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favorite underused trees

Posted by hairmetal4ever Z7 MD (My Page) on
Mon, Dec 16, 13 at 9:29

We talk a lot about overused and/or invasive trees.

What are some of your favorite trees that SHOULD probably be planted more?

For me, here are a few:

Quercus michauxii - Swamp Chestnut Oak. I only really "discovered" this tree myself last year - I've known of its existence for a long time, but hadn't seen one in its full glory until last spring. Reasonably fast growth rate, often better-than-average fall color (can be a nice red, sometimes brown, almost as good as White Oak and better than Swamp White IMHO), nice form, good looking bark. Doesn't "need" a swamp to grow, but probably isn't quite as drought or urban tolerant than the "other" Swamp Oak, Q. bicolor.

Aesculus flava (sometimes called A. octandra) Yellow Buckeye - this tree is, IMHO, the best of the genus for most of us. Not nearly as scorch prone as the more commonly planted A. hippocastanum or A. glabra among the large-growing members of the genus. Has decent yellow flowers & often good yellow-orange fall color. Several large specimens in Baltimore showed no sign of scorch even as late as October this past season.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: favorite underused trees

Liriodendron tulipifera
Oxydendrum arboreum
Amelanchier sp.
Sassafras albidum


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Funny - Q. michauxii is getting quite common here as a planted tree. It is native also, but although live oak is the most commonly planted oak, the next most common are Q. michauxii, Q. austrina and Q. shumardii..

I gave a presentation on this topic a while back and keep getting requests to do it again. Of course, it was specific to this region. There are many...some that come to mind are:

Taxodium ascendens (much better than distichum as an urban landscape plant in my opinion)
Acer fabri
Acer skutchii
Keteleeria spp.
Liquidambar styraciflua 'Slender SIlhouette'
Liriodendron tulipifera 'Arnold'
Liriodendron tulipifera Florida ecotype (likely a separate species)
Magnolia virginiana
Cupressus chengiana
Taiwania cryptomerioides
Quercus myrtifolia
Q. chapmannii
Tilia caroliniana ssp. floridana


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Good list, salicaceae.

I think a lot of the more southern oaks have been common in the southerly parts of their ranges as landscape specimens for longer than further north, even in places still within the native range. Q. michauxii is native in Maryland, in the costal plain region (East and SE of Baltimore-Washington area) but not commonly planted anywhere in the state from what I have seen.


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Here are a few-
Quercus michauxii - see comments by others.

Sassafras albidum - Tough tree, but can be difficult to find and transplant. Fast growing. unique and variable leaf shape. Feed native species in the ecosystem. Fall color THAT CAN NOT BE BEAT. Early fall color. VERY drought tolerant.

Acer luecoderme - Smaller, much tougher Sugar Maple. Great fall color. Moderate growth rate. Native.

Acer triflorum - Great tree. Beautiful emerald green in early spring. Early leafing. Fantastic fall color. Great exfoliating bark. Ours has excellent exfoliation. Ours has been growing 2-3'/yr. Have one of these, and 3 Paperbark Maples of various sizes. IMHO, triflorum is every bit as nice as Acer griseum, just different.

Cotinus obvatus - Unique leaf color during summer. Kinda aqua blue green. Loves dry sites. Awesome fall color. Fast growth, but this seems to be tied to amount of water available. Needs good drainage or root problems develop. Very drought tolerant.

Nyssa species - Great fall color, adaptability to less than ideal conditions, moderate growth rate when happy, Shiny waxy green leaves in summer. Becoming more widely used.

Ilex decidua - Female trees produce very bright red berries (generally, but sometimes orange, or even yellow). Berries are extremely valuable food source in late winter for hungry birds. Also can be an emergency food source for birds at other times in the winter as well. Can be pruned to a small tree. Thrives in almost any soil. Moderate growth rate. Can form a thicket if not managed, and needs a male pollinator.

Just a few from me,
Arktrees


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RE: favorite underused trees

Ten years ago I'd have added Nuttall Oak, which is still pretty rare here in MD some 1000+ miles outside its native range, but is becoming nearly as popular, or moreso, than Pin or Shumard oak in many areas, for good reason, IMHO.

However, I've seem some in the Mid Atlantic starting to push Nuttall big-time as a superior alternative to Pin Oak.


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Arktrees-I was thinking of maybe getting some Sassafras seed to grow in Rootmaker pots for easier transplanting for the same reasons you mention.

