Trees like weeping willow

umbrella magnolia, Magnolia tripetala

Scientific Name

Magnolia honors the French botanist Pierre Magnol (1638-1715); tripetala is Latin for “three petals” and refers to the three large petal-like sepals of the flower.

Common Name

Umbrella magnolia refers to the umbrella-like clusters of leaves at the ends of the branches. Other names include elkwood as the bare branches look like elk antlers.


Umbrella magnolia ranges from southern Pennsylvania to northern Georgia and Alabama and west to central Kentucky and southwestern Arkansas. Trees are scattered in the forest understory in deep, moist soils along streams and swamp margins. Umbrella magnolia is an indicator of rich, moist woods. The average lifespan is 40 to 100 years. Umbrella magnolia is one of eight magnolias native to the United States. Trees are particularly common in the Appalachian Mountains.


Umbrella magnolia is not ranked as a plant of conservation concern by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission.


Growth Habit and Form

Umbrella magnolia is a small, coarse textured deciduous tree. Trees typically grow 15 to 30 feet tall and up to 4 inches in diameter. Trees have an upright, irregular branching pattern.


Leaves are alternate, simple, oblong, 10 to 24 inches long and 6 to 10 inches wide. Leaves are dark green above and pale green and covered with short soft hairs beneath. Leaves are clustered near the ends of the branches and therefore create an umbrella effect. Umbrella magnolia can be confused with bigleaf magnolia; the leaf base of umbrella is “V-shaped” and bigleaf “B-shaped.”


The large flowers are creamy white and showy, but unpleasantly fragrant. The 6-9(12) tepaled flowers are 6 to 10 inches across. Flowers bloom in May to early June and are insect pollinated.

Fruit and Seeds

Fruit is a large cone-like structure with spirally arranged seeds. The outer layer of the seed is scarlet. Fruit ripens between September and October. The fruits ripen in early fall and the seeds are scattered by birds.


The bark is light, ash gray to brown and smooth.

Wild and Cultivated Varieties

‘Bloomfield’ has attractive large leaves and creamy white, 6 tepaled, showy, 12 inch diameter flowers.

‘Charles Coates’ is a tree-like form with fragrant white flowers and reddish stamens.

The cultivar ‘Urbana’ was selected from cultivated plants in Illinois.


Landscape Use

Umbrella magnolia is a small, coarse textured tree. It is relatively vigorous in an understory setting. Trees make good specimen trees if given sufficient space. It can be difficult to use in very small landscapes because of its irregular branching pattern and large leaves.

Hardiness Zone

Hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 8.

Growth Rate

Slow to medium.

Cultivation and Propagation Information

Trees grow best in moist, fertile, well-drained soils in shade and full sun.

Diseases and Insects

None serious.

Wildlife Considerations

Magnolia trees provide homes, shelter and food for wildlife.

Maintenance Practices

Minimal attention given appropriate cultural conditions.


Wood from large trees may be included with yellow-poplar wood. Umbrella magnolia was introduced into cultivation in the 1750s.

Types of Weeping Willows

weeping willow image by Edsweb from

The weeping willow is a fast-growing tree valued for its graceful shape and the shade it provides. It grows successfully in USDA climate zones 4 though 9 and reaches an adult height of 50 feet or more, with a 35-foot spread. It’s adaptable and can grow in full or part sun in a wide range of soil types. Willow trees are moderately drought-tolerant yet can absorb standing water with no harm to the tree.

Salix Babylonica

This is the classic weeping willow tree that is favored in home landscaping and as a street tree. It does especially well, and looks especially attractive, when grown next to a pond or other water source. With its long, thin branches and yellowish leaves, it is one of the first trees of spring to develop leaves and one of the last to drop them in fall. It produces little, if any, tree litter.

Golden Weeping Willow

The golden weeping willow is a cross between Salix babylonica and Salix alba, the white willow. It grows to 80 feet tall and has a wide canopy and graceful golden branches, making it a current favorite for home gardens and other landscaping. This willow tree rarely needs pruning, except to remove dead and damaged branches and those that form within 6 feet of the ground. The Backyard Gardener website cautions that this tree can damage septic systems and that it should be kept far away from them when planted.

Salix Alba

The white willow grows to about 75 feet and sports downy leaves in green and white. This tree is very popular in England and Ireland, where it has been introduced in many different environmental conditions. White willow bark has been used medicinally for centuries, as it contains the active ingredient in aspirin, salicylic acid.

Salix Caprea Pendula

The dwarf weeping willow is also called the Kilmarnock willow. It is highly ornamental and works well in smaller spaces than other types of weeping willows, which often become too large for residential lots. With its compact size of only 5 to 6 feet, this tree survives best in frost-free climates. In winter, when the tree is dormant, prune shoots that emerge from the main trunk and all dead and damaged branches. JPR Willow in England recommends pruning all branches 4/5 of the way to the tree’s main trunk every four to five years.

