- 7 Small Flowering Trees for Small Spaces
- Zone 5 Flowering Trees – Tips On Growing Flowering Trees In Zone 5
- Popular Zone 5 Flowering Trees
- Growing Flowering Trees in Zone 5
- Flowering Dogwoods
- Flowering Cherry
- Crab Apple
- Eastern Redbud Tree
- Mimosa Tree
- Chaste Tree
- Fringe Tree
- Witch Hazel
- Crape Myrtle
- The Beauty of Flowering Trees
- Types of Flowering Trees You Will See this Spring in the Chicago Area
- Flowering trees
- Nut Trees for Illinois
- Black Walnut
- Chinese Chestnut
7 Small Flowering Trees for Small Spaces
The best way to spruce up your space and add life to your yard is by planting trees and shrubs. Flowering trees are a beautiful addition that bring color, wildlife, and shade to your yard.
Check out these small flowering trees that are great for yards cramped for space.
- Purpleleaf Sand Cherry
Prunus x cisterna
This is a very hardy flowering landscape specimen with reddish-purple foliage that keeps its unique color all summer. Because of this, the purpleleaf sand cherry makes an excellent contrast tree. It can be planted close to paved surfaces and near utility lines and can also be used as a deciduous hedge.
Hardiness zones 3–7
Mature Height 7’–10′
2. Prairifire Flowering Crabapple
Its showy, dark pink to red flowers draws most people to the prairifire flowering crabapple. And for good reason. The stunning, long-lasting spring blossoms are a sight to behold. But this variety also offer year-round beauty with its changing leaf color. Glossy maroon or purplish-red in spring, the leaves become dark green with purplish-red veins in the summer then a beautiful bronze color in autumn.
Hardiness zones 3–8
Mature Height 20′
Read Which Small Trees will Work for your Yard?
Mature Height 20′
3. Star Magnolia
With showy, fragrant flowers, dark green leaves, and striking gray bark, this hardy magnolia is a real standout. It thrives in nearly every location in the U.S. and works well as a single specimen or foundation planting. The star magnolia could be the landscape solution for backyard gardeners looking to add lovely spring interest to their spaces.
Hardiness zones 4–9
Mature Height 15’–20′
4. Red Dogwood
Cornus florida var. rubra
Aptly named, the red dogwood brings a splash of color to the seasons. Red blooms cover the tree in spring, and reddish-purple leaves as well as glossy red fruit adorn it in the fall. This dogwood is a great landscape addition near utility lines, next to buildings, or near patios. It is also an excellent contrast tree for larger evergreen backgrounds.
Hardiness zones 5–9
Mature Height 20′-25′
5. Sargent Crabapple
This compact landscape tree is a spring star, with abundant clusters of fragrant white flowers making their appearance in May. Its dense, spreading crown and zigzagging branches add to the appeal, often making the tree wider than it is tall.
Because of its size, the Sargent crabapple is useful for planting under utility lines, in confined yards, as privacy screens and hedges and on sloping ground. It is also a popular choice for bonsai.
Hardiness zones 4–8
Mature Height 6’–10′
6. Downy Serviceberry
This tree is an all-season beauty. Early in the spring, beautiful white clusters of blooms set it off against the new green of spring. Vivid red- and gold-hued foliage graces the landscape in the fall. And plump red berries are a favorite of birds in summer. The berries are also popular with the human crowd for pies, preserves, and fresh eating. Its year-round interest and smaller size make the downy serviceberry a versatile choice for landscaping.
Hardiness zones 4–9
Mature Height 15’–25′
Watch Ask an Arborist: Why Should I Plant in the Fall?
Originating in the wooded hills above the Mediterranean, the smoketree holds true to its name. The species boasts blooms that are wispy clumps of filaments—either cream or pink—that look like puffs of smoke. This easy-to-grow specimen is a good choice for a shrub border or other grouping. It can either flourish as a multi-stemmed shrub, be pruned to a single-trunk tree, or be cut back every year to maintain the look of a smaller bushy plant.