I think people tend to think of it as a "weed" tree of sorts, not so much that it colonizes any particular location heavily, but that it's not a tree you plant. However, it should be.


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"However, I've seem some in the Mid Atlantic starting to push Nuttall big-time as a superior alternative to Pin Oak."

I don't know why anyone would plant a pin oak if they were going to mow around it. The downward angled branches are a huge negative and even when the lowest branches are pruned, in an open setting new ones from higher up will then descend to mowing head height in no time.

It's hard for me to come up with a list of trees that have not already been mentioned but here goes:

Quercus pagoda - cherrybark oak

Sapindus drummondii - western soapberry

Caddo ecotype Acer saccharum

Cedrus deodora (at least locally, it is as common as Cunninghamia lanceolata and that ain't saying much!)

Cunninghamia lanceolata - LOL

Platanus occidentalis

Acer pseudosieboldianum - Mine was gorgeous purple this fall with purple stems on the new growth

Asimina triloba - fall color can be *****

The hican thread reallllllllly makes me want more carya spp and hybrids...

This post was edited by j0nd03 on Mon, Dec 16, 13 at 15:57


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RE: favorite underused trees

hair,
Give it a shot. I have been very much enjoying starting various species from seed the last several year, and giving them away. Of course I have kept a couple as well. It's a way to get to have plants you may not have room for otherwise. Plus my "Significant Other" says that I "need a project" to keep me happy. Something to fuss over. Well, she's basically right. One bit of advice though, don't start too many. It's hard to resist planting too many when you have the seed right there, but that is exactly what you need to do.

John, I thought of your Korean Maple. Been reading Dirr's books, and what he had to say about the Korean Maple. Knowing that you have had good results, and that some others much further south have as well, but he did not have as good result. Makes me wonder how important province is with this species. I know one of the seed companies says it is with Acer truncatum. Plus Acer pseudosieboldianum ssp. takesimense is supposecdly not as cold hardy as straight species Acer pseudosieboldianum ssp. pseudosieboldianum, which would support the province line of thinking.

Arktrees


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It really puts on a show year round with the bark. It starts spring as beautiful soft green, changing to red late summer, finally transitioning to purple for the winter. This all on the immature bark of course. The bark intrigue is accompanied by attractive leaf shape and two flushes of growth last growing season and the very nice fall color.

They may have great variety in their genetics tied to provenance origination. Mine sure has been a winner so far =)


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  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 16, 13 at 17:50

Always love this topic! Usually I keep it specific to adaptability as some listed have very specific growing conditions and therefore render its planting frequency.

A few that I've grown and absolutely agree with...Aesculus flava (consider its hybrids as well like Homestead if you want a more compact selection), Acer triflorum, Acer pseudosieboldianum (form can be awkward)

Ostrya virginiana (perhaps common from a native perspective, but when planted in fall sun its form is fantastic, the hops, the fall color, what more do you want).
Parrotia persica, Prunus sargentii, Quercus ellipsoidalis (more tolerant of alkaline conditons), Yellowwwod


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I would say cucumber magnolia and big leaf magnolia


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Viburnum rufidulum

Quercus georgiana

Quercus dentata

Quercus glandulifera

Rhamnus caroliniana

Tetradium daniellii


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For colder areas, I would suggest :

Kalopanax pictus (Castor Aralia) . Large tropical looking leaves , massive thorns and very large creamy umbels in the fall . It can be weedy in some areas and can take -35 or so.

Carpinus caroliana (Blue beech) . Sinewy gray bark and delicate spring catkins . It has clean green summer leaves and generally very good fall colour. Its generally rather small (under 30 feet) and can take -35 or lower.

Magnolia stellata (Star magnolia) . Its a very clean tree (no blemished leaves in summer) and produces fragrant many showy flowers very early in spring and cute cucumber fruits in the fall . The winter profile is statuesque . It tops out and 25 feet or so and can take -35 or so as well .


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Idesia polycarpa, Poliothyrsis, Magnolia inisgnis, Polyspora axillaris, Quercus glauca, Q. rysophylla, Cornus wilsoniana, Pseudolarix amabalis, Exbucklandia populneus, Alnus maritima, Carpinus fangiana, Dendropanax trifidus, Platanus mexicana, Nageia nagi, Ilex latifolia, Neolitsea sericea, Quercus marilandica, Pinus clausa, Pinus glabra, Daphniphyllum calycinum, Acer oliverianum spp. formosanum...


