Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Five Tall, Narrow Deciduous Trees

Narrowest of the Tall, Native, Deciduous Trees

These trees can reach 75 to 100 feet in height at maturity, in optimal conditions. They are among the tallest native trees.

At maturity, their spread is generally about 1/2 their height -- that is, roughly 35 to 50 feet at most. They won't be as narrow as the narrowest of the tall, native conifers, but they're narrow for deciduous trees.

The names are linked to more information about the species at the USDA/NSRC Plants Database, the North Carolina State University's Urban Horticulture website, and the University of Connecticut Plants Database.

Pignut Hickory -- Carya glabra

Shagbark hickory -- Carya ovata

Mockernut hickory -- Carya alba, or Carya tomentosa (depending on which naming system you are using, I guess.)

Northern catalpa -- Catalpa speciosa

Tuliptree, often called tulip poplar -- Liriodendron tulipifera

The hickories will be slow growing trees. If you can offer a site that doesn't have compacted soil or salt splashing in from a roadway in winter, the mockernut (mocknut, white) hickory is a nice tree that should do well -- long lived, resistant to some diseases that bother other hickories, not susceptible to weather damage, has some wildlife value.

If you're looking for faster growing trees, the catalpa or tulip poplar will do that. The catalpa is the shorter-lived of the two. It may not last 75 years; rarely would it last a century. The tulip tree will live up to twice that long --150 years or rarely two centuries. Both will probably suffer some wind and ice damage, due to their weak wood. The tulip poplar will need a moister site than the catalpa.

The next narrowest tall tree after these would probably be the Cucumbertree Magnolia (Magnolia acuminata). It tends to be a bit wider, with a spread 1/2 to 3/4 of its height.

These are listed particularly for the consideration of Xris at Flatbush Gardener, who gardens in Brooklyn. He said he needed some tall narrow deciduous trees, not just tall narrow conifers.

An old, giant tuliptree grows in Queens. (Both Queens and Brooklyn are part of New York City.) The Queens Poplar is described in the article, A Rendezvous with Two Giant Trees.

Related posts:
Five Tall Narrow Trees
Narrow trees for small spaces
Ten Tall-Growing Trees

Lirodendron tulipifera (tulip poplar). From Wikimedia Commons by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT. This tree grows in the private park of the Louvignies castle in Belgium. See another image here.

4 comments -- please add yours:

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Thank you! This is a good list.

I mentioned that I'm planning for the eventual replacement of some aging and failing maple trees in my backyard. The lots where I live are wide for New York City, but still only 50 feet wide. Hence the search for narrower crowns. I want a deciduous tree because of the moderating effects on temperatures in winter and summer.

A Tulip tree is definitely too large for the space. I like the idea of a hickory. Wildlife value is another factor I'm considering.

Genevieve said...

A hickory will be very slow-growing -- about 6 inches per year. That's the one bad thing about them. In ten years, a hickory would grow about 5 feet. You would truly be planting a tree for future generations if you decide to go with a hickory.

You can buy hickory seed at Sheffield's Seed Company or you might find a tree at a nursery, though they're not too common.

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

I carefully considered the Hickories, but settled on a Sassafras, Sassafras albidum, as my tree. I decided I didn't want something too tall and looming over the houses, which are typically 35' feet high. Most references cite the typical maximum height as 60', though exceptional specimens in perfect growing conditions can get taller than that. It should grow at least one foot a year, which is reasonable.

Genevieve said...

Sassafras trees are attractive, and also, they do have a neat-sounding name. :)

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

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Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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