Hardiness Zones 5–8
Mature Height 10’–15′
Zone 5 Flowering Trees – Tips On Growing Flowering Trees In Zone 5
Every spring, thousands of people from all over the country flock to Washington D.C. for the National Cherry Blossom Festival. In 1912, Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki gifted these Japanese cherry trees as a symbol of friendship between Japan and the U.S., and this annual festival honors that gift and friendship.
Those of us who do not live in D.C. do not have to travel hundreds of miles and fight crowds of tourists to enjoy beautiful flowering trees like this. While unique, exotic flowering trees were once hard to get, today most of us have the leisure of just going to a local garden center and selecting from many ornamental trees. Even in cooler climates, like zone 5, there are many choices of flowering trees. Continue reading to learn about flowering trees for zone 5.
Popular Zone 5 Flowering Trees
There are several varieties of ornamental cherry and plum trees that are hardy in zone 5. Popular varieties include:
- Newport plum (Prunus cerasifera), which displays pink flowers in early spring, followed by purple foliage until fall. Height and spread are 15-20 feet.
- Pink Snow Showers cherry (Prunus ‘Pisnshzam’), a weeping tree which is covered in pink blossoms in spring and reaches a height and spread of 20-25 feet.
- Kwanzan cherry (Prunus serrulata) is one of the cherry varieties in Washington D.C.’s cherry festival. It has deep pink blooms in spring and reaches heights and spreads of 15-25 feet.
- Snow Fountain cherry (Prunus ‘Snofozam’) is another weeping variety. It has white flowers in spring and a height and spread of 15 feet.
Crabapples are another hugely popular type of flowering trees for zone 5. New varieties of crabapple are more resistant to diseases that commonly affect crabapples. Today, you can even get crabapple trees that do not produce any messy fruit. Popular varieties of crabapples for zone 5 are:
- Camelot crabapple (Malus ‘Camzam’), which stays small at 8-10 feet and produces an abundance of deep pink to white blooms. This is a fruiting crabapple.
- Prairiefire crabapple (Malus ‘Prairiefire’), with deep red-purple blooms and a height and spread of 20 feet. This crabapple produces deep red fruit.
- Louisa crabapple (Malus ‘Louisa’) is a weeping variety that tops out at 15 feet. It has pink blossoms and golden fruit.
- Spring Snow crabapple (Malus ‘Spring Snow’) does not bear fruit. It has white flowers and grows up to 30 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
Ornamental pear trees have become very popular zone 5 flowering trees. Ornamental pears do not produce edible pear fruit. They are prized mainly for their snow white spring blooms and excellent fall foliage. Common varieties of ornamental pear trees are:
- Autumn Blaze pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Autumn Blaze’) – height 35 feet, spread 20 feet.
- Chanticleer pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Glen’s Form’) – height 25-30 feet, spread 15 feet.
- Redspire pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Redspire’) – height 35 feet spread 20 feet.
- Korean Sun pear (Pyrus fauriel) – by far my favorite of the ornamental pears, this little tree only grows about 12-15 feet tall and wide.
My absolute favorite of zone 5 ornamental trees are redbud trees. Redbud varieties for zone 5 are:
- Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) – this is the common variety of redbud with a height and spread of around 30 feet.
- Forest Pansy redbud (Cercis Canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’) – this unique redbud has purple foliage throughout the summer. Its flowers are not quite as showy as other redbuds, though. Forest Pansy has a height of 30 feet with a 25-foot spread.
- Lavender Twist redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Covey’) is a weeping variety of redbud with a dwarf height and spread of 8-10 feet.
Also very popular in zone 5, are flowering dogwood trees. Flowering dogwoods tolerate full sun to part shade, making them very versatile in the landscape. Like ornamental pears, they have spring flowers and colorful fall foliage. Popular varieties are:
- Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) – height 20 feet, spread 25 feet.
- Golden Shadows dogwood (Cornus alternifolia ‘W. Stackman’) has variegated yellow and green foliage. It does best with afternoon shade and stays small at 10 feet tall and wide.
