Helping homeowners choose shade trees can be a daunting task. You need something that will thrive under challenging conditions year in and year out. Nurseries and breeders are offering several shade trees that fit the bill showcase unique attributes that make them winners in landscapes.
Autumn Fest maple
Acer saccharum ‘JFS-KW8’
Autumn Fest sugar maple from J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. offers a festival of fall color. The tree produces reliable, early orange-red to red fall color. It is faster growing, with a more upright shape, than is typical of sugar maples.
City Slicker river birch
Betula nigra ‘Whit XXV’
City Slicker, introduced by Lacebark Inc., grows to 40 feet and is a beautiful tree with good vigor, drought tolerance and exceptionally white bark. Leaves are dark green and turn yellow-gold in the fall. It’s hardy USDA Zones 5 through 9.
Emerald Pointe rubber tree
Eucommia ulmoides ‘Empozam’
Emerald Pointe is a specimen with street smarts. This rubber tree from LCN Selections is perfect for tight, urban spaces and will tolerate difficult conditions—including drought and excess moisture.
First Editions Scarlet Jewell maple
Acer rubrum ‘Bailcraig’
Scarlet Jewell is available exclusively from Bailey Nurseries and First Editions. This full, upright maple turns a consistent deep crimson each fall, a full two weeks earlier than other rubrum maples. A brilliant show of red flowers each spring adds to the allure.
Princeton American elm
The Princeton American elm, available through Sharp Top Trees, is a true American elm—not a hybrid. It’s highly resistant to Dutch elm disease and tolerates harsh urban conditions. It features large, leathery green foliage, which turns butter-yellow in the fall.
State Street maple
Acer miyabei ‘Morton’
The State Street Miyabe maple from Chicagoland Grows sports dark green, glossy leaves that turn a golden yellow late in the fall. It is urban and heat tolerant, and can withstand drought and a fair amount of salt, so it makes a great street tree, and a perfect replacement for ash and Norway maples.