Shade tree suggestions

nolaslumlordApril 23, 2014

Looking for any ideas on a tree for my front yard. Would like:
-Fairly quick growing(25 year maturity)
-Lots of shade(thick canopy)
-Can stand up to New Orleans heat.

I can deal with lots of leaves as i enjoy landscape but would like to stay away from anything that drops large pods/balls.

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I would go with Cherrybark Oak if you can find it....its one of the fastest growing and is native to your area.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 6:04PM
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Thanks greenthumb. I will check into that.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 6:33PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Nuttall Oak.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 8:10PM
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Here in Central Texas (where we know hot) the Monterrey live oak has become the shade tree of choice. It grows pretty rapidly and is evergreen.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 8:59PM
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Great suggestions. Checking out some pics and availability now.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:56AM
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Live oak is native to your area. You will get acorns though eventually, but they are small, It will be a decent shade tree in 25 years. Willow oak is southern, can get large. Magnolia the Evergreen ones are nice, and like your climate. The Live oak is what I would go with, there are so many who are old and huge, proving they can take the hurricanes and heat and still survive and be the perfect shade tree for your climate.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 7:30PM
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Live Oaks have a fairly good reputation for with-standing hurricanes, and they are typically considered to be a property enhancement.
Willow oak also looks good and is probably faster. Don't know how it would do with hurricane.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:24PM
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Live oaks are the most common shade tree in Central Texas. Many have been lost, however, to oak wilt disease. They have been wiped out in certain neighborhoods in Austin, for example. That is the reason tree and landscape experts are now recommending the Monterrey and Shumard oaks. They stay green most of the year.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:20AM
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Man, so many oak suggestions. I figured that would have been at the bottom of the least for a semi quick grower.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:24AM
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Maybe you are from the North (?) Some oaks can grow three foot a year (in the South). Baldcypress, as well-- both sound like they can stand up to high winds better than anything. There ought be a solution. Don't forget to plant an Osmanthus fragrans along side it, for pleasant fen shu, whenever you come to pick up the rent check. M

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:40PM
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After that, there's some really interestin' thangs you could plant, that other people would die for who ain't from N'awlins. Like a bay laurel (Laurel nobilis! Caesar, and bring her to me!) citrus, and figs. But don't forget, Osmanthus fragrans, ain't no house in yo fine city a home without one...and them cayenne peppers, and some okra... Best wishes

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 2:52PM
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All of the live oaks that succumb to wilt that I've seen are the native live oaks from the hill country. Most of the planted live oaks are sourced from coastal trees and they seem to be more resistant to the wilt. Never actually seen one of the planted coastal live oaks succumb.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:58PM
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I recommend Swamp Chestnut Oak. They have been fairly fast growing for me, and I find their form to be attractive. They do have large acorns but they don't have heavy crops every year.

Another one of my favorites is Southern Sugar Maple (acer barbatum). Probably not as fast growing as Red Maple, but a much better tree.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 12:02AM
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Mackel in DFW, actually born and raised right outside New Orleans so I.m familiar with the area, just never knew enough about the local horticulture i guess. Usually, the only oaks people are talking about are hundreds of years old so i guess i associated them with slow growing.

Alabama tree hugger, maples are what i originally was pointed to from some friends. I've got room for both so I may do one of each. I have actually seen the Southern Sugar Maple and its got great color too it.

Just need to start checking out whats available in the area.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 12:17AM
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jcalhoun(8b Mobile County AL)

I've become a big fan of the sweet bay magnolia. They grow very well in yards along the Gulf Coast especially wet ones like mine. Red maple and black gums are great too.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 10:32PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The 2007 (or maybe 2004) hurricane blew down an entire grove of Taxodium on the University of Central Florida Orlando campus.

When I was in college in the 1970s another student from across the hall mentioned weathering a hurricane in Louisiana in an old mansion that had two heritage live oaks and one southern magnolia.

The wind blew the leaves completely off the magnolia and blew the oaks over.

The magnolia remained standing.

Imagine wind that blows over oaks that have been in place for perhaps centuries, and blows the leaves completely off an evergreen magnolia!

A recent hurricane also blew down much or most of the famous shade tree cover in Winter Park, Florida. But one thing with oaks (and other trees) is that you can have root pathogens come in and diminish their anchorage, causing previously secure specimens to lose their grip.

Often when a forest giant goes over here it becomes apparent the roots had become decrepit beforehand.