- Kousa Dogwood (Cornus ‘Kousa’) has bright red fruit throughout summer. It reaches a height of 30 feet with a spread of around 20 feet.
Some other popular zone 5 ornamental tree varieties are:
- Autumn Brillance serviceberry
- Dwarf Red buckeye
- Chinese Fringe tree
- Japanese Lilac tree
- PeeGee Hydrangea tree
- Walker’s Weeping peashrub
- Thornless Cockspur hawthorn
- Russian Olive
- Saucer magnolia
- Showy mountain ash
Growing Flowering Trees in Zone 5
Zone 5 ornamental trees do not require any extra care than any other trees. When first planted, they should be regularly and deeply watered during the first growing season.
By the second year, roots should be established well enough to seek out their own water and nutrients. In cases of drought, you should provide all landscape plants with extra water.
In spring, flowering trees can benefit from a fertilizer specifically made for flowering trees, with extra phosphorus.
Annuals add seasonal color, perennials add substance, but trees add character to your landscape ’round the year. Flowering trees, in particular, have high aesthetic value. You might be able to find the right choice for your yard among these popular flowering trees.
Beautiful dogwood trees (Cornus florida) come out with a profusion of flowers in early spring and continue the show for 4 to 6 weeks. Their fall foliage of deep red and purple is just as delightful. These Eastern United State natives naturally found at the edge of forests can grow 20 to 30 feet tall. Wherever space permits, their branches spread horizontally to form a large umbrella, so plant them where you can enjoy their natural shape. This tree is popular mainly due to this tiered horizontal branching. Their shape adds dimension to any landscape.
The flower color of Dogwoods range from white to pink and red, but they all have four to six petals with a tiny notch at the tip of each one and yellow tuft in the center. The colorful petals are actually bracts, and the real flowers are crowded in the central tuft.
Flowering dogwoods thrive in USDA zones 5 to 9. The Asian native kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) with pointed petals is hardier and resistant to the anthracnose fungus that kills many native flowering dogwoods.
Unlike the American and European cherry trees grown for their edible fruit, flowering cherry trees (Prunus spp.) of Asian origin are cultivated for their beautiful flowers. They herald spring with a burst of pink and white flowers, thus putting them on this list amongst some of the most popular flowering trees. Another reason for their popularity is that this tree blooms very early before many other plants are showing their colors. Although the flowers on a given tree do not last for more than a week or two, staggered flowering by different trees extend the cherry blossom season.
Flowering cherry trees are quick growing and can reach final height of 25 feet in about 10 to 12 years. Cherry trees are naturally umbrella shaped with blossoms that have five petals. There different varieties and cultivars to choose from, some with drooping habit and fuller flowers. Almost all of them do well when planted in loamy soil and full sun in USDA zones 5 to 8, but Kwanzan cherry can be grown in zone 9.
The stately Magnolia trees (Magnolia spp.) with large, fragrant flowers are a magnificent sight, especially when they stand alone. The flowers come in white, yellow, pink, purple, and red and open in early to late spring, usually before the leaves appear. Magnolias love rich, moist soil. They like their space and hate to be disturbed once planted. So choose the location carefully and prepare the soil well with slow-release fertilizers. Magnolias are popular because they have a beautiful shape that adds interest to any landscape, in addition to their highly aromatic flowers.
Depending on your zone and availability of space, you can choose from the different types of magnolias. Evergreen Southern magnolias are suitable for the warmer climate of zones 7 to 9 while the large-flowered saucer magnolias that grow to 40 feet or more and the smaller star magnolias that do not grow over 15 feet are best for zones 4 to 8. Champaca magnolias can withstand heat and humidity in zones 10 to 12.
Crab apples (Malus spp.) are popular for their beautiful spring flowers and equally attractive and delicious fruits in fall. In fact, they remain attractive the whole year with beautiful green leaf cover in spring and summer that turns to attractive fall colors with the ripening fruit. Crab apples belong to the same genus of apples cultivated for fruit and are sometimes grown in apple orchards for pollination.