The Weeping Willow

(Salix Babylonica)

Interesting Information About Plant:

The Weeping Willow tree is a native of the extra-tropical Asia and belongs to the group the Crack Willows. This oriental tree’s bark owns mainly all of the medicinal and tanning properties of the willow group. It has been long known in China and Turkey that the Weeping Willow is known its tearful symbolism, used in some places as a cemetery ornament signifying an association of grief for the loved one in the grave. In the ancient times the torches used in funerals were made precisely by Willow wood. It could have been a tree of ill omen as well as in ancient Babylon it is said the soothsayers predicted the death of Alexander the Great deriving from the fact that it was the Willow that swept the crown from his head as he was crossing the Euphrates river in a boat.

Scientific Name: Salix Babylonica

Family Name (Scientific and Common): Salicaceae

Continent of Origin: China

Plant Growth Habit: Tree

Height at Maturity: More than 10 Feet

Life Span: Perennial

Seasonal Habit: Deciduous Perennial

Growth Habitat: Full Sun

Manner of Culture: Native Species

Thorns on Younger Stem: No

Cross Section of Younger Stem: Roundish

Stem (or Trunk) Diameter: More Than The Diameter of a Coffee-Mug

Produces Brownish Bark: Yes

Bark Peeling in Many Areas: Yes

Characteristics of Mature (Brownish) Bark: Bumpy

Type of Leaf: Flat, Thin Leaf

Length of Leaf (or Leaflet): Between the Length of a Credit Card and a Writing-Pen

Leaf Complexity: Simple

Edge of Leaf: Smooth

Leaf Arrangement: Alternate

Leaf has Petiole: Yes

Patterns of Main-Veins on Leaf (or Leaflet): Pinnate

Leaf Hairiness: No Hairs

Color of Foliage in Summer: Green

Change in Color of Foliage in October: Changes to Yellow

FLowering Season: Spring

Flowers: Single

Type of Flower: Like a Grass Flower

Color of Flower: Yellow

Shape of Individual Flower: Radially symmetrical

Size of Individual Flower: Smaller than a Quarter

Sexuality: Male and Female on Same Plant

Size of Fruit: Between a Quarter and the Length of a Credit Card

Fruit Fleshiness: Fleshy

Shape of Fruit: Long Pod

Color of Fruit at Maturity: Brown or Dry

Fruit Desirable to Birds or Squirrels: Yes

Common Name(s): Weeping Willow

Louisville Plants That Are Most Easily Confused With This One: The Weeping Cherry, others in the Weeping family

Unique Morphological Features of Plant: Sad droopy look of the braches hanging down, “Crying” of the tree when it rains (rain drops travel from the branches to the ends of the leaves and fall to the ground)

Poisonous: None of Plant

Pestiness (weedy, hard to control): Yes

Page prepared by:

Russell Miller

November 2004

Weeping Willows & Other Weeping Trees

Weeping Pine Tree

Changing the pace from the previous trees, another one of our favorites is the weeping pine, a lovely coniferous specimen. With the weeping pine tree, you will be able to enjoy the most out of your evergreen tree in all of the seasons, rather than mostly only during the summer like other deciduous trees. Our favorite weeping pine is the white weeping pine, which is an elegant shrub with the eye-catching shape expected of weeping varieties. With proper pruning, though, this shrub could become a small tree, reaching heights of 12 feet.

Weeping White Spruce

We love the stately form of the weeping white spruce. It’s branches are covered with densely packed blue green needles which gracefully weep down. While they can achieve heights of nearly 50 feet they never get wider than 10 feet which make them perfect for that sunny narrow spot in the garden.

Weeping trees of any size are a great way to add some presence to your property with their eye-catching style and elegant shape. Whether you just want something small to be a piece of interest or a full tree to dominate your landscape, we have options to fit your lifestyle and home! Come visit our garden center to view our large selection of trees, weeping and upright!

Weeping trees define your landscape

Weeping trees add shade and beauty to any property. Here’s your guide to varieties.

“Read ‘em and weep,” the poker players say. People who plant a weeping tree in their yard certainly won’t cry. Rather, weeping trees with their long drooping branches add a note of peace and tranquillity to the garden. There are many different types and sizes of weeping trees, including both deciduous and evergreen trees.

Weeping trees make excellent focal points for the garden because of their unusual cascading branches. There are smaller flowering types like weeping cherries, pussy willows and redbuds. Then there are the larger weeping trees like weeping junipers, white pines and beeches. Any kind of weeping tree will add interest to a yard. The key is to give it enough room to be seen and to grow. Do not plant it close to other trees.