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Curious - what do like about q. marilandica that makes you wish it were planted more often, sali?


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I think its bold, glossy foliage is fantastic. It is so unique when you see it in the landscape. I think it could be used more.


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Aesthetics aside, it is also certainly tough as nails and does well in dry nutrient deficient sites. I used to think it was a slow growing oak but I have had several trees the last two years put out 2' shoots.

After having cut down a few, IMO it is a top contender for the "chainsaw killer" award! It dulls the blade as fast as anything else I've cut!


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  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Tue, Dec 17, 13 at 12:01

Boy, I can only deal with so many oaks, lol.

A few others that are hardy and adaptable.

Phellodendron lavallei ‘Longenecker - brilliant yellow fall color, corky bark, interesting texture

Corylus colurna - extremely stately form, catkins, very drought tolerant, nice textured bark

Maackia amurensis - foilage emerges silver, which appear to look like blooms, gorgeous panicles of flowers are displayed in late June to early July...a not so popular bloom period for trees.

Heptacodium miconioides - extremely attractive peeling bark, blooms in August which is down time for most trees, calyx are then bright red in September.


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I'll second Asimina triloba (pawpaw). Unique, good looking trees, and if you get the right varieties, excellent fruit with no spraying whatsoever.

I'm also a fan of Sassafras, with its great orange and red fall color, and great smelling leaves!


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There is a small window of time for the Sassafrass seed being present and ripe. There is the possibility that the trees I hoped to get seed from were from root-spread of a tree further from the road, and they had no seeds. I started looking in August and gave up in November. I need to look at more areas next fall, late summer. Someone mentioned that they need treatment to wear through the seeds fleshy covering. I assume that means soaking in slightly acid liquid, maybe vinegar, and some scarification, slight roughening up with sandpaper or an emory board.


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I just posted a topic about Sapindus drummondii - Western Soapberry - didn't see it was mentioned here.

John - if you can grow it in AR - I'd assume it would do OK here as we have similar summers, more or less, and I think it's fine for all of z7 for winter hardiness.


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I really like:

- Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis (Canaan Fir)
Admittedly a conifer, it still is a tree! These have done really well for me, weathering crippling droughts in their establishment years and still growing happily. I definitely plan to plant more, as Abies really isn't represented well in Indiana.

- Quercus alba (White Oak)
No reason this should be lacking in the landscape. With new rootpruning systems, these trees are perfectly amenable to nursery culture. They grow decently fast once established, and are reliable for fall color. One of the most beautiful trees around here - In the open, they develop wide, spreading crowns, and in forest conditions, they develop tall, columnar trunks with very little spread. Deep, coarse roots allow for underplanting, and White oak is perfect for a canopy for rhododendrons and azaleas.

- Betula alleghaniensis (Yellow Birch)
Not common in nursery trade (Dark bark less popular than the white bark of Paper Birch), this tree has done extremely well for me in Central Indiana, growing 3+ feet a year even in drought. Much longer-lived and shade tolerant than other birches, and easy to grow.

- Magnolia acuminata (Cucumber tree)
Uncommon, yet beautiful landscape and forest tree. Definitely worth growing, especially the yellow-flowered strain

- Pinus pungens (Table Mtn Pine)
Again a conifer, this tree is rugged, durable, and small - Perfect for smaller landscapes! I will plant more of these, impressed with the one I've got

The list goes on and on! These were just a few off the top of my head.


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  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Sun, Dec 22, 13 at 9:57

Jimbo, I'm surprised Betula alleghaniensis grows well for you as its quite temperamental wanting cool roots and cool summer temps.

I noticed the one at Chicago Botanic, which is next to the lake and shaded by oaks was in distress/dieback after the 2012 drought.

My point, is that you're lucky in IN, I loved to grow one but its too dry around here. Beautiful trees and gorgeous yellow fall color.


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  • Posted by beng z6 western MD (My Page) on
    Sun, Dec 22, 13 at 10:27

I was thinking along similar lines as jimbobfeeny. We're talking 'bout good trees that are almost never planted, but could be. Seeing cucumber trees & table mnt pines (even Virginia & pitch pines) in the wild near here, I'm impressed w/them & have to wonder why they're never featured on lawns.

Firs as a group, sourwoods, rock chestnut oaks & sassafras are also rarely seen in cultivation, but should be.


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Quercus michauxii could be used much more in my area, but it isn't that common. I think people assume it has to be a "swamp tree", but mine have withstood droughts just as well as any other bottomland oak. Maybe it's the big leaves that are a turn off, but personally I find it easier to clean up big leaves than small ones.