The flower color ranges from white and delicate pink to more vibrant shades of rose and deep pink. Single flowers carry five petals, but double flowered varieties abound. Some trees can grow as tall 40 feet, but most remain within 10 to 25 feet, so you can find a crab apple tree to suit even the smallest yard in USDA zones 4 to 8. Plant the tree in full sun, water weekly during drought, and feed occasionally.
Eastern Redbud Tree
The ornamental Eastern redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) is a native of Eastern United States and Canada and usually has deep purplish pink flowers. White flowered redbud trees also do occur. The pea-like flowers appear all over the branches and on the trunk. This tree makes the popularity list mostly due to the fact that it blooms early in the season, so you can enjoy it’s pretty golden yellow fall color before other trees have blossomed.
The tree has a wide distribution across zones 4 to 9. It has small sized, colorful blooms that appear from spring to early summer, and the bright yellow fall foliage. You can accommodate a redbud in any garden and keep it within bounds with regular pruning if required. It likes full sun, but can tolerate light shade.
These fast growing trees, also called silk trees (Albizia julibrissin), with a tropical flavor are very attractive when they are covered with the powder puff, pink flowers. Popular for their quick growth, these trees are also loved because of their adaptability. They are cold hardy up to zone 6 and are drought tolerant to boot. However, they can be invasive in warmer areas such as zone 10.
The flower petals are small and inconspicuous, so the flowers seem to be entirely made up of thin, long stamens that give them a very delicate look. The large compound leaves with tiny leaflets are as feathery as fern fronds.
The flowers are mildly fragrant and attract hummingbirds. But the fallen flowers and fruit can mess up the yard and droplets of tree sap can damage paintwork. It is ideal if they are planted further away from the house.
Chaste trees (Vitex agnus to castus) are valued for their ease of maintenance, making them a very popular tree amongst homeowners. They are drought tolerant and do well in poor soil in USDA hardiness zone 5 to 9. They grow 15 to 20 feet high, but the size can be controlled by pruning. They are known to die back in severe winters and grow back quickly.
This tree has a long blooming period that stretches from late spring to early fall. The fragrant spikes that resemble lilacs come in white, pink, true blue, and lilac. They are followed by spicy, dark colored berries known as monk’s pepper. Grow chaste tree as a patio tree to enjoy the fragrant flowers all summer long.
The fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) gets its name from the tassel-like flowers that appear in the mid to late spring. These small trees grow just 10 to 20 feet high in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. There are male and female fringe trees, the males being more floriferous while the female trees attract birds with the small fruits that follow their flowers.
This American native with its fragrant white flowers deserves a place in gardens where its spring flowers and summer fruits can add interest. This tree is popular for its beauty but also for its adaptability as it can grow in both sun and shade, with its main need being moist soil.
Witch Hazel Tree
The North American native witch hazel tree (Hamamelis virginiana) is a multi-trunked tree that can grow up to 30 feet, but they are usually kept at 15 to 20 feet. It is popular as an ornamental tree because of its attractive foliage in the fall, along with its fragrant flowers.
Full sun and moist, slightly acidic soil bring the best in witch hazels, but they are tolerant of shade. These hardy trees grow well in zones 3 to 9. The flowers that appear in fall are usually yellow and consist of four ribbon-like petals. If they emerge before the leaves are shed, they can be lost among the fall foliage of the same color. Plant them where you can enjoy the fragrant flowers.
Crape Myrtle Tree
Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), also known as crepe myrtle or crapemyrtle, is a common landscape tree that produces bunches of delicate flowers in the height of summer. It usually grows as a multi-trunked tree 15 to 25 feet tall when left alone, but it is often fashioned into different shapes such as a formal single-trunked tree through selective pruning or an umbrella-shaped shrubby plant by topping. Popular because of their vibrantly colored flowers, crape myrtles are also easy to grow.
Crape myrtles thrive in warmer areas in USDA zones 7 to 9, but these heat loving and drought tolerant trees are comfortable in zone 10 and above. The trunk is smooth with the bark peeling away in summer. The flower clusters borne on the tips of branches come in different shades of pink and purple or in white. A late fall or winter pruning encourages flowering.