How do you choose which weeping tree to buy? Anthony Natale, general manager of Turf Management Services, said that the two most preferable weeping trees that are hardy for our climate are weeping cherries and Japanese maples. “The least sturdy one is weeping cotoneaster — they don’t do well here and get diseases. Weeping red bud ‘Lavender Twist’ is a nice specimen tree as well as ‘Snow Fountain’ cherry. Nootka cypress gets bigger about 15 foot range and is hardy here,” Natale said. Lavender Twist redbud was originally found in Westfield, New York, 17 years ago. It is six feet tall and wide and is covered with pink flowers in the spring.

Helen Nelson, co-owner of Nelson-Lynwood Nursery Garden Center, makes a point of asking what her customers want in a weeping tree. “I ask them, how tall and how wide do you want the tree? Sun or shade? Flowering or decorative? Deciduous or evergreen? There are so many to choose from,” said Nelson.

“People like something unusual for a focal point in their yard. Watch the zone. We had a couple of really cold winters and some trees that were zone five got hit really badly. I recommend zone four or even zone three. Don’t put a Japanese maple out in the middle of the yard. It needs some protection so put it nearer to the house,” Nelson stated.

Evergreen trees are good choices for areas where you want green foliage year round. “Weeping blue spruce is one of the smaller weeping evergreens. It is hardy to zone three and is five feet tall and wide. Norway weeping spruce is more wide than tall — it is three feet tall and 10 feet wide. Angel Falls white pine has nice soft needles and is five feet tall and wide,” Nelson said. “For a large statement tree, choose weeping juniper.”

“The weeping redbud is very popular this year,” said Nelson. “Weeping cherries come in both pink and white flowers. As for keeping the weeping shape — you don’t want any branches going straight up — be sure to prune those.”

“Lace Leaf Japanese maple has soft very lacy leaves. It is open underneath and is a possible playhouse for the kids,” Nelson said. There is a large Lace Leaf Japanese maple at her nursery. She spread the branches to show that the inside was open. The tree looked like a plush globe of reddish purple. The leaves were very touchable and soft. It looked like a red shaggy sheepdog.

Henry Rafferty, of Johnston Evergreen Nursery, talked about his favorite weeping trees.

“Weeping pea is small, short and cold hardy and has yellow flowers. Weeping crabapples are very cold hardy. Weeping beech in green or red is a beautiful tree,” Rafferty said. “Ruby Falls redbud has red leaves and is very striking.”

“There are great evergreens: weeping white pine, weeping Norway or blue spruce. Weeping larch, weeping hemlock, weeping false cypress. All are great specimen trees,” Rafferty said.

Remember the mature size on the label when buying trees. What is now a small tree in a small pot will get very large. “Pink weeping cherry trees can get quite large, up to 25-30 feet tall,” said Rafferty. “You can get tremendous enjoyment out of weeping trees.”

“The beauty of weeping trees is that they are easy to keep small by selective pruning. It’s a wonderful way of using plants in different forms, especially if the standard form is too big for your yard, Rafferty said. “You utilize directional pruning to control the height or width. You need to keep it in its shape like a natural bonsai.

Maria Blakeslee, of Millcreek Township, has two weeping beeches in her yard. “I really like them because they have an interesting form and add interest to the garden,” she said. “They are very different looking and I love the dark purple leaves. The branches cascade down like a fountain and it’s a stunning look against the blue sky. Weeping trees add a wow factor to the garden.”

With their dramatic cascading form, weeping trees make excellent specimen trees for any yard. Visit a local garden center or nursery to add a special tree to your garden. LEL

Trees Similar to a Weeping Willow

trauerweide image by from

Weeping willow trees are well known for their majestic and beautiful branches, which add striking visual appeal to the landscape. However, not all landscapes offer ideal conditions for a weeping willow. These trees need plenty of room to grow and they have aggressive root systems, which can damage drainage pipes. Luckily, a number of other trees can be planted near the home that won’t intrude on drainage and underground waterways but still offer the grace and aesthetic values associated with the weeping willow.

Weeping Higan Cherry

cherry blossoms image by JLycke from

The weeping cherry tree (Prunus subhirtell) was introduced in 2006. This tree features graceful, sweeping branches, 20-30 feet at maturity, which do not get as large as those of a weeping willow, which reach 30 to 50 feet by maturity.

In addition, weeping cherry trees feature light pink flowers that bloom into a spectacular display each spring. According to the University of Florida IFAS Extension, the weeping cherry tree adds visual interest all year long with blooms in spring, green foliage and weeping branches throughout summer, bright yellow foliage in the fall and bare sweeping branches in the winter.

These trees prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade and will thrive in almost any soil condition. IFAS states that weeping cherries prefer being sheltered from the wind. They are often found in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8.

