Southern landscapes are peppered with wonderful trees, these native trees both reduce the amount of pollutants in the air and lowers the heat index. Just in Georgia, the temperatures are on average 10 degrees higher than they should be. This is just from tree loss in the Atlanta metro area. There is also more of a warming trend and severe thunderstorms due to this weather phenomena. Tree loss and the lessening of native trees in a landscape occurs at the rate of nearly 50 acres a day according to NASA. But in the last 20 years Georgia citizens have replaced nearly 6.9 million acres in trees. So, for southern gardeners, think about framing your landscape in trees. Below are 10 southern native tree profiles that are designed to live and thrive in the heat of the south.
Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye)
This deciduous tree can also be a bushy shrub in some locations. It is a fast growing to its mature height of 15-25 feet. It will flower in dark red tubular flowers form April to May, and is a prime pick for those who want a splash of color. Hummingbird friendly, this tree will also attract bees. It prefers shady locations and will bloom early for first color in your garden. Keep in mind; this is a short lived tree.
Amelanchier arborea (Downy Serviceberry)
Serviceberry can either be a deciduous tree or a large shrub, growing up to 30 feet. It produces white flowers in March and reddish purple berrylike fruits from June to August. For bird lovers this tree can’t be beat; over 40 species of birds eat the serviceberry’s fruit and it’s a preferred food of the gypsy month. It will be a beautiful addition to any butterfly garden.
Betula nigra (River birch)
Known for its paper-like bark, this deciduous tree will grow up to 100 feet tall. It is resilient to flood damage and is good in clay soils found in Georgia. Intolerant to shade, remember to give this a sunny location. Game birds love the birch’s seeds.
Carya myristiciformis (Nutmeg hickory)
This shade intolerant tree does well in clay soils like Georgia. It flowers from April to May and has edible nut ï¿½fruits’ from September to October. Hickory will reach a height of up to 65 feet and will have great yellow Fall color.
Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)
This short lived southern native tree does well in full sun or partial shade. Also known as the “Judas tree” it is rumored to be the tree in which Judas Iscariot hung himself from. Redbud grows only 10-20 years and will reach a height of around 15 feet tall. It will flower pink or purple (rarely white) flowers from March to May. Bark from Eastern redbud has been used as an astringent and its flowers can be used in salads. A very versatile and pretty tree, albeit having short-lived beauty.
Cornus amomum (Silky dogwood)
Another great selection for bird lovers, the silky dogwood will grow from 6-15 feet. It has abundant small white flowers from May to June, and will produce blue berry-like fruit from August to September. It’s this fruit that makes it a favorite for birds. It favors partial shade. Although it does flower, it is decidedly non-fragrant.
Fagus americana (American Beech)
This impressive deciduous tree may be slow in its growth, but it will last well over 100 years. Height for an American Beech range 80-100 feet tall. I’d recommend this for its beautiful fall color, it radiates with a yellow hue. It will also provide over 30 species with its food source. Beech prefers a shady to partial shady area in your yard. You can expect flowering from March to April and fruiting from September to October.
Fraxinus quadrangulata (Blue ash)
The Blue ash is a durable drought tolerant tree, growing up to 50-70 feet tall. It loves full sun for maximum growth. It has a faint yellow fall color and will flower from April to May. Commercially its wood is used for flooring and crates. Traditionally blue dye has been made from the bark of the Blue ash.
Gordonia lasianthus (Loblolly Bay)
This tree will get up to 70 feet tall and have a 10-15 foot spread. The trunk gets to 3 inches in diameter. It will have bright white flowers in the late spring and be fragrant. It is an evergreen that prefers full sun and is often found growing with Sweetbay.
Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay magnolia)
A slow-growing evergreen tree, this magnolia species can grow from 50-100 feet. It produces spectacular white flowers from April to July and will have red fruits from July to October. It will do perfectly in a partly shady spot in your landscape. Two-thirds of all magnolia wood is used for furniture, but it is also used for popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, and broom handles. It is important forage for deer and cattle, making up 25% of their diet in the winter.