The Beauty of Flowering Trees
Flowering trees add interest and beauty to your landscape and can be used as a focal point of interest. Choose a few trees that are suitable for your growing zone and garden space. Be sure to put your trees where you can enjoy them from both inside and your outdoor living spaces.
Types of Flowering Trees You Will See this Spring in the Chicago Area
Updated for 2019!
The spring season has finally arrived in Chicago after a somewhat snowy and very cold winter. This winter, the Chicago area experienced everything from snow to ice storms to a deep freeze that dropped the temperature to a still unbelievable negative 40 degrees. However, the temperatures have been consistently warm, and we have been seeing much more of the sun. It appears that the spring season is here to stay.
What types of flowering trees will you see this Spring in Chicago?
People in the Midwest are always excited when spring arrives because it means the end of the long, dull, and freezing winter. The warmer weather has already arrived, and the fresh spring colors of blooming trees, shrubs, and flowers will not be far behind. Residents of Chicago and its suburbs will soon be enjoying the beautiful colors of spring, a reminder that the summer is right around the corner.
In the coming weeks, you should start to notice the blooms of flowering trees and shrubs which will inject some color into the landscape. The fresh spring blooms are always a nice contrast to the dull colors of winter, which is one of the reasons why the spring is such a great time of year in the Midwest. There are many types of flowering trees and shrubs in the Chicago area that you can appreciate and even incorporate into your own yard or landscape.
The following is a guide to the flowering trees and shrubs of the Chicago area to look out for this spring. If you already have beautiful flowering trees or shrubs on your property and you want to ensure that they get the proper care and maintenance, talk to our professionals at Hendricksen Tree Care about our tree care services.
White ash trees (Fraxinus alba) flower early in the spring, before they even grow back their leaves. Male white ash trees bloom each year while females will bloom once every 2-3 years, but they bloom heavily when they do. The flowers of male and female ash trees can be yellowish green to greenish purple and they are about an eighth of an inch in diameter. The pollination of ash tree flowers is mainly done by wind pollination.
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) is a tree native to the Chicago area that flowers just before its leaves emerge. Each sassafras tree will only grow either male or female flowers. These flowers grow in clustered groups at the ends of the twigs and are greenish yellow or yellow in color. Sassafras flowers are typically pollinated by bees.
Willow trees (Salix sp.) don’t flower until mid-spring when they start to develop their leaves. Examining the structure of the willow’s flower as well as the presence of seeds helps determine the sex of the tree. The flowers on male and female willows are called catkins. These flowers are generally 1-3 inches long with a narrow, cylindrical shape, and they are green in color. They are mostly pollinated by bees, but they can also by pollinated by the wind.
Male and female flowers of the Ohio buckeye (Aesculus glabra) grow separately but will bloom on the same tree. These flowers grow in clusters that can get up to one foot in length and they are generally yellow-green in color. The Ohio buckeye flowers in April and May and the flowers are pollinated by bees and hummingbirds.
The American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is a native tree to Illinois that can grow to be 75 feet tall. It gets its name from its sap which is sweet and gummy. Like the Ohio buckeye, sweetgum trees also produce male and female flowers on the same plant. They differ in appearance however as the male flowers grow in clusters, can be 1-2½ inches long, and are greenish yellow. Female sweetgum flowers have a globe-like shape and are green in color.
Black locust trees (Robinia pseudoacacia) develop fragrant flower clusters late in the spring after they have grown back their leaves. The flowers of a black locust are small and white with a yellow spot in the middle, and they grow in 4-6-inch-long drooping clusters. Black locust flowers are pollinated by bumblebees, butterflies, honeybees, and hummingbirds.
Eastern Redbud tree in bloom in Chicago
The eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a tree native to the Midwest that can grow up to 25 feet tall. These trees generally have a short trunk, so their branches start closer to the ground. The flowers of an eastern redbud are purplish pink in color and start growing early in the spring on the trunk and branches before the leaves emerge. Eastern redbuds are typically pollinated by various species of bees.
