Trees/shrubs with open/interesting branching for zone 5?

olreaderAugust 26, 2014

I have a pussy willow around 18 feet tall, it has around 30 stems coming out like a fountain from a central point. I really like looking out the window and seeing the branches silhouetted against the winter sky, and in the summer I like that the canopy is open and lets lots of light through. it's to the northeast of our house and couldn't give much useful shade anyway.

The willow is no longer very healthy for some reason and I would like to replace it with something with similar interesting and open branching or interesting trunks etc. Looking around my neighborhood I see some ideas:
Honeysuckle bushes
aspen for the white bark and multiple trunks/clumps
Birch for same reasons
Fruit trees that have been pruned
Some maples, I think they are Tartarian or Amur
more pussy willows

The sumacs are closest to what I am looking for because they seem naturally interesting looking, and they have good fall color and the fruit? spikes that last through the winter.

Any other ideas? I want something that will get to at least 10 feet tall.

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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Honeysuckle is TERRIBLY invasive around here. Worse than the Bradford clones.

If you get enough rain metasequoia is neat and huge. Its "Ogon" cultivar is a bright yellow but doesnt seem to have the massive trunk.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 7:14PM
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One tree on your list, the Acer ginnala (Amur Maple) is a decent choice. We had one a few years ago and the overall tree shape and fall leaf and seed colors were very nice indeed. Unfortunately the previous owners planted it far too close to the house and we had to remove it.

If you have time to wait, one tree to consider is a lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana). It has beautiful white bark that looks like a jigsaw puzzle as it gets older. They do not grow fast but they have a nice open shape and interesting needles. Might be worth looking at.

Google has many images of both trees.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 8:18PM
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Thank you for the replies. I realize that most of the trees I mentioned have drawbacks. Here's a pic of a honeysuckle near my house. Maybe they arent so invasive in dry Colorado but i think I can do better. I like the profile of this bush though.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 8:50PM
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The Metasequoia looks really nice but I don't know if I have enough room for one anywhere. I guess I was picturing a broadleafed tree that is narrow below and spreading on top.

Lacebark pine is a new one for me, I like it.

Here's a photo I took tonight of some pine in a park.

This post was edited by olreader on Tue, Aug 26, 14 at 22:21

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 10:19PM
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Witchhazel has interesting branching and blooms in October.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 10:25PM
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karin_mt(4 MT)

Serviceberry (amalanchier) is another small tree that is nice to look at 365 days a year. Early spring flowers, then berries which the birds love, then nice fall color. There are forms that are small trees, multistem trees, or shrubs. I have all of the above and appreciate them all. (As do the robins, and deer, unfortunately.)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 10:28PM
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I am am barely a tree novice and I am not sure what zone this can work in, but the paperbark maple I saw had an amazing trunk.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 2:42AM
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Yes the paper bark maple (Acer griseum ) is another great choice. A local park has one and the bark is very attractive.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 6:56AM
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pastaetr(Keokuk, Iowa z5)

Acer campestra fits your description.

For additional interest, try the cultivar 'Carnival' which should perform well on the shaded side of your house.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 7:38AM
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Look at pagoda dogwood. Again, not a plant of dry lands, but maybe you can coax one along. Very interesting and attractive growth/branch form.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 7:56AM
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I second the serviceberry suggestion - I have a vase-shaped one and it is lovely to look at in all seasons.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 9:26AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

For what you're looking for and what you've shown, Serviceberry is exactly that.

Typically they have undulating multi stems with a fairy open canopy.

The pine you're showing is likely Pinus sylvestris, something you should avoid. Perhaps they are less disease prone in your arid climate.

Perhaps prioritize these three features and you might get more refined suggestions

- Open canopy
- Multi stem branching character
- Attractive bark

For example Seven Son Flower has attractive bark and typically has interesting multi stem branching character but it doesn't have an open canopy.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 1:02PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Metasequoia is probably not a good choice for CO. Too dry for one, and even with irrigation, the early fall and late spring freezes are far worse (from what I see) than here in the East.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 1:42PM
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Yes I think the open canopy is the most important for me, letting some light through and showing the branch structure even in the summer. Next would be interesting branching and finally bark/persistent fruit etc

And something that has an interesting form naturally too. I like old craggy apple trees in winter that are pruned to a few branches, but maybe some of these ideas you have given me are more naturally open. Thanks to everyone.

The yard is irrigated for the grass so I think it will get enough water once established.

I'm just posting pictures here for inspiration and to show what I like, ,even though the pictures arent very good. here's a multitrunk yellowwood.

This post was edited by olreader on Wed, Aug 27, 14 at 20:04

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 8:02PM
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If you have a LARGE area, the Compton's oak is zone 5 hardy. It gets 80 ft wide (in very old age) and about 60-70' tall. It is a hybrid of the Live oaks of the south, and the Overcup oak that grows in floodplain areas, pretty far north, likely giving the Compton's oak it's hardiness. It is available ONLY at Mossy oak natives nursery, at least to the best of my knowledge. It may be available elsewhere now.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 10:57PM
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Is there any species or cultivar of serviceberry that you would recommend for its shape

This post was edited by olreader on Fri, Aug 29, 14 at 11:13

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 11:09AM
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