Maple is often planted in parks and as a specimen tree in private gardens. Grows 30-70?; Usually found in moist soils around stream banks and canyons.

Red Alder Red Alder (Alnus rubra) This is the most important source of hardwood in the Northwest. It is often a pioneer tree in burned-over sites. Can grow 40-100?
Leaves dark green above, gray-green with reddish hairs below. Found along stream banks and on lower mountain slopes with moist, acidic soils. The Red Alder is often found in pure stands, and sometimes in thickets.

Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) This is a small shrub with a short trunk or seveal branches which turn and twist from the base. The growth habit of this tree is usually vinelike, tending to lean or sprawl. It offers bright foliage in the fall and small white lavendar flowers in spring. Its seeds are a food source for many species of birds and mammals. Grows to about 25' high, 8" wide; Leaves are bright green above, paler with small hairs beneath. Leaves turn bright orange or red in the fall. Grows in moist soils along shady stream banks and as an understory plant in coniferous forests.

Arbutus menziesii (Pacific Madrone) Although it is a broadleaf evergreen tree with striking red bark, it's a lovely addition to the landscape Grows in sun to part-shade, prefers dryer habitats but also thrives in well-drained moist sites.

Cercis occidentalis (Western Redbud) Deciduous shrub with round leaves and brilliant magenta flowers in spring growing 10 - 20 ft. Wide range of habitats, from dry slopes and canyons to stream banks and woodlands. Needs sun and good drainage.

Cornus sericea (Red Twig Dogwood) Deciduous shrub to 15 ft., sometimes thicket forming. Dark red stems, leaves red and orange in fall. Good food and cover for wildlife. Grows along streambanks. Part-shade, moist soil.

Lithocarpus densifloris (Tan Oak) Evergreen oak to 100 ft. of mixed conifer forest in coast ranges and Sierra Nevadas. Sun to part-shade, drainage.

Physocarpus capitatus (Pacific Ninebark) Deciduous shrub 10 - 20 ft. with interesting split bark pattern and pretty pom-pom flower clusters in spring. Grows along streams and in moist forest. Part-shade to sun.

Quercus garryana (Oregon White Oak) Beautiful deciduous oak of northwest coast wood-lands, grows 50 - 80 ft. Lobed leaves, grayish bark, gnarled appearance. Also grows in central California Coast and Sierra foothills. Needs good drainage and sun.

Rhamnus purshiana (Cascara)Small deciduous tree growing to 30 ft. Bright green leaves in spring, bright yellow in fall, light-gray bark. Berries an important wildlife food. Moist sites in conifer forest, coastal bluffs, and riparian zones. Part-shade or shade, but grows in full sun on coast.

Hope one of these is perfect for your landscape!

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