Yellow poplars, or tulip poplars (Lirodendron tulipifera), have the largest flower of any tree native to Illinois. These flowers are cup-shaped with a cone-shaped cluster of pistils surrounded by six yellow-green petals and they appear in April and May. They can grow to be 2 inches in length and they have ample nectar which attracts bees and other insect pollinators.
Dogwood trees (Cornus sp.) produce flowers from March until June. There are many species of dogwood trees in the Chicago area including the Cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornus mas) that produces both fruits and flowers in late March or April. The flowers of the Cornelian cherry dogwood are star-shaped, and they grow in clusters when the temperature is still cool. The nectar in these flowers attracts bees, butterflies, and other species.
There are a wide variety of crabapple trees (Malus spp. and cvs.) that range in height, canopy shape, and flower type in the Chicago area. The flowers of a crabapple tree tend to grow in clusters and they range in color from purple and pink to white. These trees flower heavily which is why they are loved by gardeners and homeowners looking to improve their landscape. Crabapple species do particularly well in urban environments because they are resistant to many diseases.
The Carolina silverbell (Halesia tetraptera) is a tree or shrub that produces white, bell-shaped flowers in April and May that dangle from the branches. These plants flower around the same time their leaves emerge, and they eventually transform into nutlike fruits by the end of the season. Some Carolina silverbells develop as shrubs while others can grow to be 40-foot-tall trees. The unique beauty of the hanging flowers is why the Carolina silverbell was chosen as one of Illinois’ Best Plants.
Basswood trees (Tilia sp.) are most easily recognized by their large, heart-shaped leaves and their drooping flower clusters. The cream-colored flowers of basswood trees bloom in June and appear in drooping clusters of 5 to 10 individual flowers. Basswood flowers are hermaphroditic, with both male and female parts, and they are very fragrant. The fragrance and appearance of these flowers make basswood trees desirable for their ornamental qualities. Their flowers also attract bees which are responsible for their pollination.
Tree Care for your Flowering Trees and Shrubs
Plant and care for your flowering trees this Spring in Chicagoland!
If the trees and shrubs on your property have not flowered yet, you can expect many of them to flower in the next 4-6 weeks, weather permitting of course. The spring flowers on many of these Illinois trees are truly a sight to behold and having a flowering tree on your property can really enhance the natural beauty of your landscape each spring. People who are doing new tree planting this year should consider planting a tree or shrub that flowers every spring.
The tree species mentioned in this guide are native to the Chicago area and can survive quite well in our climate. However, all types of Chicagoland trees and shrubs are vulnerable to pests, diseases, and damage from various sources that can shorten their lives. At Hendricksen Tree Care, we provide complete tree care services to protect your trees from insects and diseases and nurse them back to health when there is a problem. Our certified arborists are dedicated to keeping your trees vibrant and healthy so that they grace your property with the same flowering beauty every spring.
Spring flowers blooming in Chicago, IL
Contact Hendricksen Tree Care at (847) 305-5524 for more information about our tree care services in the north and northwest Chicago suburbs.
The flowering trees collections at The Morton Arboretum are dedicated to our most ornamental trees—crabapples and magnolias, famous for their amazing floral displays and perfumed scents. Don’t miss these collections in the spring, when the entire hillside is festooned in flowers.
This area of Flowering Trees is on the West Side of the Arboretum, at the beginning of the Main Route leading to the Thornhill Education Center. This south-facing hill was the original site where 200 crabapple cultivars were assembled for a crabapple (Malus) evaluation program in 1980. Many disease-resistant and highly ornamental varieties are featured. In this area you will also see a beautiful array of pear (Pyrus) and magnolia (Magnolia). The idea of grouping these collections together is to display small ornamental trees for home owners. Therefore, the featured specimens are all genera loved for their showy and often fragrant flowers, or ornamental fruits in the fall. Take a walk through this area in spring or fall for an experience that will dazzle your nose and your eyes. This is a great place to get ideas for a suitable ornamental tree for your home garden.