This post was edited by bboy on Sun, May 4, 14 at 22:45

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 10:43PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

I'm going to throw a spanner in the works and lament, like Mackel, that you can't try something a little more exotic than live oak. I would argue there must be SE Asian trees that are just as typhoon resistant as any from the SE US. And though New Orleans was an extremely awesome place that exceeded my expectations - I highly recommend any American who hasn't visited to do so, it really is unique compared to any other city - it struck me as somewhat horticulturally boring. Sure, there are palms a plenty. In fact the most interesting thing I saw, horticulturally, were the Phoenix palms almost growing out of small ponds in parts of the park. You'd almost have thought they were aquatic plants! And camellias galore. But it seemed like a place that was zn 9b should have a more obviously subtropical mix of plants. You'd go by a garden in the Garden District and see a huge 30' tall Podocarpus and think, "Why is that the first I've seen today?" Or a huge Callistemon...there were only a couple in the downtown and a couple in the garden district. Maybe a few others were not in bloom and I missed them. Really interesting stuff is few and far's mostly just camellias, live oaks, crape myrtles, Osmanthus, azaleas, etc. Surely there must be a Ficus besides carica which can become a tree in 9b? It's still the south, people probably think they are being 'traditional', but in fact, if the New Orleans founders of 200-300 years ago lived now, they'd probably be all for planting whatever new things had recently been imported from Taiwan, China, or Japan. Elaeocarpus decipiens? Check. Myrica rubra? Check. Rhododendron arboreum ssp zeylanicum? Check.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Mon, May 5, 14 at 10:10

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:46AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

FWIW a book I found in google books, The New Orleans Garden by Charlotte Seidenberg, Jane Weissman, has some interesting recommendation. Though one is surely very misguided: Araucaria araucana! My eyes would literally have fallen out of my head if I'd seen one about 999/1000 tried in the mid-Atlantic have died from root rot. Now, OTOH, Araucaria angustifolia would be an excellent tree to plant in New Orleans, and *surely* the book is confusing that or (more likely) A. bidwillii w/the true monkey puzzle, when it says there were once trees there. Quick growing, too, would provide shade w/in the OP's timeframe. One I grew from seed and gave to a guy in Alabama in the early 2000s (via someone else) is now about 25' tall. One given to me in California which I in turn gave to a gardener in central North Carolina survived 7F during the big freeze this winter, and the ones at the NCSU arb. had light to moderate injury but were small. I can't imagine them ever being injured in NoLA.

As bboy's post points out, the worse hurricane winds (and obviously tornados) are going to kill or mame any tree.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:01AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Oh, another one I'm thinking of...there's some rather tender Cyclobalanopsis oak of southern Japan...but should still be zn 8 hardy when fully established and thus fine in NoLA...with absolutely gigantic flowers. I mean, it puts anything else in the beech family to shame, even the chestnuts. But I forget what it is at the moment, maybe ? Sorry no longer really serving the OP's question which probably is best met with a native "boring" tree. Just musing on my mild disappointment with NoLA as a horticultural destination.

Oh I remember now, the really showy one is C. sieboldii.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Mon, May 5, 14 at 10:24

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 10:19AM
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davidrt28, we are definitely down to try something exotic. The Castanopsis cuspidata/Japanese Chinquapin you suggested is ineresting. I couldnt find info on its rate of growth and havent been able to find a potted one for sale. Looks like anything somewhat exotic will have to be from seed.

We have also been looking at a Drake or Lacebark Elm. Does anyone have any experience with either of those?


    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:55AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Ulmus parvifloras are nice, but weedy. In my case I planted one seems like in my good soil, many things become weedy: hollies, hemlocks, yews, Japanese maples etc. If you are just going to have a lawn under the tree, your lawnmower will take care of most of the seedlings. (Although in Stresa, Italy, the Trachycarpus palm seedlings are so thick on the ground that they form a lawn. No kidding)

Yeah unfortunately the more zn 8-9-ish southern Asian flora is only slowly becoming available in the US...but something like Castanopsis could definitely pop up at Woodlanders, Forestfarm or even Yuccado.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:04PM
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Not sure about the heat, but Quercus Bicolor can take flooded soil, it may need some occasional draining of the root zone. It gets nice strong branches that (from the photo in the book I have ) resemble live oak or white oak, at the least. It is a white oak with strong wood. Just a suggestion.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:44PM
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For some beautiful seasonal color, how about a Shantung Maple (Acer truncatum) or BigTooth Maple (Acer grandidentatum)?

Or for something more exotic and edible, how about an Oriental Raisin Tree (Hovenia dulcis)?

Here is a link that might be useful: Maples

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 12:44PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Montezuma cypress (Mexican's version of American Bald Cypress).

Much less likely to have knees.

Significantly faster growth.

More evergreen. May be nearly evergreen in NO.

Not very weedy. ;-)

I am currently growing some from seeds. Hopefully they make it to the next stage (potting up to larger size). If I have a lot, I could send you some.

25 years? That's like 50-75 ft size for Montezuma cypress. Maybe 100 ft if it gets enough rainfall most years in NO if I recall is over 50 inches a year which MCs would really thrive.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 6:31PM
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After reading a book I have, the Willow oak is considered an inferior red oak wood, as far as the forestry industry. With that in mind the wood may be weak, and the tree not good in hurricanes. Unless someone has experience that says otherwise, maybe it ain't so great in Louisiana.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 7:19PM
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Lacebark elms are really pretty and we have a lot of them in our neighborhood in NOLA. There's a little park where the path is lined with them, and they create a beautiful shaded area. We are considering replacing the tree in our backyard, so I'm doing research too. Good luck choosing!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 11:23PM
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