Weeping Crabapple

White flowers on trees image by Katya Mikhlin from

The weeping crabapple (Malus) is another four-season pleaser. The Ohio State University Horticulture Department states that this tree offers white, pink, red and even salmon-colored flowers in the spring, dark green foliage throughout the summer, brilliant foliage and fruit in fall and brilliant berries accented by the bleak landscape in the winter.

Crabapples produce small edible apples in the fall that have a slightly tart taste. These trees are smaller that both weeping willows and weeping cherries. They commonly grow to 15 to 25 feet at maturity and prefer clay or sandy soil. For the best blooms and fruit, crabapples should be planted in full sun. In addition, fully established crabapple trees are drought-tolerant. These trees thrive in hardiness zones 4 through 8.

Weeping Beech

Spring beeches image by pioregur from

The weeping European beech tree (fagus sylvatica) is similar to a weeping willow in many ways. This tree grows to be 30 to 50 tall at maturity and offers a weeping mass of green foliage, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service states. Although this tree does produce flowers in the spring, they are not particularly showy. However, the weeping beech tree does thrive in partial shade and a variety of soil conditions as long as adequate drainage is available. In addition, the Forest Service asserts, the weeping beech makes a fine specimen for large-scale landscapes. “It may be the most picturesque of all the weeping trees,” the Forest Service states. Unlike the weeping willow, this tree’s root system will not gravitate toward underground waterways such as drainage pipes. But weeping beech roots may disrupt sidewalks or pose mowing problems. The tree thrives in hardiness zones 4 through 7.

The Weeping Green Laceleaf Japanese Maple is like a cool green waterfall of soft, lacy foliage all spring and summer, but when the weather turns cool and crisp, it becomes transformed. In fall, the foliage changes to the color of molten lava flowing down the sides of Mt. Maple. In winter the smooth, muscly, gray branches are laid bare, adding visual appeal (you’ll want to touch them, too) to the winter garden. If you’d prefer burgundy-red leaves all season long, both Crimson Queen and Tamukeyama Japanese Maples will give you rich red color along with the same graceful weeping form.

The Weeping Katsura Tree is covered in pretty, heart-shaped leaves that hug arching branches which cascade to the ground. All summer long, this Tree is a fountain of soothing green foliage, and in fall the leaves turn a cheery yellow, occasionally with hints of orange. But don’t think the show stops there, because Katsura Tree plays the funniest trick in late autumn—its falling leaves smell like cotton candy! You won’t believe your nose. This is a moderately fast-growing Tree when supplied with plenty of water.

Power meets grace in the Purple Fountain Weeping Beech, a long-lived, splurge-worthy specimen Tree with an especially unusual weeping form. This showpiece naturally develops a prominent central leader that proudly shoots skyward like a spire, while its side branches weep strongly all around. The branches are clothed in foliage that emerges a vibrant crimson color, becoming deep chocolate-purple in summer and turning shades of butterscotch in autumn before falling. Consider this impressive living sculpture an investment in your home, as it will only get more valuable (and more magnificent) with each passing year.

The fast-growing Summer Cascade River Birch will paint a restful picture all season with its lovely weeping shape and serrated leaves that flutter in the breeze. In fall, the foliage turns a warm buttery yellow before dropping to put on full display the papery, peach-colored bark. This special selection of our native River Birch Tree will be a daily reminder to you of the beauty of our natural heritage. It is more heat tolerant and more resistant to pests and diseases than most other Birches.

The Pink Heartbreaker® Weeping Redbud Tree is a Bower & Branch™ original that will lend an easy elegance to your landscape with its pendulous branches clad in large heart-shaped leaves. In early spring, you’ll be treated to a parade of delicate pink blossoms that line the charcoal-gray stems. We’ve found this looker to be as rugged as it is beautiful; its branches are stronger than the older Weeping Redbud, Lavender Twist (also known as ‘Covey’), and are more resistant to breakage. We think you’ll also be pleased with how fast Pink Heartbreaker® grows, yet it stays compact enough to use in small gardens.

Perhaps you thought of the Pink Weeping Flowering Cherry Tree at the mention of Weeping Trees. This popular Tree delivers springtime cheer to many neighborhoods with its long, arching branches smothered in sweet pink cherry blossoms. The Pink Weeping Cherry can become a rather large Tree, however, and it isn’t the best choice where space is limited. In smaller gardens, you may want to try the petite Snow Fountain® Weeping Cherry Tree. This stylish small Tree’s branches arch and fall straight down like a curtain and will sweep the ground if you let them. In early spring, its branches are engulfed in a mini-avalanche of frosty white blossoms, and in fall, the dark green foliage is set ablaze with tones of crimson, orange, and gold. Our Trunk Twist Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry Tree has a coiled trunk that gives the eye additional curves to follow and draws attention in winter and all year long.

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