The Morton Arboretum’s Crabapple Collection was started in 1924 and now contains 60 different kinds and over 140 specimens with highly desirable qualities. learn more
Magnolias provide an amazing opportunity for large flowers and leaves and exotic scents to be a part of any garden. Additionally, their blooms can be found in a great diversity of colors. The Morton Arboretum exhibits 49 different kinds of hardy magnolia specimens. learn more
The Morton Arboretum’s pear (Pyrus) collections are just north of the crabapples on the West Side and are also found in the Pyrus section of the Rose Family Collection on the East Side. The two collections exhibit 24 different kinds of pears, represented by many beautiful mature specimens. Learn more
The Olive Family (Oleaceae) at The Morton Arboretum includes more than 20 genera. The collection was started in 1923 and contains the oldest living accessioned plant in the Arboretum collections, swamp-privet (Forestiera acuminata). learn more
Nut Trees for Illinois
arbre image by ynartseo from Fotolia.com
Nut trees have many worthwhile attributes. They contribute to the nourishment of both humans and wildlife, they add to the beauty of our landscape and they produce lumber that is highly valued.
Illinois has a variety of nut trees growing throughout the state; some native and some transplanted. Located in USDA growing zones 5 through 7, the cooler climate regions of Illinois present ideal growing conditions for cold-hardy nut trees.
Considered the most dependable nut plant for Illinois, the black walnut tree (Juglans nigra) is a much sought after hardwood. Black walnut trees generally grow in small groves and thrive in well-drained, moist, fertile soil conditions. Varieties of the black walnut are grown throughout Illinois. The Sparrow, Emma K. and Beck are found in all regions of the state. The Spark’s 127, Hare, Farrington and Cranz are found in both the Central and Southern parts of the state. The Vandersloot variety is only found in Southern Illinois.
The large and attractive pecan tree (Carya illinoinensis) is a relative of the hickory. Nut production of the pecan tree is best when it is planted in fertile, river bottom soil. The hardy northern pecan is a native to Southern Illinois bottom lands along the Mississippi, Ohio and Wabash rivers.
Two groups of northern hardy pecans exist. Group 1 is made up of the Giles, Peruque and Major. Group 2 is the Colby and the Posey. Both groups are grown in Central and Southern Illinois. Northern Illinois does not have the proper climate for pecan trees.
The tall, handsome Hickory (Carya) is a native Illinois nut tree. The shagbark and shelbark species and their hybrids are the best hickory nut for eating. Bitternut, mockernut and pignut hickories produce a splendid display of color in the fall, but their nuts are inferior in quality. Hickory trees thrive in soil that is light and well-drained. All species of the hickory are found in every part of Illinois. The shelbark species includes the Scholl and Ross. Shagbark hickory varieties are the Harold, Retzer, Anthony and Weschke. Hybrids of both trees are the De Acers and Stratford.
Chinese chestnut trees (Castanea Mollissima) are found growing in nearly every part of Illinois. The Chinese chestnut is highly resistant to chestnut blight; a disease that has nearly eliminated the American chestnut from it’s natural habitat. Purchase Chinese chestnut seedlings at a nursery and plant them in areas where soil is rich, moist and well-drained. The Orrin, Nanking and Skookum variety of Chinese chestnut are best suited for Northern Illinois. Southern and Central Illinois are home to the Nanking, Crane, Meiling and the Orrin. Chinese chestnut seedlings are most often found in Central and Southern Illinois.
Commonly known as hazelnut, the filbert (Corylus) is often mistaken for a small tree but it’s really a multi-stemmed, large shrub. Generally found in moist, cool areas of Illinois, the filbert thrives in well-drained, slightly acidic soil conditions. The hardy filbert is a favorite choice of Illinois landscapers due to its attractive shape and brilliant fall colors. Northern Illinois is the home of the Winkler filbert. The Bixby, Potomac, Hall’s Giant and Barcelona filbert are found in Central and Southern Illinois.