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Amazing Trees for Oklahoma’s Climate

Trees & Shrubs

Oklahoma Tree Survival

A good tree is any tree which satisfies the requirements of function and site; therefore, several factors should be considered before selecting a tree for the home landscape.

  • Primary function – shade, screen, accent, spring color, fall color
  • Size – space available, proportionate to existing structures or site, power lines
  • Exposure – sun, shade, wind
  • Soil structure – clay, sandy, well drained, soggy
  • Leaf texture – small or large leaves preferred aesthetically or nuisance for maintenance
  • Fruit or flower production – desirable for color or nuisance for maintenance

The trees listed below should help guide the homeowner in making informed plant selections. Not all of the trees listed will neces¬sarily thrive throughout Oklahoma, nor have all been listed which could be grown in various locations within the state. They have not been listed in order of desirability, however, they have been found to perform above average throughout many areas of the state.

The best policy is to strive for tree diversity in the home landscape. Try a variety of trees, not only to guarantee survivability of at least most of the plantings but also to increase the diversity which often enhances the aesthetic quality of the landscape.

River Birch (Betula nigra) is 40-60 feet at maturity and has attractive foliage with a showy, reddish brown and white exfoliating trunk. It prefers moist soils and grows pyramidal to round in habit. It has a medium to fast growth rate.

Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) is a 40-50 feet evergreen at maturity with a bold pyramidal form with sparkling silvery-blue needles. It is often planted too close to structures as it can reach 30 feet in width. It requires a well-drained soil, as root rot is common in wet, poorly drained sites.

Golden Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara) is a 40-50 feet evergreen at maturity with a large, pyramidal form. It has attractive golden yellow new needles on graceful, arching branches. It prefers a well-drained soil.

Prairiefire Crabapple (Malus sp. ‘Prairiefire’) is 15-20 feet at maturity with an upright form which becomes rounded with age. It is covered with large purplish red flowers in spring followed by dark purplish red cherry sized fruit. Purplish leaves mature to dark green while bark is reddish in color. It is a highly disease resistant variety.

Bald Cypress (Taxodium disti¬chum) is 50-80 feet at maturity with fern-like foliage. It is drought tolerant and has red¬dish-brown fall color. It has attrac¬tive, rounded fruit. It becomes pyramidal at maturity and is medium to fast in growth rate. It may grow “root knees” in wet sites.

Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) is 40-60 feet at maturity and has pest free glossy leaves. It has good yellow fall color and has attrac¬tive red fruit. It has exceptional brown¬ish-orange mottled bark. With irriga-tion and fertilization, the growth rate will be fast while forming a rounded crown tree.

Wildfire Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’) is a slow growing native tree with a pyramidal habit growing to 40-60 feet tall.  New foliage growth is a bright red, turning to dark green as it matures, and finally to a fiery red fall color.

Amur Maple (Acer ginnala) is 15-20 feet at maturity with shiny three-lobed leaves. Some varieties have attractive red fruit. Ask for varieties with red fall color. It is quite adaptable, pest free, and becomes rounded in habit at maturity.

Autumn Blaze Maple (Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffersred’) is 40-50 feet at maturity with upright branching in a broadly oval shape. It has brilliant orange red, long lasting fall color and is fast growing.

Caddo Maple (Acer saccharum ‘Caddo’ ) is 40-60 feet at maturity and its brilliant red to red-orange fall color makes it one of the showiest trees. Native to southwestern Oklahoma, it is drought resistant, but should always be planted in well drained soils.

October Glory Maple (Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’) is 40 feet at maturity with a broadly oval to round shape. It has deep red to reddish-purple fall color. A rapid grower in a wide range of soils but is only moderately tolerant to drought.

Shantung Maple (Acer truncatum) is 20-25 feet at maturity with a rounded crown. Leaves emerge reddish purple in the spring then turn dark green followed by bright yellow-orange in fall.

Shumard Oak (Quercus shumardii) is 50-75 feet at ma¬turity with shiny dark green foliage, and it is a pest free plant. It has a reddish-yellow fall color and medium in its growth rate. It is a very desirable large tree.

Bosnian Pine (Pinus leucodermis) is a 30-40 feet evergreen at maturity with a dense, pyramidal form. It has glossy green needles with unique purple-blue pine cones. It prefers a well-drained soil.

Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) is 25-35 feet at maturity. It has pest free foliage with attractive red or blue fruit on the females. It has an ex¬cellent orange-red fall color. It is medium in growth rate and becomes rounded in habit at maturity.

Rockford Road Planetree (Plantanus x acerifolia ‘Grejtn’) is a rapid growing tree that will reach 50-70 feet tall.  Valued for its white bark and attractive branching structure.

Oklahoma Redbud (Cercis Canadensis ‘Oklahoma’) is 20-25 feet at maturity with lustrous shiny leaves and deep purple flowers in spring. It is moderate to slow growing with yellow fall color. It is a widely adaptable, tough, durable small tree. A white blooming variety is also available.

Rising Sun Redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘JN2’) is a small tree with golden-orange new leaves that then turn a lime green during summer.  Pink-lavender flowers appear before the foliage in early spring.  Will reach 10 to 15 feet tall with an equal spread.

Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) is 15-25 feet at maturity with a rounded, umbrella like crown. Trumpet shaped blooms in summer are pink or lavender depending on the variety. A rapid growing tree when young, It will not tolerate poorly drained soils or wet conditions.

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