Color in the Landscape
Twelve Deciduous Native Small to Medium Trees for Color in the Landscape
If you are looking to add some pops of color to your yard, this chart shows 12 smaller trees or large shrubs that provide spring and/or fall bursts of color and are native to our region or just south of our region. These natives can enhance the beauty of your landscape, improve the screening of your property, and support a wide range of local wildlife, including bees and birds. Links and references have been provided so you can do additional research to determine if a specific tree is right for your growing conditions and any other considerations you might have.
|Flower Color||Botanical Name||Common Name||Height||Exposure||Soil Moisture||Flower Season||Fall Foliage||Notes|
|White||Amelanchier canadensis||Serviceberry, shadbush||10 - 20 feet||sun to p. shade||dry, avg., wet||April - May||Orange - Purple||Other species, notably A. arborea and A. laevis have similar attributes|
|Chionanthus virginicus||Fringe tree||10 - 20 feet||sun to shade||avg., wet||late spring||bright yellow||Highly fragrant. Native to the Southeastern US, this understory tree is hardy to zone 5 and is drought tolerant.|
|Crataegus crus-galli||Cockspur hawthorn||35 feet||sun to p. shade||dry, avg.||May||n/a||Flowers have been described as odd smelling. Produces red berries loved by birds.|
|Halesia carolina||Carolina Silverbell||30 - 40 feet||sun to p. shade||avg.||May||n/a||Native to the Southeastern US, this understory tree is hardy to zone 4. Seeds are poisonous.|
|Magnolia virginiana||Sweetbay Magnolia||10 - 20 feet||sun to p. shade||avg., wet||May - June||Red, brown fruit in late summer/early fall||Fragrant|
|Oxydendrum arboreum||Sourwood||30 - 70 feet||sun to p. shade||avg.||July||Brilliant red||A tree for all seasons with its white flowers, yellow fruits, and spectacular fall foliage. Sourwood is an excellent addition for small spaces.
Relatively slow growing
|Prunus maritima||Beach plum||up to 8 feet||sun to p. shade||dry, avg., wet||May||n/a||A shrub that can be trained into a small tree. Typically found in coastal sand dunes, beach plum also produces small purple fruits in late summer/early fall. Plant two to ensure cross pollination.|
|Swida alternifolia||Pagoda dogwood||10 - 20 feet||p. shade to shade||avg.||May - June||Reddish purple||Formerly classified under genus Cornus, pagoda dogwood is not affected by dogwood anthracnose|
|Yellow||Hamamelis virginiana||Witch hazel||6 - 15 feet||sun to shade||avg., wet||Oct. - Dec.||n/a||Provides late fall floral resources for pollinators|
|Lindera benzoin||Spicebush||6 - 12||sun to shade||avg., wet||April||n/a||This small tree/large shrub is a great native alternative to forsythia.|
|Sassafras albidum||Sassafras||50 feet||sun to p. shade||dry, avg.||April||Wide range of fall color||Forms large suckering colonies. Easily identified by its three leaf shapes - mitten, oval and three-lobed|
|Pink||Cercis canadensis||Redbud||20 feet||sun to p. shade||dry, avg.||May||n/a||Provides wonderful spring color along woodland edges or in the understory|
Images courtesy of the Native Plant Trust
Amelanchier canadensis (serviceberry, shadbush)
Chionanthus virginicus (fringe tree)
Halesia carolina (Carolina silverbell)
Magnolia virginiana ssp virginiana (sweetbay magnolia)
Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood)
Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood)
Prunus maritima (beach plum)
Swida alternifolia (pagoda dogwood)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Cercis canadensis (redbud)
McCargo, Heather and Anna Fialkoff. "Native Trees for Northeast Landscapes." Wild Seed Project. 2021.
McCargo, Heather. "Small Flowering Trees: A Dozen Native Species for Limited Spaces." Wild Seed Project. Accessed 5 October 2021.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center