Deciduous trees for cold, arid climates?

denninmi(8a)May 14, 2012

What are some good deciduous trees for cold, dry climates - Zone 5 temps, precip. less than 15 inches a year? Basically, the climate of the Great Basin region, N. Nevada, Utah, S.E. Oregon.

Preferably NOT the same old stuff that grows everywhere.

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famartin(z5 NE NV)

Haha, yeah I'd like to know that as well... the only thing that seems to grow here (or at least, seems to get planted here) is Siberian Elm and Cottonwood. Definitely would advise the Cottonwood over the disgrace known as Siberian Elm. Otherwise, I really haven't seen anything, but maybe people here are just unimaginative.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 10:05PM
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jimbobfeeny(5a IN)

Bur oak might do okay. From what I understand, trees can't really naturally establish with less than 15 inches of rain a year - That's why so much of the plains is grassland.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 7:18AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

could look for some of the natives of turkey or similar spots.

couldnt help but notice the denver botanical garden.has tons of crabapples interestingly enough.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:31AM
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Q: in such a location...what is the prevalent pH? even though that is slightly misleading cuz thank god trees are far more adaptable than we give them credit for.

i have found that by and large people are good at following the crowd and having a likimg for certaim shapes and colors and a real distain foe allowing natural things to be...well, natural.

that is why callery pears continue to be good sellers despite a litany of objections and some people who would seek to imprison those who plant them.

i'd probably stay away from most maples and lindens. there are species hardy to z3, but maples temd to mot like higher pH and the both like plentiful moisture and are susceptible to leaf scorch.

elms are a tree that deserve to be brought back to american landscapes. ded is s-o-o last year with a number of very good selections available.

ash...despite the apparwnt of a beetle to select species this is going to be a hard sell...even for Mancana and Fallgold.

honeylocust...ndsu has a cultivar selected for hardiness.

foe that matter...when seeking plants for excellent hardiness...look for any thing from ndsu or morden research station (canada).

the climate is probably arid enough for malus to do well. might scorch.

tree lilac for flowering. pekin and japanese. also look into maackia.

there are a number of what i'll collectively refer to as cherries that if you grow other things you'd never think of. Prunus virginiana, P. padus, P. maackii.

again from ndsu...redbud selected for hardiness and manchurian alder selected for drought resistance. from Morden a weeping willow selecred for hardiness. (Prairie Cascade does well in ND...much colder, lots of wind, variable moisture depending on where in the state you are.

oaks. Q. macrocarpa, Q. bicolor, seed strains of Q. ellipsoidalis and Q. rubrum. Q. mongolica if you can find it.

i'm sure there's others. check with the local colleges in your state or.surrounding states for hort. programs amd see if you can't bend a few ears. bring donuts, the universal currency.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 12:05PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

Thinking about this a bit more... with irrigation, I've seen a few decent sized honey locust, Silver Maple and ash (not sure which species) around here. However, *only* with irrigation. Without it, they're all gonners.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 2:12PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

Also, with irrigation... a species of locust (Robinia) native out west, (Idaho locust?) seems to do alright.

Finally, yes there are a lot of Crabapples. But I was thinking more along the lines of shade trees. And yes, they still need plenty of irrigation.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 2:15PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

The conditions you specify are going to have VERY few trees able to survive those conditions, and certainly very few large trees. Most forest in the west are composed of 2-3 tree species, while eastern forest may have 30. You best bet are probable going to be western species conifers IMHO. Pinion and Ponderosa Pine comes immediately to mind.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 3:02PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

Ponderosa still generally needs more than 15" of rain per year, at least to get any size out of it. Pinyon doesn't, but of course it grows ridiculously slowly so doesn't really count as a "tree".

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 3:20PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Cooperative Extension will have recommendations.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:10PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Taxodium distichum
Ginkgo biloba
Celtis occidentalis
Cornus officinalis
Cotinus coggygria
Hibiscus syriacus
Zelkova serrata


    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 10:30AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Cotinus obovatus NEEDS it to be rather dry.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 1:31PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

I think something that's overlooked with this is an element of this kind of climate which hurts a lot of trees, that being the very short growing season. Where I am, even though its zone 5B, the growing season is only 90 days long on average.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 1:40PM
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Catclaw Acacia, Honey Mesquite, and Screwbean Mesquite are trees that are listed to survive with as little as 6" of water. The first two are rated at -13 F and the last at -3 F. Not sure if that will make Z5 requirements.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 4:10PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

Probably won't cut it, but guess it could be attempted.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 5:46PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Highly doubtful.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 7:40PM
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you've answered your own question.

on another note, of interest may be the difference between c3 and c4 plants.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 7:46PM
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Chestnut oak Quercus Prinus will grow on rocky dry slopes. Zone 4 hardy. Should grow decent on dry sites, it;s rapid growing on good sites.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 6:19PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

Dry by eastern standards is wet by western standards. Chestnut oak would not cut it.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 6:41PM
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jimbobfeeny(5a IN)

You're pretty much limited to sagebrush and buffalo grass there. I don't think there's much else that could take the extreme conditions. You could try bristlecone pine, but that's a slow grower, too. There really are no fast-growing trees that will grow in a desert climate. The only ones that would require warm winter temperatures.

I don't think I'll complain about our wet weather too much! It is "really dry" here right now (We haven't had rain in over a week - May is our second highest rainfall month, July the wettest.), so I've had to water some things. I hope it's not like this all summer!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 6:57PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

The only trees that I've seen survive on their own in the wetter, low elevation areas of the state with 15" of precip are chinese (siberian) elm and russian olive, however these usually take some help to put in a snow fence upwind to leave drifts where the trees are planted and provide additional moisture. They will probably get enough moisture to grow 10-12' high, then lose branches in dry years and generally look about 1/2 dead.

However, if you go to an area with ground water, such as near a stream or spring, then you have lots of choices--cottonwoods, other poplars, ash, linden, boxelder, apples, honey locust, black walnut, and others. The key is whether you want to irrigate or have groundwater for the trees to survive on and your elevation. Otherwise, you go with what appear to be half dead bushes or just stick with bushes such as caragana or lilac and some evergreens such as junipers.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 3:19AM
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