Q.lyrata could also be planted more, since it's shorter height makes it more suitable to plant close to homes or power lines.

Acer barbatum is another choice that could be used more often in place of A.rubrum.

I never see Pinus glabra planted in my area either, even though it makes a fine shade tolerant evergreen tree.


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  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Sun, Dec 22, 13 at 11:50

I've seen sassafras come up quite a few times. Not quite sure how this could be used at a yard tree unless used similar to its native, naturalized habit.

Does anyone have a pic of a singular specimen?


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Here's a pretty big one

Here is a link that might be useful: 2:33 into the clip


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The Yellow Birch is on the north side of the house, so it gets some shade around the roots. Yellow birch does range as far south as Lafayette, with some scattered populations in protected ravines in Southern Indiana. We've got a lot of ravine-type woods around here, so I imagine it would do fine on a north slope. Don't know about a hot, exposed lawn, though...

Also agree with sourwood - I've found them to be fairly fast-growing, as well, though some say it isn't.

We do get an average of 45-50 inches of rain per year, and in the "flash droughts" (searing heat and dry weather for two or three months), I keep more finicky trees (Especially rhododendrons) watered. Most of the trees I listed are able to take that month or two dry spell.


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Clear Creek golden yellowhorn, Xanthoceras sorbifolium. Drought-tolerant. White flowers in spring. Seed pods with seeds that reportedly taste like macadamia nuts when roasted.


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  • Posted by jcalhoun 8b Mobile County AL (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 25, 13 at 9:03

I like sweet bay magnolias.


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  • Posted by beng z6 western MD (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 26, 13 at 10:06

whaas, if you're still reading, below is a fairly large sassafras in LaVale, MD using google street view:

Here is a link that might be useful: LaVale MD sassafras


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Ran across this a couple days ago. Now THAT"S a Sassafras tree. ;-)

Arktrees

Here is a link that might be useful: Sassafras


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  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 26, 13 at 13:10

Gents, thanks for the links...don't think they get that big around here, lol.

Beng, I can't tell its one, but eitherway it looks like a nice lawn tree...one I wouldn't expect to see.

There is a guy about an hour west of me that gets 5 gallon trees for $38, going to add this one for spring.

He has access to quite a few species, including several mentioned in this thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tree Project


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  • Posted by beng z6 western MD (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 26, 13 at 14:39

whaas, it's definitely a sassafras -- tho the pic isn't great.


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I wasn't familiar with the Cambridge Tree Project, but I'd like to see one get organized up in this part of the state. What a great idea.


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Sassafras are being wiped out along the gulf coast by the same wilt disease that is killing the Redbay trees.


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Yes, and it appears as though the beetle will have decent cold tolerance too. Terrible shame.


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I can only speak about local planting habits. I've noticed that some trees are tied to local tastes. Some are overgrown in one part of the country and almost unknown in other parts, often with similar growing conditions. So, for the Salt Lake/Wasatch Front are, here are my suggestions.
Liriodendron tulipifera. We have WAY too many London Plane trees. This would be an excellent replacement. It should also be used to replace the Norway Maple. Also way to over used.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides and Taxodium distichum. Both beautiful trees that are very underused here.

Maclura pomifera. This should be used as a replacement for the dreadful and dreadfully over used Navajo globe willow (Salix matsudana `Navajo').

Carpinus caroliniana. Another tree to replace the globe willow. Only seen in arboreta here.

Quercus robur. This tree is very well adapted to conditions here. Fast growing, long lived and deep rooted.

Choke cherry. Prunus virginiana. Drought tolerant and handsome. An important food source for birds.

Syringa reticulate Tree lilac.

Fagus grandifolia. The American beech is almost unknown here. It is certainly as handsome as the European beech but never seen in local nurseries.

Cladrastis lutea (kentukea) Again, almost never seen here.


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I live in the Denver area and there is a beautiful multi-trunked Cladrastis lutea (yellowwood) in my neighborhood. I didn't know what it was until someone mentioned yellowwood here. I have a big multi-trunked willow (pussy willow) and I am thinking of replacing it with a yellowwood.

I am also planning on planting a couple Carpinus caroliniana. I considered Maclura pomifera too.


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- Texas Persimmon (Diospyros texana) - This is truly an underrated miracle tree of life! This large shrub/small tree not only produces copious crops of deliciously sweet berries, but is also a highly heat/drought-resistant xeriscape native that can still withstand low temperatures down to 5°-10° F. Moreover, it is an attractive ornamental complete with creamy bell flowers, multicolored trunks and rugged hardwood that can be used for woodworking. Note that is is dioecious though, so you need at least a male & female of each to bear fruit...
But what other trees possess such a rare combination of form, function & low maintenance??? None that I can think of!

Other overlooked candidates might include:

- Oriental Raisin Tree (Hovenia dulcis) - This is a nice, large, fast-growing tree that bears sweet, edible peduncles tasting similar to a combination of raisin, clove, cinnamon and sugar.
http://examine.com/supplements/Hovenia+dulcis/
(But do note that while it is not invasive in the US, it could be in some much hotter, tropical climates.)

- Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana) - This large shrub/small tree has both edible flowers and fruits and is fairly low-maintenance. It is both quite pest and heat-resistant, needing only some sufficient watering during peak summer heat months.
http://www.ediblelandscapingmadeeasy.com/2011/12/21/pineapple-guava-a-great-shrub-for-your-edible-landscape/#1
http://selectree.calpoly.edu/treedetail.lasso?rid=599

- All-In-One Almond Tree - Almond trees bear both beautiful flowers and edible almonds.

- Mission Olive Tree - Olive trees not only bear healthy fruit & oil, but its leaves also serve as a great antimicrobial. It is drought-tolerant once established and can grow extremely old.

- Moringa Oleifera (PKM1) Tree (Horseradish Tree) - This is another miraculous tree with multiple medicinal and health benefits. The leaves are edible and the crushed seeds even help purify water. It is also a very fast-growing and resilient softwood.
http://miracletrees.org/

- Western Soapberry (Sapindus drummondii) - Soapberry does well in poor, dry or nutrient-deficient soils. The foliage is handsome, the flowers are fragrant and attract bees, and its soap nuts contain saponin, an antimicrobial, natural detergent.
http://www.floridata.com/ref/s/sapi_sap.cfm

- Medjool Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera) - If you got space for a palm tree, why not an edible date palm?
http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/botany/date-palm-info.htm

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Persimmon

This post was edited by blakrab on Mon, Jan 6, 14 at 21:19


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I'll second Cladrastis kentukea/lutea.

Also, to add to my own topic, for conifers, I think Abies (firs) deserve a second look in areas like here where people just presume its' too humid, too hot, too XXXXX, whatever.

Some of the Asian fir species actually do quite well here. Abies firma is the best known, but even A. hollophylla and A. nordmanniana (From the Caucasus region) do pretty well. A. koreana isn't bad if on its own roots, but they're usually grafted onto Balsam, which is not good for anywhere but cool-summer areas. Even when I lived in Ohio, balsams languished in the summers there at times.

Firs' negative reputation is based on attempts to grow western firs as well as Balsam/Fraser firs in the Mid Atlantic and south where they just won't do that well. There are extensive threads on the Conifers forum about this, and I'm still learning myself.


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Clear Creek golden yellowhorn. It has feather-like foliage and beautiful white spring flowers with a gold-to-red throat. It also produces seeds that reportedly taste somewhat like macadamia nuts when roasted. And it's one of the most drought-tolerant trees around.

Here is a link that might be useful: Drought-tolerant trees


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Leucaena retusa (Goldenball Leadtree) produces beautiful, yellow starburst flowers and long bean pods, yet is also thornless (unlike say, Jerusalem Thorn/Parkinsonia aculeata). It would make a wonderful, small, decorative tree in a wind-sheltered spot.

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/natives/leucaenaretusa.htm
Goldenball leadtree is a very decorative, small single- or multi-stem tree that grows on dry rocky slopes in west Texas. Its bright green, twice-pinnately compound leaves cast a filtered shade, and the bright yellow powder-puff flowers appear from spring to fall, the largest flushes occurring after rains. It is very drought tolerant and can withstand reflected heat. It also adapts to different soils, but prefers good drainage. The bark is cinnamon-colored and flaky. The wood is brittle and can break in high winds and ice storms.

Here is a link that might be useful: Goldenball Leadtree

This post was edited by blakrab on Thu, Feb 6, 14 at 17:02


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  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 6, 14 at 21:56

Metal, the key thing with Abies is drainage.

The only hardy Abies I've had issues with are Abies veitchii.

Two common beauties include Abies concolor 'Compacta' and Abies lasiocarpa var. arizonica 'Compacta'


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